Minimalist Tiki

The Week in Tiki (May 4-10, 2015): The Hukilau news and updates, plus summer Tiki festival season kicks off

The Week in Tiki The summer Tiki event season is heating up, and we have the latest news on The Hukilau coming to Fort Lauderdale in June, plus updates on this month’s Tiki Caliente. There’s also news on Tiki Oasis tickets and the just-announced Hot Rod Hula Hop, plus the scoop on the temporary closing of the Tiki-Ti. Weekly features spotlight artist Brad “Tiki Shark” Parker, A. Panda’s Tiki Lounge blog, acclaimed lounge band Martini Kings, and the vintage Trader Vic’s location in Atlanta. The rum of the week, The Real McCoy 3, is featured in the Vicious Virgin #3.
* 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

The Hukilau gears up for 14th annual Tiki weekender, exclusive events

With the 30-day countdown for the East Coast’s premiere Tiki weekender quickly approaching, organizer Christie “Tiki Kiliki” White has released a flurry of news and information about The Hukilau, coming June 10-14 to Fort Lauderdale. Here are the latest updates on the event, which will be headquartered for the first time at the historic Hyatt Regency Pier 66 hotel:

Modern Caribbean Rum
The four different glazes of The Hukilau's official 2015 mug by Tiki Diablo
The four different glazes of The Hukilau’s official 2015 mug by Tiki Diablo.

* Photos of all four glazes of the 2015 event mug by Tiki Diablo have been released. A limited run of 400 mugs will be produced, 100 per glaze. The four styles are Ocean, Fire, Sand and Volcano. The mug was inspired and adapted from a design by artist Dave “Basement Kahuna” Wolfe. Tiki Diablo, aka Southern California artist Daniel Gallardo, is an in-demand craftsman and mug designer whose past projects include The Hukilau 2012 mug and a special 2014 Mai-Kai mug. Also look for pendants based on the mug to be available during an upcoming pre-sale. To reserve The Hukilau mug, email [email protected]. Coming soon: More info on other merchandise available at the event.

* Marina the Fire Eating Mermaid and her pod of aquaticats will perform two special swim shows at the nearby B Ocean Resort for attendees of The Hukilau only. These will be in addition to the regular Friday and Saturday shows at 6:30 p.m. that can be viewed from the resort’s historic Wreck Bar. The exclusive new shows at the former Yankee Clipper hotel on Fort Lauderdale Beach will take place at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 10, and 2 p.m. on Saturday, June 13, White said. To ensure clear sightlines for everyone, The Wreck Bar will not be filled beyond its seated capacity. Tickets for the additional mermaid shows are $10 each and are on sale now.

The Tiki Tower Takeover team, clockwise from left: Beachbum Berry, Martin Cate, Paul McGee and Brian Miller
The Tiki Tower Takeover team, clockwise from left: Beachbum Berry, Martin Cate, Paul McGee and Brian Miller.

* The highest-level event tickets have sold out. Big Kahuna passes – which includes admission to all five days, not including symposiums and special events – are no longer available. But you can still pick up an Aloha Pass (Thursday-Sunday) and Luau Pass (Friday-Sunday), or single-day tickets. Buy tickets now before they sell out. Big Kahuna, Aloha and Luau passholders will also receive swag bags containing an exclusive commemorative coffee mug, White said. If you plan on attending, it’s also a good idea to book a hotel room sooner rather than later. Also sold out is the first Saturday night dinner show at The Mai-Kai, the 58-year-old Polynesian palace that’s the nerve center of the event. You can still get into the second seating to see the famous Polynesian Islander Revue (est. 1961), the longest-running authentic South Seas stage show in the United States, including Hawaii. Call The Mai-Kai at (954) 563-3272 to make reservations.

