This 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
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
News this week includes a historic bars contest that features four famous Tiki establishments, plus a sneak peak at The Hukilau’s 2015 event mug. We preview a party at the Tonga Hut, ticket sales for Tiki Kon, and Dapper Day at Disney World. A new event joins the Tiki calendar: Vintage Tiki Weekend at the historic Caribbean Motel in Wildwood, N.J. Also announced was a swap in Dole Whip locations at Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, plus the Miami Rum Festival’s annual pilgrimage to The Mai-Kai in Fort Lauderdale. Our weekly features spotlight artist Crazy Al Evans, TheTikiChick.com, classic exotica artist Gene Rains, and acclaimed Tiki bar Smuggler’s Cove in San Francisco. The rum of the week, Plantation Jamaican, is featured in the Red Tide 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
THIS WEEK’S HIGHLIGHTS (March 9-15, 2015)
Historic Bars Tournament features four classic Tiki establishments
Every year, there are more and more alternatives to college basketball’s bracket mania known as March Madness. Simply match up a long list of anything in multiples of four, and see who makes the Sweet 16 and Final Four. This year, fans of Tiki and its classic watering holes can vote for their favorites during The Big Tap: 2015 Historic Bars Tournament.
The four are among the oldest Tiki establishments in the country. The Tonga Room opened in 1945, La Mariana and Bali Hai in 1955, and The Mai-Kai in 1956. Make your vote count in this single-elimination tournament. The voting period for each round ends at 8 a.m. Eastern time on Fridays (March 13, 20, 27 and April 3). There will be prizes for the bars that advance to the Sweet 16 and beyond. Besides the Tiki bars, there are dive bars, sports bars, and many historic watering holes that date back as far as 1733.
The entries were culled from the Historic Bars series, which started last June on the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s blog, PreservationNation. These were determined through the site’s own research, plus public submissions from Facebook and Twitter followers. They then narrowed it down to 32 for the bracket.
Though an official announcement has not yet been made, fans of Disney World’s Polynesian Village Resort are salivating at the prospects of the long-awaited Tiki bar Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto opening as early as the end of March.
The leading non-Disney authority on the Polynesian, Steve “Tikiman” Seifert, is predicting an opening of the East Coast’s version of Disneyland’s popular Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar as early as Thursday, March 26. This would coincide with the completion of much of the construction on the resort’s main pool, which has been undergoing a massive renovation since closing in July.
The reason for this rush to complete construction is the announced April 1 opening of the first phase of the resort’s Disney Vacation Club (DVC) timeshare units. On that date, the Polynesian Village will welcome the first guests to its 20 high-profile Bora Bora Bungalows, which were built over the water on Seven Seas Lagoon, off the beach on the east side of the resort. Also opening are some of the deluxe studio units in the Moorea and Pago Pago longhouses that have also been under renovation. These buildings were formerly known as Tahiti and Rapa Nui, but have now returned to their original names.
Construction work at the Polynesian, particularly around the pool and Trader Sam’s, seems to be moving at a rapid pace. Much of the work being done outdoors, though walled off, is in clear view of guests who have been sharing a steady stream of photos online. Seifert was there in late February, and he published a full report on his website with news on renovations and changes throughout the resort. He’s also posting photos and reports sent to him by guests almost daily on his Polynesian Resort Facebook page. Seifert also shared some news and answered questions on last week’s Enchanted Tiki Talk podcast. [Click to listen].
The Atomic Grog also visited the Polynesian in late February, and we got our first look at the reimagined lobby of the Great Ceremonial House, as well as the massive work in progress. On the day we were there, there was a lot of activity around Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto and the outdoor patio that the bar/restaurant will share with the neighboring counter-service restaurant, Captain Cook’s. Unfortunately, nobody has been able to get a peek behind the doors to see what magic Disney’s Imagineers have cooked up for guests of the immersive Tiki bar. Scroll down to see photos from last week, plus our December visit.
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. * 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
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.
Aloha, and welcome to a new feature on The Atomic Grog spotlighting the latest news and information on the Polynesian Pop revival and wide world of retro-themed entertainment. Every Monday, look for a new blog post that previews what’s coming up and looks back at the highlights of the previous week. The Week in Tiki will attempt to cover all the major happenings across the world, with a focus on our home base, Florida and the U.S. East Coast. In keeping with the theme of the blog, look for updates on events, music, art, cocktails and culture, along with our obsession with Disney World. We’ll also celebrate our favorite spirit, rum, and spotlight a different cocktail recipe every week. Sit back, relax … and enjoy! * Keep up with The Week in Tiki: Subscribe to the RSS feed | See past weeks * Weekly features: Artist | Website | Band/music | Tiki bar | Rum | Cocktail | Events
LAST WEEK IN REVIEW (Jan. 12-18, 2015)
It was a very busy week in the Tiki universe. Here’s a look back at the highlights. Click here or scroll down for info on how to keep us in the loop.
