Minimalist Tiki

Week/Month in Tiki (May 1-31, 2016): Recap Tiki Caliente; preview Tiki Kon, Tales of the Cocktail and Tiki Oasis; plus Tiki bar news and more!

The Week in Tiki As usual, May kicked off the Tiki event season with Tiki Caliente in Palm Springs. Check out a recap and photos, plus previews of Tiki Kon in Portland, Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans, Tiki Oasis in San Diego, and more upcoming events. We have news on South Florida Distillers joining Kreepy Tiki Lounge in an expanded location near Fort Lauderdale’s airport, plus lots more Tiki bar news. Regular features spotlight the godfather of pop surrealism, artist Mark Ryden; Sven Kirsten’s 2010 compilation, The Sound of Tiki; the Palm Springs outpost of the venerable Tonga Hut; plus the Modern Tiki Lounge website. Our featured rum, the inventive Santeria, is included in an Atomic Grog original cocktail, Koko Kahuna.
* Keep up with The Week/Month in Tiki: Facebook page | RSS feed | Past blogs | Archive
* More below: Artist | Band/music | Bar | Website | Rum | Cocktail | Events

EVENT RECAP: Tiki Caliente expands to four days of wall-to-wall Poly Pop parties in Palm Springs

Modern Caribbean Rum
The Tiki Caliente tribe gathers poolside at the Caliente Tropics resort in Palm Springs. (Photo by Kari Hendler of Poly Hai)
The Tiki Caliente tribe gathers poolside at the Caliente Tropics resort in Palm Springs. (Photo by Kari Hendler of Poly Hai)

Like the first major college football bowl game (but a lot more colorful), Tiki Caliente kicked off the annual Tiki event season in style with its eighth gathering of the tribe in the tropical mid-century splendor of Palm Springs on May 12-15. Expanded to four days at the historic Caliente Tropics resort, the intimate, sold-out event also featured a pre-party at Tonga Hut as well as more symposiums, an eclectic lineup of performers, art shows, vendors and the usual festive room parties. Tonga Hut also served as Tiki Caliente’s on-site bar all weekend, keeping the party going with authentic Polynesian-style cocktails from 11 a.m. until 1 a.m.
* See below: Tonga Hut, bar of the week/month

Marina the Fire Eating Mermaid joins Marty Lush for his Don Ho tribute show at Tiki Caliente 2016. (Photo by Kari Hendler of Poly Hai)
Marina the Fire Eating Mermaid joins Marty Lush for his Don Ho tribute show at Tiki Caliente 2016. (Photo by Kari Hendler of Poly Hai)

Performers included Creepxotica, Ding Dong Devils, The Do-Its, The Jimmy Psycho Experiment, Marina the Fire Eating Mermaid, Martini Kings, Surfbroads, TikiTronic, and Voodoo Organist. Organizer Rory Snyder ratcheted up the kitschy fun with a yacht rock party co-hosted with Marty Lush (aka Digitiki of The Quiet Village podcast). Lush also performed a rum-fueled Don Ho tribute show, “Suck on This.”

Symposiums featured some of the most creative minds in Tiki cocktails, including “From the High Seas to High Tiki: Rum’s Cocktail Voyage” by Martin Cate of Smuggler’s Cove in San Francisco, “Finishing Touches” by Marie King of Tonga Hut, and “Punch and the History of the Communal Cocktail” by Chad Austin of Bootlegger Tiki in Palm Springs.

Tiki Caliente organizer Rory Snyder (front) enjoys a Zen Tiki Lounge room party. (Photo by Kari Hendler of Poly Hai)
Tiki Caliente organizer Rory Snyder (front) enjoys a Zen Tiki Lounge room party. (Photo by Kari Hendler of Poly Hai)

While not officially part of the event, the room crawl has become a fixture and allows guests to meet and mingle as well as show off their mixology skills. Many participants go all-in with full-blown Tiki decor, DJs, live music and more. Organized by the crew from the Zen Tiki Lounge podcast, this year’s crawl spanned three days and featured 15 rooms. Among the more noteworthy parties were hosted by Zen Tiki Lounge (celebrating their 10-year anniversary), Kevin Upthegrove of the 5 Minutes of Rum podcast (serving a riff on the Cobra’s Fang/Cobra’s Kiss called The Snakepit), and the faculty and students from Poly Hai (serving the “Wake Your Tiki Ass Up Coffee Grog” with sponsor Deadhead rum at 9:30 a.m.).