* Also likely to sell out are two special events that you won’t find anywhere outside of The Hukilau. On Thursday, June 11, guests will be able to enjoy a one-of-a-kind happy hour in the 17th floor Pier 66 revolving cocktail lounge overlooking Fort Lauderdale Beach. The Tiki Tower Takeover will feature four of the country’s most acclaimed Tiki cocktail masters together in one room, personally mixing up their own signature drinks. Attendees can enjoy full-sized, fully garnished cocktails from Paul McGee (Lost Lake, Chicago), Martin Cate (Smuggler’s Cove, San Francisco), Jeff “Beachbum” Berry (Latitude 29, New Orleans), and Brian Miller (Tiki Mondays With Miller, New York City). Click here for tickets and more info.

Dawn Wells will take guests on a three-hour cruise at The Hukilau in June 2015.
Dawn Wells

* The other unique experience is a special “Three Hour Tour” cruise with actress Dawn Wells, better known as Mary Ann on TV classic Gilligan’s Island. White has just announced that in addition to an open bar featuring craft Tiki cocktails and food, the cruise will feature a costume contest. Guests are invited to dress in their favorite Gilligan’s Island garb, with prizes to be awarded for the best outfits. The Lady Windridge Yacht will sail Friday, June 12, from the Pier Sixty Six Marina and take guests on a tour along Fort Lauderdale’s inland waterways.

* Four rum sponsors will provide tastings and cocktails featuring their award-winning spirits, White said. Two new artisanal rums – Wicked Dolphin from Cape Coral, Fla., and Gubba from Massachusetts – will have booths and provide tastings in the Tiki Treasures Bazaar, which will be open Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The Real McCoy from Connecticut (this week’s rum of the week) will welcome guests by providing tastings during Thursday’s registration from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Fort Lauderdale’s South Florida Distillers, producers of Fwaygo rum (winner of Best in Class premium white rum at last month’s Miami Rum Festival), will host a pop-up bar on Thursday night at Pier 66 from 6 to 9 p.m.

Tiki Gardens was a classic roadside attraction on Florida's Gulf Coast
Tiki Gardens was a classic roadside attraction on Florida’s Gulf Coast.

A limited number of a la carte tickets remain for six symposiums on a variety of topics: “Brigands, Barons & Beachcombers: The Many Faces of Planter’s Punch” (with Jeff “Beachbum” Berry and Brian Miller); Kevin Kidney & Jody Daily present “Prefeb Paradise: A Look Back at Walt Disney World’s Original Polynesian Village Resort”; Arthur Dong presents “Forbidden City, USA: Chinese American Nightclubs, 1936-1970”; Domenic Priore presents “Pacific Ocean Park: The Rise and Fall of Los Angeles’ Space Age Nautical Pleasure Pier”; Jon Bortles & Tiki Gardener present “They Paved Paradise and Put Up a Parking Lot: The Story of Tiki Gardens”; and Jeff Chenault presents “The Kahiki: Crown Jewel of Polynesian Supper Clubs.” Click here for times, locations and ticket info and click here for the speaker bios.

Previously announced 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, Lila Starlet, and emcee King Kukulele. Check out the performer bios and see the latest schedule. In addition to the Tiki Tower Takeover barmen, cocktails will be expertly mixed throughout the event by Dean Hurst and the Straw Hat Barmen. Click here for the bartender bios.

Official sites: | Facebook page | Twitter | Instagram

Atomic Grog previews
* The Hukilau welcomes Tiki’s top bartenders, Dawn Wells of ‘Gilligan’s Island’
* The Hukilau announces six historic symposiums, ticket sales for June event
* The Hukilau is movin’ on up … to the landmark Pier 66 hotel on Fort Lauderdale Beach

Seventh Tiki Caliente coming May 14-17 to Palm Springs

The official Tiki Caliente 7 print by Doug Horne
The official Tiki Caliente 7 print by Doug Horne.

The summer Tiki festival season kicks off May 14-17 with the seventh Tiki Caliente at the historic Caliente Tropics Hotel in Palm Springs. The intimate event, which is limited to less than 500 guests, will celebrate mid-century modern and Tiki style with music, art, vendors, a rum seminar and tastings, room parties and more.

