The world’s hospitality community is experiencing an unprecedented shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, with ramifications still undefined and the “new normal” still open to debate. As our favorite bars agonize over layoffs, and the lucky ones eke out a living via takeout and delivery, many of us have tried to help the best we can.
The Atomic Grog compiled a list of links to buy merchandise, donate to crowd-sourced fundraisers, and learn more about efforts to assist Tiki bars in need. This blog post focuses on the Tiki revival and adjacent rum bars, but we don’t want to forget all the others in the bar industry that also need assistance sooner rather than later. All deserve our support.
But we also need to blow off some steam and relax. In these days of social distancing (we prefer the term physical distancing) and stay-at-home orders, many are cranking up their home bars to 11, posting photos and recipes, hosting virtual happy hours, and more. While all of these are worthy pursuits, I’m focusing my efforts here on the bars and bartenders I most admire.
Rather than just repost their recipes, I thought it might be appropriate to pay tribute with something new … but also something old and comforting. So belly up to the home bar for Daiquiris of Hope (#daiquirisofhope), an attempt to put a small but loving spotlight on those influential establishments that are unfortunately dealing with a potential business disaster. Of course, this comes on top of all the personal toll the virus is taking.
But let’s focus on the positive: Those memorable and distinctive flavors that stay with us long after we’ve left the bar. The challenge is how to best translate that simply, with no fuss or muss. Not everyone is stocked to the gills in their home bar. But everyone at the very least should have access to rum, lime (or some other sour citrus) and a sweet ingredient of some sort. If you have bitters and other enhancements, all the better.
My hope is that others – enthusiasts and professionals alike – will join me in sharing photos and recipes on social media using the hashtag #daiquirisofhope in an effort to raise awareness for our friends in their time of need. Let them know we’re thinking of them as we spread the word via their great gift: A well-crafted cocktail.
The humble Daiquiri (rum, lime and sugar at its most basic) is a cocktail that transcends all eras, trends, styles, and social status. It’s the great equalizer behind the bar, often used as a litmus test to judge a bartender’s chops, but more often used as a stress-breaker and common denominator as perhaps the most ubiquitous “shift drink.”
For all those reasons and many more, we chose this classic Tiki template – embraced by both Trader Vic and Don the Beachcomber and featured in some shape or form on every tropical cocktail menu over the past century – as the means to salute bartenders dealing with today’s state of affairs.
Of course, the history of this Caribbean standard goes back to the town of Daiquiri, Cuba, in the early 1900s, where it was reportedly invented by an American working there during the Spanish-American War. Others may beg to differ, and the drink’s origins are still hotly debated in Cuba’s prestigious cocktail bars.
Unlike the frozen, blended version (often flavored with fruit) that many mainstream drinkers may associate with the name, a classic Daiquiri is always shaken with ice and strained into a coupe or other small glass. Rum, lime and sugar are constants – though Victor Bergeron and Donn Beach kicked off an era of post-Prohibition experimentation that continues to this day.
The coronoavirus pandemic shows few signs of abating, bars and restaurants across the U.S. remain closed, and most events scheduled for the upcoming months continue to be canceled or postponed. Facing this bleak future, it was a forgone conclusion that The Hukilau would be forced to reschedule its 19th annual Tiki weekender scheduled for June 3-7 in Fort Lauderdale.
Global ambassador Alexx Mouzouris chats about Don Q Rum, Gary Evans and Brian Crum of The Intoxicators share stories of the band and The Hukilau:
The Hukilau’s Richard Oneslager talks about the upcoming (MO)RE (ALO)HA Tour, Tim “Swanky Glazner shows off his Mai-Kai mug collection:
Indeed, the announcement sent to ticketholders does just that, but with a hugely ambitious twist. Rather than just regroup at some future date at the historic Mai-Kai restaurant and the beachside B Ocean Resort, organizers have announced The Hukilau “(MO)RE (ALO)HA Tour,” a series of events across the country this summer and fall aimed at raising money for Tiki bars devastated by what have now become months-long shutdowns.
