Minimalist Tiki

The Week in Tiki (June 15-28, 2015): Summer events in full swing with The Hukilau, Ohana: Luau At The Lake, more

The Week in Tiki The year’s two major East Coast events, The Hukilau in Fort Lauderdale and Ohana: Luau At The Lake in upstate New York, dominate June’s news. We also have an update on the ill-fated Rapa Nui Reef in Deerfield Beach, plus news on October’s Ohana: Luau by the Sea. Also announced for October: Mod-PalmSprings and The Art of Tiki: A Cocktail Showdown in the Big Apple. Regular features spotlight the artist Squid, exotica ensemble Waitiki, the venerable Tiki-Ti in Los Angeles, and the Fraternal Order Of Moai website. The rum of the week, Rhum Barbancourt 5 Star, is featured in the 1862 Rhum Punch.
Note: Updates are now being published twice a month, but don’t worry. We won’t miss any of the latest news.
* Keep up with The Week in Tiki: Facebook page | RSS feed | See past weeks | Archive
* Weekly features: Artist | Band/music | Tiki bar | Website | Rum | Cocktail | Events

The Hukilau soars at mid-century marvel Pier 66 hotel

Close to a thousand fans of Tiki and mid-century culture from around the world gathered in Fort Lauderdale for The Hukilau on June 10-14, with events centered around the Hyatt Regency Pier 66 and The Mai-Kai restaurant. The 14th annual event seemed fresher than ever thanks to the vintage charm and modern amenities of Pier 66. Here’s a day-by-day recap:

Modern Caribbean Rum
Gold Dust Lounge from Miami play a rousing set of instrumental surf. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)
Gold Dust Lounge from Miami play a rousing set of instrumental surf. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)

* Wednesday, June 10: Registration opened at Pier 66 and Marina the Fire Eating Mermaid (Medusirena) performed her first exclusive swim show only for guests of The Hukilau at The Wreck Bar at the nearby B Ocean Resort, the former Yankee Clipper on Fort Lauderdale Beach. The reserved-seat, ticketed event was a hit with guests, who all had clear views of Marina and her pod of aquaticats as they performed their “Aquacade Swimshow” featuring special guests Crazy Al Evans, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, and more. The evening party moved to The Molokai lounge at The Mai-Kai, featuring live surf music from Miami’s Gold Dust Lounge. Emcee King Kukulele kept thing lively, and the bar was filled with guests and VIPs, including the crew from the upcoming Tiki Tower Takeover and food TV celeb Jim Stacy (Offbeat Eats with Jim Stacy).
* The Atomic Grog’s photo recap: See more images from Wednesday

The Tiki Tower Takeover's all-star cast of bar professionals joins The Hukilau's Christie "Tiki Kiliki" White (center) for a group photo
The Tiki Tower Takeover’s all-star cast of bar professionals joins The Hukilau’s Christie “Tiki Kiliki” White (center) for a group photo. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)

* Thursday, June 11: Registration at Pier 66 got a little more interesting thanks to The Real McCoy rum, who provided tastings and cocktails from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. One of this year’s signature events, the Tiki Tower Takeover, was held from 4 to 6 in the 17th floor revolving Pier Top Ballroom. Four of the country’s most recognized Tiki cocktail barmen set up shop for a very special happy hour: Martin Cate (Smuggler’s Cove, San Francisco), Jeff “Beachbum” Berry (Latitude 29, New Orleans), Paul McGee (Lost Lake, Chicago) and Brian Miller (“Tiki Mondays With Miller”, New York City). The lively party lived up to expectations, providing guests a one-of-a-kind opportunity to enjoy full-sized, fully-garnished signature cocktails personally made by these acclaimed mixologists all at one event. Pablus, King Kukulele and Crazy Al Evans provided the entertainment, and the drinks were all outstanding: The rummy Formidable Dragon from Martin Cate, the mysterious and exotic T.O.T.C. Swizzle from Beachbum Berry, the complex yet perfectly balanced Lost Lake from Paul McGee, and the creative yet accessible Pandanarama Daiquiri from Brian Miller. You know you’re tasting some of the best drinks in the business when just before the event three of the four were nominated for Spirited Awards by Tales of the Cocktail: Smuggler’s Cove (Best American Cocktail Bar) and both Latitude 29 and Lost Lake (Best New American Cocktail Bar). After The Hukilau, it was announced that both Smuggler’s Cove and Latitude 29 had survived the cut and made the final four. The winners will be announced at Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans on July 18.