Artist Tiki Ray Kieffer sees one of his tikis installed at the Caliente Tropics in Palm Springs during Tiki Caliente 2016. (Photo by Kari Hendler of Poly Hai)
Artist Tiki Ray Kieffer sees one of his tikis installed at the Caliente Tropics in Palm Springs during Tiki Caliente 2016. (Photo by Kari Hendler of Poly Hai)

Commercial Tiki bars got in on the act on Saturday night with a Tonga Hut bash followed by the finale, hosted by Huntington Beach’s Don the Beachcomber in the Caliente Tropics lobby and featuring live music from Jason Lee and the R.I.P. Tides. The room crawl judges gave the best cocktail award to John and Janet Mulder of Eekum Bookum for their gin Saturn. The award for best decor/theme went to artist Doug Horne for “Swampfire Ball.” The judges choice award went to Stephen Holt’s Kraken Hunter Bar.
* Room crawl photos on Facebook | Tiki Central discussion
Live at Tiki Caliente: Listen to the Zen Tiki Lounge podcast

The Mulders collaborated with Horne on the Tiki Caliente 8 War Club, one of the most creative event mugs we’ve seen in a long time. Horne also created the official event limited edition print and limited-edition war club pedants. The art of Shag was also featured in a special reception and party for the massive “Trousdale Twist” painting. Shag, who owns a mid-century modern home in Palm Springs, was on hand to meet guests and soak in the Polynesian Pop atmosphere.

More from Poly Hai: Gallery of 400+ images from Kari Hendler | Videos
* Official sites: | Facebook page

EVENT PREVIEW: Step back into the WWII era at Tiki Kon in Portland

Tiki Kon

The northwest Tiki scene is gearing up for the 14th annual Tiki Kon, happening July 8-10 in Portland. Themed to Polynesian Pop’s roots in the post-World War II era and the USO, the eclectic event is centered at a new host hotel, the Red Lion Hotel On The River. Guests can enjoy Tiki-themed music, art and fashion, with a rollicking camp show, surf and lounge bands, educational symposiums, themed food and drinks, vendors from around the world, and the longest-running home bar tour of its kind.

Here’s a look at the schedule and highlights of the vintage weekend. Unless noted, all events are at the Red Lion Hotel. Some individual events have tickets available at the door, while others are free and open to the public. Check the online schedule for details.

Friday, July 8
* 4-7 p.m. – Welcome reception for VIP weekend passholders, presented by Portland Tiki bar Hale Pele and featuring Martin and Rebecca Cate signing copies of their new book, Smuggler’s Cove: Exotic Cocktails, Rum and the Cult of Tiki.
* 7-11 p.m. – “Surf & Turf” with The Hang-Ten Hangmen, presented by Deadhead Rum. The Vancouver, B.C., surf band will be joined by WaveSauce (Portland), The Evanstones (Seattle), and a DJ. Enjoy exotic cocktails on the shore of the Columbia River.

Rod Moore of The Shameful Tiki Room will present a symposium on "Raising the Bar" at Tiki Kon 2016.
Rod Moore of The Shameful Tiki Room will present a symposium on “Raising the Bar” at Tiki Kon 2016.

Saturday, July 9
* 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. – VanTiki mug signing followed by Island Marketplace opening at 11. Meet the creator of the official 2016 Tiki Kon mug, which was inspired by the tikis of the Cook Islands and honors the brave GIs who served in the Pacific Theater during World War II. The vending area is free and open to the public, featuring artisans from around the world plus Tiki cocktails. Other afternoon events include another Smuggler’s Cove book signing and indoor pool party.
* 11 a.m.-3 p.m. – Symposiums including “A Celebration of the Tiki Age in Hawaii” by Phillip Roberts, author of Waikiki Tiki: Art, History and Photographs; and “Raising the Bar” by Rod Moore, creator and owner of The Shameful Tiki Room in Vancouver and Toronto.
* 8-11 p.m. – “From somewhere in the Pacific, it’s the Tony Starlight Show!”, featuring the Portland impresario with his orchestra and guest performers (including Marina the Fire Eating Mermaid) presenting a vintage USO-themed variety show with music, dancing, comedy, magic and more. Also: The first Mr. Tiki Kon Contest.

Sunday, July 10
* 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. – Sunday brunch and bar tour, an all-day bus excursion to some of Portland’s best home and commercial Tiki bars.
* 5:30-8 p.m. – Sunday finale featuring the Insanitizers performing live surf music at the Bamboo Craftsman Co., Portland’s premiere bamboo nursery and studio. Free and open to the public.

