The Week in Tiki (March 2, 2015): The Hukilau mug giveaway, Bacardi cocktail champ, $153,400 Tiki Room bird

The Week in TikiThis week’s news includes a contest to win the new event mug for The Hukilau 2015 by Tiki Diablo, plus a preview of a New York City cocktail event featuring the crew from Tiki Mondays With Miller. We also recap last week’s Legacy Cocktail Competition in Miami Beach sponsored by Bacardi, and an auction of Disney parks collectibles that netted $1.7 million. Our weekly features spotlight artist Robert Jimenez, Digitiki.com and The Quiet Village, exotic band Ixtahuele, and former Tiki hotspot The Castaways in Miami Beach. The rum of the week, Denizen white, is featured in the Rebel With a Cause cocktail.
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THIS WEEK’S HIGHLIGHTS (March 2-8, 2015)

The Hukilau mug giveaway Tuesday

The Hukilau

On Tuesday (March 3), The Hukilau will be unveiling a contest that will give participants a chance to win the official 2015 event mug by Tiki Diablo.

You must have a past mug (or mugs) from The Hukilau and an Instagram account to enter. Follow The Hukilau and check the Facebook page for more info.

The annual Polynesian Pop weekender will be held June 10-14 at the Hyatt Regency Pier 66 and The Mai-Kai restaurant in Fort Lauderdale. Musical guests and performers include Alika Lyman Group, The Intoxicators, Gold Dust Lounge, Pablus, Slip and the Spinouts, Kinky Waikiki, Skinny Jimmy Stingray, Marina the Fire Eating Mermaid, and King Kukulele. Symposium presenters are Arthur Dong, Kevin Kidney and Jody Daily, Jeff “Beachbum” Berry and Brian Miller, Domenic Priore, Jeff Chenault, plus Jon Bortles and Tiki Gardener.

Get your wristbands and symposium tickets now at TheHukilau.com before they sell out. The 14th annual Tiki weekender will also include two one-of-a-kind events: The Tiki Tower Takeover featuring Jeff “Beachbum” Berry (Latitude 29, New Orleans), Martin Cate (Smuggler’s Cove, San Francisco), Paul McGee (Lost Lake, Chicago) and Brian Miller (Tiki Mondays With Miller, New York City) mixing up special cocktails in the Pier Top Lounge. And a special “Three Hour Tour” cruise with actress Dawn Wells, aka Mary Ann on classic TV show Gilligan’s Island.

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Epcot Food and Wine Festival continues to deliver delicious bites, a bounty of booze

As the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival approaches its 20th anniversary next year, it shows no signs of getting stale or losing momentum. Foodies flock to Disney World every fall for this massive event, which was expanded this year to 53 days. We hit dozens of food and beverage booths during a recent two-day visit, our first since 2012. If you’re visiting during the fest’s last few days, or want to file away some tips for next year, check out the reviews below.

Hurricane Hayward samples the flavors of Brazil at the 2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival
Hurricane Hayward samples the flavors of Brazil at the 2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival. (Atomic Grog photo)

2014 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival: Through Nov. 10 at Disney World, Buena Vista, Fla. Access to the festival marketplace is free with theme park admission; food, seminars, and special events are priced individually. More at EpcotFoodFestival.com.

The festival is believed to be the largest food and wine event of its kind in the world, and its size and scope can be overwhelming. More than 250 food-and-beverage menu items are available (priced from $3 to $8) at 36 booths and kiosks encircling Epcot’s World Showcase Lagoon amid the 11 permanent international pavilions. It’s a great atmosphere for sampling the food and drinks from more than 25 international regions, with many nearby diversions such as acrobats, musicians, and Disney’s famous attractions.

There are also nearly 400 culinary, wine and beverage demonstrations featuring hundreds of the industry’s top experts; concerts starring a wide array of retro rock, soul and blues bands; cultural exhibits; and special events such as food and wine pairings, VIP parties, special breakfasts and lunches with celebrity chefs, and much more. Many fans spend multiple days or weeks exploring everything the festival has to offer, making it the centerpiece of their vacation every year. It’s also a popular destination for central Florida locals, especially on weekends.