The Tiki Tower Takeover crew (and Adam Kolesar) recreate The Last Supper in The Molokai bar at The Mai-Kai. (Photo by Pablus)
The Tiki Tower Takeover crew (and Adam Kolesar) recreate The Last Supper in The Molokai bar at The Mai-Kai. (Photo by Pablus)

The Tiki Treasures Bazaar opened in the spacious, 7,500-square-foot Crystal Ballroom in the Pier 66 main tower at 6 p.m., featuring artisans and vendors from around the world. Also making its debut and continuing through the weekend was an impressive bar just outside the bazaar hosted by Rhum Barbancourt. Inside, you could also find rum samples and cocktails from Wicked Dolphin and Gubba. In the evening, the party moved over to the 5,800-square-foot Panorama Ballroom near the marina and Intracoastal Waterway. King Kukulele served as host, and Georgia’s Kinky Waikiki kicked things off with their unique brand of exotic, loungy Hawaiian music. The Intoxicators from Tallahassee were a little rough around the edges, but they rocked the house as usual. A unique highlight you only see at The Hukilau: The band was joined by Crazy Al and percussionists from the Alika Lyman Group as they backed up special guest Medusirena. Eschewing her mermaid fin, she performed a unique exotic dance that paid homage to Mexican cinema legend Tongolele.
* The Atomic Grog’s photo recap: See more images from Thursday

The Hukilau's longtime emcee, King Kukulele, and artist/performer Crazy Al Evans welcome Dawn Wells to the Three Hour Tour Cruise. (The Hukilau photo)
The Hukilau’s longtime emcee, King Kukulele, and artist/performer Crazy Al Evans welcome Dawn Wells to the Three Hour Tour Cruise. (The Hukilau photo)

* Friday, June 12: The Polynesian Pop party got educational with a full slate of symposiums in the Panorama Ballroom: “They Paved Paradise and Put Up a Parking Lot: The story of Tiki Gardens” (hosted by Jon Bortles and Tiki Gardener), “The Rise and Fall of Los Angeles’ Space Age Nautical Pleasure Pier” (hosted by Domenic Priore), and “Forbidden City, USA – Chinese American Nightclubs, 1936-1970” (hosted by Arthur Dong). For many, the highlight of The Hukilau was the opportunity to take a “Three Hour Tour” cruise with Mary Ann from Gilligan’s Island, aka actress Dawn Wells. Hundreds of guests, many decked out in garb from the classic TV show, boarded a 170-foot yacht at the Pier 66 marina for the Intracoastal Waterway excursion featuring host King Kukulele, complimentary food and signature cocktails crafted by the Straw Hat Barmen and The Hukilau’s bar team (led by spirits coordinator Dean Hurst). Meanwhile, the Tiki Treasures Bazaar was open for business, featuring the Harold Golen Gallery’s “Big Eye Spectacular” art exhibit featuring a new painting by Shag created specially for the event. Merchandise was selling briskly, including The Hukilau official mug by Tiki Diablo.