The 50-year-old landmark hotel is hosting Tiki Caliente for the first time since the first two years, 2008 and 2010. The music starts at 10 a.m. daily and runs past midnight. In addition to scheduled room parties, daily performers and activities include:

Thursday: Martini Kings, and The Jimmy Psycho Experiment. Friday: Troy Fernandez, and The Hula Girls. Saturday: Smokin’ Menehunes, Ding Dong Devils, Glasgow Tiki Shakers, Tiki Joe’s Ocean, and a rum seminar by Kevin Upthegrove of 5 Minutes of Rum. Sunday: Jason Arimoto, and Kimo. Tiki Caliente is organized and hosted by Rory “Wildsville Man” Snyder.

Check Facebook for the latest updates. At press time, event wristbands were still available, but they may sell out soon.

Quick hits: Tiki Oasis tickets, Hot Rod Hula Hop announced, Tiki-Ti closed

Tiki Oasis

Tickets and hotel rooms are selling fast for Tiki Oasis, the granddaddy of all modern Polynesian Pop events, after going on sale Monday, May 4. Hosted for the 15th straight year by Baby Doe and Otto von Stroheim, the oldest and largest Tiki event will be held Aug. 13-16 at the Crowne Plaza in San Diego. The 2015 theme is “Yesterday’s future, today!” – celebrating mid-century space age styles that ran parallel to Polynesian Pop. The four nights and three days include tons of live entertainment, an art show, a vendor marketplace, burlesque performances, a car show, and symposiums with top experts in history, mixology, music and more. Announced performers so far include King Kukulele, The Chocolate Watchband, The Tikiyaki Orchestra, Phenomenauts, Clouseaux, The Phantom Surfers, Marina the Fire Eating Mermaid, The Neptunas, Project Pimento, Jason Lee and the RIP-Tides, The Outta Sites, The Little Richards, Ding Dong Devils, The Diddley Daddies, The Rosalyns, and Els A Phonics. Symposium presenters will include Charles Phoenix, Martin Cate, Sven Kirsten, Will “The Thrill” Viharo, plus more. Get tickets and hotel info now at and check the Facebook group for updates. Symposium tickets go on sale Monday, May 11, at 4 p.m. PST.


The Fraternal Order of Moai has announced that the Hot Rod Hula Hop is roaring back to Columbus, Ohio, on Aug. 7-8 for its seventh year. Presented by the non-profit organization’s Kahiki and Kon-Tiki chapters, the Tiki-themed weekend will include live music, a vintage car and scooter show, burlesque, a vendor village, retro DJs, a luau, and tropical cocktails. The headline event is a surf and psychobilly show featuring Unknown Hinson, The Revomatics, Hellroys and more. The host venues are the Grass Skirt Tiki Room on Friday and Sequoia Pro Bowl on Saturday. A portion of the proceeds benefit Cure CMD and its fight against congenital muscular dystrophy.

A collective shockwave ran down the spine of the Tiki scene not only in Los Angeles, but around the world, when it was announced May 6 on Facebook that Sunset Boulevard’s iconic Tiki-Ti is closing indefinitely. But fears were somewhat allayed when The Los Angeles Times ran a story quoting owner Mike Buhen that the historic bar that was opened by his father Ray in 1961 will be returning, though a date has not been determined. “We will be opening up,” he told The Times. “We’re taking some time, doing some restructuring and stuff.” Ray Buhen – who was at ground zero of the Tiki craze while working for Don The Beachcomber in the 1930s and at other California hotspots during the ’40s and ’50s – created the Tiki-Ti’s menu of 90+ tropical cocktails. The tiny, family-run establishment now features a third generation of Buhens behind the bar and is still considered one of the world’s elite Tiki cocktail destinations.