Tiki Kon links: Performers | Vendors | Hotel | Facebook page | Twitter
* Past Atomic Grog coverage

EVENT PREVIEW: It’s all about the cocktails at massive industry event in New Orleans

Tales of the Cocktail

Everything is bigger and better in New Orleans, especially when alcohol and cocktails are involved. For the 14th year, the liquor industry’s biggest names will join 20,000 of their closest friends and fans in the Big Easy on July 19-24 for Tales of the Cocktail. Featuring a dizzying number of events spread across ballrooms and bars throughout the city, TOTC (or simply “Tales”) serves up not just the world’s best cocktail party, but also endless opportunities to learn about the latest trends in the bar business at seminars, tastings, product launches, competitions, networking events and more.

Ian Burrell (left) and Martin Cate at The Hukilau in Fort Lauderdale in June 2011. Both received Spirited Award nominations in 2016. (Photo by
Ian Burrell (left) and Martin Cate at The Hukilau in Fort Lauderdale in June 2011. Both received Spirited Award nominations in 2016. (Photo by

One of the highlights of Tales of the Cocktail is the annual Spirited Awards, now in its 10th year. Honoring the cream of the crop of bars, bartenders, journalists and more, the awards are announced during a gala celebration during TOTC. The final four nominees in the 24 award categories include several favorites of the rum and Tiki cocktail scenes: San Francisco’s Smuggler’s Cove (Best American Cocktail Bar) and London’s Trailer Happiness (Best International High Volume Cocktail Bar). Florida is represented by South Beach craft cocktail bar Sweet Liberty (American Bartender of the Year: John Lermayer, Best New American Cocktail Bar). The UK’s global rum ambassador, Ian Burrell, is nominated for Best International Brand Ambassador. And two distinctive rums are recognized as Best New Spirit or Cocktail Ingredient nominees: Plantation Pineapple Stiggins’ Fancy and Caña Brava 7-year Reserva Añeja. The Top 10 nominees announced earlier also included additional nods for Smuggler’s Cove (American Bartender of the Year: Marcovaldo Dionysos, World’s Best Spirits Selection). Owner Martin Cate also snagged two nominations for his San Francisco gin bar, Whitechapel (Best New American Cocktail Bar, World’s Best Spirits Selection). Chicago’s Lost Lake was nominated for World’s Best Cocktail Menu. And the Best American Restaurant Bar nominees included rum bar Cane & Table in New Orleans.

Paul McGee and Shelby Allison of Chicago's Lost Lake at The Hukilau 2015. They'll be sharing their
Paul McGee and Shelby Allison of Chicago’s Lost Lake at The Hukilau 2015. They’ll be sharing their “Secrets Behind a High Volume Tiki Bar” at Tales of the Cocktail. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)

Among the hundreds of events, tastings and parties are many options for Tiki and rum devotees:

* “Welcome to the Bayou presented by Bayou Rum,” a pool party featuring the handcrafted, pot-distilled, highly awarded rum produced in the largest privately-owned rum distillery in the country. Includes craft cocktails, local culinary treats and Cajun music. (July 19, 2:30 p.m.)

* “National Daiquiri Day,” a tour of New Orleans bars hosting special guest bartenders serving Daiquiris of all shapes and sizes, including Latitude 29 and Tiki Tolteca. (July 19, 6 p.m.)

* “When Is A Rum Not a Rum? The Big Rum Debate,” a free-wheeling discussion of “rum shenanigans and the future of rum” with panelists including Alexandre Gabriel of Maison Ferrand (Plantation Rum) and Richard Seale (Foursquare Rum Distillery). (July 20, 10 a.m.)

* “Pumping out Paradise: Secrets Behind a High Volume Tiki Bar,” featuring practical tips for serving mass quantities of multi-ingredient garnish-heavy drinks from the proprietors of Chicago’s Lost Lake, Portland’s Hale Pele, and France’s Dirty Dick. (July 20, 10 a.m.)

Beachbum Berry, who has released his own line of vintage barware via Cocktail Kingdom, demonstrates how to use an authentic swizzle stick. (Photo by
Beachbum Berry, who has released his own line of vintage barware via Cocktail Kingdom, demonstrates how to use an authentic swizzle stick at The Hukilau 2015. (Photo by

* “Shhh …There’s a New Rum in Town presented by Plantation Rum,” a tasting room featuring an exciting new product from the acclaimed Maison Ferrand. (July 20, 3 p.m.)

* “The New American Rum Revolution,” a tasting session that takes a look at rum’s past, present and future with Robert A. Burr and Robert V. Burr (Miami Rum Renaissance Festival, Rob’s Rum Guide and Rum Minute), plus several award-winning American rum distillers. (July 20, 3:30 p.m.)

