Minimalist Tiki

The Week in Tiki (Feb. 24, 2015): NYC’s Miller takes Emeril’s Tiki showdown, Bacardi seeks new classic cocktails

The Week in TikiTiki, rum and cocktails are making news this week. We have the results of “The Art of Tiki: A Cocktail Showdown” hosted by Emeril Lagasse at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, plus coverage of The Mai-Kai’s “secret cocktails” event. We preview the Legacy National Cocktail Competition, sponsored by Bacardi and held in Miami. Other news includes the Instro Summit surf music fest lineup, two special concerts in Tampa Bay, Chicago Area Tiki Tour tickets, and the auction of a massive collection of Tiki artifacts from Disneyland and Disney World. Our weekly features spotlight LeRoy Schmaltz of Oceanic Arts, The Pegu Blog, Double Crown Records, and Hale Pele in Portland. The rum of the week, Ron Zacapa 23 from Guatemala, is featured in the Zacapa Hurricane 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 (Feb. 16-23, 2015)

Brian Miller wins Emeril’s Tiki showdown

Modern Caribbean Rum
Brian Miller (Tiki Mondays With Miller, New York City) accepts the top prize, the Judge’s Choice award, from Emeril Lagasse.
Brian Miller (Tiki Mondays With Miller, New York City) accepts the top prize, the Judge’s Choice award, from Emeril Lagasse.

The big news out of Friday night’s “The Art of Tiki: A Cocktail Showdown” during the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, besides the Judge’s Choice award won by Brian Miller, was the New York City bartender’s announcement that he wanted to leave the Big Apple for Los Angeles. Grasping his $5,000 prize, Miller said he hoped to “take a seat at the big boys’ table” and “hopefully pick up where Don (the Beachcomber) left off.”

However, Miller later had a change of heart, and said he realized that “New York City is where I want to be right now.” Miller wowed the judges with his Pain Reliever cocktail, served up during a three-hour party at the Shore Club on South Beach. Miami Beach craft cocktail bar The Broken Shaker won the People’s Choice award for the creative Paradise Found. The event was hosted by celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse, who was joined at the judging table by Tiki luminaries Jeff “Beachbum” Berry and Martin Cate, plus rum ambassador Lynnette Marrero. World-class chefs provides small bites as more than 700 attendees made the rounds of booths that featured some of the country’s top Tiki mixologists.

Other participants were The Mai-Kai (Fort Lauderdale), Frankie’s Tiki Room (Las Vegas), Royal Kona Resort (Hawaii), The Rum Line (Miami Beach), and Sunny’s (Miami). The win is just the latest feather in Miller’s cap. With his change of heart, a crucial loss to the New York Tiki scene has been averted.

More on The Atomic Grog: A full recap of “The Art of Tiki: A Cocktail Showdown,” including reviews, photos and a new Mai-Kai recipe

The Mai-Kai brings secret cocktails out of the vault

Suffering Bastard
The Suffering Bastard is one of several ‘secret’ cocktails at The Mai-Kai. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)

It’s probably been 30 years or more since somebody walked into The Mai-Kai in Fort Lauderdale and ordered the Fog Cutter, Singapore Sling and Suffering Bastard. But that’s just what more than 50 members and friends of the Gumbo Limbo Chapter of the Fraternal Order of Moai did on Saturday night. The occasion was an event celebrating these classic tropical drinks and recipes created by original mixologist Mariano Licudine to meet demand during Tiki’s heyday but never added to the menu.

Though the event was billed as “The Lost Cocktails of The Mai-Kai,” the three drinks were not really “lost,” manager Kern Mattei said. “We’ve always had them, but nobody knew it,” he said. In addition to a large turnout of FOM members, several VIPs were in the house after participating in Emeril Lagasse’s “Tiki Showdown” the night before in Miami Beach: Jeff “Beachbum” Berry and Martin Cate.