The Alika Lyman Group performs songs from its debut album, Leis of Jazz, Vol. 2 (2014). (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)
The Alika Lyman Group performs songs from its debut album, Leis of Jazz, Vol. 2 (2014). (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)

The action moved to the Panorama Ballroom for Friday’s Main Event, hosted by King Kukulele and featuring another set of vintage tunes by Kinky Waikiki, some retro rockabilly by South Florida’s Slip and the Spinouts and direct from Hawaii and California, the Alika Lyman Group. The exotica supergroup, making its first East Coast appearance, had the packed house enthralled with its vintage, jazzy sounds. Lyman paid homage to his uncle, the late exotica pioneer Arthur Lyman, and the highlight of the set was the band’s tribute to the late Robert Drasnin, the exotica master who passed away in May. Burlesque dancer Lila Starlet performed between band sets, priming the crowd for the unbridled fun that was about to come. Hitting the stage with a primal fury, The Disasternauts revved things up with their signature instrumental surf onslaught. The dance floor was filled for the entire set as the band, clad in their usual orange jumpsuits to match their NASA space chimp personas, tore through a tight set of surf-rock classics. The band’s seminal (simian?) performance was an unexpected highlight of a memorable day.
* The Atomic Grog’s photo recap: See more images from Friday

King Kukulele (left) introduces Jeff “Beachbum” Berry and Brian Miller (right) to the sold-out audience in the Panorama Ballroom at the Hyatt Regency Pier 66 hotel. (Photo by
King Kukulele (left) introduces Jeff “Beachbum” Berry and Brian Miller (right) to the sold-out audience in the Panorama Ballroom at the Hyatt Regency Pier 66 hotel. (Photo by

* Saturday-Sunday, June 13-14: Day Four started with two more entertaining and informative symposiums in the Panorama Ballroom at Pier 66. “Prefab Paradise: A Look Back at Walt Disney’s World’s Original Polynesian Village,” presented by Kevin Kidney and Jody Daily (and hosted by Kevin), took guests on a trip through time to the funky and fanciful early 1970s, when the iconic Orlando resort took shape. Dozens of slides of vintage ads, artwork and renderings painted a picture of a grand getaway in the finest Tiki tradition. “Brigands, Barons & Beachcombers: The Many Faces of Planter’s Punch” was the first collaboration between Jeff “Beachbum” Berry and Brian Miller, an epic symposium showing off Berry’s encyclopedic knowledge of Tiki cocktail history and Miller’s traditional yet rule-breaking approach to mixology. Not only was the 90-minute-plus presentation chock full of information (much of it pulled from Berry’s sixth book, the award-winning Potions of the Caribbean), it was enlightening, funny and packed full of of recipes and demos. Meanwhile, the final day of the Tiki Treasures Bazaar was in full swing in the Crystal Ballroom, featuring appearances and book/merchandise signings by Kevin and Jody, Dawn Wells, plus authors Domenic Priore and Jeff Chenault. Over at The Wreck Bar, Marina the Fire Eating Mermaid and friends presented her second exclusive swim show, this one with a Polynesian theme.

Instrumental surf band The Intoxicators from Tallahassee make their 11th straight appearance at The Hukilau. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)
Instrumental surf band The Intoxicators from Tallahassee make their 11th straight appearance at The Hukilau. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)

By late afternoon, it was time to bid Pier 66 adieu and head over to The Mai-Kai for the marathon Main Event, which ran from 4:30 until well past midnight. In The Molokai bar, The Quiet Villagers and Pablus of The Crazed Mugs kept guests entertained during two happy hour shifts. The Tahiti dining room was also a hot spot for food, drinks and music with Kinky Waikiki and the Alika Lyman Group performing in the round to The Hukilau’s hungry hordes. Meanwhile in the main dining room, The Mai-Kai’s famous stage show, the Polynesian Islander Revue, enthralled dinner guests during two seatings. Onstage before the first show, The Hukilau’s Christie “Tiki Kiliki” White and her new partners, Mike Zielinski and Richard Oneslager, honored their staff, VIPs and the restaurant’s owners and managers with special editions of Tiki Diablo’s event mug. The Mai-Kai received a standing ovation after recognition of recent honors, including being named to the National Register of Historic Places. The evening concluded with rousing sets of instrumental surf music by The Intoxicators in Tahiti and Skinny Jimmy Stingray in The Molokai.

