Missed The Hukilau and The Mai-Kai? Limited edition Tiki mugs are the next best thing

Updated June 21, 2014

The 13th edition of The Hukilau, the East Coast’s largest annual event dedicated to mid-century and Polynesian Pop culture, rolled into Fort Lauderdale last week for five days of “the most authentic Tiki event in the world.” But if you didn’t make it down to the beachside festivities or the historic Mai-Kai restaurant, you still have a limited-time opportunity to pick up some exclusive merchandise.
Related: Artists pay tribute to The Mai-Kai with one-of-a-kind mugs

The Hukilau was held June 11-15, at the Bahia Mar Beach Resort and The Mai-Kai in Fort Lauderdale. Check the Facebook page for photos and recaps.
* The Atomic Grog at The Hukilau 2014

The Hukilau 2014 Commemorative Mug by Eekum Bookum
The Hukilau 2014 Commemorative Mug by Eekum Bookum comes with a choice of two different glazes. (Photo by Nomeus)

For many, the one piece of merchandise most closely associated with Tiki culture is, of course, the Tiki mug. Every year, The Hukilau has produced one of the most distinctive (and valuable) mugs on the market, designed by noted artists and produced in limited editions by the top mug manufacturers. [Click here to see some of the past designs]

First released only to ticket-holders and registered guests, The Hukilau 2014 Commemorative Mug is available (while supplies last) to the general public. Designed and produced by Oregon’s Eekum Bookum, the mug comes with two different glazes (Lava and Sunset) and features “The Final Aloha” on the back. In production before it was announced that the event will continue next year, this mug is likely to become a collector’s piece. [Check out the value of past mugs]

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The Hukilau presents the perfect way to serve up Tiki history in a glass

The Hukilau, the annual Polynesian Pop festival that invades Fort Lauderdale every June, is known for its authentic and eye-catching event merchandise, particularly the mugs and glassware. But when the event is over, that doesn’t mean you can’t pick up some cool retro-themed goodies.
See below: Bonus recipe and winning photo from The Hukilau’s glassware photo contest

Tiki History Glasses (pink/orange) from The Hukilau
Tiki History Glasses (pink/orange) from The Hukilau.

The latest in a series of double old-fashioned glasses featuring historic Tiki locations has just arrived and has begun shipping to those who pre-ordered. They’re available in sets of two ($22) or four ($42).
* Click here to order yours today on TheHukilau.com Web site

This new limited-edition glassware features logos and artwork from these historic Tiki-themed hotels, bars and restaurants: The Hanalei Hotel in San Diego, Luau 400 in New York City, The Mainlander in St. Louis, Johnny’s Tiki Hut in Salt Lake City, and the Inter-Island Resorts in Hawaii. The Hukilau’s co-founder and producer, Christie “Tiki Kiliki” White, has once again done a great job along with Stacie Herndon of Heelgrinder Design in assembling some classic images for the latest in a series of vintage glasses. [See more photos on the Facebook page.]

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Massive Shag volcano bowl released via Tiki Farm

Leave it to that iconic mid-century revivalist Shag to bring to the market one of the most over-the-top Tiki mug sets ever produced. Brace yourself, because the Kelena Volcano Bowl Entertaining Set just went on sale at 9 a.m. Pacific time. But it may not last long.

Kelena Volcano Bowl Entertaining Set

Limited to just 100 sets, this massive volcano bowl has a 108-ounce capacity and four matching 6-ounce companion mugs. They’re priced at a hefty $375, but each set also includes an 18-by-18 signed and numbered seriagraph signed by Shag.
* Click here to order while supplies last

If you happen to miss the Kelena bowl, it appears that Shag will be releasing the very similar Koei and Kakui bowls (and accompanying signed seriagrahs) through Tiki Farm and the SHAG store in Palm Springs in early September. They’re the same size and style but with a green/white (Koei) and dark blue (Kakui) glaze instead of light blue. Sign up for the e-mail lists on the Tiki Farm and Shag sites so you don’t miss out.

If you’re looking for the coolest communal bowl set on the market, look no further than this instant classic. And the seriagraph makes it even more worth a purchase. It’s comparable in size to the current Mai-Kai Mystery Bowl, which holds around 100 ounces.

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Walt Disney’s Tiki Room celebrates 50 years of enchantment with parties, exclusive merchandise

Updated July 31, 2013

When Walt Disney envisioned what would become the Enchanted Tiki Room, it’s unlikely he could have forseen the iconic Disneyland attraction’s indelible impact on pop culture.

Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room commemorative pin artwork
The artwork for one of the commemorative pins.

On June 23, 1963, the world’s first Audio-Animatronic figures – more than 150 talking and singing birds – greeted guests in Disneyland’s first air-conditioned building. It was a state-of-the-art attraction and one of Walt’s favorites. A fan of Polynesian supper clubs, he originally planned a Tiki restaurant for the site. But the musical show was so impressive, it was feared that diners would never leave.

