Beachbum Berry digs deep to unearth vintage Zombies, more ‘Potions of the Caribbean’

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Beachbum Berry explains how to quickly pulse blend an original Zombie
Beachbum Berry explains how to quickly pulse blend an original Zombie at the 2011 Miami Rum Renaissance Festival at The Mai-Kai. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)

In the latter years of the 20th century, there were two eras: B.B.B. and A.B.B. Before Beachbum Berry, it was the dark days, when tropical drink mixology was still mired in the depths of decades of misunderstanding and neglect. But After Beachbum Berry, that all changed.

A screenwriter and director formerly known as Jeff Berry took his obsession with finding the most authentic and painstakingly-crafted exotic cocktails of the early and mid-20th century to the masses. His five books – from Grog Log in 1998 through Beachbum Berry Remixed in 2009 – have redefined how we view Tiki drinks.

Sure, mixology probably still would have enjoyed its current and ongoing renaissance without him, but it would surely be a lot less colorful and fun place. But beyond the campy humor and aloha shirts, Berry takes his craft and research seriously. He spent 10 years tracking down the authentic recipe for the Zombie, perhaps the most elusive cocktail of its time.

You can view, and taste, the results of his research in a special symposium at the 11th annual Hukilau in Fort Lauderdale on Saturday, April 21. “Revenge Of The Zombie: The Tale of Tiki’s Deadliest Drink” will explore the development of one of history’s most infamous cocktails, from the 1930s to the present.

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Hukilau update: Commemorative mug, classic cocktails, and a new rum sponsor

Previous: Heeeeeeere’s the rich history and lost stories of The Mai-Kai
Artist profile: The Martian Denny Orchestra | Sven Kirsten added to 2012 lineup
Hukilau launches new website with full event details | Full Hukilau coverage
Official sites: TheHukilau.com | Facebook page | Facebook group

With the U.S. East Coast’s largest celebration of Polynesian Pop culture quickly approaching, more details have been released about the April 19-22 event in Fort Lauderdale. Centered at the legendary Mai-Kai restaurant and two beachside hotels, the 11th annual Hukilau is shaping up to be a tikiphile’s paradise.

The latest news from Hukilau headquarters:

Hukilau 2012 commemorative mug by Tiki Diablo.
Hukilau 2012 commemorative mug by Tiki Diablo.

2012 COMMEMORATIVE MUG

Designed by Danny Gallardo, aka Tiki Diablo, this limited-edition drinking vessel was inspired by Milan Guanko, Hukilau organizer Tiki Kiliki’s favorite historic carver. When Gallardo sent her a photo of a Tiki from carver Richard Ellis that was made for the Tradewinds Restaurant in Oxnard, Calif., she immediately knew it was what she wanted: “This Tiki had everything we wanted and more. Danny has done an amazing job – we love it!”

To purchase one of the 250 mugs, click here.

MIXOLOGISTS SHOW THEIR SKILLS

While room parties will surely be ongoing throughout the weekend, the officially sanctioned cocktails will be centered around the pool and sun deck at the Best Western Oceanside Inn.

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Heeeeeeere’s the rich history and lost stories of The Mai-Kai

Updated August 2018
Latest news, related features
* The Mai-Kai updates bar menu, adds classic ‘lost’ cocktail
* Rums of The Mai-Kai include potent, funky flavors from Guyana and Jamaica
* The Mai-Kai: 10 reasons why we love the historic South Florida restaurant
* The Mai-Kai turns 60 with history presentations, celebration
* New giant carved Tiki added to The Mai-Kai’s outdoor garden
* ‘King Kai’ leads procession of new Tikis into The Mai-Kai

Mai-Kai: History and Mystery of the Iconic Tiki Restaurant

Mai-Kai: History and Mystery of the Iconic Tiki Restaurant
The definitive book on the historic Fort Lauderdale Tiki temple by Tim “Swanky” Glazner was released in September 2016. Get your copy now!
* Official website | Facebook page
More photos, stories

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The Mai-Kai: History, Mystery & Adventure
By Hurricane Hayward and Tim “Swanky” Glazner, February 2012

The Mai-Kai in Fort Lauderdale, now in its 56th year, is widely acclaimed as perhaps the last perfectly preserved mid-century Polynesian restaurant with its incredible vintage decor, acclaimed cocktails, authentic South Seas stage show, vast Asian-inspired menu and an ambience that makes you feel like you’ve been transported back in time.

One of the oldest Mai-Kai postcards, a rendering by architect Charles McKirahan. (From SwankPad.org)
One of the oldest Mai-Kai postcards, a rendering by architect Charles McKirahan. (From SwankPad.org)

But not many are aware of The Mai-Kai’s direct links to Tiki’s forefather, from the concept to the cocktails to the decor.