More on The Atomic Grog: Photos and event recap, plus cocktail reviews and recipes

Instro Summit announces lineup for annual surf music fest

Instro Summit

Surf and instro rock fans may want to start making plans for the biggest instrumental music fest in the United States, scheduled for May 15-17 in North Carolina. Last week, the Instro Summit announced its full lineup of 27 bands who will be taking the stage at the Cat’s Cradle’s Back Room in Carrboro, directly west of Chapel Hill.

Among the many instro surf bands on the schedule are: El Capitan & The Band w/No Name, Aqualads, The Mystery Men?, Blood Red River, Crazy Aces, Insect Surfers, Atomic Mosquitos, Moonbase, The Del Rios, Beech Benders, Mike Krause’s Shadows Tribute, and The Krektones. Click on the event link below for the daily set times, plus info on how to get tickets.
* Facebook event | Facebook page

THIS WEEK’S HIGHLIGHTS (Feb. 24-March 1, 2015)

Bacardi seeks next generation of classic rum cocktails

Julio Cabrera's entry in the Legacy National Cocktail Competition, Rumbero
Julio Cabrera’s entry in the Legacy National Cocktail Competition, Rumbero.

Bacardi, the global rum brand based in Miami, is sponsoring the U.S. finals of the United States Bartenders Guild’s Legacy National Cocktail Competition on Tuesday (Feb. 24) on Miami Beach. Intended to inspire bartenders to create original drinks that are not only delicious and visually pleasing but also have an interesting back story (like the Mojito and Daiquiri), the contest has narrowed its field down to nine for the finale.

Regional finals were held in New York, Los Angeles and Portland to determine who will present their creations to a panel of rum and cocktail experts. Contestants are using Bacardi Superior and Gold, along with an unlimited palate of creative ingredients, to create their rum masterpieces. Each contender has also included a story about the inspiration for their drink.

The nine finalists include two from South Florida, Trevor Alberts from Orange Blossom (Miami Beach) and Julio Cabrera from The Regent (Miami Beach). The other finalists are: Enzo Cangemi from Ovest Pizzoteca and Bar (New York City); Ran Duan (Woburn, Mass.); Kalani Ben from The Allis Bar at Soho House (Chicago); Andrew Meltzer from 15 Romolo (San Francisco); Junior Ryan from Clyde Common (Portland); Joe Frade from The Fields Bar & Grill (Portland); and Jessica Sanders from Drink Well (Austin, Texas).

The judges are Chad Michael George (president, Colorado chapter of the USBG), Jim Meehan (author and creator of PDT in New York City), Naomi Levy (2014 National Legacy winner), Willie Ramos (Bacardi’s senior brand master), and Juan Coronado (Bacardi’s senior brand ambassador). The national winner will advance to the Global Legacy Competition in Sydney, Australia, in May.

Special events raise a ruckus, money in Tampa Bay

The Disasternauts
The Disasternauts perform at The Hukilau in June 2013.

Two upcoming concerts featuring an eclectic assortment of retro-themed bands are set for the weekend in Sarasota and Tampa:

* On Friday (Feb. 27), a benefit for WMNF radio will feature The Disasternauts and Switchblade Villain at the Cabana Inn in Sarasota. Composed of chimps who escaped from the space program in the 1960s, The Disasternauts channel their aggression into some of the finest instrumental surf music you’ll hear on this planet. Switchblade Villain is a bay area band that fuses psycobilly, ’60s garage rock and classic punk. WMNF, which first went on the air in September 1979, is Florida’s first community radio station. The call letters stand for “Member-sponsored Non-commercial FM.”

* On Saturday (Feb. 28), the annual Rockabilly Ruckus invades Skipper’s Smokehouse in Tampa with headliners Big Sandy and His Fly-Rite Boys from California. The lineup also features Rocket 88, Ted Stevens and the Doo-Shots, The Intoxicators, Slip and the Spinouts, and the Sara Rose Band. The event also includes a hot rod and motorcycle show, rockabilly fashions and dancing.

