Inuhele celebrates Atlanta’s meteoric rise as Tiki destination

Updated Feb. 17

What city best exemplifies the recent explosive growth of Tiki bars and Polynesian Pop culture? A strong argument could be made for Atlanta, which has been blessed with at least three new exotic cocktail destinations since 2015. Now, in just its second year, the Tiki weekender known as Inuhele has greatly expanded to include three days of bar-hopping, panels, vendors, bands, demos and more geared to the area’s burgeoning scene.

Feb. 15-17 – Inuhele: Atlanta’s Tiki Weekend
See below: Bonus cocktail recipe – Makani Pahili
* Previous story: Iron TikiTender goes on tour at Inuhele
Inuhele: Atlanta's Tiki Weekend
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Tiki in Atlanta

Tim "Swanky" Glasner, who will be presenting a symposium at Inuhele 2019, was one of the co-creators of The Hukilau in Atlanta in 2002.
Tim “Swanky” Glasner, who will be presenting a symposium at Inuhele 2019, was one of the co-creators of The Hukilau in Atlanta in 2002.

The vibrant multicultural city has long had a connection with modern Tiki and its surrounding subcultures. After all, the Atlanta Hilton hosts the country’s longest operating Trader Vic’s location, circa 1976. The Hukilau started there in 2002 before moving to Fort Lauderdale the next year. Atlanta is home to talented lowbrow artists such as Derek Yaniger and Jonathan M. Chaffin of Horror in Clay. And there’s a longtime instrumental surf scene celebrated at the annual Southern Surf StompFest, along with a history of events (such as the late, great Drive Invasion) spotlighting other retro music styles.

But things really got interesting when the Tiki and craft cocktail revivals merged, creating a hot trend among bartenders and owners worldwide. Atlanta caught the bug, resulting in the opening of The S.O.S. in Decatur, just northeast of Atlanta, in 2015. In 2018, the Virginia Highland neighborhood of Atlanta saw the opening of Tiki Iniki, the first stateside franchise location of the concept created by Todd and Michele Rundgren in Hawaii. And while not truly traditional, Match Bamboo Lounge offers spirited aloha in the Castleberry Hill neighborhood.

Derek Yaniger at Inuhele 2019

Meanwhile, the city’s Tiki underground organized on Facebook in The Atlanta Tiki Revival Society group. And the area’s home bars (such as the Enchanted Treehouse High on the Hooch, Mon-a’ Roa Lanai, and The Kingfish Lounge) received high ratings and worldwide recognition on the Critiki website.

Just in time for Inuhele 2019, the city will get its newest full-blown exotic cocktail locale when the ambitious, three-story Tiki Tango opens in the former Lava Lounge space in Midtown (grand opening set for Friday, Feb. 15). The opening will indeed be grand. As part of the festivities, there will be an attempt to set a record for the world’s largest Mai Tai with a 55-gallon cocktail.
Press coverage: Say ‘aloha’ to Tiki Tango, Midtown’s new three-story Tiki bar
* First Look: Tiki Tango brings Tiki drinks and food to Midtown
* Atlanta Eats: Polynesian vibes and specialty cocktails

About Inuhele: Atlanta’s Tiki Weekend

All this activity spurred Horror in Clay’s Jonathan and Allison Chaffin to organize the first Atlanta Tiki Homebar Tour, dubbed Inuhele (for “cocktail journey”) on Feb. 24, 2018. It was a small affair with 50+ people taking a bus tour of local home bars for a day, then concluding the night at Trader Vic’s.
* See photos from 2018

Atlanta Tiki Home Bar Tour

For 2019, the Chaffins are taking Inuhele to the next level as a full-blown weekender on the same scale as other mid-sized Tiki events such as the pioneering Tiki Kon in the Pacific Northwest, which also started as a home bar tour nearly two decades ago. The Marriott Century Center has been secured as the host hotel, and the Chaffins promise “a weekend of bar hopping, panels, bands, demos, sharing of ideas, and most importantly community building.”

Eekum Bookum at Inuhele 2019

The community definitely came together to help make such an ambitious undertaking possible. Among the more than a dozen sponsors are:
* Tiki Tango, host of the “Tiki Hop-on Hop off Shuttle” and Friday night party.
* Spiribam rum specialists, presenting sponsor of the home bar bus.
* BG Reynolds, the premium bar syrups purveyor and man behind the “Iron TikiTender On Tour” event that will take place on Saturday at the Marriott.
* Royer Corp., the popular swizzle stick manufacturer known for its cutting-edge designs.
>>> See all the sponsors here

Inuhele highlights

Friday kickoff and bar crawl: Events at the Marriott Century Center include classes and meet-ups, the trading post, a DJ dance party with Brother Cleve, plus more. Meanwhile, a bus will shuttle guests to Trader Vic’s, Tiki Tango, and Tiki Iniki all evening.

