Beachbum Berry’s ‘Potions of the Caribbean’ cruises back to the birthplace of Tiki cocktails

Potions of the Caribbean: 500 Years of Tropical Drinks and the People Behind Them (Cocktail Kingdom), hardcover, 317 pages, $34.95.
* Order now: Cocktail Kingdom (U.S.) | Amazon | More info on BeachbumBerry.com
Jump to recipes below: Rum Pot | Witch Doctor | Planter’s Punch

Potions of the Caribbean: 500 Years of Tropical Drinks and the People Behind Them

Like a fine barrel-aged rum, the new magnum opus from Tiki cocktail historian Jeff “Beachbum” Berry benefited from years maturation, developing a rich depth of flavor and nuance. When Potions of the Caribbean: 500 Years of Tropical Drinks and the People Behind Them is finally uncorked next week, it will undoubtedly be savored to the last drop by a growing legion of fans.

It could also quite possibly be Berry’s last call as a self-proclaimed “layabout” author. While the carefree image will likely remain, Berry’s other much-anticipated project could soon make him a much busier Bum. The former screenwriter, whose six books since 1998 have sown the seeds of the Tiki cocktail revival, will be embarking on a new career next year when he opens his own bar in New Orleans.

These plans are accelerating, Berry confirmed in an e-mail this week, and he hopes to sign a lease at an undisclosed location by the end of the year. That would put him on track to open his Tiki bar (in partnership with Mrs. Bum, aka Annene Kaye) as early as spring 2014. They already have a designer, architect and key staff lined up. In the meantime, Berry’s solo career as a literary figure will reach its peak with the release of Potions of the Caribbean.

Berry’s sixth book on tropical drinks and the fascinating stories behind them, Potions of the Caribbean could be considered the sequel to Sippin’ Safari (2007), both in style and substance. Berry’s first three books were mainly spiral-bound drink recipe compilations, and his previous (Beachbum Berry Remixed, 2010) was a redesigned and expanded re-release of the first two.

Potions of the Caribbean: 500 Years of Tropical Drinks and the People Behind Them

But with Sippin’ Safari, Berry used his seemingly endless supply of vintage recipes, photos and artwork to embellish the stories of the bartenders, restaurant owners and other pioneers of the early days of Tiki. The result was a wonderful read – a beautifully illustrated cocktail guide, history book and retro culture travelogue all rolled into one. The new book follows this same format, with the stories taking a starring role and the recipes enhancing the narrative.

The rich history of the Caribbean and its role in the Tiki cocktail movement was actually supposed to be an additional chapter of Sippin’ Safari. A subtitle near the end of the book’s final chapter, which tells the story of Mariano Lucidine and The Mai-Kai, introduces the Potions of the Caribbean name while very briefly mentioning the birthplace of rum and its role in Tiki cocktails.

Berry explained his dilemma on the Oct. 29 episode of The Quiet Village podcast. “I was trying to cram all this stuff into one chapter,” he told host Digitiki. “After we talked about The Mai-Kai, I was just going to go down to Cuba and Jamaica. But I realized there was just way, way too much stuff to do that, so it became its own book, five years later.”

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The Hukilau’s Tiki Kiliki announces ‘The Final Aloha’ in 2014

UPDATES: The Hukilau announces return for 14th year in 2015 (April 2014)
See all of The Atomic Grog’s coverage

The Hukilau: June 11-15, 2014, at the Bahia Mar Beach Resort and The Mai-Kai restaurant in Fort Lauderdale. Latest updates: TheHukilau.com | Facebook or Twitter

The Hukilau: The Final Aloha

After 12 years of hosting one of the largest and most authentic gatherings of Polynesian Pop enthusiasts from across the globe, Christie “Tiki Kiliki” White announced today that The Hukilau in June 2014 will be the event’s “Final Aloha.”

“I am lucky enough to be embarking on a new career and as we all know, life has the tendency to naturally shift your focus and you follow another path,” White posted today on the event’s official website. “We feel honored to have accomplished what we set out to do many years ago – to bring awareness to Tiki palaces on the East Coast and to help in their preservation so that many more generations are able to enjoy the spirit of Aloha.”

