The Week in Tiki (June 15-28, 2015): Summer events in full swing with The Hukilau, Ohana: Luau At The Lake, more

The Week in Tiki The year’s two major East Coast events, The Hukilau in Fort Lauderdale and Ohana: Luau At The Lake in upstate New York, dominate June’s news. We also have an update on the ill-fated Rapa Nui Reef in Deerfield Beach, plus news on October’s Ohana: Luau by the Sea. Also announced for October: Mod-PalmSprings and The Art of Tiki: A Cocktail Showdown in the Big Apple. Regular features spotlight the artist Squid, exotica ensemble Waitiki, the venerable Tiki-Ti in Los Angeles, and the Fraternal Order Of Moai website. The rum of the week, Rhum Barbancourt 5 Star, is featured in the 1862 Rhum Punch.
Note: Updates are now being published twice a month, but don’t worry. We won’t miss any of the latest news.
* Keep up with The Week in Tiki: Facebook page | RSS feed | See past weeks | Archive
* Weekly features: Artist | Band/music | Tiki bar | Website | Rum | Cocktail | Events

The Hukilau soars at mid-century marvel Pier 66 hotel

Close to a thousand fans of Tiki and mid-century culture from around the world gathered in Fort Lauderdale for The Hukilau on June 10-14, with events centered around the Hyatt Regency Pier 66 and The Mai-Kai restaurant. The 14th annual event seemed fresher than ever thanks to the vintage charm and modern amenities of Pier 66. Here’s a day-by-day recap:

Gold Dust Lounge from Miami play a rousing set of instrumental surf. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)
Gold Dust Lounge from Miami play a rousing set of instrumental surf. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)

* Wednesday, June 10: Registration opened at Pier 66 and Marina the Fire Eating Mermaid (Medusirena) performed her first exclusive swim show only for guests of The Hukilau at The Wreck Bar at the nearby B Ocean Resort, the former Yankee Clipper on Fort Lauderdale Beach. The reserved-seat, ticketed event was a hit with guests, who all had clear views of Marina and her pod of aquaticats as they performed their “Aquacade Swimshow” featuring special guests Crazy Al Evans, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, and more. The evening party moved to The Molokai lounge at The Mai-Kai, featuring live surf music from Miami’s Gold Dust Lounge. Emcee King Kukulele kept thing lively, and the bar was filled with guests and VIPs, including the crew from the upcoming Tiki Tower Takeover and food TV celeb Jim Stacy (Offbeat Eats with Jim Stacy).
* The Atomic Grog’s photo recap: See more images from Wednesday

The Tiki Tower Takeover's all-star cast of bar professionals joins The Hukilau's Christie "Tiki Kiliki" White (center) for a group photo
The Tiki Tower Takeover’s all-star cast of bar professionals joins The Hukilau’s Christie “Tiki Kiliki” White (center) for a group photo. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)

* Thursday, June 11: Registration at Pier 66 got a little more interesting thanks to The Real McCoy rum, who provided tastings and cocktails from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. One of this year’s signature events, the Tiki Tower Takeover, was held from 4 to 6 in the 17th floor revolving Pier Top Ballroom. Four of the country’s most recognized Tiki cocktail barmen set up shop for a very special happy hour: Martin Cate (Smuggler’s Cove, San Francisco), Jeff “Beachbum” Berry (Latitude 29, New Orleans), Paul McGee (Lost Lake, Chicago) and Brian Miller (“Tiki Mondays With Miller”, New York City). The lively party lived up to expectations, providing guests a one-of-a-kind opportunity to enjoy full-sized, fully-garnished signature cocktails personally made by these acclaimed mixologists all at one event. Pablus, King Kukulele and Crazy Al Evans provided the entertainment, and the drinks were all outstanding: The rummy Formidable Dragon from Martin Cate, the mysterious and exotic T.O.T.C. Swizzle from Beachbum Berry, the complex yet perfectly balanced Lost Lake from Paul McGee, and the creative yet accessible Pandanarama Daiquiri from Brian Miller. You know you’re tasting some of the best drinks in the business when just before the event three of the four were nominated for Spirited Awards by Tales of the Cocktail: Smuggler’s Cove (Best American Cocktail Bar) and both Latitude 29 and Lost Lake (Best New American Cocktail Bar). After The Hukilau, it was announced that both Smuggler’s Cove and Latitude 29 had survived the cut and made the final four. The winners will be announced at Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans on July 18.