***** Links of the week*****
* Paul McGee talks about what came before the mixology revival (Chicago Reader)
* Q&A: Beachbum Berry, the man behind the Tiki-cocktail resurgence (Boston Globe)
* Vintage Zombie cocktail resurrected from ’60s (Boston Herald)
* Surfing the tiki wave (Restaurant Hospitality)
* Bacardi shakes up its online marketing cocktail (The Australian Business Review)
* Wicked Dolphin a splashing success in Cape Coral (Fort Myers News Press)

Brad "Tiki Shark" Parker

Brad “Tiki Shark” Parker

You can spot a Tiki Shark painting a mile away. The Hawaii-based artist’s hyper-surrealist style is full of bold colors and over-the-top Tiki imagery that immediately whisks you away to an intoxicating fantasy world. His distinctive artwork has a permanent, high-profile spot at the Kona Oceanfront Gallery on the Big Island, and he’s been shown at galleries around the world. A testament to his popularity: Parker has already sold out the paintings for his next solo show in Los Angeles at La Luz De Jesus Gallery in July 2016, even though many have not even been completed yet. Parker is also a successful entrepreneur, growing his Tiki Shark Art Inc. into a million-dollar business creating artwork for skateboards, watersports gear and apparel, beach products and more.
* Find Brad Parker: Tiki Shark website | Facebook
* See past artists of the week

A. Panda's Tiki Lounge

WEBSITE OF THE WEEK: A. Panda’s Tiki Lounge
Andy “Panda” Montero is relatively new to the retro and Tiki scenes, but this Pennsylvania-based enthusiast has jumped in with both feet by launching an informative blog that details his exploration of today’s scene. He has recently detailed his adventures at The Hukilau, Beachbum Berry’s Latitude 29, and Disney World’s Polynesian Village Resort. Andy’s interest in the various genres of music that are embraced by Tiki enthusiasts led to him creating his own podcast, which includes an eclectic playlist and exclusive interview with Jeff Berry. You can catch Andy mixing cocktails and DJing next week during the Vintage Tiki Weekend at the Caribbean Motel in Wildwood, N.J.
* | Facebook | Twitter | Podcast
* See past websites of the week


Martini Kings

One of the longest running and most prolific bands in the Tiki and lounge music scene, Southern California’s Martini Kings have released 15 CDs since forming in 1995. The group’s combination of jazz, exotica and tropical styles harkens back to another time. The music immediately transports you to a swanky cocktail lounge in Palm Springs in the 1950s or ’60s. Recent albums include Groovin (2014), Live From The Tonga Hut (2013), Bossa Nova Go (2012), and Palm Springs Serenade (2012), which was pressed on clear vinyl and features cover art by Shag. Led by bassist Tony Marsico, the Martini Kings have become one of the hottest special-event bands in Los Angeles, performing for A-list celebrities and many top entertainment companies. But you can still catch them at grassroots events such as Tiki Caliente in Palm Springs, where they’ll perform on Thursday, May 14.
* Official website | Facebook | YouTube
* Buy Martini Kings music: Amazon | CD Baby
* See past bands/music of the week

The dining room and bar at Trader Vic's in Atlanta
The dining room and bar at Trader Vic’s in Atlanta. (From

Trader Vic’s, Atlanta

Located in the basement of the Hilton Atlanta, this outpost of the venerable Trader Vic’s chain is notable for being one of the oldest U.S. locations in existence, still featuring the mid-century style design that later fell by the wayside. Built in 1976, the underground space includes three dining rooms, event space, and a bar and a cocktail lounge with room for live entertainment. It’s an impeccably maintained treasure, perfectly complimenting Trader Vic’s famous Polynesian cuisine and signature tropical cocktails (Fog Cutter, Scorpion, et al.). The Atlanta Trader Vic’s is also notable for hosting the very first edition of The Hukilau back in 2002. Don’t miss Thirsty Thursday, when the iconic Mai Tai (invented by company founder Vic Bergeron in the 1940s) is just $6, and live music is featured.
* Official website | Facebook | Twitter | Trader Vic’s corporate site
* Critiki profile, photos | Tiki Central discussion
* See past Tiki bars of the week

Don’t miss: The Atlanta Trader Vic’s will be hosting a seminar on Saturday, May 9, by Paul Senft of on the history of Tiki in Atlanta and the signature Mai Tai cocktail. Click here for more info.