Skinny Jimmy Stingray and his band make quite an impression on the Molokai Girls. (Photo by The Tanabi Group)
Skinny Jimmy Stingray and his band make quite an impression on the Molokai Girls. (Photo by The Tanabi Group)

There was little time to rest before we returned for Sunday’s Finale at The Mai-Kai at noon for a seemingly endless happy hour in The Molokai featuring more classic surf rock from Skinny Jimmy and his new band. The dining room was packed for a symposium by Jeff Chenault, one of the authors of The Kahiki: Crown Jewel of Polynesian Supper Clubs. Jeff shared historic photos and stories about the legendary Columbus, Ohio, establishment that awed guests from 1961 until its sad closing in 2000, while The Hukilau’s bar team provided one last sample cocktail (a Kahiki classic, the Port Light). The Hukilau officially ended at 4 p.m., but many villagers lingered in The Molokai for the bar’s regular happy hour and another round of classic cocktails. A large group gathered to toast Beachbum Berry and his new Pearl Diver Glass from Cocktail Kingdom, which The Mai-Kai had just put into service the night before in the classic Deep Sea Diver. Some even stayed well into the evening and helped The Mai-Kai’s managing owner, Dave Levy, celebrate his 60th birthday. Once again, The Hukilau proved to be a marathon of vintage experiences and total immersion into the Tiki lifestyle. The hotel venue change seemed to pump new life into the event, setting the stage for a landmark year in 2016, which marks both The Hukilau’s 15th year and The Mai-Kai’s 60th anniversary.
* The Atomic Grog’s photo recap: See more images from Saturday and Sunday

More photos, coverage
* New Times: Video | Photo gallery | Story
* Photos: | Straw Hat Barmen
Official sites: | Facebook: Page and Group | Twitter | Instagram

Moai gather from far and wide for Ohana: Luau at the Lake

Ohana: Luau at the Lake

Ohana: Luau at the Lake, the seventh annual national event hosted by the Fraternal Order of Moai, was a sold-out success that brought members from the group’s nine chapters across the country to The Tiki Resort in Lake George, N.Y., for four days of music, art, vendors, room parties, a cocktail contest, mini-golf, an authentic luau, and more. Tickets to the June 25-28 charity event were snapped up by April, and by all accounts on social media it was another action-packed weekend of fun and camaraderie that the FOM is known for.

The Tiki Resort, a Polynesian-themed motor inn that dates back to the 1950s, is the perfect setting for the leid-back festivities. Accommodations were also available at two nearby motels just a short walk from The Tiki. Arriving guests received swag bags with goodies from the many sponsors. Liquor and related donations were put to good use in cocktails and room parties. Sponsor rums included Deadhead, Clement, Cockspur, Novo Fogo and El Dorado. The official event mug was crafted by noted artist and mug designer Squid.

The Tiki Resort in Lake George, N.Y., hosts the seventh Ohana: Luau at the Lake
The Tiki Resort in Lake George, N.Y., hosts the seventh Ohana: Luau at the Lake. (Facebook photo)

The “biggest little event in Tiki” began on Thursday, June 25, with a happy hour and “Bedrock A-Go-Go Kick-Off Party” featuring the Neanderthals. Guests joined the primitive, retro-themed band by dressing in Flintstones-era costumes for the party. On Friday, vendors began selling their wares while room parties got everyone warmed up for the mini-golf tournament. Bands performing poolside included 9th Wave (surf, exotica and hot rod music), The Outta Sites (1960s era garage rock), and headliners Los Straitjackets, performing their acclaimed brand of Americana-meets-surf. It was standing room only around the pool deck as the masked marvels tore through all their greatest hits for the appreciative crowd.

