What is The Atomic Grog?

The Menus of The Mai-Kai: 60 Years of Tiki Cocktail History* Event preview: Explore 60 years of Tiki cocktail history

Updated June 2017

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.

Hurricane Hayward (right), with assistance from artist Nik Satterfield, mixes his Atomic Zombie Cocktail during the Zombie Jamboree at The Mai-Kai in April 2011. (Photo by Susan Hayward)

Hurricane Hayward (right), with assistance from artist Nik Satterfield, mixes his Atomic Zombie Cocktail during the Zombie Jamboree at The Mai-Kai in April 2011. (Photo by Susan Hayward)

Hayward has been an editor and web producer for more than 30 years, earning his nickname by virtue of both his potent tropical concoctions and his role leading The Palm Beach Post’s online coverage of tropical weather since the mid-’90s.

The Atomic Grog is an outgrowth of Hayward’s Slammie Productions (est. 1992), South Florida’s longest-running indie concert promotion company. Concerts in recent years have included legendary surf guitarist Dick Dale, psychobilly pioneers the Nekromantix, ska veterans Voodoo Glow Skulls and The Toasters, plus punk patriarchs The Adolescents and The Queers. Slammie has been 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 … the list goes on. 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. Through the blog, Hayward hopes to use The Atomic Grog as a vehicle to bring more retro-themed surf and rockabilly shows to South Florida.

The artist Shag and Hurricane Hayward at The Hukilau 2016 in Fort Lauderdale. (Atomic Grog photo)

The artist Shag and Hurricane Hayward at The Hukilau 2016 in Fort Lauderdale. (Atomic Grog photo)

But The Atomic Grog is about much more than the music. As the site’s banner states, it’s about “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, and symposium host. The Fort Lauderdale event is a whirlwind of live music, informative symposiums, cocktail contests and seminars, VIP meet-and-greets, retro DJ parties, a Tiki art show, vendors, and more. In 2016, Hayward moderated a historic gathering of Tiki revival pioneers, and in 2017 he’s presenting a special interactive slideshow on the history of The Mai-Kai’s cocktail menu.

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, including Trader Vic’s and Hale Pele in Portland, Ore.; Hidden Harbor and the Tiki Lounge in Pittsburgh; and Forbidden Island in Alameda, Calif.

Hurricane Hayward and Beachbum Berry study cocktails in The Molokai bar at The Mai-Kai during The Hukilau 2015. (Photo by Rebecca Cate)

Hurricane Hayward and Beachbum Berry study cocktails in The Molokai bar at The Mai-Kai during The Hukilau 2015. (Photo by Rebecca Cate)

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.

Hurricane Hayward welcomes "The Book of Tiki" author Sven Kirsten to The Mai-Kai on New Year's Eve to ring in 2017. (Atomic Grog photo)

Hurricane Hayward welcomes “The Book of Tiki” author Sven Kirsten to The Mai-Kai on New Year’s Eve to ring in 2017. (Atomic Grog photo)

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.

Mahalo!

Hurricane Hayward

More on the Web
* Interview with Hurricane Hayward (Tiki With Ray)

3 Responses to What is The Atomic Grog?

  1. 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!

    Mahalo,
    Annette

  2. 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.
    Mahalo-Falin

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