Tony Abou-Ganim (left) and Dale DeGroff present a mixology seminar at the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival at Disney World on Sunday, Nov. 2
Tony Abou-Ganim (left) and Dale DeGroff present a mixology seminar at the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival at Disney World on Sunday, Nov. 2. (Atomic Grog photo)

The seminars, which are reasonably priced and sometimes free, cover a wide range of topics, from obscure wines to culinary demos featuring Food Network stars such as Robert Irvine. My personal interest lies in cocktails, so when planning our trip I went straight for the list of mixology seminars. I was excited to pick up tickets to a demonstration featuring one of the biggest names in modern mixology, Dale “King Cocktail” DeGroff. When we arrived, we found out that he was sharing the stage with another pioneer of the modern cocktail revival, Tony Abou-Ganim.

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Eat and drink your way around the World at Epcot’s food and wine fest … at whatever pace your prefer

2013 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival: Through Nov. 11 at Disney World, Buena Vista, Fla. Access to the festival marketplace is free with theme park admission; food, seminars, and special events are priced individually. More at EpcotFoodFestival.com.

Crowds walk the World Showcase promenade near the Norway pavilion at last year's Food and Wine Festival
Crowds walk the World Showcase promenade near the Norway pavilion at last year’s Food and Wine Festival. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward).

It’s one thing to overindulge and partake in all that the annual Epcot International Food and Wine Festival has to offer. One Florida couple has immersed themselves in all 18 years of the event, typically staying at a nearby hotel for all 40 days and attending most of the special events. The cost of their annual excursion likely tops five figures.

But it’s another challenge entirely to squeeze an entire festival’s worth of eating (or drinking) into one day. A hearty group of individuals is gathering today for an event called Drink Around the World (official site / Facebook) to accomplish this on a grand scale. They modestly call it a “specialized pub crawl with some cultural flare,” but it’s much more than that.

Taking place all day today (Saturday, Oct. 12), this eighth annual event is designed to test participants’ endurance and provide ample opportunities to savor a wide range of items at the 18th annual International Food and Wine Festival. The goal is to imbibe in all 11 countries in Epcot’s World Showcase, all in one day. The timing of the event with the festival ensures many more choices for cocktails, beer and wine along the way, in addition to the dozens and dozens of affordable food choices.

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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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Miami mixologist shows how to jazz up your tired old cocktails with exotic liqueurs at Epcot Food and Wine Festival

Xanté Pear Sidecar, Blood Orange & Sand, Singapore Sling, and Xanté Old Fashioned
The results of Freddy Diaz’ handiwork during his cocktail seminar at the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival in October 2012 (from left): Xanté Pear Sidecar, Blood Orange & Sand, Singapore Sling, and Xanté Old Fashioned.

A worthy New Year’s resolution for any mixologist would be to break away from the norm and explore alternative ingredients to make your cocktails stand out from the crowd. Today’s explosion in creative craft cocktails makes it difficult to decide what direction to take, but luckily there are some great experts in the field to guide us.

I had the opportunity to learn from one such expert recently at the 2012 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival at Walt Disney World, where Freddy Diaz of AlambiQ Mixology in Miami presented an educational and entertaining seminar on behalf of the Peter F. Heering Co.

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Disney raises the bar for cocktails, decadent dishes and desserts at Epcot Food and Wine Festival

The entrance to Epcot beckons you to "Taste your way around the world."
The entrance to Epcot beckons you to “Taste your way around the world.”