Saturday started with more vending and a silent auction, followed by poolside entertainment including a rare performance by a four-piece version of modern exotica pioneers Waitiki. Rum and cocktail contests, plus the annual Ohana Mystery Bowl auction (netting a record record $601 for a single Mystery Drink) were held before everyone enjoyed an authentic Polynesian dinner and show. The entire drink auction made more than $1,200 that will go directly to the Easter Island Foundation. Last year’s Ohana raised $7,000 for the Easter Island Foundation Scholarship program.

The evening festivities continued with 9th Wave hosting a hoedown, followed by vintage drive-in movies late into the night. Ohana concluded with Sunday’s “hangover brunch,” as friends new and old bid farewell until Ohana 2016. Or perhaps in October at Ohana: Luau by the Sea. More on that new event below.

Rapa Nui Reef may live to sink again

A rendering of the proposed reef off Deerfield Beach. A first attempt at sinking the specially created moai went awry when a barge tipped and crushed most of the statues.
A rendering of the proposed reef off Deerfield Beach. A first attempt at sinking the specially created moai went awry when a barge tipped and crushed most of the statues.

After the ill-fated sinking of 15 Eastern Island moai up to 22 feet tall on June 7 in Deerfield Beach, organizers of the Rapa Nui Reef project have pledged to finish what they started with a less ambitious project. The new plan calls for a publicly funded artistic reef composed of moai sculptures and dive-through reef structures that will be lowered with a crane onto the top (formerly the bottom) of the existing barge that sunk upside-down. A marine engineer will reportedly be consulted to help securely fasten the moai to the barge.

The goal is to install the first moai statues this summer. Tax deductible contributions can be made through the Woman’s Club of Deerfield Beach. Margaret Blume-Founder, who spent $500,000 on the initial project, remains the reef’s project director and benefactor. Her funding enabled artist Dennis MacDonald to create giant molds that will be re-used to cast more of the iconic concrete figures.
* See previous coverage on The Atomic Grog
* Rapa Nui Reef official website | Facebook page

Quick hits: Ohana: Luau by the Sea tickets, Mod-PalmSprings announced, The Art of Tiki: A Cocktail Showdown comes to NYC

Ohana: Luau by the Sea

October is shaping up to be a busy month for Tiki events, extending the summer season well into the fall. Among the latest news:

Tickets are now on sale for the newest Fraternal Order Of Moai event, Ohana: Luau by the Sea, scheduled for Oct. 1-3 in Fort Lauderdale. The first annual fund-raiser will include live music, DJs, contests, vendors, auctions, prizes, food and a live Polynesian show. Activities will be centered around the Sheraton Fort Lauderdale Airport hotel, plus the legendary Mai-Kai Polynesian restaurant and the Kreepy Tiki Lounge. Live entertainment will include 9th Wave, the Stolen Idols, and Marina the Fire Eating Mermaid. Proceeds will benefit the Easter Island Foundation.
* More info: Official site | Facebook page

Mod-Palm Springs

Rory Snyder, the man behind the annual Tiki Caliente event (held May 14-17 in Palm Springs, Calif.), will once again join forces with mid-century artist extraordinaire Shag for the third annual Mod-Palm Springs. Scheduled for Oct. 8-11 at the site of Tiki Caliente, the historic Caliente Tropics resort, the event promises a mid-century weekend escape with a Tiki twist. Mod-Palm Springs is a celebration of architecture, fashion, cocktails, art and music with the added bonus of a special event with Josh Agle, aka Shag, who will also serve as master of ceremonies. The resort has recently undergone a restoration to return it to its vintage glory, including the installation of carved Tiki signs created by artist Bosko Hrnjak. Musical guests include the Martini Kings, Marty Lush and Brassiere ’66, Fono 66, and The Outta Sites.
* More info: | Facebook page

Brian Miller of New York City accepts the Judge’s Choice award from Emeril Lagasse at The Art of Tiki: A Cocktail Showdown at the  South Beach Wine & Food Festival on Feb. 20
Brian Miller of New York City accepts the Judge’s Choice award from Emeril Lagasse at The Art of Tiki: A Cocktail Showdown at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival on Feb. 20. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)

Celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse will reprise “The Art of Tiki: A Cocktail Showdown” on Saturday, Oct. 17, during the New York City Wine & Food Festival. The first Art of Tiki showdown was held Feb. 20 during the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, with more than 700 guests enjoying an evening of stellar cocktails and small tropical-themed bites. New York City’s Brian Miller (“Tiki Mondays With Miller”), who won the Judge’s Choice award at the South Beach showdown, will serve as a judge at the NYCWFF signature cocktail event. Both Lagasse and Tiki cocktail historian/author and Latitude 29 owner Jeff “Beachbum” Berry will also return as judges. Southern Wine & Spirits is back as sponsor, providing the rums and other spirits. Cocktail Kingdom, the premium barware company that just released a new line of Beachbum Berry products, has joined the party to help select the competing bartenders. Check out the full list of participants on the festival’s official site.
* Atomic Grog recap: Photos, review of the South Beach showdown

***** Links of the week*****
* The secret history of Disney’s Tiki Room & Trader Sam’s (Parkeology)
* Bringing tiki back: 10 best bars to order umbrella drinks (USA Today)
* The San Francisco Bay area’s most festive Tiki bars (7×7)
* Bootlegger Tiki – A rum-soaked oasis in Palm Springs (The Tiki Chick)
* Five new-school Tiki drinks (Punch)
* Sips: Umbrella drinks (5280)
* 8 rums for right now (Chilled)
* Talking rum and sugar with Richard Seale (The Floating Rum Shack)
* Cuba’s top rum gets boost from tourism while awaiting U.S. entry (The Miami Herald)
* Can the Mojito’s reputation be saved? (Punch)

Squid's mug for the Ohana: Luau At The Lake event
Squid’s mug for the Ohana: Luau At The Lake event.

Dave Cohen, better known simply as Squid, has been at ground zero of the modern Tiki revival’s lowbrow art scene since creating the first mug for Tiki Farm in 2000. In 15 years, he’s sculpted more than 200 Tiki mugs and also created signature fonts and type designs. His mug empire has also expanded to include zombies, monsters and horror staples. Squid’s recent works include the official mug for Ohana: Luau At The Lake and numerous collaborations with Hawaiian carver and mug sculptor Gecko. Squid is also an accomplished drummer, performing in numerous regional rock and jazz bands. You might catch him playing jazz and experimental music in the Seattle area, where he lives.
* Find Squid: | Facebook | Twitter
* See past artists of the week

The Waitiki 7: Waitiki in Hi-Fi

The Waitiki 7 and Waitiki

One of the first new groups to revive the sounds of classic exotica, Waitiki was formed as a quartet in Boston in 2003 by Randy Wong and Abe Lagrimas Jr., who were drawn to New England’s prestigious music schools from Hawaii. The group made a splash on the Tiki revival scene with the album Charred Mammal Flesh (2005) and appearances at The Hukilau, Tiki Oasis, and Hot Rod Hula Hop, including sets as the backing band for exotica legend Robert Drasnin. Waitiki not only covered the exotica masters (Martin Denny, Arthur Lyman, Les Baxter, et al.), complete with bird calls, but also began creating an impressive catalog of original material. Their debut album won a Hawaii Music Award for best exotica album, a new category created specially for Waitiki. More albums followed, including Rendezvous in Okonkuluku (2007), produced by Brother Cleve of Combustable Edison. Reimagined as an ambitious all-star the septet, The Waitiki 7 released Adventures in Paradise in 2009, New Sounds of Exotica in 2010 and Waitiki in Hi-Fi in 2011. The group’s recorded output slowed as Wong and Lagrimas pursued careers as world-class musicians, composers and instructors in Hawaii and Los Angeles, respectively. The Waitiki 7 recently made a triumphant return to the modern Tiki scene with a 2014 New Year’s Eve show at Longitude in Oakland. The band also made a rare appearance as a quartet on Saturday (June 27) at Ohana: Luau at the Lake with Wong on bass and Lagrimas on drums and ukulele.
* Waitiki: Official site | Facebook page | Buy merchandise
* The Waitiki 7: Official site | Facebook page | Twitter | YouTube
* Buy music via Amazon: Albums | Digital downloads
* All past bands/music of the week