* “Slap it! Pour it! Crush it! Swizzle it!”, an exploration of the classic Queen’s Park Swizzle, hosted by the House of Angostura brand ambassadors and also featuring Tiki cocktail historian Jeff “Beachbum” Berry and global rum ambassador Ian Burrell. Participants receive their own swizzle kit. (July 23, 12:30 p.m.)

You’ll also find tasting events and parties spotlighting rums from Barbancourt (July 20), Blue Chair Bay (July 21), Mezan (July 21), Bacardi (July 21), El Dorado (July 22), and Cruzan (July 23).

Proceeds from Tales of the Cocktail are invested back into the industry via scholarships, tuition reimbursements, training programs, and financial aid.
Official site: | Schedule | Ticket info
* 11 experiences you can only have at Tales
* So, you’re coming to Tales for the first time?
* Three questions with Dave Wondrich, Gary Regan and Jeff Berry
Social media: Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Instagram | Pintrest

EVENT PREVIEW: Tiki Oasis in San Diego ramps up for 16th annual bash in San Diego

Tiki Oasis

Tiki Oasis has been releasing a steady stream of updates on its 16th annual event, scheduled for Aug. 18-21 in San Diego. The oldest and biggest Polynesian Pop weekender in the world still has a few creative surprises up its sleeve, including this year’s theme: “Party on Monster Island.”

Last year’s bash, with the sci-fi theme “Yesterday’s Future Today,” drew more than 4,000 Tiki fun-seekers to the Crowne Plaza Hotel and Bali Hai restaurant for four days of live entertainment, symposiums, burlesque, rum and cocktail tastings, a beauty pageant, more than 100 vendors, legendary room parties, plus lots more.
* See The Atomic Grog’s recap

This year’s event kicks off with the traditional Thursday night Meet & Mingle at the historic Bali Hai featuring an all-star lineup of live music and more: Emcee King Kukulele, Southern California surf stalwarts Jason Lee and the R.I.P. Tides, haunting horror-exotica band Creepxotica, South Florida aquatic vaudevillian Marina the Fire Eating Mermaid, Hawaiian jazz/exotcia ensemble Alika Lyman Group, plus a special appearance by The Phantom Four from the Netherlands with John Blair (surf legend from Jon & The Nightriders).

The Sonics, headlining Tiki Oasis on Aug. 20, are a 1960s-era garage band considered to be a prime influence decades later on many modern punk and alternative bands.
The Sonics, headlining Tiki Oasis on Aug. 20, are a 1960s-era garage band considered to be a prime influence decades later on many modern punk and alternative bands.

Friday features an incredibly eclectic assortment of daytime activities, from 8:30 a.m. yoga to symposiums on architecture, nautical Tiki, and Prohibition. The main stage at the Crowne Plaza comes alive at night with the Miss Tiki Oasis Contest followed by live music from The Jimmy Psycho Experiment, The Messer Chups, and headliners Donna Loren & The Shindiggers. The evening wraps up with a midnight show featuring some of the top names in burlesque.

Saturday’s many activities include the eighth annual car show (featuring live surf-rock from Boss Fink), the seventh annual art show, acclaimed DJs, more symposiums, and a cocktail class with Martin Cate of Smuggler’s Cove in San Francisco . The event reaches its climax that evening on the poolside main stage with host King Kukulele, a costume contest and a suitably scary line-up of live bands: The Mission Creeps, Deadbolt, The Lampshades, the Creepy Creeps, and headliners The Sonics, the seminal garage rock band from the Pacific Northwest (est. 1960). You can then party the night away indoors with more DJ and live music mayhem, plus another midnight burlesque show.

The Woggles from Georgia will headline the Haunted Au Go Go dance party on Aug. 21 at Tiki Oasis.
The Woggles from Georgia will headline the Haunted Au Go Go dance party on Aug. 21 at Tiki Oasis.

On Sunday, it’s another full day of activities around the hotel, including a Charles Phoenix retro slideshow and the second annual Bartenders Battle. The final evening party takes place in the Grand Hanalei Ballroom, hosted by Tiki Oasis founder Otto von Stroheim. The Haunted Au Go Go dance party will feature DJs and live music from Georgia garage band The Woggles, plus Screaming Lord Stax & the Savages.

With demand at an all-time high, the Crowne Plaza quickly sold out of rooms for the weekend, but you can still give the wait list a try. The nearby Kings Inn and Comfort Inn & Suites also offer special rates for Oasis attendees.

