Southern California’s Tiki Diablo (aka Danny Gallardo), who created the 2012 and 2013 official mugs for The Hukilau, has a new Mai-Kai Mug based on an old fallen carving from the restaurant’s tiki garden (see photo below).
Featuring a distinctive toucan perched on its head, the original tiki was among the many giant carvings at The Mai-Kai by Barney West, a legendary mid-century artist. Barney West tikis that are still standing at The Mai-Kai were the inspiration for Gallardo’s 2013 mug, plus the 2008 official mug for The Hukilau by Munktiki. Another famous tiki by West that fell in 2009 was transformed into The Huiklau’s 2010 mug, also by Munktiki.
There are few drinking vessels with the mystique of The Mai-Kai’s famous Mystery Bowl. The iconic communal cocktail popularized at the Fort Lauderdale Polynesian palace has been celebrated for a half-century by everyone from Johnny Carson to today’s Tiki revivalists.
Sure, there’s nothing like the unique experience of enjoying this giant drink with friends in the The Mai-Kai’s hallowed bar and dining rooms. At the sound of a gong, the distinctive bowl is delivered by a sarong-clad Mystery Girl, who does a traditional Polynesian dance and rewards the lucky recipient with a lei. The drink itself remains a mystery, a giant 50-something-ounce concoction of fruit juices, rum, and other liquors. * More on the history of the Mystery Drink in our Mai-Kai Cocktail Guide
But true Mai-Kai nerds long for an authentic Mystery Bowl of their own. The older version made by Dynasty and the current version made by Tiki Farm occasionally pop up on eBay for more than $100. And they also appear in The Mai-Kai gift shop from time to time (see photo above), typically priced just below the century mark.
Over the past decade, the second Saturday of August has become an annual day of celebration in the world of Polynesian Pop culture: International Tiki Day.
The holiday was created in 2002 by Kevin Bullat, the steel guitar player for The Hula Girls, as a day of fasting and quiet prayer. No, wait. It’s a day dedicated to colorful aloha shirts, tropical drinks, and tribal revelry.
It’s touted as a great day to host your own backyard luau or visit a contemporary Tiki bar in your area. Most Tikiphiles need no special day to partake in such activities. It’s a year-round, 24-7 lifestyle for many. Newbies may need a little help, however.