The Tiki Ti doesn't look much different today than it did 50 years ago
The Tiki Ti doesn’t look much different today than it did 50 years ago. (From Tiki-Ti Facebook page)

To the outside world, the tiny 12-seat Tiki-Ti on Sunset Boulevard in the Los Feliz section of Los Angeles may seem like simply a kitschy dive bar wtih great drinks. But the history and influence of this iconic, family-run bar (established in 1961) cannot be understated. The “Ti,” as it’s known to its faithful, was founded by one of the legends of tropical mixology. Ray Buhen emigrated from the Philippines in 1930 and worked at the original Don The Beachcomber in Hollywood in 1934. He went on to work behind the bar at a who’s who of the top Polynesian restaurants in L.A. for decades before opening his own joint and serving all the great drinks he had mastered over the years. When Ray passed away in 1999 at age 90, he passed along his wisdom to son Mike and grandsons Mike Jr. and Mark, who keep the tradition alive. All the signature drink recipes remain secret, and there are more than 90 of them on the menu. Nothing else. No beer, no wine, no frills. Cash only, no credit cards. There’s typically a line to get in, so arrive early. Hours are Wednesday through Saturday from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m., with last call at 1:20. The bar also closes when the family goes on vacation, so be sure to check ahead. The menu includes many Don the Beachcomber classics, popular Ray Buhen signature cocktails (Ray’s Mistake, Blood and Sand), plus modern drinks created by the Buhens. The decor also has to be seen to be appreciated. Though not much has changed in 54 years, a lot of flotsam and jetsam has accumulated to give the place a vibe that a Hollywood set designer could only dream of. Just as quirky are the Tiki Ti’s customers, many of whom are regulars for decades and are immortalized on the walls. When the bar closed in May for “restructuring,” there was a collective shudder across the Tiki cocktail universe. But it quickly reopened two weeks later with the announcement that it no longer would permit smoking, a loophole it exploited for years by having no employees beyond its owners. Announced as the Tiki-Ti’s first employee: A longtime regular named Greg, of course.
* Official website | Facebook page
* Video: Esquire’s Best Bars in America visits the Tiki-Ti (YouTube)
* Critiki profile, photos | Tiki Central discussion
* See past Tiki bars of the week

Fraternal Order Of Moai

Fraternal Order Of Moai

A non-profit fraternal and social organization for kanes and wahines with an interest in Tiki culture and Polynesian Pop, the Fraternal Order of Moai prides itself on its fund-raising via a growing array of fun-filled events run by chapters across the country. The FOM just held their national event, the seventh annual Ohana: Luau At The Lake at The Tiki Resort in Lake George, N.Y., which benefits the Easter Island Foundation and its scholarship program. There are nine chapters, primarily in the Midwest and Northeast, whose enthusiastic members organize an impressive variety of Tiki-themed gatherings, including the recent Chicago Area Tiki Tour on April 24-26. Major upcoming events include the Hot Rod Hula Hop (Aug. 7-8 in Columbus, Ohio) and Ohana: Luau by the Sea (Oct. 1-3 in Fort Lauderdale). You don’t need to be a FOM member to attend, but it’s a good idea to get your tickets fast. The group’s intimate gatherings tend to sell out fast. Check out the website for updates on all the chapters and their events, to learn more about the Fraternal Order Of Moai, and talk Tiki in the forums.
* Official site: | Facebook | Twitter
* See past websites of the week