We’ll have a final preview along with more info on the many Tiki Oasis artists, vendors, entertainers and symposium presenters in next month’s news.
Tiki Oasis links: Buy tickets | Bands | DJs | Symposiums | Marketplace
* Social media: Facebook page | Facebook group | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube
* Past Atomic Grog coverage

MORE EVENTS: Charles Phoenix at Don the Beachcomber, Trader Vic’s Atlanta seminar, Mod Palm Springs announced

Charles Phoenix at Don the Beachcomber

The always entertaining pop-culture historian Charles Phoenix will host “Alohaland: Live Retro Hawaiian Vacation Slide Show & Luau Party,” on Saturday, July 9, at Don the Beachcomber in Huntington Beach. The sold-out event will feature Phoenix showing off vintage Kodachrome slides taken by tourists vacationing in Hawaii in the ’50s and ’60s, plus live Hawaiian music and hula dancing. Tickets include a Mai Tai and erupting volcano-shaped pineapple upside-down cake.
* More info | Facebook event

“The History of Tiki and Trader Vic’s” will be discussed by Paul Senft of on Saturday, July 16, at Trader Vic’s in Atlanta. The seminar will cover the history of the Atlanta Hilton and the local Trader Vic’s franchise, plus the story of the Mai Tai. Admission includes a Mai Tai and shared Tiki platter.
* Event preview | Facebook event

Mod-Palm Springs

The fourth annual Mod Palm Springs was announced for Oct. 20-23, once again spotlighting the art of Shag in the perfect mid-century modern setting at the Caliente Tropics resort. The 2015 event featured tours of Shag’s desert hideaway and a “Cocktail Climb” with Shag aboard the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. A co-production of Shag the Store and Tiki Caliente‘s Rory Snyder, Mod Palm Springs also features art showings, live music, and rum-fueled room parties. Tickets go on sale July 16.
* Mod-Palm Springs Facebook pages: Event | Room crawl

NEWS: South Florida Distillers joining Kreepy Tiki Lounge in new space

Kreepy Tiki Lounge

The rumors were confirmed May 14 when Fort Lauderdale’s South Florida Distillers (the distillery behind the award-winning Fwaygo Rum) announced it was officially moving south to join Kreepy Tiki Lounge in expanded facilities behind the existing bar near the international airport. As we reported in March, the 1,800-square-foot bar will be changing its name when it moves to its expanded space in the fall. Currently, the lounge is connected to Kreepy Tiki Tattoos, fronting Federal Highway near Interstate 595.

The new space is 6,000 square feet, including a separate area for the distillery, according to a story in New Times Broward-Palm Beach. The entire back portion of the building will become a cocktail bar and live music venue. “We want to be able to have two separate spaces – one for the cocktail lovers that have come to know us as a Tiki bar, and one for the live music fans,” bar owner Ayme Harrison told New Times. “This way everyone can enjoy both.”

Joe Durkin and Avi Aisenberg of South Florida Distillers with Travel Channel's Jack Maxwell ('Booze Traveler') after their recent tour of the Fort Lauderdale waterways. (Facebook photo)
Joe Durkin and Avi Aisenberg of South Florida Distillers with Travel Channel’s Jack Maxwell (‘Booze Traveler’) after their recent tour of the Fort Lauderdale waterways. (Facebook photo)

The relocation will also greatly benefit the South Florida Distillers operation co-founded by Joe Durkin and Avi Aisenberg. “This expansion is essential to the growth of both the distillery and our Fwaygo rum brand,” New Times quoted Aisenberg as saying. “In addition to a new tasting room and production space, our new location will allow us to host more events and continue to cultivate the craft spirits scene here in South Florida.”

The new distillery should be able to produce more than 550 bottles of rum a day, allowing a transition to new stainless steel stills. Durkin and Aisenberg also hope to show off new equipment they say is the largest in the Florida craft distilling community. Fwaygo Rum is already gaining national recognition with multiple awards at competitions such as the Miami Rum Festival in 2015 and 2016. The owners were also recently spotted with Jack Maxwell, host of Travel Channel’s Booze Traveler. We hope to see South Florida Distillers featured in an upcoming episode.

* Kreepy Tiki Lounge: Official website | Facebook page | Twitter | Instagram
* South Florida Distillers: Official website | Facebook page | Twitter | Instagram

MORE TIKI BAR NEWS: Best Bars in America announced, Cleveland’s Porco honored, Hatch opens in California, Swizzle Luau Lounge coming to Dallas, changes at Chicago’s Three Dots and a Dash

Smuggler's Cove: Exotic Cocktails, Rum and the Cult of Tiki

Esquire magazine published its annual list of the Best Bars in America, David Wondrich’s “highly select list of exceptional watering holes culled from more than a decade’s worth of cross-country investigations, hangovers, and aspirin.” Noteworthy mentions include Martin Cate‘s new San Francisco gin joint, Whitechapel, along with New Orleans rum bar Cane & Table. Esquire and Wondrich also named a handful of bars to the Hall of Fame, including Cate’s rum haven, Smuggler’s Cove. Cate and wife Rebecca have been touring the country, celebrating the release if their acclaimed book Smuggler’s Cove: Exotic Cocktails, Rum and the Cult of Tiki. [See photos]