The Hukilau tickets include six symposiums on Tiki culture It’s time to book your room and secure your tickets for the 14th annual gathering of Polynesian Pop devotees in Fort Lauderdale on June 10-14. A new, temporary website launched on Tuesday (Jan. 13) with an impressive lineup of symposiums covering an assortment of fascinating mid-century icons, such as Disney World’s original Polynesian Village Resort (by Disney artists Kevin Kidney and Jody Daily), Florida’s Tiki Gardens, and Southern California’s Pacific Ocean Park. In addition, Tiki cocktail historian Jeff “Beachbum” Berry will join forces with New York City’s Brian Miller to present an in-depth analysis of the Planter’s Punch. Also announced was an entertainment lineup featuring some new (Alika Lyman Group) and old (The Intoxicators, Marina the Fire Eating Mermaid) faces. The Hukilau will be hosted for the first time by the Hyatt Regency Pier 66 hotel, with additional events at the venerable Mai-Kai restaurant.
Fans of the much-anticipated Tiki bar coming soon to the Polynesian Village Resort at Walt Disney World were treated to a sneak preview during the inaugural Mahaloween Luau at Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar at the Disneyland Hotel. Disney Imagineers showed off a logo T-shirt and several mug prototypes, along with some insight on the design and theming of Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto.
The event on Monday, Sept. 29, was a seasonal-themed party that included food and drinks, live music, exclusive merchandise, and a presentation by Walt Disney Imagineering on the past, present and future of Tiki at the Disney parks. Among those in attendance was Steve “Tikiman” Seifert, who keeps fans of the Polynesian Village Resort updated on all the recent changes and refurbishments with his authoritative website and Facebook page. Seifert kept an eye out for news on the Polynesian and the Grog Grotto, and he gave us a full report after the event. Check out his photos and more insights on Mahaloween below. Thanks also to EPCOT Explorer for his photos.
Amid all the construction and re-imagining of the Polynesian, Disney has released very little info about its new Trader Sam’s outpost in Orlando since a big announcement and release of concept art on May 2 [See The Atomic Grog’s story and photos]. And while Imagineers Brandon Kleyla and Kyle Barnes didn’t drop any bombshells, they did provide a few visual and informational treats. Kleyla, in fact, was wearing an orange T-shirt featuring a Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto logo that will likely soon become a merchandise item. A blue shirt was also shown during the presentation. Kleyla, who grew up in Florida and frequented Disney World in his youth, was the Imagineering set decorator for Trader Sam’s in Anaheim, bringing to life an immersive environment that borrows heavily from classic Disney attractions such at the Jungle Cruise, Enchanted Tiki Room and Adventurer’s Club [See interview].
Veteran Imagineer Kyle Barnes, who had a lead role in the Disneyland Hotel bar’s design, took the mic to talk about the concept behind Disney’s second lounge “owned” by Trader Sam, the infamous “head salesman” on the Jungle Cruise attraction at Disneyland and Disney World. Barnes said that while the Disneyland location celebrates the Jungle Cruise and a 1930s African Queen aesthetic, the Disney World bar will synch up with the Magic Kingdom and feature more of a “technicolor” look and feel.
Barnes also confirmed suspicions that have made the rounds since the concept art was released showing a giant squid tentacle behind the bar [See photo]. The Grog Grotto will celebrate the classic 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, “with various props from that attraction,” he said.
A nautical theme makes perfect sense considering a grotto is often a small cave near water. And it will be located just across Seven Seas Lagoon from the Magic Kingdom and Adventureland, which includes Trader Sam’s home in the exotic rivers of the Jungle Cruise, as well as the animatronic tikis in the Enchanted Tiki Room. The T-shirt logo also includes a giant squid, so don’t be surprised if the Grog Grotto features a backstory about Sam’s adventures on and beneath the sea.
At the colorful crossroads where Disneyphiles and Tikiphiles meet, there’s a new date to be honored and celebrated annually with a rum-fueled fervor. May 2 will forever be known as the day that Trader Sam packed up his collection of curios and headed to Disney World.
