EXCLUSIVE: New details on The Mai-Kai renovations, new merchandise revealed at Inuhele 2023 in Atlanta
New images and renderings of the historic restaurant’s multimillion-dollar refurbishment unveiled during presentation at Tiki weekender. Attendees also got a sneak preview of new mugs and other merchandise along with a new signature rum.
>>> FULL COVERAGE, EXCLUSIVE IMAGES
Updated February 2023
The Atomic Grog is a blog and promotion company that specializes in Tiki culture and its music, art and cocktail scenes. Founded by journalist Jim “Hurricane” Hayward in April 2011, The Atomic Grog features regular updates on events and concerts, cocktail recipes and reviews, plus special features on retro culture.
In December 2022, Hayward retired from newspaper journalism after more 40 years as an editor, web producer and writer at The Palm Beach Post and Miami Herald. He earned his nickname by virtue of both his potent tropical concoctions and his role producing The Post‘s online coverage of tropical weather for decades.
The Atomic Grog was originally an extension of Hayward’s Slammie Productions (est. 1992), one of South Florida’s most recognizable indie concert promotion companies of the 1990 and 2000s. Slammie concerts included everyone from legendary surf guitarist Dick Dale, to punk patriarchs, to ska, alternative and metal. Slammie was a driving force in the local music scene, booking early shows by Dashboard Confessional, Further Seems Forever, New Found Glory, Marilyn Manson, Nonpoint, and many others. Hayward and Slammie also had a hand in booking such top national acts as A.F.I., Blink 182, Deftones, Fall Out Boy, Fugazi, Iron Maiden, Korn, My Chemical Romance, NOFX, Pennywise, Slayer and many more. The company’s signature event in the 1990s was the South Florida Slammie Awards, which ran for eight years and honored the area’s massive (at the time) local scene.
But The Atomic Grog quickly took aim at much more than the music. As the site’s banner states, the focus is on “events, music, art, cocktails and culture.” Since 2008, Hayward has been involved with The Hukilau, the largest Tiki-themed event on the East Coast, as a coordinator, official blogger, symposium host and cocktail class instructor. The Fort Lauderdale event is a whirlwind of live music, informative symposiums, cocktail classes and seminars, VIP meet-and-greets, artists, vendors, and more.
Since 2020, The Atomic Grog has become the most reliable source of information on the closing, sale, restoration and upcoming 2023 reopening of The Mai-Kai, the historic Polynesian restaurant in Fort Lauderdale and Hayward’s hometown Tiki bar for decades. The blog takes readers inside the hallowed halls with the latest news, photos, and exclusive insights you can’t get anywhere else.
At The Hukilau 2019, The Atomic Grog presented two special events: The Rums of The Mai-Kai: The Classic Tiki Template, a sold-out cocktail academy class featuring rum collector Stephen Remsberg; and The Rums of The Mai-Kai: From the Back Bar to Your Glass, a presentation, discussion and back-bar tour at The Mai-Kai featuring author and rum expert Matt Pietrek.
Previous classes and presentations by Hurricane Hayward include Demerara Rum – The Mai-Kai’s Secret Weapon in January 2019 at a Retro Rekindled event at The Mai-Kai; How to Mix Like The Mai-Kai, a sold-out Okole Maluna Cocktail Academy class at The Hukilau 2018; and The Menus of The Mai-Kai: 60 Years of Tiki Cocktail History at The Mai-Kai during The Hukilau 2017.
Hayward’s involvement in The Hukilau, which draws hundreds of revelers annually from around the world, opened his eyes to the much wider Tiki scene and its many diverse, creative and fun-filled festivities. He’s also become known for his tropical drink mixology, thanks in large part to the influence of South Florida’s iconic Mai-Kai restaurant. Open since 1956, The Mai-Kai is a mid-century marvel, beloved by Tiki and Polynesian Pop enthusiasts from around the world. The Atomic Grog’s Mai-Kai Cocktail Guide is a unique resource for tropical drink enthusiasts who flock to Fort Lauderdale to sample these one-of-a-kind creations. The Okole Maluna Society features in-depth news and insights, plus comprehensive reviews and recipes for nearly every Mai-Kai cocktail, past and present. Hayward’s original and re-interpreted recipes have gained a worldwide following and have been featured at bars across the country, from Trader Vic’s and Hale Pele in Portland, Ore.; to Hidden Harbor and the Tiki Lounge in Pittsburgh; to Forbidden Island in Alameda, Calif. An original recipe even made its way onto the menu of the Waikiki Tiki Room in Mexico City. Hayward’s recipes have also been featured on such national websites as Uproxx and the James Beard Award-winning online magazine Punch. The blog now includes a comprehensive list of more than 200 recipes.