Bartender Steve Anderson (left) and general manager Shannon Smith show off Porco Lounge & Tiki Room's 2016 Silver Spoon Award for best cocktails in Cleveland. (Facebook photo)
Bartender Steve Anderson (left) and general manager Shannon Smith show off Porco Lounge & Tiki Room’s 2016 Silver Spoon Award for best cocktails in Cleveland. (Facebook photo)

Porco Lounge & Tiki Room was voted “Best Cocktails” in the 22nd annual Cleveland Magazine Silver Spoon Awards. “It is an amazing honor, and we are ever thankful for the love and support this city continually shows our humble little cocktail bar,” said a May 5 Facebook post. “We had a great time serving some of those cocktails last night at Cleveland Magazine‘s Silver Spoon Awards Party to benefit The Arthritis Foundation, Northeastern Ohio Chapter alongside some of the best food and drink in the city.” On May 26, Porco sadly bid farewell to longtime general manager Shannon Smith, who helped launch the bar in 2013. Smith took an offer he couldn’t refuse to become food and beverage manager at the Hilton Cleveland Downtown and oversee the hotel’s new 32nd floor “skybar,” opening in July. Porco’s Facebook page credited Smith with helping “shape Porco into the well-loved, award-winning cocktail bar that it is today.”

Mixologist Trevor Kawamoto at Hatch. (Facebook photo)
Mixologist Trevor Kawamoto at Hatch. (Facebook photo)

As touted back in March, Hatch opened at Union Market Tustin, between Santa Ana and Irvine, and has been receiving positive reviews from visiting Tikiphiles. Featuring Shag artwork and mid-century modern design, it’s not a traditional Tiki bar. But there’s a strong influence, and the cocktail menu includes six Tiki drinks, including the Walker (a Zombie) and Don’s Dream (a Mai Tai). According to a post on Tiki Central, the drinks are well-crafted and come in Tiki Farm mugs. The house music features a mix of exotica and surf guitar, and there’s a tasty menu of small plates featuring beef, pork, chicken, duck, crab, salmon, oyster and veggie options. They even have authentic Hawaiian-style Loco Moco. But Hatch’s secret weapon may be bar manager and mixolgoist Trevor Kawamoto, who recently completed an impressive mission to create 365 unique, original cocktails every day for a year in his home bar. Originally from Maryland, Kawamoto ventured west three years ago and has bounced around bars from Seattle to Costa Mesa before landing at Hatch. He documents his craft on an impressive blog, LiquidDigestife, where you can find all 365 of his daily cocktail creations.
* Hatch: Official website | Facebook page | Instagram

Swizzle Luau Lounge

Dallas will soon join the ranks of cities with a new Tiki bar as Swizzle Luau Lounge is readied for launch at an undisclosed location in the city, according to Dallas Eater. Co-owner Marty Reyes started building the hype with special pop-up, Mai Tai Monday’s events at the Green Door Public House. Reyes and Jen Ann Tonic promise “to bring a little bit of island life and Tiki culture to Dallas and give the stressed out business people of the city a unique place to unwind, with great food, cocktails, shows and events,” according to the official website. “My husband and I live and breathe Tiki culture.” Reyes told Eater. “We even have a Tiki room in our house, complete with two bars and hanging birds off bamboo mat ceilings. We travel all over the country to Tiki bars to collect their mugs and experience their drinks and atmosphere. Dallas is ready for a hidden gem like this, they’re ready for us.” Swizzle Luau Lounge will be the first authentic Tiki bar in Dallas since the closing of Trader Vic’s in 2010. The Texas scene has been boosted by the recent openings of Lei Low in Houston and Howie’s Tiki Bar in Spring, just to the north.
* Swizzle Luau Lounge: Official site | Facebook page | Twitter | Instagram

Three Dots and a Dash menu
Three Dots and a Dash menu

Chicago’s Three Dots and a Dash announced a new head bartender and revamped cocktail menu, the first major update since original mixologist Paul McGee left to open Lost Lake in 2014. Leading the bar program now is Julian Cox, a James Beard award nominee from Los Angeles. Cox told Chicagoist that he plans to continue McGee’s tradition of using non-traditional spirits, such as gin, bourbon and tequila. But don’t fret: There’s still an extensive rum list, along with cocktails that run the gamut from classics to new, original offerings. “I’ve spent countless hours looking at Don the Beachcomber and Trader Vic, both huge inspirations for me,” Cox said. “I want to take all of that and expand upon the greatness.” Along with the new mixologist and menu comes a new line of custom mugs, which are also available through the online store.
* Review: New Three Dots and a Dash menu is an overpriced disappointment (Chicagoist)