The Hukilau’s 13th and final event promises to be “the Big Kahuna – The Hukilau to end all Hukilaus,” White announced. “We are extending the event to five glorious days in the sun this year. Each one will bring new experiences and special performances.”

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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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The Hukilau releases schedule, updated website for this June’s Tiki bash in Fort Lauderdale

In just six months, hundreds upon hundreds of Tiki and retro culture enthusiasts from around the world will descend upon Fort Lauderdale in search of the most authentic Polynesian Pop experience imaginable. If Christie “Tiki Kiliki” White has any say in the matter, they won’t be disappointed.

The Hukilau

White has assembled another surprisingly eclectic cast of characters for the 12th edition of The Hukilau, a weekend celebration set for June 6-9 at the Sheraton Beach Hotel (aka the “Yankee Clipper”) and The Mai-Kai restaurant. As always, the event manages to embrace every nuance of mid-century kitsch: Exotica and surf music, rum and tropical cocktails, mermaids, Polynesian floor shows, Hawaiian shirts, Tiki mugs, vintage culture and artwork, Tiki carving, tattoos, and much more.

Co-founded by White in 2002 in Atlanta, the event found its permanent home at Fort Lauderdale’s legendary Mai-Kai in 2003 and has featured some of the biggest names in the modern Tiki revival, from author and mixologist Jeff “Beachbum” Berry (who returns for his eighth appearance this year) to author/photographer Sven Kirsten (The Book of Tiki) and artist Josh Agle (aka Shag).

The official website, TheHukilau.com, re-launched Tuesday and a new Travel Bulletin (the festival’s e-mail newsletter) was distributed with lots of event updates, including some new additions to the musical lineup and a detailed daily schedule.

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Pick up some Hukilau glassware for your summer Tiki party

The annual gathering of Tikiphiles in Fort Lauderdale is still more than 10 months away, but organizers of The Hukilau event know that some of us are always seeking out cool new mugs and glasses.

The original Florida Tiki History Glass, released in 2009
The original Florida Tiki History Glass, released in 2009. (Photo from TheHukilau.com)

This summer, they’ve re-released a classic and introduced something new in their Tiki Icon Series of glassware designs.

The Florida Tiki History Glass debuted at Hukilau 2009 and later sold out. This high-quality double old-fashioned glass features the the original logos and artwork from many current and defunct bars and restaurants, including The Mai-Kai and Julian’s in Ormond Beach, which unfortunately just closed.

This glass has been reissued in a special edition “exotic red” color (the original was brown). It’s just $40 for a set of four glasses. We’ve put our original set to great use over the years and highly recommend it. You’ll find a Hukilau cocktail recipe to fill your new glass below. Check out the artwork:

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Audio slideshow flashback: Hukilau’s 2010 opening party reached a new level of overindulgence

The 2012 Hukilau will be held April 19-22 at The Mai-Kai and several Fort Lauderdale beachside hotels. Official sites: TheHukilau.com | Facebook page | Facebook group

Other flashbacks: 2011 contest was a Barrel of fun | Los Straitjackets highlight 2009
Related posts: Beachbum Berry digs deep to unearth vintage Zombies
Hukilau announces mug, cocktails, new rum sponsor | Full Hukilau coverage

Hukilau 2010

The annual Tiki weekender known as The Hukilau is famous for giving participants unprecedented hands-on access to the best bands, artists and cocktail experts in the modern Polynesian Pop movement. It’s a laid-back affair where friends old and new enjoy live music, mingle at special themed parties and show off their devotion to the world of retro culture.

At no time was this on display better than at the opening night party in 2010, when hundreds of revelers were treated to an ultimate trip into the world of Tiki culture. The Bahia Cabana Beach Resort in Fort Lauderdale played host to a whirlwind evening of live music, room parties and cocktail contests.

With this month’s 11th annual Hukilau fast approaching, let’s take a look back at that night of revelry with another special audio slideshow. Click here or on the images above and below to relive all the hijinks. Then click on the play button and be sure to turn up your speakers!