Continue reading “The Week in Tiki (June 15-28, 2015): Summer events in full swing with The Hukilau, Ohana: Luau At The Lake, more”

The Hukilau photo highlights: Wednesday’s mermaid show, pre-party at The Mai-Kai

Check out images from the first day of festivities during The Hukilau’s 14th annual Tiki weekender in Fort Lauderdale.
Photos by day: Wednesday | Thursday | Friday | Saturday/Sunday

PHOTOS FROM WEDNESDAY, JUNE 10

Registration opens at Pier 66

The moai were placed in the lobby with care.A moai awaits guests near the registration booth in the Crystal Atrium. (The Hukilau photo)

***************************************

Continue reading “The Hukilau photo highlights: Wednesday’s mermaid show, pre-party at The Mai-Kai”

Event preview: The Hukilau keeps 20th century Tiki culture alive and thriving in the 21st century

Polynesian Pop enthusiasts from around the world will gather Wednesday through Sunday (June 10-14) in Fort Lauderdale for The Hukilau, the East Coast’s largest and longest-running celebration of all things Tiki. The event reaches new heights in its 14th year at the towering Pier 66 hotel with marquee events that include the country’s top Tiki cocktail barmen and actress Dawn Wells, aka Mary Ann from Gilligan’s Island.

The Hukilau 2015

The Hukilau: June 10-14, 2015, at the Hyatt Regency Pier 66 and The Mai-Kai restaurant in Fort Lauderdale. Special guest: Dawn Wells. Musical guests and performers: Alika Lyman Group, The Intoxicators, Gold Dust Lounge, Pablus, Slip and the Spinouts, Kinky Waikiki, Skinny Jimmy Stingray, King Kukulele, Marina the Fire Eating Mermaid, Lila Starlet, DJ James Brown’s Sweat. Symposium presenters: Arthur Dong, Kevin Kidney and Jody Daily, Domenic Priore, Jeff Chenault, Jon Bortles and Tiki Gardener. Guest bartenders: Jeff “Beachbum” Berry, Brian Miller, Martin Cate, Paul McGee, Dean Hurst, the Straw Hat Barmen.
* Buy tickets, get more info at TheHukilau.com
* Latest updates: The Hukilau on Facebook | Twitter
* The Atomic Grog: The Week in Tiki

For a so-called fad that started in the 1930s and peaked in the mid-20th century, Polynesian Pop seems to be doing quite well 15 years into the 21st century. So what makes Tiki culture so enduring, and endearing?

“It’s really all about the escape,” said Christie “Tiki Kiliki” White, an Alabama native who co-founded The Hukilau in 2002 in Atlanta and sagely moved it to Fort Lauderdale and its historic Polynesian palace, The Mai-Kai, in 2003. “Some of us live the lifestyle, but for so many others, they get to dress in island prints, make tropical cocktails and create an instant vacation. Tiki gives all of us a release from the hustle of everyday life.”

* See below: Sponsors and merchandise | Special events | The venues | Symposiums
Bands and performers | Tickets and schedule

Continue reading “Event preview: The Hukilau keeps 20th century Tiki culture alive and thriving in the 21st century”

The Week in Tiki (March 16, 2015): Miller to remain in Big Apple; Tiki weekenders sell out in Chicago, N.J.

The Week in TikiThis week’s top story is the sellout of two upcoming events: the Chicago Area Tiki Tour, and the Vintage Tiki Weekend in Wildwood, N.J. Also, tickets for Tiki Kon in the Pacific Northwest are selling fast. We have news on award-winning Tiki barman Brian Miller’s decision to remain in New York City. Plus, get updates on Aloha Isle and Sunshine Tree Terrace swapping locations in the Magic Kingdom’s Adventureland, and a Tiki disappointment in the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s historic bars contest. Our weekly features spotlight artist Eric October, Marina the Fire Eating Mermaid’s new website, the music of Gold Dust Lounge, and the Tambu Lounge at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. The rum of the week, Mount Gay Eclipse, is featured in the The Monaco cocktail.
* Keep up with The Week in Tiki: Facebook page | RSS feed | See past weeks | Archive
* Weekly features: Artist | Website | Band/music | Tiki bar | Rum | Cocktail | Events

LAST WEEK IN REVIEW (March 9-15, 2015)