Last year, The Atomic Grog spent one whirlwind day at the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival, sampling food and drinks from 16 different marketplace kiosks. For 2012, Mrs. Hurricane and I vowed to take a more leisurely approach, so we dedicated parts of three days to the same task. The result: We tasted 38 items from 25 of the 29 booths surrounding Epcot’s World Showcase Lagoon. With our indulgences finally fully digested, we’re ready to share a recap and reviews below.
See below: Photos of the food and drinks

2012 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival: Through Nov. 12 at Disney World, Buena Vista, Fla. Access to the festival marketplace is free with theme park admission; food, seminars, and special events are priced individually.
* Official site | Facebook page | Epcot | Walt Disney World | Disney Parks Blog
Atomic Grog preview: 17 reasons to sink your teeth into Epcot’s Food and Wine Fest
Related: 30 great ways to celebrate 30 years of Epcot magic

Freddy Diaz of AlambiQ Mixology in Miami shakes up a craft cocktail during a seminar presented by the Peter F. Heering Company.
Freddy Diaz of AlambiQ Mixology in Miami shakes up a craft cocktail during a seminar presented by the Peter F. Heering Company.

The Epcot International Food and Wine Festival teases you with the enticing admonition to “taste your way around the world.” For the past 17 years, guests have circled the globe more times than the nearby space shuttle astronauts. The futuristic Disney World park is the logical setting for such an adventure, its World Showcase already the site of 11 pavilions representing countries as disparate as Norway and Morocco.

While we barely made a dent in the nearly 200 food and drink items offered up at the booths, we managed to sample most of those on our hit list. It’s highly recommended you plan ahead. Browse online reviews and photos before you go. And if you have a chance, be sure to check out a few of the many low-cost beverage seminars. We attended an informative wine seminar, plus an excellent cocktail seminar. Click here for the review:
* Miami mixologist shows how to jazz up your tired old cocktails with exotic liqueurs

The sun is setting on the 2012 festival, but many of the following reviews should still be relevant in 2013. The most popular items remain from year to year.

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17 reasons to sink your teeth into Epcot’s 2012 International Food and Wine Festival

UPDATE: Our 2012 review
Disney raises the bar for cocktails, decadent dishes and desserts

The Epcot International Food and Wine Festival, now in its 17th year, offers much more than the opportunity to eat and drink your way around the Disney theme park’s World Showcase promenade at some 30 food and beverage marketplaces. That’s the highlight, of course, but devotees have long known about the special events and distinctive touches that make a trip to Epcot a must-do every fall for foodies and Disneyphiles alike.

2012 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival

The appetizer-sized portions at the marketplace booths are priced in the $4-$8 range, while drinks are $3-$6. The festival is included in the daily Epcot admission price, but most of the special events cost extra and tickets must be reserved in advance. Go to EpcotFoodFestival.com for more info. Click here to see menus and photos from all the participating marketplaces.

Spanning a record 46 days, from Sept. 28 through Nov. 12, this year’s festival will continue a recent trend toward a bigger and better event as guests become ever more demanding of what they expect from craft food and beverages. Beer and cocktails have a higher profile, and the event is also thriving on its association with celebrity chefs and the growing foodie culture in general. As a fan of television’s Food Network and other culinary programming, I have to count myself among that group.

Last year, The Atomic Grog’s experience at the festival was enjoyable beyond expectations. [Click here for the review] Look for even more extensive coverage in 2012. In preparation, here’s a list of 17 things that make this year’s International Food and Wine Festival distinctive and worth looking forward to.

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Lowbrow artists to roast the mouse at Fort Myers gallery

Some of the top artists in the world of pop surrealism and lowbrow art pay homage to the world’s most famous mouse in a group show coming to Fort Myers this summer.

Howl Art Gallery and Tattoo Studio

The Greedy Mouse Group Show honors Disney’s icon in a way not imagined by Walt or his Imagineers. Among the artists taking Mickey down to their level is a who’s who of lowbrow: Derek Hess, Bask, Skot Olsen, Pooch, Scott Scheidly, Andrew Spear, Todd Nolan, N! Satterfield, Rodney Jackson, James “Jimmy Utah” Peterson, Clay McCay, Matt Lackey, Andy Howl, Raymond Hernandez, Mark Stewart, Scott Snyder, Stephen Hayford, Mark Cranford, Mandalin Paul, David Acevedo, Christina Penuel, and Cesar Aguilera.

