The Week in Tiki (June 29-July 12, 2015): Tiki Kon and Tales of Cocktail event previews, Tiki Diablo invades Home Depot

The Week in Tiki July’s event schedule features two of the most distinctive gatherings of the year, Tiki Kon in the Pacific Northwest and Tales of Cocktail in New Orleans. We have previews of both, plus news on acclaimed artist Tiki Diablo’s new merchandise deal with Home Depot. Quick hits include news on Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, a special Wicked Dolphin rum, a new Trader Vic’s seminar, and the release online of the Plastic Paradise documentary. Regular features spotlight the artwork of VanTiki; SoCal “hulabilly” band The Hula Girls; the Don the Beachcomber restaurant/bar in Huntington Beach, Calif.; and the B.G. Reynolds website. The rum of the week, El Dorado 8, is featured in the Demerara 80 Swizzle.
Note: Updates are now being published twice a month, but don’t worry. We won’t miss any of the latest news.
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* Weekly features: Artist | Band/music | Tiki bar | Website | Rum | Cocktail | Events

Tiki Kon takes off for 13th annual Northwest flight

While the larger Tiki events such as Tiki Oasis and The Hukilau tend to get more attention, Tiki Kon in the Pacific Northwest, which will hold its 13th annual gathering on July 10-12, can claim to be just as influential and respected. And, more importantly, just as much fun. Held in Portland, Ore., and Vancouver, Wash., the event features an eclectic lineup of live music and entertainment, cocktail and history symposiums, art and vendors, plus the signature Iron Tikitender contest.

Tiki Kon

The theme for 2015 is Tiki Kon Air Flight #13, a salute to the Jet Age of the 1950s and ’60s, and includes a special event mug by artist of the week VanTiki. Presented by Hale Pele and B.G. Reynolds (see website of the week below), the Iron Tikitender is not only an over-the-top bartending contest that takes over the main stage on Saturday night, it also includes informative seminars for both novices and bar professionals. Competing in this year’s showdown are Mike Treffehn from the Rum Club in Portland, Sierra Kirk from Hale Pele in Portland, and Justin Wojslaw from The Diller Room in Seattle. The winner earns a $1,000 cash prize after three rounds of competitions including making the most Mai Tais, and “garish garnish.”

The Friday Night Kickoff Show features live music, a DJ, cocktails, and dancing under the stars on the Columbia River at the host hotel, the Red Lion at the Quay in Vancouver. The historic hotel is minutes from downtown Portland, home to a vibrant cocktail and Tiki scene. Bands performing Friday are Don and the Quixotes, Rat City Brass, and The Satin Chaps. There will also be burlesque and a vintage fashion show.

Iron Tikitender

Saturday will see the opening of the Island Marketplace featuring vendors from around the world selling their vintage wares. A pool party, TikiTender classes and a “First Person Tiki” symposium by Humuhumu, creator of the Critiki website, will be held throughout the day. The hotel’s Quay Restaurant will host the banquet dinner and show, featuring The Ukadelics. The evening is capped off by the Iron Tikitender Showdown and Saturday Night Gala on the hotel’s river deck featuring live music, dancing, a DJ, and more. Entertainment includes Paradise, Johnny Astro, and a taiko drumming and fire exhibition by Roy and Marina Anderson. You may know Ms. Anderson as Marina the Fire Eating Mermaid.

Tiki Kon concludes Sunday with brunch and all-day bar tour of some of the area’s best home and commercial Tiki establishments. Tour stops include Hale Pele, brunch at Trader Vic’s, plus four home bars. The Finale Party is hosted by the Bamboo Craftsman Co., a studio and nursery in North Portland, and features live music by Lagoon Squad.
Follow Tiki Kon: Official site | Facebook | Twitter
* Press coverage: Tiki Kon Air takes flight this weekend (The Oregonian)
Tip your hat to the Tiki gods at Iron TikiTender (Seattle Weekly)

New Orleans hosts the world’s best and biggest cocktail party

Tales of the Cocktail

The movers and shakers of the cocktail industry are throwing a party for 20,000 of their friends on July 13-19 in New Orleans, a bacchanalia better known as Tales of the Cocktail. There’s also a serious side to the 13th annual gathering, which includes hundreds of events at bars and venues throughout the Big Easy. The learning opportunities are endless at seminars, tastings, product launches, competitions, networking events and more.

