The Mai-Kai hosts ‘Classic Dining’ author Dec. 13 with special event, extended happy hour

Classic dining establishments that date back to the middle of the 20th century and are still thriving today are a rare find. South Florida is lucky to have one of the most grand and well-preserved in our midst: The Mai-Kai in Fort Lauderdale, est. 1956. A new book, which features the Polynesian palace on its cover, takes an in-depth look at these survivors of another era with vintage and new photos, inside information and authoritative stories.

Classic Dining: Discovering America's Finest Mid-Century Restaurants

Classic Dining: Discovering America’s Finest Mid-Century Restaurants by author and historian Peter Moruzzi is a lavishly illustrated hardcover book published on Nov. 1 by Gibbs Smith. It features many photos and additional stories from Sven A. Kirsten, author of The Book of Tiki and Tiki Modern.

Mouruzzi will be at The Mai-Kai on Thursday, Dec. 13, for a special event featuring an illustrated talk about his new book. The event, presented by Tropic magazine, will be held in The Mai-Kai’s elaborately themed Tahiti dining room from 7 to 9 p.m. and will include an extended happy hour with half-priced drinks and appetizers.
* Click here or on the book cover for the Facebook event

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‘Mai-Kai Mixer’ shakes up South Florida with rockin’ retro cocktail party

Updated June 16, 2012
See below: See exclusive photos from the bash

Related: Cocktail flights soar at Mai-Kai Mixer, reveal revolutionary use of rums
Mai-Kai Cocktail Guide | Rums of The Mai-Kai

The Mai-Kai’s Molokai bar was jumping on Saturday night, June 9, as an eclectic mix of cocktailians, Tiki enthusiasts, retro hipsters, and surf music fans gathered for The Atomic Grog’s first Mai-Kai Mixer.

Atomic Grog Mai-Kai Mixer

Doors opened at 4:30 for Saturday’s early happy hour, and dozens of Mai-Kai faithful queued up early for exclusive flights of the Fort Lauderdale Polynesian palace’s legendary cocktails. DJ Mike “Jetsetter” Jones got the festivities in high gear with his wide-ranging playlist of retro party music, and up-and-coming surf band Skinny Jimmy & The Stingrays nearly blew the doors off the place. The party went full-throttle until the midnight hour.

The event was held to celebrate the The Atomic Grog’s 52 weeks of Mai-Kai cocktail reviews and the recent reintroduction of a classic rum to the 55-year-old restaurant’s acclaimed drink menu.

The rum cocktail flights sold out quickly as more than 30 signed up to taste sample versions of three vintage drinks featuring Lemon Hart Demerara rum. Several hundred filtered through the bar throughout the evening for happy hour – which ran until 7 p.m. – and two high-octane sets from Deerfield Beach’s Skinny Jimmy & The Stingrays.

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The Mai-Kai thanks its customers for 55 years with party on Wednesday, Dec. 28

Behind the magic: A backstage tour of The Mai-Kai’s mysterious bars and kitchen NEW
Related sites: Facebook event | MaiKai.com | Flickr group
Recent posts: Take 5: Mai-Kai General Manager Kern Mattei | Mai-Kai Cocktail Guide

The venerable Mai-Kai Polynesian restaurant in Fort Lauderdale will give back to its local clientele next Wednesday with a special party featuring extended happy hour prices and complimentary buffet.

Mai-Kai anniversary party

In addition, DJ Mike “The Jetsetter” Jones will be playing some of eclectic “retro-active” tunes plus old Mai-Kai favorites. The bash starts at 5 p.m. in The Molokai bar and half-price food and drink prices last until 9, maybe later.

Drop by to see old friends, make new ones, and marvel at the perfectly preserved mid-century Tiki temple. Management will also bring out the old scrapbooks for those who enjoy Mai-Kai memorabilia and want to take a trip back in time.

According to Critiki.com: “The Mai-Kai is perhaps the last of the grand Polynesian palaces still operating from when Tiki was at its peak in the late ’50s and early ’60s. That The Mai-Kai not only still exists today, but is vibrant and thriving, is something we should all be very grateful for – but not take for granted.”

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Party like a Zombie this month at The Mai-Kai

More info: MaiKai.com | Mai-Kai Cocktail Guide | See all our Mai-Kai posts

Forget New Year’s Eve. For many, the Halloween season is the biggest party time of the year. And the upcoming event calendar at the usually mellow Mai-Kai restaurant in Fort Lauderdale is a prime example.

This mid-century Tiki temple has been known in the past for barely acknowledging holidays. This is a good thing. It’s the perfect place to get away from the annoying mob scene at other establishments during rowdy holidays. But Halloween is quickly turing into The Mai-Kai’s best time of year to let loose, next to The Hukilau of course.