In 1933, a small tropical and nautical themed bar in Hollywood, Calif., called Don the Beachcomber was one of many thousands that opened the day after Prohibition ended. Who would have imagined that former rum-runner Ernest Raymond Beaumont-Gantt, who later changed his name to Donn Beach, had invented a new genre of mixology and a bar/restaurant concept that would be copied across the globe for decades to come.

Of course, we’re talking about the classic Tiki bar and its exotic tropical drinks. At the dawn of the cocktail era, Donn Beach was the undisputed king of tropical mixology. In an era of drinks with two or three ingredients, his secret recipes included up to a dozen, including two or three rums, resulting in drinks the world had never seen before.

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Hukilau artist profile: The Martian Denny Orchestra

Previous: Tiki godfather Sven Kirsten added to Hukilau 2012 lineup
Hukilau launches new website with full event details | Full Hukilau coverage
Official sites: TheHukilau.com | Facebook page | Facebook group

The Hukilau is the largest Polynesian Pop festival on the U.S. East Coast. It will be held April 19-22 in Fort Lauderdale at several beachside hotels plus the legendary Mai-Kai restaurant.

The Martian Denny Orchestra

Guitar slinger Eddie Angel will be making his third appearance at The Hukilau in the past four years, but for the third time he’ll have a different band in tow. Having earlier performed with Los Straitjackets and The Neanderthals, the Nashville-based Angel returns with a new, out-of-this-world crew.

The Martian Denny Orchestra blends surf, spy and space sounds is quickly becoming an underground sensation in Music City. As expected from a Nashville group, the band’s members are some of the best in the business. Joining Angel are: guitarist Bob Irwin, owner of record label Sundazed Music and member of New York’s Pluto Walkers; bassist Dave Roe, who has played with everyone from Johnny Cash to John Mellencamp; multi-instrumentalist Jim Hoke (steel guitar, saxophone, flute, etc.), who has showed off his versatility with NRBQ, Toby Keith and others; and drummer Jimmy Lester, formerly of Los Straitjackets and currently with roots rocker Webb Wilder.

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Tiki godfather Sven Kirsten added to Hukilau 2012 lineup

Previous: Hukilau launches new website with full event details | Full Hukilau coverage
Official sites: TheHukilau.com | Facebook page | Facebook group

More music and a very special guest speaker have been added to the lineup for the 11th annual Hukilau, the massive Polynesian Pop party scheduled for April 19-22 in Fort Lauderdale. Organizers just confirmed the addition of exotica band Exotik-a-GoGo and influential author Sven Kirsten.

Exotik-a-GoGo
Exotik-a-GoGo

Exotik-a-GoGo, hailing from the not-so-tropical locale of Minneapolis, is scheduled to perform on Friday and Saturday nights. Combining jazz instrumentation with jungle rhythms and tropical birdcalls mixed with vibraphone, the group promises the pseudo experience of being transported to an exotic island destination.

The band cites influences such as mid-century exotica pioneers Les Baxter, Martin Denny, Arthur Lyman and Yma Sumac. You can catch them live every Friday and Saturday at Midwest Tiki hotspot Psycho Suzi’s Motor Lounge in Minneapolis.

Making a rare appearance at Hukilau will be one of the pioneers credited with kick-starting the Tiki revival, California-based and German-born Sven Kirsten, author of the Book of Tiki (2003) and Tiki Modern (2007). Kirsten will host a special presentation, “The Golden Age of Tiki Archeology: Unpublished Images from the Sven Kirsten Archive.” It’s sure to include a multimedia showing of great photos and discoveries that have never been seen before.

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Monterey Club joining forces with Propaganda

Related: Past coverage of The Monterey Club

As previously announced and mourned by local and independent music fans, The Monterey Club shut down its Fort Lauderdale location after one last bash on New Year’s Eve. But the club had a surprise for its fans on Jan. 2, when it announced on Facebook that all future shows will be moved to Propaganda in Lake Worth.

Propaganda

It’s still unclear if this arrangement will morph into a full-blown partnership, but for now it appears that The Monterey will live on. According to the Facebook announcement: “Our website will remain up, with some details changing, but the calendar will remain the same. So keep checking for great evenings of the best original music South Florida has to offer.”

According to the announcement, among the bands that have been booked at The Monterey and will be appearing at Propaganda are Scott H. Biram, Two Man Gentleman Band, Cristabel and the Jons, The Hackensaw Boys, Miss Tess and the Bon Ton Parade, and The Red Elvises. It said: “The local music will continue as well, and we will be invading Palm Beach with some serious Broward and Dade kick ass rock and roll! More info coming soon!”