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Audio slideshow flashback: Los Straitjackets highlight a rockin’ 2009 Hukilau

The 2012 Hukilau will be held April 19-22 at The Mai-Kai and several Fort Lauderdale beachside hotels. Official sites: TheHukilau.com | Facebook page | Facebook group

Other flashbacks: 2011 contest was a Barrel of fun | 2010 party features Shag
Previous posts: Beachbum Berry digs deep to unearth vintage Zombies
Hukilau announces mug, cocktails, new rum sponsor | Full Hukilau coverage

The Hukilau

The Hukilau is an all-encompassing celebration of Polynesian Pop culture: Art and architecture, food and drinks, music and fashion. It’s a trip back in time with hundreds of like-minded Tiki disciples to an era when kitsch was king. The entire event is an orgiastic fest of the senses – from the outrageous lowbrow art and Tiki carvings to the exotic music to the decadent drinks and food. Fort Lauderdale’s beachside locale and historic Mai-Kai restaurant are the perfect backdrop for the revelry.

To warm up for this month’s 11th annual Hukilau, let’s take a trip back to 2009, when lucha-masked surf and rockabilly band Los Straitjackets headlined the event. Click here or on the image below to see a special audio slideshow of all the festivities. Be sure to turn up your speakers! Below that is a recap of the schedule for reference. This year’s event promises the same experience, plus much more. Eddie Angel of Los Straitjackets is back with his new band, The Martian Denny Orchestra. We hope to see you there!

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Annual Hukilau in South Florida moves from June to April

Previous posts: Get Hukilau collectibles | Hukilau weathers many storms in 10 years
Full Hukilau 2011 coverage from The Atomic Grog

The annual gathering of the Tiki tribe in Fort Lauderdale, which just celebrated its 10th anniversary, will be moving to April for its 2012 edition. It had been held in early June for the past five years.

Los Straitjackets at the Bahia Cabana in Fort Lauderdale during Hukilau 2009. (Photo by Go11Media.com)
Los Straitjackets at the Bahia Cabana in Fort Lauderdale during Hukilau 2009. (Photo by Go11Media.com)

“The Hukilau has moved to April in order to accommodate more outdoor activities at a cooler time of year and to give fans more time between all the great Tiki events out there,” said co-founder and longtime producer/organizer Christie “Tiki Kiliki” White.

White has posted the 2012 dates as April 19-22. Final plans have yet to be announced, but look for more events taking place at The Mai-Kai, the legendary Polynesian restaurant that has been the centerpiece of The Hukilau since it moved from Atlanta in 2003.

Plans also call for a return to the Bahia Cabana at the south end of Fort Lauderdale Beach, which has been the longtime hotel of choice for Hukilau revelers. Its poolside stage has been host to a great lineup of retro-inspired bands, such as Los Straitjackets, The Woggles, and Tikiyaki Orchestra.

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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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The Hukilau weathers many storms to celebrate 10 years of Tiki madness

The 10th anniversary Hukilau – featuring four days of music, art, cocktails, vendors, symposiums on Tiki culture and much more – takes place Thursday through Sunday, June 9-12, in Fort Lauderdale. Go to TheHukilau.com for the full schedule and more information on all the performers and guests.
* Related: Hukilau 2010 video preview | Mixologists vie to build a better Barrel

In the beginning …

In 2002, a modern Tiki renaissance was in full swing. Inspired by the heyday of Polynesian Pop, which began with groundbreaking efforts of Don the Beachcomber and Trader Vic in the 1930s and stretched for more than 30 years into the 1960s, a new generation of artists, musicians, mixologists and entrepreneurs had been embracing retro Tiki culture since the 1990s.

The Hukilau

As this grassroots movement gained momentum and new devotees discovered the wider world of mid-century pop culture, full-blown events soon followed. In Southern California – the birthplace of Tiki and haven for some of the genre’s most beloved bars, architecture and artists – Tiki Oasis started small in 2001 and quickly became the largest Tiki event in the West by its second installment in 2002.

The Hukilau was envisioned by its founders not only as the East Coast’s answer to Tiki Oasis, but also a celebration of the growing family and community, or ‘ohana, that had become so enamored with the entire underground movement. The name of the event, of course, comes from the traditional Hawaiian festival held in fishing villages in which a large net is cast into the sea to capture fish for the feast that honors the spirit of family and community.

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