Continue reading “Inuhele celebrates Atlanta’s meteoric rise as Tiki destination”

The Hukilau photo highlights: Saturday’s cocktail symposium, Tiki Treasures Bazaar, mermaid swimshow, Main Event at The Mai-Kai; Sunday’s Finale

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

PHOTOS FROM SATURDAY, JUNE 13
Jump below: Tiki Treasures Bazaar | Mermaid show | Main Event | Sunday’s Finale

Brigands, Barons & Beachcombers: The Many Faces of Planter’s Punch

King Kukulele (left) introduces Beachbum Berry and Brian Miller (right) to the sold-out audience in the Panorama Ballroom at the Hyatt Regency Pier 66 hotel. (Photo by Go11Events.com)King Kukulele (left) introduces Jeff “Beachbum” Berry and Brian Miller (right) to the sold-out audience in the Panorama Ballroom at the Hyatt Regency Pier 66 hotel. (Photo by Go11Events.com)

The first sample drinks arrive quickly. (Photo by Go11Events.com)The first sample drinks arrive quickly. (Photo by Go11Events.com)

Jeff “Beachbum” Berry, author of six definitive books on Tiki cocktails and owner of Latitude 29 in New Orleans, kicks off the symposium on one of history’s most iconic drinks. (Atomic Grog photo)Jeff “Beachbum” Berry, author of six definitive books on Tiki cocktails and owner of Latitude 29 in New Orleans, kicks off the symposium on one of history’s most iconic drinks. (Atomic Grog photo)

Brian Miller (Tiki Mondays With Miller), who Beachbum Berrry credits with bringing Tiki back to New York City, mixes up a cocktail. (Atomic Grog photo)Brian Miller (Tiki Mondays With Miller), who Beachbum Berrry credits with bringing Tiki back to New York City, mixes up a cocktail. (Atomic Grog photo)

Continue reading “The Hukilau photo highlights: Saturday’s cocktail symposium, Tiki Treasures Bazaar, mermaid swimshow, Main Event at The Mai-Kai; Sunday’s Finale”

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 (April 20-26, 2015): Rum fest invades Miami, South Florida’s underwater Easter Island, Shag goes to ‘The Twilight Zone’

The Week in Tiki As expected, the Miami Rum Festival dominated the news this week, but an unlikely story about giant Easter Island-style moai being sunk off the coast of South Florida certainly piqued our interest. Also worth noting is the return of the Chicago Area Tiki Tour, plus the upcoming release of a limited-edition print by Shag that pays tribute to The Twilight Zone. Weekly features spotlight artist Dawn Frasier, the Bahama Bob’s Rumstyles blog, the exotica and hapa haole sounds of Kinky Waikiki, and Miami Beach cocktail bar The Broken Shaker. To enhance your reading enjoyment, try some Pusser’s British Navy rum in the classic Painkiller.
* 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

Rum aficionados gather for 7th annual Miami festival

Thousands of enthusiasts, experts and VIPs congregated in Miami last week for the seventh annual Miami Rum Renaissance Festival. The Doubletree by Hilton Miami Airport Convention Center was ground zero for the Friday, Saturday and Sunday grand tastings, with hundreds of rums exhibited, tasted and judged.

Plantation Rums from throughout the Caribbean won a festival-best eight awards
Plantation Rums from throughout the Caribbean won a festival-best eight awards. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)

Many new rums were on display in what seemed like a transition year for the both the industry and the festival. Bigger producers were absent, but smaller labels filled the gap with some serious innovation and commitment to quality. Also, the festival itself seemed to take itself more seriously, with a concerted effort to cut back on the party atmosphere of some past events.

Not that the rum fest was not a blast, as usual. In addition to the many rum company booths on the 50,000-square-foot convention floor, there were entertaining and educational seminars daily, plus live entertainment and merchandise vendors. There were also evening events throughout the week marking the second annual Miami Rum Fest Cocktail Week, ranging from Tuesday’s Tiki Night at The Mai Kai in Fort Lauderdale to Thursday at The Broken Shaker in Miami Beach.

A big part of the festival remains the RumXP Competition, the annual awards determined by a panel of rum experts from around the world. Sequestered for three days of judging 127 rums in 14 categories, the experts faced a wide array of new rums in addition to old standbys. There were 35 rums making their U.S. debut in Miami, with another 28 appearing at the festival for the first time.

Continue reading “The Week in Tiki (April 20-26, 2015): Rum fest invades Miami, South Florida’s underwater Easter Island, Shag goes to ‘The Twilight Zone’”

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”