Quick hits: Miller staying in NYC, N.J. and Chicago Tiki events sell out

Brian Miller (left) and Cabell Tomlinson (Tiki Mondays With Miller, New York City) mix up the Pain Reliever.
Brian Miller (left) and Cabell Tomlinson (Tiki Mondays With Miller, New York City) mix up the Pain Reliever during The Art of Tiki: A Cocktail Showdown on South Beach. (Photo by The Atomic Grog)

New York City’s Tiki scene is breathing a collective sigh of relief this week after award-winning bartender Brian Miller had a change of heart and decided to not make a move to the West Coast. After winning “The Art of Tiki: A Cocktail Showdown” on Feb. 20 at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, the host of the popular Tiki Mondays With Miller events said he planned to migrate from the Big Apple to Los Angeles. However, in an e-mail received Sunday, the Tiki pirate said he said he now realizes that “New York City is where I want to be right now.” Miller’s next Tiki Monday shindig is set for April 20 at Pouring Ribbons. You can also catch Miller pouring cocktails and presenting a symposium June 10-14 at The Hukilau in Fort Lauderdale.
[Atomic Grog preview]

* Related story: The Art of Tiki: A Cocktail Showdown full coverage, photos, recipes

Continue reading “The Week in Tiki (March 16, 2015): Miller to remain in Big Apple; Tiki weekenders sell out in Chicago, N.J.”

The Hukilau announces six historic symposiums, ticket sales for June event in Fort Lauderdale

Tickets are now on sale for The Hukilau, the June 10-14 gathering of Polynesian Pop enthusiasts in Fort Lauderdale that boasts an impressive lineup of six symposiums by noted authors, artists and filmmakers. The 14th annual event will also include more live music, artists and vendors than ever before, plus a one-of-a-kind cocktail experience.

February update: The Hukilau welcomes Tiki’s top bartenders, Dawn Wells
Order now: Event passes and tickets, hotel reservations at TheHukilau.com
See below: Tickets and schedule | Symposiums | Entertainers

The Hukilau

The five days of activities will be headquartered at a new host hotel, the iconic Pier 66, a mid-century landmark that towers 17 stories above the south end of Fort Lauderdale Beach. Events will also be held at The Mai-Kai, the historic Tiki restaurant that has been home base for The Hukilau since 2003.

The Hukilau: June 10-14, 2015, at the Hyatt Regency Pier 66 and The Mai-Kai restaurant in Fort Lauderdale. Musical guests and performers: Alika Lyman Group, The Intoxicators, Gold Dust Lounge, Pablus, Slip and the Spinouts, Kinky Waikiki, Marina the Fire Eating Mermaid, King Kukulele. Symposium presenters: Arthur Dong, Kevin Kidney and Jody Daily, Jeff “Beachbum” Berry and Brian Miller, Domenic Priore, Jeff Chenault, Jon Bortles and Tiki Gardener.
* Latest updates: The Hukilau on Facebook | The Atomic Grog: The Week in Tiki

Tiki history is the focus of six special symposiums just announced for The Hukilau this year. Topics include idolized mid-century attractions such as Disney World’s original Polynesian Village Resort, Florida’s Tiki Gardens, Southern California’s Pacific Ocean Park, and The Kahiki supper club in Ohio.

The Hyatt Regency Pier 66
The Hyatt Regency Pier 66 overlooks the Intracoastal Waterway in Fort Lauderdale.

As usual, an eclectic lineup of musical acts has been assembled to keep the party lively. The Alika Lyman Group features the Hawaii-born nephew of exotica legend Arthur Lyman, performing a musical tribute that ranges from exotica to jazz to classic Hawaiian. Also performing will be Tallahassee instrumental surf stalwarts The Intoxicators, Miami surf-spy-jazz combo Gold Dust Lounge, Georgia’s loungy Hawaiian music group Kinky Waikiki, Tiki-inspired singer-songwriter Pablus from Tampa, and South Florida roots rockers Slip and the Spinouts. And it wouldn’t’ be The Hukilau without master of ceremonies King Kukulele and a performance or two by Marina the Fire Eating Mermaid.