Festival celebrates rum’s history in the Bahamas

Rum connoisseurs and lovers of island culture will gather at historic Fort Charlotte in Nassau this Friday through Sunday (Feb. 27-March 1) for Festival RumBahamas. The event celebrates the storied history of the islands, and the link to rum and pirates that dates back to the 1600s. There will be local, regional and international rum exhibitors offering product samples, master classes on rum, bartending and cocktail competitions, and international and local chefs demonstrating the creative use of rum in cooking. Entertainment will include DJs, bands and street performers. Go to the official website,, for a complete schedule and ticket info.

Chicago Area Tiki Tour tickets on sale, venues announced

Chicago Area Tiki Tour

Tickets went on sale Monday for the fun-filled bus tour of the Windy City’s best Tiki venues known as the Chicago Area Tiki Tour. The April 24-26 event, which is being organized by the Red Palms Chapter of the Fraternal Order of Moai, will feature stops at the area’s top classic and neo Tiki establishments: Chef Shangri-la, Hala Kahiki, Lost Lake, Three Dots & a Dash, and The Tiki Terrace.

The schedule includes a Friday night kickoff party at the host hotel featuring the retro surf sounds of the Cocktail Preachers. The $125 ticket price includes transportation, a swag bag, plus free food and drinks at some of the venues. Go to the official website,, for all the details and to order tickets.

Original Enchanted Tiki Room bird at Disneyland auction

An anonymous collector’s massive archive of Disney artifacts will be auctioned off piece by piece on Saturday and Sunday (Feb. 28- March 1) at a special event, The Story of Disneyland: An Exhibition and Sale. A substantial portion of the items are on view to the public through Friday (Feb. 27) at Van Eaton Galleries in Sherman Oaks, near Los Angeles.

Walt Disney with his friends in Disneyland's Enchanted Tiki Room, 1963. (Walt Disney Co.)
Walt Disney with his friends in Disneyland’s Enchanted Tiki Room, 1963. (Walt Disney Co.)

The highest bids are expected for an animatronic bird from Disneyland’s Enchanted Tiki Room, circa 1970s. It’s estimated to fetch up to $30,000. Also up for bid are Tiki Room cast member uniforms, Tiki carvings and masks, plus many other artifacts. There’s also a selection of items from Disney World’s Polynesian Village Resort.
* Official auction website
* Recent coverage: The Tiki Chick’s blog
Los Angeles Times | Bloomberg video

In other Disneyland news, the annual Dapper Day will be celebrated on Sunday as tens of thousands of participants put on their Sunday best for a night out at the happiest place on earth. Though retro fashions are popular, guests are not asked to wear strict period recreations. Event organizers welcome “all sophisticated fashions, from vintage-inspired to contemporary chic.”

***** Links of the week*****
* Rumor: Saying Goodbye to Magic Kingdom’s Aloha Isle? (Disney Food Blog)
* Eight faux-Polynesian establishments in seven days (Booze Muse)
* Dinner with Shag at Tinto (Palm Springs Life)
* Hugely successful Modernism Week highlights Palm Springs resurgence (KVCR radio)
* Specialty glassware as the new garnish (Punch)
* The Punch guide to New Orleans
* Bourbon Street’s campy cocktails transcend taste (Munchies)
* Pernod Ricard intros new design and sweeter recipe for Havana Club (Punch)
* Wicked Dolphin distillery hosts Speakeasy party (Fort Myers News-Press)
* A Rumfest interview: Global Rum Ambassador Ian Burrell (YouTube)

LeRoy Schmaltz (left) and Robert Van Oosting
LeRoy Schmaltz (left) and Robert Van Oosting in the late 1950s. (Credit:

