Marking its 15th anniversary, the East Coast’s largest and oldest Polynesian Pop event promises its biggest party ever in 2016. But before the rum-fueled bash gets into high gear, we’d like to pause and take a look back at the past 14 gatherings of the Tiki tribe. Related: Tiki Kiliki: 15 years of The Hukilau, 15 years of memories
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.
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.
Hot off the presses, we have breaking news on The Hukilau’s Tiki Tower Takeover selling out, the inside story of Trader Vic’s in Emeryville facing a noise crackdown, plus the release of open editions of Tiki Farm’s 15th anniversary mugs. You can find holiday Tiki gift ideas, plus previews of seasonal events in Anaheim, Los Angeles, Huntington Beach and Atlanta. Quick hits include news on Ìxtahuele, B.G. Reynolds Syrups and several crowd-funding projects. Regular features spotlight surrealist artist Scott “Flounder” Scheidly; surf guitarist Laramie Dean; Cleveland’s Porco Lounge & Tiki Room; and the Vintage Roadside website. The Rum of the Week, Koloa Gold, is featured in the Unisphere cocktail.
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All Tiki Tower Takeover tickets are taken, 5th bartender announced
One of the most anticipated Tiki cocktail events of 2016 is already sold out, a little over a month after tickets went on sale and more than six months before The Hukilau celebrates its 15th anniversary with a five-day celebration in Fort Lauderdale. The second annual Tiki Tower Takeover will be held on June 9 in the revolving 17th floor ballroom atop the historic Pier 66 hotel and will feature five of the country’s top Tiki barmen mixing up signature cocktails.
The Hukilau’s producer and organizer, Christie “Tiki Kiliki” White, has also revealed a fifth top bartender who will be joining the event and setting up shop next to last year’s fab four: St. John Frizell, owner-operator of Fort Defiance in Brooklyn and host of The Sunken Harbor Club, the bar’s monthly celebration of Polynesian food and drinks. In October, Frizell beat out an all-star lineup of Big Apple mixologists to win The Art of Tiki: A Cocktail Showdown at the New York City Wine & Food Festival. [Atomic Grog coverage, photos] White will also soon announce the Tiki bar that will be serving the “welcome drink” to guests as they board a private elevator and head up to the exclusive skylounge. In addition to the six cocktails, attendees of the two-hour event (5 to 7 p.m.) will enjoy food and live entertainment while the lounge rotates once every 66 minutes. Coming soon: A full preview of the second Tiki Tower Takeover
* The Atomic Grog’s recap of the 2015 Tiki Tower Takeover | Photo gallery
This week’s news includes a contest to win the new event mug for The Hukilau 2015 by Tiki Diablo, plus a preview of a New York City cocktail event featuring the crew from Tiki Mondays With Miller. We also recap last week’s Legacy Cocktail Competition in Miami Beach sponsored by Bacardi, and an auction of Disney parks collectibles that netted $1.7 million. Our weekly features spotlight artist Robert Jimenez, Digitiki.com and The Quiet Village, exotic band Ixtahuele, and former Tiki hotspot The Castaways in Miami Beach. The rum of the week, Denizen white, is featured in the Rebel With a Cause cocktail.
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THIS WEEK’S HIGHLIGHTS (March 2-8, 2015)
The Hukilau mug giveaway Tuesday
On Tuesday (March 3), The Hukilau will be unveiling a contest that will give participants a chance to win the official 2015 event mug by Tiki Diablo.
You must have a past mug (or mugs) from The Hukilau and an Instagram account to enter. Follow The Hukilau and check the Facebook page for more info.
The annual Polynesian Pop weekender will be held June 10-14 at the Hyatt Regency Pier 66 and The Mai-Kai restaurant in Fort Lauderdale. Musical guests and performers include Alika Lyman Group, The Intoxicators, Gold Dust Lounge, Pablus, Slip and the Spinouts, Kinky Waikiki, Skinny Jimmy Stingray, Marina the Fire Eating Mermaid, and King Kukulele. Symposium presenters are Arthur Dong, Kevin Kidney and Jody Daily, Jeff “Beachbum” Berry and Brian Miller, Domenic Priore, Jeff Chenault, plus Jon Bortles and Tiki Gardener.
Get your wristbands and symposium tickets now at TheHukilau.com before they sell out. The 14th annual Tiki weekender will also include two one-of-a-kind events: The Tiki Tower Takeover featuring Jeff “Beachbum” Berry (Latitude 29, New Orleans), Martin Cate (Smuggler’s Cove, San Francisco), Paul McGee (Lost Lake, Chicago) and Brian Miller (Tiki Mondays With Miller, New York City) mixing up special cocktails in the Pier Top Lounge. And a special “Three Hour Tour” cruise with actress Dawn Wells, aka Mary Ann on classic TV show Gilligan’s Island.
The Hukilau was held June 6-9, 2013, at the Sheraton Fort Lauderdale Beach Hotel (aka the Yankee Clipper) and The Mai-Kai restaurant. See below:Gallery of 40 photos
More than 800 devotees of Polynesian Pop culture and classic mid-century style assembled for the 12th annual gathering of the tribe known as The Hukilau in Fort Lauderdale. Despite inclement weather that forced some venue and schedule changes, the colorfully-clad attendees didn’t seem to mind, flocking to a wide assortment of events showcasing eclectic music, rum-filled cocktails, expert speakers and lots more.
Below are the highlights of The Atomic Grog’s whirlwind weekend, which began early in the week with organizational efforts and didn’t end until Sunday’s post-event party at The Mai-Kai. I missed one band and a couple symposiums, but I tried to hit all the major happenings and photographed the revelry for posterity (see photos below). For extensive photo coverage, click on the Go11Media link below the gallery.
The following is highly subjective but should give a fair snapshot of the wide array of festivities, along with a few tasty cocktail recipes. I apologize to any bands and participants I may have neglected to mention, but all did a great job. It was tough narrowing this list down to 10. In roughly chronological order …
With just over a week before The Hukilau invades South Florida for its 12th annual vintage Polynesian Pop extravaganza, attendees can look forward to a great assortment of recently announced goodies from sponsors and the event organizers.
Angostura Rum and Bitters has not only joined The Hukilau as a sponsor, the venerable spirits company is sending brand ambassador David Delaney to the event to mix up some special tropical cocktails. Look for Delaney at the Angostura booth in the Tiki Treasures Bazaar at the Yankee Clipper on Friday, June 7, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Also joining as a sponsor in 2013 is Barritt’s Ginger Beer, a classic Caribbean brand that will be featured in cocktails Thursday evening in the Tiki Treasures Bazaar. While you’re in the bazaar, keep an eye out for these cocktails and other special events, such as Saturday’s 1 p.m. memorabilia signing by classic pin-up photographer Bunny Yeager and mid-century Polynesian dancer and actress Nani Maka.
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.
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.