Now, 50 years later, generations of fans consider the attraction an icon and perhaps the world’s most well-known representation of Tiki culture. Disney pulled out all the stops for the anniversary, hosting special events and releasing a dizzying selection of merchandise.
See the merchandise catalogs:
* Artwork and collectibles | Vinylmation

There was a special anniversary event at the Disneyland Hotel on June 28-29 featuring Disney legends Rolly Crump and Bob Gurr, who worked on the original attraction. It was a grand merchandise gala marking the debut of original artwork, prints, pins, collectibles, and much more (see catalog links above). Guests had first crack at the goodies, plus a chance to meet Disney artists Alex Maher and Mike Sullivan, plus “Disney-inspired” artists Shag (aka Josh Agle), Kevin Kidney, Jody Daily, Doug Horne, Noah, and many more. The Shag cocktail reception, while pricey, was probably a blast.

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Disney World is still cool at 40 thanks to retro artists Shag, Kevin & Jody

Update/review: Artists shine amid copious crowds at Disney World’s 40th
Related: Disney World celebrates 40 years of mid-century magic
Disney World’s updated Enchanted Tiki Room has retro feel
See below: Shag’s Disney World 40th anniversary collection | Video
Kevin Kidney & Jody Daily’s Disney World 40th anniversary collection

The author with a friend at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, December 1972.
The author with a friend at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, December 1972.

It’s late 1972. I’m visiting my grandparents in South Florida but I’m more excited about our day trip to the East Coast’s answer to Disneyland: Walt Disney World. The park had opened just a year earlier and promised to be – in the eyes of an 11-year-old in the early ’70s – the coolest place on Earth.

I’ll never forget my first ride on the futuristic Monorail, the spooky and fun Haunted Mansion, the cartoonish architecture of Tomorrowland, plus the iconic castle and all the classic characters. The day flew by too fast but I cherished my souvenirs, including a Haunted Mansion record that I played to death over the years.

Fast-forward some 30 years and I’m a childless grown-up in South Florida. I’ve made the rounds of most of the state’s attractions as a teenager and young adult but never made it back to the Magic Kingdom. My only Disney World experiences were a day at Disney-MGM Studios (now Disney’s Hollywood Studios) and a trip to Downtown Disney for a concert at the House of Blues. Like many others, I thought I was too cool for Disney World.

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Mai-Kai cocktail review: Drink like a native with the deadly Shrunken Skull

The Mai-Kai's Shrunken Skull, from ancestor to tribute

Updated November 2021
See below: Our Shrunken Skull review | Ancestor recipe
Official recipe | Tribute recipe | Bonus recipe
Related: The history of 151 rums at The Mai-Kai
Demerara Rum – The Mai-Kai’s Secret Weapon | Mai-Kai cocktail guide

Our expedition through the mysterious tropical drink selection at The Mai-Kai takes a dangerous turn with another mid-century classic from the menu’s “STRONG!” offerings.

The Shrunken Skull, served in the Abelam mug in May 2012. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)
The Shrunken Skull, served in the Abelam mug in May 2012. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)

Tongue-in-cheek drinks lionizing primitivism were common during Tiki’s golden age. The ominous Shrunken Skull and its variations were among the most infamous. The idea was to conjure up a sense of danger lurking in your local tropical getaway. Classic Tiki bars offer the ultimate escape from the mundane day-to-day existence, and every island adventure needs a little bit of macabre yet kitschy risk-taking.

In this case, the danger lies in the strong rums that permeate this deadly concoction. The Shrunken Skull is one of only two current Mai-Kai drinks that feature a rum floater (a shot of rum added to your drink as it’s served). Not coincidentally, the other also comes with an element of danger attached to its name: the Shark Bite.

The Shrunken Skull is also one of only a handful of Mai-Kai cocktails to come in its own custom mug, originally a vintage shrunken head design that can fetch more than $100 on the open market. It was replaced by a modern version that is not quite as rare but can still reach $50 or more for older versions.

The Shrunken Skull mug, as seen in The Mai-Kai online store
The Shrunken Skull mug, as seen in The Mai-Kai online store.

The above links and info come courtesy of Ooga Mooga, the premiere website for Tiki mug collectors. This highly recommended resource lets users track their mug collection while showing it off to others. Loaded with photos of great vintage mugs, it’s worth checking out even if you don’t register as a collector.

The Shrunken Skull also often comes in an Abelam mug (average price: $30), which features a mask-like design of the Abelam people who live in the East Sepik province of Papua New Guinea. A vintage Abelam mug is typically priced in the $100 range.

All of the above mugs have a handle, which is atypical of most Tiki mugs. It’s usually an indication that the mug does double-duty on the dessert menu as a vessel for hot coffee drinks. At The Mai-Kai, the current Abelam mug also can be enjoyed with an after-dinner classic, the flaming Kona Coffee Grog. The shrunken head mug is also used for the Tahitian Coffee.

I picked up both mugs in the gift shop, aka The Mai-Kai Trading Post. I’ll be monitoring their prices on Ooga Mooga like any good mug investor.

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