1862 Rhum Punch and Rhum Barbancourt 5 Star were both featured at The Hukilau 2015. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward, June 2015)
1862 Rhum Punch and Rhum Barbancourt 5 Star were both featured at The Hukilau 2015. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward, June 2015)

Rhum Barbancourt 5 Star

Also known as Reserve Special, this is indeed a special rum from the venerable Haitian distillery that dates back to 1862. Pot stilled from 100 percent pure cane sugar juice and aged for 8 years in imported white oak casks, this award-winning rum is probably the most versatile in the Barbancourt portfolio. It’s more mature than the 4-year-old 3 Star rhum [see previous review] and not as pricey or exclusive as the 15-year-old Estate Reserve. The 86-proof Barbancourt 5 Star is a full-flavored, dry and intense combination of sweet and spicy flavors, great as a mixer or sipper. All the Barbancourt rums are considered agricole (though not certified by France like those from Martinique), which means they’re derived from sugar cane juice as opposed to molasses. But as noted in the 3 Star review, they’re unlike the more pungent agricole rhums from Martinique. Barbancourt’s aging process is unique, similar to cognac, giving the older expressions a smooth and complex taste.
* Official sites: | Facebook | Twitter | Pintrest | YouTube
* Previous rum of the week: Rhum Barbancourt 3 Star
* See all past rums of the week

The Mai-Kai presents a special cocktail featuring Rhum Barbancourt. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)
The Mai-Kai presented a special cocktail featuring Rhum Barbancourt during The Hukilau. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward, June 2015)

1862 Rhum Punch

(By Kern Mattei, The Mai-Kai)

* 1 ounce fresh-squeezed lime juice
* 1/2 ounce cinnamon syrup
* 1/2 ounce simple syrup
* 1/2 ounce Kahlua
* 1 ounce all-natural white grapefruit juice
* 3 ounces Rhum Barbancourt 5 Star
Pulse blend with 1 cup of crushed ice and serve in a double old-fashioned glass or Tiki mug. Cut the recipe in half and use a small rocks glass for a serving size like the one offered at The Mai-Kai.

Created for The Hukilau and sponsor Rhum Barbancourt (est. 1862), this special cocktail was offered during the June 10-14 event in The Molokai lounge at The Mai-Kai in Fort Lauderdale. Manager Kern Mattei came up with a distinctive drink that showcases the smooth yet spicy Barbancourt rhum. It’s well-balanced with bitterness from the lime and grapefruit, spice flavors from the cinnamon and Kahlua and a little bit of sweetness from the syrups. It’s very much a Mai-Kai style cocktail with powerful flavors in perfect harmony. It also doesn’t suffer as the ice dilutes (a key attribute of many Mai-Kai drinks), instead evolving with a definite beginning, middle and end. Rhum Barbancourt 5 Star is a perfect fit in this cocktail, but 3 Star also works great.
* More on The Atomic Grog: The Mai-Kai Cocktail Guide
* See all past cocktails of the week

SAVE THE DATE: Upcoming events

Tiki Kon

***** In Florida *****
* Oct. 1-3 – Ohana: Luau by the Sea, Fort Lauderdale.
* April 15-17, 2016 – Miami Rum Renaissance Festival. [Atomic Grog coverage]

***** On the Eastern Seaboard *****
* July 15-19 – Tales of the Cocktail, New Orleans, La.

***** Across the U.S. *****
* 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.
* Oct. 8-11 – Mod-Palm Springs, Palm Springs, Calif.
* Oct. 17 – The Art of Tiki: A Cocktail Showdown at the New York City Wine & Food Festival.
* Dec. 4 – Midwest Rum Fest, Louisville, Ky.

***** Worldwide *****
* Sept. 26-28 – Rome Rumfest, Italy.
* Oct. 3-4 – German Rum Festival,, Berlin.
* Oct. 17-18 –
UK RumFest, London.
* Nov. 6-7 – Caribbean Rum & Beer Festival, St. Maarten.

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