His final destination: Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, the reimagined flagship hotel that has been rechristened with its original name from 1971’s grand opening, the day Disney World opened its gates in Orlando. More than 42 years later, the vintage South Seas-themed luxury hotel is in the midst of one of its largest refurbishments ever.
And what a name he has chosen for his newest Tiki lounge: Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto, which promises to expand on the Adventureland-meets-Adventurer’s Club vibe of his original location, Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar at the Disneyland Hotel. To celebrate Sam’s imminent arrival, we’ve concocted a welcome-to-Florida grog, which you can find below.
After years of speculation and unconfirmed reports, Walt Disney World Resort President George A. Kalogridis made the announcement on Friday, May 2, confirming what everyone could see happening at Disney’s Polynesian Resort and putting all rumors to rest: “This year, we started reimagining the feature pool, and the centerpiece of the iconic resort, the Great Ceremonial House. We’re also adding Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto, inspired by the guest favorite at Disneyland. Trader Sam’s will continue the evolution of food and beverage offerings across our parks and resorts.”
One year from now, stepping into Disney’s Polynesian Resort in Orlando could be a much different experience. With construction on the 42-year-old iconic hotel’s timeshare additions in full swing, work appears to be moving forward on the resort’s nerve center, the Great Ceremonial House.
Last week, Disney World officially announced that the Great Ceremonial House – the giant A-frame building designed after a Tahitian royal assembly lodge – will be refurbished from March through December. Capt. Cook’s, the 24-hour quick-service restaurant perhaps most well-known for its self-service Dole Whip machine, will be closed during dates to be announced from some time in March until June. The adjacent Wyland Gallery has already closed and won’t be re-opening. No other specific restaurant or store closings or changes have been officially announced.
Disney is tight-lipped, as usual, about exactly what the Great Ceremonial House will look like when work is complete. But Polynesian insider Steve Seifert is reporting on his authoritative Tikiman Pages website that the long-rumored addition of Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar is expected to be completed by February 2015. This report, along with all the official dates, comes with the usual caveat that Disney reserves the right to take as much time as it needs, pushing projects well into the future.
2013 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival: Through Nov. 11 at Disney World, Buena Vista, Fla. Access to the festival marketplace is free with theme park admission; food, seminars, and special events are priced individually. More at EpcotFoodFestival.com.
It’s one thing to overindulge and partake in all that the annual Epcot International Food and Wine Festival has to offer. One Florida couple has immersed themselves in all 18 years of the event, typically staying at a nearby hotel for all 40 days and attending most of the special events. The cost of their annual excursion likely tops five figures.
But it’s another challenge entirely to squeeze an entire festival’s worth of eating (or drinking) into one day. A hearty group of individuals is gathering today for an event called Drink Around the World (official site / Facebook) to accomplish this on a grand scale. They modestly call it a “specialized pub crawl with some cultural flare,” but it’s much more than that.
Taking place all day today (Saturday, Oct. 12), this eighth annual event is designed to test participants’ endurance and provide ample opportunities to savor a wide range of items at the 18th annual International Food and Wine Festival. The goal is to imbibe in all 11 countries in Epcot’s World Showcase, all in one day. The timing of the event with the festival ensures many more choices for cocktails, beer and wine along the way, in addition to the dozens and dozens of affordable food choices.
New reports have surfaced about renovations at Disney World’s Polynesian Resort that indicate the precise location of Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar, plus a subtle re-theming in the spirit of the Disney parks’ iconic Adventureland. The massive construction project that may eventually bring the popular Disneyland lounge to the East Coast now appears certain to begin in September.
As recently reported here and elsewhere, new information suggests that Trader Sam’s is slated to be included in renovations that will bring timeshare buildings to the Orlando resort. Some of these may include traditional Tahitian huts built over Seven Seas Lagoon with a view of the Magic Kingdom park.
Now, finally, there are confirmed reports that the construction is about to begin. On Aug. 16, the venerable Touring Plans website posted news on its blog that a renovation project at the hotel may affect some of the guest rooms in the Hawaii, Tokelau, Rapa Nui and Tahiti longhouse buildings beginning in September.
The construction will also affect the east parking lot near Rapa Nui as well as beach access on that side of the resort, including the Sunset Point area. The Touring Plans blog makes it clear that there has been no announcement from Disney about the addition of Disney Vacation Club timeshare villas at the Polynesian, but this is not unusual. DVC additions to the nearby Grand Floridian Resort were not announced until construction was well under way.