Despite its emphasis on The Hukilau, the blog doesn’t ignore the rest of the Tiki scene. The Tiki Times is comprehensive list of all the major events across the world. It also includes rum events, plus modernism, surf and rockabilly music, Disney and other happenings of interest to the Tiki community. It’s continually updated with images and links, plus a recap of past events featuring photos and video. When the coronavirus pandemic hit in March 2020, Hayward posted a comprehensive story on how to help struggling Tiki bars by visting their online shops and contributing to fundraisers. It became an essential resource with its continual updates through the end of 2022.
A big part of the Tiki scene is the great artwork and artists, which are featured regularly along with The Atomic Grog’s unique take on cocktails and culture. The blog offers readers a wild ride on the ever-growing wave of Tiki culture.
Another major area of interest is Walt Disney World and retro Florida. The Atomic Grog has its own distinctive viewpoint on Disney World with a focus on adult-oriented activities such as the food and drinks, plus a fondness for the classic attractions, design, and artwork of the mid-century. All from a Tikiphile’s perspective.
Why Tiki? This modern reinterpretation of mid-century Polynesian and Hawaiian kitsch is actually an honest-to-goodness underground movement, driven by the many talented artists, musicians and cocktailians in true do-it-yourself fashion. To borrow from legendary DJ and writer Jay Strongman’s introduction to his 2008 book, Tiki Mugs: Cult Artifacts of Polynesian Pop …
Inspired by the rich history of Polynesian Pop, the Tiki community is a very organic underground scene with “an anarchic spirit that is refreshing in these times of bland, corporate, mainstream culture.”
We wouldn’t have it any other way.
SPECIAL ATOMIC GROG FEATURES, PAST EVENTS
The Mai-Kai turns 66 as work progresses on multiple renovation projects
There are many reasons to be hopeful that the 67th anniversary in 2023 will be the first since 2019 when we’ll once again be able to gather inside the historic Fort Lauderdale restaurant to appreciate its grandeur and beauty.
The Mai-Kai’s new owner reveals renovation plans during The Hukilau
Tiki enthusiasts get preview of refurbishment of the 65-year-old landmark during discussion at annual event in June.
The Mai-Kai’s renovation plans include reimagined entryway, new event space
When The Mai-Kai completes a multimillion-dollar renovation, guests of the historic restaurant will be treated to several major enhancements, including a more immersive arrival experience and a new banquet hall.
The Atomic Grog 10th anniversary: Beware! Deadly Zombies ahead
After 10 years and more than 1 million page views, we take a look back at the blog’s best posts and most popular cocktails. A special anniversary Zombie kicks off 10 months of deliciously dangerous drinks.
NEW RECIPE: Revenge of the Atomic Zombie Cocktail
VIDEO: Deconstructing Kohala Bay
Hurricane Hayward joined the Austin Rum Society online to reveal several new rum blends that hope to duplicate The Mai-Kai’s late, great dark Jamaican mixing rum. In the video below, we also enjoyed a Rum Barrel featuring the new recipe and discussed the history of The Mai-Kai …
A new Zombie becomes final challenge for The Hukilau villagers
Upon completion of The Hukilau, villagers had one Final Destination: the “Hereafter Party at Death or Gory in Hellray Beach.” To bring the theme full circle, The Atomic Grog presented a Zombie to end all Zombies.
Take a trip down the Tiki Trail for a lethal new Zombie recipe
It was a honor mixing up an original cocktail on the longest-running weekly online gathering of Tiki culture enthusiasts.
Check out and order the special merchandise featuring new Zombie artwork
RECIPE: Tiki Trail Zombie from The Atomic Grog
The Mutiny is a worthy foe in the battle of the tropical titans
A companion to the Black Magic, this tropical drink created by Mariano Licudine is a classic in its own right.