The tour will indeed include a return to The Mai-Kai for an 18th straight year, just without the hotel component. “Smaller local events can directly support our bars, and not require villagers to buy an airline ticket, or book a hotel,” The Hukilau announced in the email. “We believe this is the best opportunity to bring the ohana together, and support our community.”
The announcement said The Hukilau is planning “5 or more stops on the tour.” Besides Fort Lauderdale, other planned tour stops are Los Angeles and San Francisco. Potential events in additional cities are on the drawing board, among them Chicago, Pittsburgh, Denver, and Atlanta. The email confirmed that the tour will end Oct. 16 in London, site of the previously scheduled Hukilau London, presented in association with The UK RumFest.
All of the U.S. dates and locations are still to be determined, the email stressed, adding: “We cannot set a schedule until we see how the health crisis and government restrictions play out.” The tour is designed to be “responsive and flexible to changing conditions,” but the hope is for events to take place throughout August and September. “There’s nothing easy about the current conditions we are living in,” it said, adding: “We have all grown more comfortable with a greater amount of uncertainty.”
If you’re already booked for the June event, you can immediately cancel your B Ocean Resort reservation with no penalty. But event ticketholders are being encouraged to hang tight while The Hukilau works out details on multiple options for villagers to transfer some of their payments. “Our number one goal is to support our bars and artists,” according to the announcement from The Hukilau’s organizer, Richard Oneslager, and his crew. Ticket-holders can email Aloha@TheHukilau.com for more information on their options. Also look for updates at TheHukilau.com.
New exclusive merchandise will be announced soon. Follow The Hukilau on Facebook and Instagram for info on special mugs and other Tiki treasures that highlight The Hukilau partner bars, as well as artists and vendors.
With bars and restaurants across the country (and world) forced to close due to coronavirus restrictions, many establishments near and dear to our hearts are going through rough times. Even with many reopenings in May and June, severe restrictions are keeping business to a minimum as the pandemic still ripples across the country, and some are even experiencing a second shutdown.
We feel strongly about supporting all of the owners, managers and employees as they face severe turbulence in their chosen profession. Please do all you can to help them out by whatever means possible. One easy way for all of us to do this is to frequent their online stores, buy merchandise and gift cards, and put some cash back in their coffers. Also note that many areas of the country have expanded rules to allow take-out and delivery of alcohol as well as food, so check with your local establishments for more info. It may be their lifeline.
Many establishments have offered food and inventive cocktails to go. These include Archipelago (Washington, D.C.), The Bamboo Club (Long Beach, Calif.), Death or Glory (Delray Beach, Fla.), Hidden Harbor (Pittsburgh), The Jungle Bird (Sacramento, Calif.), The Kon-Tiki (Oakland), Lono (Hollywood, Calif.), Lost River (Detroit), Lun Wah (Roselle, N.J.), Max’s South Seas Hideaway (Detroit), Strong Water (Anaheim, Calif.), The Tiki Terrace (Des Plaines, Ill.), Ventiki (Ventura, Calif.), and The Hub Bar (Tampa). The Mai-Kai in Fort Lauderdale has ramped up their offering from gallons of signature cocktails to wine and a extensive menu of hot appetizers and entrees. Call your local establishments to check, and visit this Facebook group for more info on who’s offering take-out and delivery services.
We also remind you to continue to support the many artists and merchants who now depend on direct sales to customers to survive. You can find links to many of them in the right rail of this blog post. With events being closed and postponed, they rely even more on a steady stream of online income. Some of the online events held around the world also include marketplaces and ways to make donations to Tiki establishments
Following are links to bars and restaurants in the greater Tiki scene offering online sales during these trying times. If you find any broken links, please let us know and we’ll update. Also, please send us any additions to this list via email or as a message on our social media pages (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram). There’s also a new Facebook group to join and add comments, find more ways to help. NEW indicates listings newly added to this page, not necessarily new stores or merchandise.
Aku Aku, Orlando – A small and inviting mid-mod Tiki oasis near downtown, Aku Aku has had its ups and downs during the pandemic. They rolled out a robust takeout program, then got the go-ahead to reopen the bar to customers in early June. However, they were forced to shut down again at the end of the month due to Florida’s out-of-control outbreak. In early July, a new Kickstarter campaign was launched to sell the new Gill-Man Chu Tiki Mug, designed by Doug Horne and manufactured by Tiki Farm. Supply is limited, so reserve your mug now. Additional Kickstarter tiers include T-shirts, signed mugs and prints, plus a special hand-painted mug.