Continue reading “The Hukilau announces six historic symposiums, ticket sales for June event in Fort Lauderdale”

Following ‘magical’ 2014, Tiki Kiliki has big plans for The Hukilau in 2015 and beyond

After coming precariously close to saying aloha and goodbye to The Hukilau, the long-running Tiki event she has organized since 2002, Christie “Tiki Kiliki” White is sure glad things turned out differently. “For me, it was the best event in the history of The Hukilau,” she said of the five-day festival in June that not only marked the 13th annual gathering of vintage culture devotees from around the world, but also a new beginning.

The Hukilau's Christie "Tiki Kiliki" White introduces her new partners, Richard Oneslager (left) and Mike Zielinski, during Saturday night's Main Event at The Mai-Kai.
The Hukilau’s Christie “Tiki Kiliki” White introduces her new partners, Richard Oneslager (left) and Mike Zielinski, during Saturday night’s Main Event at The Mai-Kai.

Just months before she planned to close the books on The Hukilau for good, White was approached by two fans of the event who also happened to be experienced businessmen and event organizers who were eager to strike up a partnership. “I consider myself a very lucky person,” she said of the serendipity of the happenstance that led to The Hukilau not only surviving to see 2015, but becoming poised to thrive and reach new audiences across the country.

I sat down with Tiki Kiliki recently at The Mai-Kai, the beloved 57-year-old Polynesian restaurant that serves as the inspiration for the event, to get the lowdown on what she and her new partners, Richard Oneslager and Mike Zielinski, have in the works for The Hukilau and how their mutually beneficial partnership came about. But first, a look back at that memorable event in June that was expanded to five days in anticipation of a last hurrah. Instead, it turned into a celebration of what’s to come.

The Hukilau 2014 was held June 11-15 at the Bahia Mar Beach Resort and The Mai-Kai in Fort Lauderdale.
See below: Gallery of 62 photos from The Atomic Grog. Click on bold links below for galleries by the official photographers at Go11 Media.
Related: The Hukilau offers a deep dive into the history of porthole cocktail lounges
The Hukilau 2015 will be held June 10-14. Get updates at TheHukilau.com and Facebook.

In the waning hours of The Hukilau on Sunday, artist Crazy Al Evans and author Jeff "Beachbum" Berry get one last chance to savor The Mai-Kai, its cocktails and its tropical garden.
In the waning hours of The Hukilau on Sunday, artist Crazy Al Evans and author Jeff “Beachbum” Berry get one last chance to savor The Mai-Kai, its cocktails and its tropical garden.

“This is going to sound really strange, but sort of like Disney, it was kind of like magic this year,” Tiki Kiliki told me. “You can’t really explain it, but everything just fell into place in a magical way. We talked about it afterwards. We don’t really know what the magic formula was, it just happened.”

The magic started on Wednesday, June 11, when what was formerly an informal night at The Mai-Kai became the Unofficial Official Pre-Party. South Florida roots/rockabilly band Slip and the Spinouts jammed in the sold-out Molokai bar while other attendees enjoyed many of the bar’s 47 classic Tiki cocktails and the restaurant’s extensive appetizer and dinner menu in the more sedate dining rooms. Logistical problems at the Sheraton Yankee Clipper forced the cancellation of Marina the Fire Eating Mermaid’s scheduled midnight swim show, but that just gave some attendees the opportunity to begin their room parties early. Disappointed guests were heartened by the fact that there was much more Marina to come.

Continue reading “Following ‘magical’ 2014, Tiki Kiliki has big plans for The Hukilau in 2015 and beyond”

Miami’s Gold Dust Lounge sets sail on adventurous journey with ‘Lost Sunset’

It’s been a memorable past few weeks for Russell Mofsky and his eclectic Miami combo Gold Dust Lounge.

Lost Sunset by Gold Dust Lounge

On June 12, the band was honored to be one of the few rock bands to ever perform on the show stage at the historic Mai-Kai restaurant in Fort Lauderdale. Then, on June 21, Mofsky celebrated the realization of years of hard work with the release party for the band’s Kickstarter-funded Lost Sunset album.

* Buy Lost Sunset now (download, vinyl and CD) | iTunes store

The band’s music, described as “a fusion of wailing ambient instrumentals stamped with retro surf rock and acid jazz,” defies classification. Mofsky’s roots go back to the heyday of Miami’s punk rock scene in the ’80s and ’90s (he was a member of the acclaimed band Quit). Perhaps it’s this anything-goes attitude that lets him approach his music with no preconceived notions.