* See the history, review and recipes
VIDEO: The Mutiny on Spike’s Breezeway Cocktail Hour
Mai-Kai cocktail review: The Black Magic emerges from the darkness as a true classic
Inspired by one of The Mai-Kai’s Gallons To Go, we’ve mixed up a new version of this classic Tiki cocktail. See the full story
VIDEO: Hurricane Hayward on Spike’s Breezeway Cocktail Hour
The Atomic Grog joins The Trader Brandon Transmissions
VIDEO, RECIPE: Watch the live interview, see Hurricane Hayward mix up the new Barrel O’ Rum tribute, see the recipe.
Hurricane Hayward on Inside the Desert Oasis Room
A new “Covid Chronicles” episode recorded live with Adrian Eustaquio on the way to The Mai-Kai to pick up Gallons to Go. Also available on iTunes, Spotify and Google Play.
* LISTEN TO THE PODCAST NOW
VIDEO & PHOTOS: Skinny Jimmy Stingray talks classic surf, performs at The Mai-Kai
South Florida’s Skinny Jimmy Stingray and his band rocked The Molokai bar during a special Retro Rekindled monthly community gathering at The Mai-Kai in Fort Lauderdale on Dec. 15, 2019. The live set followed a presentation with The Atomic Grog’s Hurricane Hayward about the guitarist’s musical journey from punk to instrumental surf.
* See new video and photos from the event
Hear The Rums of The Mai-Kai symposium on the Inside the Desert Oasis Room podcast
Mahalo to Adrian Eustaquio and Inside the Desert Oasis Room for documenting the presentation featuring Hurricane Hayward and Matt Pietrek of Cocktail Wonk live on stage at The Mai-Kai during the closing festivities of The Hukilau 2019.
* Click here to listen now or subscribe on iTunes and other podcast platforms
The Atomic Grog presents new class and symposium at The Hukilau 2019
Hurricane Hayward of The Atomic Grog took guests on an virtual journey to the Caribbean to learn about the key rums and styles that have dominated The Mai-Kai’s acclaimed cocktails for more than 60 years. He was joined by rum expert Stephen Remsberg for an Okole Maluna Cocktail Academy class at Pier Sixty-Six hotel, and by Cocktail Wonk writer Matt Pietrek for an on-stage symposium at The Mai-Kai Grand Finale. See the event preview.
Photos, recap: How to Mix Like The Mai-Kai cocktail class at Hukilau 2018
Special event: ‘Demerara Rum – The Mai-Kai’s Secret Weapon’
The Atomic Grog was pleased to present a special happy-hour talk during The Mai-Kai Takeover event in January 2019, presented by the Magical Tiki Meet-Up and Retro Rekindled. Click here to check out our full event recap, including photos and highlights of our Demerara rum discussion.
The Atomic Grog on Marooned: A Texas Tiki Podcast
Listen to Hurricane Hayward and Texas Tiki and cocktail podcaster David Phantomatic in the Samoa Room at The Mai-Kai as they discuss (what else) the historic tropical drinks and influence of South Florida’s Polynesian Palace. The podcast is also available on all major podcasting platforms: Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher.
The Mai-Kai Walking Tour on Marooned: A Texas Tiki Podcast
It was an honor to participate in The Mai-Kai history tour with carver Will Anders and manager Kern Mattei. It’s a real Tiki museum audio walking tour.
More on the Web
* Interview with Hurricane Hayward (Tiki With Ray)
* Recreating The Mai-Kai’s Black Magic cocktail (Punch)
7 Replies to “What is The Atomic Grog?”
Wondering if you can help us spread the word to all those traveling to Hukilau in April about…. our January 29th Floridiana Festival. One of our features this show is the lecture “The Culture of Aloha Shirts” PLUS we have several vendors bringing vintage Alohawear – hundreds of shirts for sale (as well as all the retro Florida kitsch souvenirs and decor). Lemme know and I’ll shoot you over the full press release!
Check out our preview on your cool event here:
Aloha and mahalo for adding a Tiki Kaimuki link on your site. Looks great by the way.
It was interesting reading about your concert promotion. I am generally into the old stuff- Heartbreakers, Adolescents, Misfits, Flag, but I have been finding a lot of new bands. The reason why I mention this is there is a great new poppier punk band called Flashlights and they are from Florida. Check them out if you get a chance.
Aloha! My name is Professor Rex Dart. I’m a record collector/librarian who performs in Las Vegas(and in many other tiki bars and lounges around the US). I also book talent for the Golden Tiki and would like to be able to share our events calendar with you guys.
I’ll also be spinning at the Tiki Oasis AZ and hope to meet y’all in person!
Professor Rex Dart