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Behind the magic: A backstage tour of The Mai-Kai’s mysterious bars and kitchen

Updated May 2018

Related news, features
* The Mai-Kai is here to stay: 10 reasons why we love the historic restaurant
* New giant carved Tiki added to The Mai-Kai’s outdoor garden
* ‘King Kai’ leads procession of new Tikis into The Mai-Kai
* Google Maps: Explore The Mai-Kai in 3-D

NEW: The Mai-Kai online store
You can now order signature mugs and other merchandise online via the Trading Post’s new e-commerce app.
* Click here to order

Backstage tour posted on Dec. 28, 2011

After outliving the original mid-century Polynesian restaurant fad by more than 30 years, you would think that Fort Lauderdale’s legendary Mai-Kai would be ready for early retirement after turning 55 today. You would be dead wrong.

The Mai-Kai

Photo tour: Jump to the gallery below

The grand old dame of Tiki is riding high as the torch-bearing icon of a new generation of Tiki-loving hipsters and cocktail lovers. Reinvigorated by this new wave of Tiki mania, a growing respect and interest in retro culture, continued support by regulars and tourists, plus a million-dollar refurbishment in 2009, The Mai-Kai is still pretty spry.

It may not be the same as the late 1950s, when The Mai-Kai was the largest independent user of rum in the United States (2,000 cases were poured in 1958), but with rum and cocktails in the midst of a renaissance there’s a growing buzz emanating from 3599 N. Federal Highway.

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Have a hip-shakin’ Huladay this Saturday at The Mai-Kai

Are you already getting tired of those boring office Christmas parties? Ring in the holiday season with those wild and crazy DJs from Exotica A-Go-Go at another one of their raucous late-night soirees this Saturday at Fort Lauderdale’s world famous Mai-Kai.

Put on your dancing shoes, grab a Barrel O’ Rum and and a pupu platter and prepare to get funky at a very special Huladay Party from 9 p.m. until the wee hours in The Molokai bar. DJs Sensitive Side, James Brown’s Sweat and Mikey “Radio-Active” Ramirez will be spinning a wide assortment of hip-shakin’ soul, garage, punk, R&B, surf and much more.

Santa will drop by with holiday giveaways and likely take advantage of the half-price happy hour drink specials from 10 p.m. until midnight. There’s no cover charge or minimum.

Of course, these are the same guys behind the recent Zombie A-Go-Go at The Mai-Kai in October. See photos and a recap of that bash courtesy of Broward New Times.

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The Hukilau launches new website with full event details

Previous posts: Kevin Kidney named art director of documentary filmed at The Hukilau
2012 tickets on sale, preview of events | Eclectic lineup of bands confirmed
Annual Hukilau moves from June to April | Full Hukilau coverage

Organizers of the largest annual celebration of Tiki culture on the East Coast went straight to the event’s loyal following when it came time to plan the 2012 event. The result? An earlier date and other exciting changes that have just been announced on the event’s totally redesigned website, TheHukilau.com.

TheHukilau.com

The Hukilau, which spent the past five years in early June, now moves to April 19-22 as the result of a poll of its Facebook fans. The earlier date promises milder weather and more separation from the other major summer events.

Activities will again be centered around two beachside hotels plus the legendary Mai-Kai restaurant, which is celebrating its 55th anniversary this month. But months of feedback from Hukilau fans resulted in several changes: More events at The Mai-Kai, a more budget-friendly hotel, and a more laid-back schedule with time to enjoy the company of friends and South Florida’s abundant beaches and beauty.

One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is The Hukilau’s commitment to high-caliber entertainment and educational symposiums. Among the 2012 highlights are: Nashville surf/spy/space supergroup The Martian Denny Orchestra; a symposium on the mysterious Zombie cocktail by influential mixologist and author Jeff “Beachbum” Berry; a hands-on symposium by tattoo artist and historian Paul Roe; and several performances by acclaimed burlesque star Angie Pontani.

Here’s an overview of this magical Polynesian weekend in America’s Vacationland:

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Exclusive Hukilau updates: 2012 tickets on sale, preview of events announced

Previous posts: Eclectic lineup of bands confirmed for 2012 Hukilau
Annual Hukilau in South Florida moves from June to April | Full Hukilau coverage

Information has been leaking out for months via Facebook but it’s finally now official: TheHukilau.com has launched for 2012 with a list of activities and info, ticket prices and online ordering. The Atomic Grog is happy to present some exclusive, additional details.

TheHukilau.com

The biggest news for the April 19-22 Polynesian Pop extravaganza: A new host hotel, even more events at The Mai-Kai, and a special Beachbum Berry cocktail symposium. While a new Web designer puts the finishing touches on the 2012 site, Hukilau producer/organizer Christie “Tiki Kiliki” White filled us in on some of the details:

New host hotel: The beachside Best Western Oceanside Inn will offer festival attendees a more affordable and intimate experience, Tiki Kiliki says. It’s located just south of The Hukilau’s longtime party central, the Bahia Cabana Beach Resort. You can make reservations at both hotels now by calling the phone numbers listed on TheHukilau.com. To get the best rooms at special group rates, you must call these numbers now instead of making reservations online.

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