Bahi Hut, Sarasota – This historic (est. 1954) but underappreciated Tiki landmark took a while to ramp up online merch, but in September finally launched an online shop. Signature “Big Tim” mugs ( created by Robo Tiki) are now available in sets of two, with more merchandise coming soon. Recognized as the oldest Tiki bar in Florida, Bahi Hut is also site of the annual Tiki Fever event, which unfortunately had to be postponed this year. The bar reopened on Oct. 3 with strict COVID-19 guidlines, including masks, temperature checks and limiting indoor seating. The outdoor patio has plenty of seating with more furniture coming soon.
Beachbum Berry’s Latitude 29, New Orleans – The bar and restaurant owned and operated by author and Tiki revival pioneer Jeff “Beachbum” Berry and his wife Annene Kaye is well represented in the BeachbumBerry.com store, including syrups and barware. While you’re there, pick up the Bum’s books so you can make the hundreds of tropical classics at home while we wait for our favorite bars to reopen. After six months, Latitude 29 reopened Oct. 2 with reservation-only seating. Take-out food and cocktails are also available. Go to Latitude29nola.com for deatils. Daiquiri of Hope: Beachbum’s Special Daiquiri
Clifton’s Pacific Seas, Los Angeles – Closed since the early days of the pandemic, the Tiki bar inside the legendary Clifton’s complex has a variety of items in the Exposition Marketplace of The Neverlands. These include a variety of mugs and “assorted curiosities.” Check back regularly for new items.
Esotico Miami – In addition to a wide selection of “Tiki Away Cocktails,” this tropical hideaway in the Magic City led by noted Tiki mixologist Daniele Dalla Pola offers unique custom bar tools and mugs. Esotico also has a GoFundMe page that benefits its employees. The restaurant is scheduled to reopen indoor dirning under social distancing restrictions on Aug. 31. Esotico has offered outdoor dining as well as takeout, curbside pick-up and delivery throughout the pandemic as long as Miami has allowed it.
False Idol, San Diego – Consortium Holdings, one of the partners (along with Tiki bar guru Martin Cate) in this over-the-top throwback to classic Tiki hidden inside the Craft & Commerce bar, offers False Idol mugs and aloha shirts for sale online. Gift cards are also available. In June, Craft & Commerce announced the reopenings of many of its venues, including False Idol.
Frankie’s Tiki Room, Las Vegas – A wide variety of mugs, glassware and apparel fill the online store of this beloved Tiki bastion in Sin City. You can also pick up gift certificates and a copy of the 2013 book, Liquid Vacation, which features recipes for 77 of the cocktails served at Frankie’s. Frankie’s reopened to the public on June 3, but it was forced to close again in late July due to local restrictions. Frankie’s reopened again on Sept. 21.
Fuchsia Tiki Bar, New Paltz, N.Y. – This small tropical escape hidden away in Ulster County, around 70 miles north of the Big Apple, is plugging away with merchandise, gift cards and cocktails cocktails to go. On June 25, Fuchsia opened for indoor dining with limited seating capacity. On July 6, new T-shirts went on sale in the online store.
The Grass Skirt, San Diego – This fun Tiki hangout hidden inside Good Time Poke in the scenic Pacific Beach neighborhood has a plethora of merch: Mugs, bowls and glassware; plus a variety of shirts and pins. Also, a portion of gift card purchases go toward helping the staff. The Grass Skirt reopened on May 29.
Hale Pele, Portland, Ore. – The Pacific Northwest’s long-running Tiki paradise has an array of merch in its new online store, from mugs to glassware to shirts to pins to gift cards. There’s also a virtual tip jar for the staff. While you’re there, sign up for the email blast to get news and updates.
Hidden Harbor, Pittsburgh – The web store at this popular Tiki revival craft cocktail bar offers gift cards, plus exclusive mugs and other merchandise. Sign up for their newsletter and be the first to know about new offerings. Hidden Harbor reopened with limited outdoor sidewalk seating in June, but faces closure during the upcoming winter months. In the meantime, Hidden Harbor is releasing special Halloween merch and participating in Boos! Brews & Barbecue on Oct. 25 with its neighbor and corporate sister, Independent Brewing Company.