The show kicks off with an opening reception at Howl Art Gallery and Tattoo Studio in Downtown Fort Myers from 6 to 10 p.m. on Friday, July 6. It continues through July 31. The gallery is at 1514 Broadway #101. Call (239) 332-0161 or visit HowlGallery.com.

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Cocktails come of age at Epcot Food and Wine Festival

Previous coverage: A taste of paradise comes to Epcot Food and Wine Festival
Related: Artists shine amid copious crowds at Disney World’s birthday party

2011 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival: Through Nov. 13 at Disney World, Buena Vista, Fla. Access to the festival marketplace is free with theme park admission; food, seminars, and special events are priced individually. [Official site]

Review by Jim “Hurricane” Hayward

“Please overindulge!” This very succinct advice came from the artist and Tiki/cocktail enthusiast Shag when he signed an event poster for me at the 2010 Hukilau in Fort Lauderdale. Words to live by, to be sure, but not until this year’s Epcot International Food and Wine Festival was I able to experience that mantra on such a grand and eclectic scale.

The new Hawaii booth. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)
The new Hawaii booth. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)

For 16 years, the six-week festival has served up tastes from six continents at dozens of themed booths offering tapas-sized portions of delicious regional specialties paired with an impressive selection of wines and beers. Now, finally, cocktails have truly joined the party as the art of mixology gets its due respect. The result: An opportunity to eat and drink your way around the world with a Mai Tai and Singapore Sling to compliment an amazing array of foods.

So overindulge, we did, on the opening weekend of the 2011 festival. After attending the maddeningly crowded Walt Disney World 40th anniversary party on Saturday, Oct. 1, at the Magic Kingdom, my wife and I were looking forward to a leisurely food-and-drink adventure Sunday at Epcot. We were not disappointed. And in honor of Shag, whose commemorative merchandise I picked up the day before, we were on a mission to overindulge (albeit in small portions).

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Artists shine amid copious crowds at Walt Disney World’s 40th birthday party

Photos: Jump to the gallery
Previous coverage: Disney World celebrates 40 years of mid-century magic
Related: Cocktails come of age at Epcot Food and Wine Festival | More on Disney World

Masses of mouse-minded fans flocked to the Magic Kingdom on Saturday, Oct. 1, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Walt Disney World. And while initial crowd forecasts were low, interest in the birthday bash quickly grew among the Disney faithful and resulted in a sometimes overwhelming throng even though actual celebratory festivities were modest.

The Magic Kingdom entrance and train station, as seen in December 1972 and Oct. 1, 2011. (Photos by Hurricane Hayward)
The Magic Kingdom entrance and train station, as seen in December 1972 and Oct. 1, 2011. (Photos by Hurricane Hayward)

The Oct. 1 opening date was selected in 1971 because it was considered the slow season, and it typically remains so today. But Disneyphiles came out of the woodwork for the anniversary party last week and took advantage of the late park hours at the Magic Kingdom (it was open from 9 a.m. until midnight).

My wife and I combined this event with a visit to the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival on Sunday, and it’s a good thing we did. The overflowing crowd on Saturday made for a hectic day and not much time to relax and enjoy the Disney experience. That’s not to say it wasn’t memorable. Here are the highlights (and some lowlights):

We stayed at the Caribbean Beach, one of Disney’s moderate resort hotels, and were pleasantly surprised. We had previously enjoyed Port Orleans Riverside, and this was on par with that experience.

The rooms were spacious and clean (with the great details that Disney is known for), the grounds (200 acres, including the 45-acre Barefoot Bay) were huge and full of amenities (be sure to take a walk around the lake) and the theming was spot-on. It was closed when we wandered by early Sunday, but I’ve heard the pool bar makes a great Piña Colada.

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