Vicious Virgin #3 featuring The Real McCoy 3
Vicious Virgin #3 featuring The Real McCoy 3. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)

RUM OF THE WEEK: The Real McCoy 3
Named in honor of Bill McCoy, the Prohibition-era rum-runner who gained fame for selling only the highest quality spirits, this Connecticut-based company likewise imports only the best rums from the Caribbean. The company’s suite of 3-, 5-, and 12-year small-batch artisan rums are distilled in Barbados by Sir Richard Seale at Foursquare Distillery. The 3-year-old white rum is a regular award-winner on the rum festival circuit (including a gold medal at the 2014 Miami Rum Festival), and it’s easy to see why. It treads a great middle ground between some more assertive premium white rums and the sometimes overly-filtered Spanish white rums from Puerto Rico and Cuba. It has a complex flavor, including caramel and coconut, that doesn’t hit you over the head and makes for a fine mixing rum in Tiki cocktails.
* Official sites: | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | YouTube
* Video: The Real McCoy Rum at the UK Rumfest
* Related rum of the week: The Real McCoy 5
* See all past rums of the week

Don’t miss: The Real McCoy will be pouring samples of its rums during registration at The Hukilau in Fort Lauderdale on Thursday, June 11, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. (see story above).

COCKTAIL OF THE WEEK: Vicious Virgin #3
(Adapted from Vicious Virgin #2 in Beachbum Berry Remixed)

* 3/4 ounce fresh lime juice
* 1 1/2 ounces white grapefruit juice
* 1/2 ounce orgeat syrup
* 1/4 ounce Blue Curacao
* 1 1/2 ounces white rum (The Real McCoy 3)
Shake with ice cubes and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

The Vicious Virgin #2, a 1960s recipe from the Pago Pago in Tucson, is a favorite of mine to enjoy on Cinco de Mayo since it features both rum and tequila (3/4 ounces of each). The tequila tends to overwhelm the rum, so for the purposes of spotlighting The Real McCoy 3, I simply doubled the rum. Feel free to enjoy it either way. Without the tequila, it’s a clean and fruity drink with sweet, sour and tangy flavors vying for attention yet still allowing the rum to shine. In #2, the rum and tequila combine to create a unique flavor that works well with the sour juices and orgeat. In both, the Blue Curacao gives it a distinctive look.
* Related recipe: Don the Beachcomber’s Vicious Virgin
* Related cocktail of the week: La Floridita Daiquiri (featuring The Real McCoy 5)
* See all past cocktails of the week

SAVE THE DATE: Upcoming events

Vintage Tiki Weekend

***** In Florida *****
* 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 – Vintage Tiki Weekend at the Caribbean Motel, Wildwood, N.J.
* 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.

Instro Summit

***** Across the U.S. *****
* May 14-17 – Tiki Caliente, Palm Springs, Calif.
* July 10-12 – Tiki Kon, Portland, Ore., and Vancouver, Wash.
* Aug. 7-8 – Hot Rod Hula Hop, Columbus, Ohio.
* Aug. 8Surf Guitar 101 Convention, Garden Grove, Calif.
* Aug. 13-16 – Tiki Oasis, San Diego, Calif.
* Sept. 12 – California Rum Fest, San Francisco.
* Dec. 4 – Midwest Rum Fest, Louisville, Ky.

***** Worldwide *****
* May 23-25 – RhumFest Paris, Paris, France.
* June 18-21 – Surfer Joe Summer Festival, Livorno, Italy.
* June 26-28 – Tiki Pop Fever, Saint-Tropez, France.
* Oct. 3-4 – German Rum Festival,, Berlin
* Oct. 17-18 –
The RumFest: London, United Kingdom
* Nov. 6-7 – Caribbean Rum & Beer Festival, St. Maarten

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.)

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.