This month’s festivities feature three major parties in the classic Polynesian restaurant’s Molokai lounge, where you’ll still feel like you’ve been taken away to an island paradise despite the surrounding creepy costumes. Just sip a few Zombies, and you’ll be fine.

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Pooch brings his surreal world to Howley’s with solo art show

One of our favorite lowbrow artists, Mike “Pooch” Pucciarelli, will be hosting a showing of his recent prints next Tuesday (July 26) at one of our favorite retro restaurants – Howley’s diner in West Palm Beach.

View the Pooch

The show, titled “View the Pooch,” will run from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. and will also feature live music from South Florida blues guitarist J.P. Soars. Howley’s has a full bar featuring beer, wine and cocktails plus an extensive menu of diner classics.

Pooch is well-established as one of the most talented artists in South Florida and continues to branch out and establish himself throughout the greater art world. As owner/operator and chief artist at Altered State Tattoo in Lake Worth since 1996, he’s long been the go-to guy in South Florida if you’re looking for one-of-a-kind, eye-popping ink. Pooch’s award-winning tattoo work is known for its rich color and incredible detail. His work has been featured in many tattoo publications, such as Tattoo Society and International Tattoo Art.

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Clematis Street rides a new wave with the opening of Longboards

See below: Jump to the photo gallery
Related: Surf’s up: The story behind Longboards

Longboards was hopping during its grand opening party.
Longboards was hopping during its grand opening party.

Even on-and-off rains throughout the night couldn’t douse the good vibrations permeating the 500 block of Clematis Street on Saturday night during the grand opening party for the surf-themed Longboards restaurant and raw bar.

Longboards was packed to the gills all night as the free food and drinks flowed from this cool raw bar and restaurant that took over the dormant space formerly occupied by Ray’s Downtown. The surf theme was carried through with great effect, from the dozens of surfboards gracing the walls and ceilings, to the surf videos on TVs and a big screen, to the “beach” area on the back patio shared with the neighboring Lounge (we can’t wait to see what’s to become of the “VIP” trailer).

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Surf’s up in downtown West Palm Beach with the arrival of Longboards

Related: See photos from the grand opening party

Longboards grand opening party

The 500 block of Clematis Street gets a long-awaited injection of that good old Rodney Mayo magic this weekend with the grand opening of the South Florida nightlife mogul’s newest venture, the surf-themed restaurant and bar Longboards.

As owner or part owner of 13 other establishments from West Palm Beach to South Beach, he knows a thing or two about the hospitality industry. But rather than open cookie-cutter, tourist-friendly nightspots, Mayo has a creative flair for the funky and offbeat. And a clever eye for retro cool.

Perhaps we’re just getting tired of smoky bars and dance clubs, but we find his restaurant ventures (Dada and Tryst in Delray Beach, Howley’s in West Palm Beach) the coolest in his portfolio.

A view from the front door at the center bar and interior of Longboards
A view from the front door at the center bar and interior of Longboards (photo by Hurricane Hayward).

It looks like we may want to add Longboards to the list. We stopped by for a sneak peak last night and were blown away by the transformation that has taken place in the space formerly occupied by Ray’s Downtown at 519 Clematis St. Next door to The Lounge and across the street from Respectable Street (two other Mayo properties), Longboards is poised to become a welcome addition to the western reaches of the downtown strip. It’s a full-blown restaurant and bar with great theming, modern yet retro at the same time.

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We be Jammin: Rum Renaissance Zombie fest at The Mai-Kai

Zombie Jamboree

Related links
* See our photos from the event | Our event preview | More on Rum Renaissance
* Our recipe (with photos) for the Atomic Zombie Cocktail

Jeff "Beachbum" Berry teaches a graduate course on the Zombie
Jeff "Beachbum" Berry teaches a graduate course on the Zombie.

There was enough revelry and hard-core mixology on display this past Monday to wake the long-dead Tiki spirits at the legendary Mai-Kai restaurant in Fort Lauderdale.

The occasion was a collision course of Tiki culture and rum appreciation known as the Zombie Jamboree, the kickoff party for the seven-day Miami Rum Renaissance Festival.

The evening consisted of three components. First, Tiki drink expert and author Jeff “Beachbum” Berry’s seminar on the history of the Zombie cocktail, then the best contemporary mixologists competing in the “Zombie Jam,” followed by The Mai-Kai’s show and dinner.

When I first heard about this event, I had to pinch myself. Had I died and gone to Tiki heaven? My favorite Mai-Kai drink was being celebrated with a seminar by my mixology guru and a contest that was just beckoning for me to enter. So enter I did.

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