Hula Hula, Seattle – The longtime kitschy karaoke and Tiki bar offers a wide selection of apparel, including multiple styles of shirts and hats. On June 20, Hula Hula reopened for food, cocktails and karaoke under the state of Washington’s guidelines.
Kowloon, Saugus, Mass. – This historic Asian restaurant with Tiki flair has a full-blown online gift shop filled with mugs and bowls, shirts, hats and plushes. You can also buy gift certificates. Kowloon reopened with outdoor seating on June 9. On June 25, the restaurant added drive-in movies and car-hop service for guests to enjoy from their cars along with an outdoor Tiki bar and live music.
Laki Kane, London – The acclaimed craft Tiki bar from mixologist and author Georgi Radev has an online shop featuring a nice selection of mugs, plus the bar’s own spiced dry rum. Also, guests who already created a custom rum can reorder a bottle. Note that shipping is available only within the UK. Laki Kane reopened on July 4 by reservation only under strict new guidelines.
Last Rites, San Francisco – Dubbed “Polynesian noir,” this unique and modern take on Tiki with a backstory revolving around a plane crash has had to battle its own takedown by coronavirus. While the bar remains closed, you can buy gift cards and make donations to help the staff.
Lono, Los Angeles – There are quite a few items to choose from in the online store for the Umbrella Hospitality Group, which owns this Hollywood Boulevard haunt. You can pick up a gift card, plus signature mugs, glassware, pins, and hats. A selection of cocktails are also available for pickup and delivery.
Lost Lake, Chicago – Early in the pandemic, this award-winning craft cocktail bar created a GoFundMe page with 100 percent of the virtual tips going to the laid-off staff. Donors received a special newsletter containing food and drink recipes to make at home, plus other special features. The bar took the first step in toward reopening in June, when laws were changed to allow takeout cocktails along with food. With a full-blown reopening still on the distant horizon, the ambitious Lost Lake at Home program was launched in October. A monthly membership gives locals access to unique and special rums, bottled cocktails, plus lots more.
Lost River, Detroit – The Web store of this rum-focused tropical neighborhood bar on Detroit’s Eastside features gift cards, plus a wide assortment of merchandise (tons of mugs and glassware, plus shirts and pins). There’s also an option to “tip your bartender.” According to a Facebook post, Lost River is planning on reopening in August (subject to change).
The Mai-Kai, Fort Lauderdale – The Mai-Kai Trading Post is the historic restaurant’s longtime online version of its vast on-site gift shop, offering custom mugs, apparel, jewelry, Tikis, artist prints, menus, and more. Also online, gift certificates and vouchers can be purchased in multiple demoninations. You can also join The Mai-Kai Club, a loyalty program that entitles you to 25 to 50 percent off food, drinks and merchandise. Click here for more info and join the club for just $20 by mail or, for the first time this year, online. The Mai-Kai’s bar and dining rooms reopened to the public under social distancing rules on May 29. TAKE-OUT SPECIALS:Expanded to-go menu including cocktails, wine, appetizers, entrees
Safe and scary fun: Hulaween Drive-In Movie at The Mai-Kai on Oct. 30 The historic Polynesian restaurant will reanimate its parking lot as a monster movie theater, complete with a big screen showing an infamous 1960s-era horror film. >>> Full preview, ticket info, more
Max’s South Seas Hideaway, Grand Rapids, Mich. – Featuring an in-house ceramic studio along with one of the most ambitious build-outs since Tiki’s mid-century heyday, this acclaimed new restaurant originally sold exclusively to its on-site guests. Now, however, they continually stock a vast online store with limited-edition mugs, bowls, clothing, and other collectible merchandise. Gift cards are also available. There’s also a GoFundMe page to aid employees. The restaurant reopened on June 15 and had a special mug release launch on Father’s Day. Since then, they’ve also ramped up their to-go offerings, which now include 26 different canned cocktails, from Mai Tais to Painkillers to Zombies and more.