Continue reading “Miami’s Gold Dust Lounge sets sail on adventurous journey with ‘Lost Sunset’”

The Hukilau says ‘Aloha’ but not goodbye, adds more entertainment to lineup for June 11-15 event

Updated June 13

In Hawaii, aloha can mean both hello and goodbye. For the annual Polynesian Pop gathering that returns to Fort Lauderdale in less than two weeks for its 13th annual celebration, both definitions are particularly apropos.

The Hukilau: Wednesday, June 11, through Sunday, June 15, at the Bahia Mar Beach Resort and The Mai-Kai in Fort Lauderdale. Get tickets and more info at TheHukilau.com and Facebook. | See all of The Atomic Grog’s coverage

The Hukilau

For the many devotees who will be traveling from around the world to attend the retro-themed festivities on June 11-15, aloha has quickly gone from meaning a lamented last fling to a promising new beginning. After regretfully deciding late last year that 2014 would be the “Final Aloha,” organizer Christie “Tiki Kiliki” White announced in April that The Hukilau will continue in 2015 with new partners and new energy. Look for more details at this year’s event.

But the focus now is on the expanded five-day bash that’s rapidly approaching. Featuring live music, symposiums, artists, vendors, special events and performances, The Hukilau is the East Coast’s largest Tiki-themed event. Thousands of mid-century and retro culture enthusiasts have made the annual pilgrimage since 2002 in search of the most authentic Tiki experience.

Continue reading “The Hukilau says ‘Aloha’ but not goodbye, adds more entertainment to lineup for June 11-15 event”

Gold Dust Lounge kick starts new album with online fund-raising campaign

Updated Tuesday, Oct. 1

Miami’s Russell Mofsky decided to take a seemingly unorthodox approach to funding the upcoming album from his retro-inspired band, Gold Dust Lounge. With a goal of raising $15,000, he turned to Kickstarter, the crowd-funding Web site.

Russell Mofsky of Gold Dust Lounge shows off a limited-edition print by Q. Cassettiat
Russell Mofsky of Gold Dust Lounge shows off a limited-edition print by Q. Cassettiat that some donors will receive. The band was performing at Sweat Records in Miami on Sunday, Sept. 29, during a final push for donations.

The gutsy move by this former DIY punk-rocker was a rousing success. When the 33-day campaign ended at 11:59 p.m. on Monday (Sept. 30), he blasted past his goal and finished with a grand total of $16,012. This came from 174 backers pledging an average of $92.
* Kickstarter.com: See the final totals and details on the project
* See updates on the campaign at GoldDustLounge.com and Facebook

“Thanks to your amazing support,” Mofsky wrote to supporters on the Kickstarter page. “We have surpassed our goal of $15K and Lost Sunset will be fully realized.” He added that the goal is a January release, pending any unforseen delays. On GoldDustLounge.com, he wrote: “This Kickstarter campaign was as much about community as it was about art. You guys ROCK! Can’t wait to share the album with you.”

Check out the Kickstarter page for samples of four of the songs (Bunny Yeager, Hidden Lake (Broken Glass), Humble Hill Rain and Lost Sunset) as well as the album, T-shirt and print artwork. The front and back cover of the LP feature original artwork by Miami artist Robert Jimenez (see below).

Continue reading “Gold Dust Lounge kick starts new album with online fund-raising campaign”

A locals guide to The Hukilau: How to get in on the Tiki mania

The Hukilau

The Hukilau has become a Fort Lauderdale institution, an annual bacchanalia of Tiki culture that draws devotees from around the globe for four days of revelry. The throngs of “villagers” are easy to spot on the south end of tourist-laden State Road A1A. Sporting Hawaiian shirts, exotic tattoos and toting Tiki mugs, they certainly let their passion show.

The Hukilau: Thursday through Sunday, June 6-9, 2013, at the Sheraton Fort Lauderdale Beach Hotel (Yankee Clipper), Best Western Oceanside, and The Mai-Kai restaurant. Tickets, schedule and updates at TheHukilau.com and Facebook.
Previous post: The Hukilau gears up with new merchandise, sponsors, entertainment

The 12th annual event – set for this week at two beachside hotels and the legendary Mai-Kai restaurant – could be daunting to the newbie or casual observer. So, for those who just want to get their feet wet in this ocean of Tiki madness, here’s what to look for:

Continue reading “A locals guide to The Hukilau: How to get in on the Tiki mania”