LeRoy Schmaltz of Oceanic Arts

One of the true legends of modern Oceanic art, LeRoy Schmaltz is a carver and artist who has has left an indelible stamp on Polynesian Pop for more than 50 years. He and business partner Bob Van Oosting launched Oceanic Arts in Southern California in 1956, providing authentic decor and artwork to a who’s who of Tiki bars and restaurants, theme parks, movie sets, apartment complexes, and more. Clients include Disneyland and Disney World, Trader Vic’s, Don the Beachcomber, The Mai-Kai, The Tonga Room, and more than 1,000 others. The scope of LeRoy’s work is staggering, as is the collection in the Oceanic Arts showroom in Whittier. This treasure trove of Tiki decor is considered the Mecca of Tiki artifacts.
* Visit LeRoy at
* Critiki profile, review and photos
* Keeping the Tiki torch lit (A. Panda’s Tiki Lounge)
* Oceanic Arts profile by Steve “Tikiman” Seifert
Video: Hidden Gems profile of Oceanic Arts
* See past artists of the week

Tiki Month on The Pegu Blog

It’s the heart of the winter in most of the continental United States, and you know what that means. Thoughts drift to warm and exotic locales, where you can imagine yourself lounging in a Tiki bar with a potent drink in hand. Blogger Doug Winship understands this fully, so every year he turns his cocktail blog into a Tiki party during the most brutally cold month of the year. Join Doug as he shares drink recipes, home bar-building tips, guidelines on how to handle fruit, Tiki photography, and more. It’s enough to make February seem just a little closer to paradise.
* The Pegu Blog: Homepage | February 2015 posts | Tiki Month 2014
* See past websites of the week

Double Crown Records

Double Crown Records

Looking for one of the coolest collections of surf, garage, rockabilly and exotica releases, both new and old? Then Washington-based indie label Double Crown Records is for you. Browsing the label’s web store for CDs and records is like entering a parallel universe where crappy music doesn’t exist. The label’s specialty is surf and instrumental rock. Among the bands who have recorded for Double Crown are The Kilaueas, The Madeira, Frankie & The Pool Boys, and The TomorrowMen. Looking for just a taste? Check out The Continental Magazine, which comes with a compilation CD in every issue. Now’s the time to check out the store. During February, you can get free shipping on orders of $20 or more. Go to for details.
* Official website | Facebook page
* See past bands/music of the week

Hale Pele
Hale Pele (Facebook photo)

Hale Pele, Portland

The brainchild of Tiki mixologist Blair Reynolds, Hale Pele opened in August 2012 in the former location of Thatch in northeast Portland. Reynolds was no stranger to the Tiki scene since creating his own brand of bar syrups (B.G. Reynolds) and one of the most acclaimed home bars. He also contributes a column on tropical cocktails to Tiki Magazine & More. Reynolds poured all his knowledge, heart and soul into Hale Pele, which is a must-see destination in one of the country’s top cocktail cities. The decor is immersive and authentic, featuring a waterfall and many carvings. A kitchen serves up Polynesian small bites, and the expansive rum list contains more than 300 selections. The cocktail menu has a variety of Reynolds originals, plus many classics from Don the Beachcomber, Trader Vic, The Mai-Kai, and many more. Hale Pele is a shining example of how a classic Tiki bar should be done in the 21st century.
* Visit Hale Pele: Official website | Facebook page | Critiki profile, photos
* See past Tiki bars of the week

RUM OF THE WEEK: Ron Zacapa 23
One of the most acclaimed sipping rums in the world, this premium spirit from Guatemala is aged between 6 and 23 years. It dominates rum festival awards as well as the heart and minds of rum enthusiasts. I ranked it No. 4 overall in August 2013 when I rated the best of my 99 rums. As a sipper, it has few equals. Sweet and complex with many familiar flavors (vanilla, caramel, toffee, honey), Zacapa 23 is a sophisticated treat that also includes hints of fruit and spice with just a slight burn. Though many would poo-poo its use as a mixer, it seems to be gaining traction as an upsale addition to classic and Tiki cocktails. My favorite is a simple Daiquiri with Zacapa, lime and honey.
* See past rums of the week