QUICK SIPS: ‘Star Wars’ Tiki mugs, Fraternal Order of Moai scholarships, Horror In Clay launches MugCrate, world’s best-selling rums

Star Wars Tiki mugs

The worlds of Tiki and Star Wars geekdom collide with the release of a line of officially-licensed ceramic mugs modeled after Chewbacca, Darth Vader, R2-D2, Yoda, Boba Fett, and a Stormtrooper. The 14-ounce mugs, which stand 6 1/2 to 7 1/2 inches tall, are a very reasonable $15 each, plus shipping. Available exclusively from, the mugs are perfectly suited for your home Mos Eisley Kon-Tiki Bar. We can only hope that the planned cantina in Star Wars Land under construction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios will be half as cool. In the meantime, we’ll pass the time with a variety of Star Wars-themed concoctions in our Chewie mug.
Related: Hurricane Hayward’s review of “Star Wars Awakens” (Palm Beach Post)

The Easter Island Foundation has announced the 2016 Fraternal Order Of Moai scholarships to six students of Rapa Nui ancestry. The scholarships were funded by money raised at last year’s Ohana: Luau At The Lake in Lake George, N.Y.; Ohana: Luau by the Sea in Fort Lauderdale; and the Chicago Area Tiki Tour. Click here for photos and more on the recipients. The 2016 Luau events (June 23-26 in New York and Sept. 29-Oct. 2 in Florida) will help fund the 2017 scholarships.


An Atlanta-based crowd-funded start-up has launched MugCrate, a quarterly mail-order subscription box “for lovers of Tiki mugs, cocktails, and all things Polynesian-pop.” Four times a year, subscribers get a box containing a quality Tiki mug and other goodies, such as art pieces, recipe books, syrups, bitters, bar tools, coasters, swizzles, matchbooks, and more, according to the MugCrate website. The first crate, the Midsummer Night’s Luau box, ships around July 15. The concept was created by Horror In Clay founders Jonathan “Atari” Chaffin and Allison Chaffin, who have been providing horror, Tiki, and SciFi themed barware and accessories for the past four years. Launched and continuously funded via Kickstarter, Horror In Clay created a business model that’s also being followed by MugCrate. The company was funded via IndieGoGo, raising more than twice as much as the initial goal.

Drinks International released its annual list of the world’s best-selling rum brands, and for the second year in a row there’s a surprise at No. 1. In 2015, Diageo’s local Indian brand, McDowell’s No.1 Celebration, remained in the top slot after knocking longtime leader Bacardi off its perch in 2014. The Puerto Rican powerhouse remained at No. 2, followed by Asia’s Tanduay, Diageo’s Captain Morgan, and Cuba’s Havana Club (owned by Pernod Ricard). Overall rum volume was down 1 percent for the year. Click here for the rest of the Top 12 brands along with some analysis from Drinks International, a global drinks journal established in 1972.

***** Links of the week/month *****
* Island time: How Tiki bars are making drinking fun again (Sharp)
* 8 of the best tiki drinks in the D.C. area (The Washington Post)
* 3 first impressions of the No Bones Beach Club (Seattle Magazine)
* Locals still carry a (tiki) torch for Pontchartrain Beach paradise (The Times-Picayune)
* Why your Daiquiri isn’t the same as Hemingway’s (Punch)
* Wayne Curtis: The accidental authority (Difford’s Guide)
* Rum releases from Lemon Hart, Angostura, Diplomático, more (Cocktail Wonk)
* How Bacardí bat became one of world’s most well-known logos (Tales of the Cocktail)
* Why Panamanian rum will be your new favorite drink (Village Voice)
* Is high-end rum the new whiskey? (Forbes)
* Shag, Star Wars and Disney (The Mouse Minute)
* Video: What we love about Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort (DIS Unplugged)

 "Exotica" by Mark Ryden graced the cover of this groundbreaking Tiki art book.
“Exotica” by Mark Ryden graced the cover of this groundbreaking Tiki art book.