Continue reading “The Week in Tiki (June 29-July 12, 2015): Tiki Kon and Tales of Cocktail event previews, Tiki Diablo invades Home Depot”

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”

Tales of the Cocktail’s signature drink packs a wallop, but can it tame a Hurricane inspired by The Mai-Kai?

Tales of the Cocktail

Nobody can accuse the organizers of Tales of the Cocktail, arguably the world’s premiere festival for bartenders and spirits professionals, of being elitist snobs. The “official cocktail” of 12th annual festival, expected to attract more than 20,000 people to New Orleans this week, is not some highbrow cult classic or trendy new concoction. It’s the mighty yet maligned Hurricane.

Created in the French Quarter in the 1940s, this sweet and potent potation harkens back to other Tiki classics that devolved over the decades as they became a popular yet bastardized staple in bars around the world. But in 2014, as both the cocktail and Tiki revivals show no signs of slowing, why not celebrate both with a drink that screams Bourbon Street excess?

Reviews and recipes below: Hurricane Caesar vs. The Mai-Kai Hurricane

Tales of the Cocktail and New Orleans are the perfect venues for such a celebration. Spotlighting “what’s new and what’s next in bartending,” the festival proudly keeps its reverence for traditions intact, never overtly pandering to its sponsors and the spirits companies. It gives everyone from experienced professionals to fledgling bartenders to laymen a unique chance to mix and mingle with the biggest names and brightest minds in mixology for seminars, dinners, competitions, tasting rooms, and product launches.

Continue reading “Tales of the Cocktail’s signature drink packs a wallop, but can it tame a Hurricane inspired by The Mai-Kai?”

Mai-Kai cocktail review: Tradition, quality give the Piña Colada a much-needed dose of respect

Updated September 2015
See below: Our Piña Colada review | Ancestor/tribute recipe
Related: Mai-Kai cocktail guide

For better or worse (typically worse), the Piña Colada has been ubiquitous on tropical drink menus for more than half a century. Not surprisingly, The Mai-Kai in Fort Lauderdale – a haven for finely crafted Tiki cocktails – is one of the rare places that does it right.

Waiters at the kitchen service bar garnish and prepare to serve Rum Barrels, Mai Tais and other cocktails while a bartender finishes up a long line of Piña Coladas in The Mai-Kai's kitchen service bar.
Waiters at the kitchen service bar garnish and prepare to serve Rum Barrels, Mai Tais and other cocktails while a bartender finishes up a long line of Piña Coladas in The Mai-Kai's kitchen service bar. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward, November 2011)

I was skeptical at first. With some 50 classics to choose from on The Mai-Kai’s amazing menu, why order this butt of jokes normally associated with cruise ships and 1970s fern bars? Four words: Fresh ingredients, quality rum. And it doesn’t hurt that the drinks are crafted to high standards in The Mai-Kai’s service bars (see photo at right). The other key: Order it on the rocks, not blended.

Thankfully, this maligned drink is being rediscovered and reinvented by craft cocktail mixologists. In 2011, the Tales of the Cocktail event in New Orleans featured a Piña Colada competition challenging the world’s top bartenders to come up with their own take. The fact that the contest was held at one of the world’s premiere cocktail events, and was sponsored by Bacardi and the United States Bartenders’ Guild, proves that the Piña Colada is making a strong comeback in the credibility category.

Continue reading “Mai-Kai cocktail review: Tradition, quality give the Piña Colada a much-needed dose of respect”