COCKTAIL OF THE WEEK: Zacapa Hurricane
(By Ron Zacapa brand ambassador Danny Valdez)

Zacapa Hurricane
Zacapa Hurricane featuring Ron Zacapa 23. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)

* 1 1/2 ounces Zacapa 23
* 2 ounces passion fruit syrup
* 1 ounce fresh lime juice
* 1 ounce fresh orange juice
* 1 teaspoon real pomegranate grenadine
Shake well with ice and strain into a Hurricane glass over crushed ice.

What better way to bring the elegant Zacapa 23 down to earth than with the lowbrow standby, the Hurricane? We honor Mardi Gras 2015 with this recipe from Zacapa’s own brand ambassador. Like most Hurricanes, this is very sweet but also somehow balanced. It definitely evokes the New Orleans classic, and the rum adds flavor, heat and a touch of class.

I found this a little light on the rum, so I upped it to 3 ounces for a much more high-octane treat. Feel free to adjust to your tastes. Note that the standard mid-century Hurricane recipe from Pat O’Brien’s in New Orleans featured 4 ounces of dark rum with 2 ounces of lemon juice and 2 ounces of passion fruit syrup. A Hurricane should wreak some havoc. But that doesn’t mean you should skimp on the other ingredients. Be sure to use fresh juices and a quality passion fruit syrup. For some suggested brands, plus more Zacapa rum cocktail recipes (including The Mai-Kai’s new Molokai Swizzle), check out our review of last week’s “The Art of Tiki: A Cocktail Showdown.” [See also: Atomic Zombie Cocktail]
* More Hurricane recipes: Hurricane Caesar | The Mai-Kai Hurricane
* See past cocktails of the week

SAVE THE DATE: Upcoming events

The Hukilau

***** In Florida *****
* March 14 – Dapper Day at Disney World.
* April 17-19 – Miami Rum Renaissance Festival. The ultimate rum festival and trade expo. [Atomic Grog coverage]
* June 10-14 – The Hukilau at the Hyatt Regency Pier 66 hotel and The Mai-Kai restaurant, Fort Lauderdale. The world’s most authentic Tiki event. [Atomic Grog coverage]
* Oct. 1-3 – Ohana: Luau by the Sea, Fort Lauderdale. A weekend of ohana in sunny South Florida.

***** On the Eastern Seaboard *****
* May 15-17 – Instro Summit, Chapel Hill, N.C.
* June 25-28 – Ohana: Luau At The Lake at The Tiki Resort, Lake George, N.Y.
* July 15-19 – Tales of the Cocktail, New Orleans, La.

Tiki Oasis

***** Across the U.S. *****
* April 11-13 – Mojave Oasis, Newberry Springs, Calif.
* April 24-26 – Chicago Area Tiki Tour
* May 14-17 – Tiki Caliente, Palm Springs, Calif.
* July 10-12 – Tiki Kon, Portland, Ore., and Vancouver, Wash.
* Aug. 8Surf Guitar 101 Convention, Los Alamitos, Calif.
* Aug. 13-16 – Tiki Oasis, San Diego, Calif.

***** Worldwide *****
* May 23-25 – RhumFest Paris, Paris, France.
* June 18-21 – Surfer Joe Summer Festival, Livorno, Italy.
* Oct. 3-4 – German Rum Festival,, Berlin
* Oct. 17-18 –
The RumFest: London, United Kingdom

Keep us informed: If you have news or events to report, simply e-mail [email protected] and let us know what’s happening, along with any appropriate links. Feel free to send photos and flyers. You can also send a message via the Facebook page. If you post news or updates on a regular basis, let us know how to follow you (website, Facebook, Twitter, etc.)

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