Mark Ryden

Rising to prominence in the early days of the Tiki revival, Southern California’s Mark Ryden has over the past two decades become one of the biggest names in the lowbrow art movement and dubbed “the godfather of pop surrealism.” Starting out as a commercial artist in 1988, Ryden quickly gained fame for popular album (Michael Jackson, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Aerosmith) and book (Stephen King) covers. His fine art was championed by Robert Williams, who put him on the cover of Juxtapoz magazine in 1994. Ryden’s lowbrow art received some of its first major exposure at such seminal group shows as “21st Century Tiki” (1996) at La Luz De Jesus Gallery in Los Angeles. He also did the cover art for the groundbreaking book, Taboo: The Art of Tiki (1999), which also featured contemporaries such as Williams, The Pizz, and Shag. Ryden’s first solo exhibit, “The Meat Show” (1998) in Pasadena, Calif., set him on a wildly creative course that has made him one of today’s most respected underground artists. His distinctive and sometimes shocking, surrealistic subject matter continues to offend the mores of conservative society. In May, two of Ryden’s paintings included in a show in Virginia raised the hackles of Christian activists, who threatened to cut funding to Virginia Beach’s Museum of Contemporary Art. The museum is standing by the exhibit, which stirred up a hornet’s nest in the conservative heartland. You can hopefully catch “The First Ten Years of Hi-Fructose” at the MOCA through Dec. 31, before it travels to the Akron Art Museum in Ohio and Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, Calif., in 2017.
* Official sites: | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube
* Buy Mark Ryden artwork: Books, CDs, calendars, more (Amazon)
Art from dealers and resellers (eBay)
* See all past featured artists

The Sound of Tiki

The Sound of Tiki

Released in 2010, this 17-song CD was compiled by the father of the Tiki revival, author Sven Kirsten, and serves as a companion to his outstanding books: The Book of Tiki (2000), Tiki Modern (2007), and Tiki Pop (2014). It’s all here, from exotica’s “big three” (Martin Denny, Les Baxter, and Arthur Lyman) to more obscure yet classic mid-century artists such as The Surfers and Eden Ahbez. You’ll also find many iconic songs, such as Bali Ha’i by Gloria Lynne, Pieces Of Eight by Paul Page, House Of Bamboo by Andy Williams, and a Hawaii 5-0 / Quiet Village medley by Don Ho. The accompanying 52-page booklet could be considered the “lost chapter” of The Book of Tiki, with Kirsten taking an insightful and historical view of the music and its role in Tiki culture. Of course, the graphics and artwork (by Kevin Kidney) are at the same high level, making this collection an essential must-have for any Tikiphile. It’s fittingly unavailable in any digital format. You must order the CD to get the full package.
* The Sound of Tiki on Amazon: Buy the CD
* Preview the CD (YouTube) | Tiki Central discussion
* See all past featured bands/music

Tonga Hut, Palm Springs

BAR OF THE WEEK/MONTH: Tonga Hut, Palm Springs
Open since 2013, the desert outpost of the oldest Tiki bar in Los Angeles (est. 1958) features a mid-century modern design to match its location, plus classic Tiki flourishes by interior designer Tiki Diablo, who collaborated with noted bar designer Chase Marshall. There’s a lava rock, a fountain, large tikis and artwork by Bosko. Other artists who contributed include LeRoy Schmaltz of Oceanic Arts, Kirby Fleming, and Eric October. There’s even a secret hidden Tiki room with lots of one-of-a-kind artifacts. Shag, a part-time Palm Springs resident, designed the menu (see left), which features classic Polynesian/Cantonese/American dishes in addition to more than 40 classics and original tropical drinks (crafted by Marie King). Like the original, you’ll find plenty of live entertainment and special events, plus signature T-shirts and mugs for sale. With its prime second-floor location on North Palm Canyon Drive in the heart of Palm Springs, Tonga Hut is also a fixture at the city’s Tiki and retro-themed events, from Modernism Week in February, to Tiki Caliente in May to Mod-Palm Springs in October.
* Tonga Hut, Palm Springs: Official site | Facebook | Twitter
* Critiki profile | Tiki Central discussion
* Related bar of the week: Tonga Hut (Los Angeles)
* See all past featured bars

Join Kelsi and Greg in their adventures on the Modern Tiki Lounge blog.
Join Kelsi and Greg in their adventures on the Modern Tiki Lounge blog.

Modern Tiki Lounge

Recently marking its first birthday, this lifestyle blog from Tiki enthusiasts Kelsi and Greg is a very personal, informative peek inside today’s modern revival. The California-based couple, who are planning a wedding in August, have documented their many adventures, from the Tonga Hut’s Grog Log challenge and Rum Rhum Club, to trips to Latitude 29 in New Orleans and Tiki Oasis. They’re both freelance architectural and interior designers, affording them freedom to pursue their Tiki passions, whether it’s a special event at Disneyland or a night out at an underground Tiki supper club. The blog is, naturally, a modern and well-designed effort with lots of great photos and easy-to-read stories. If you’re a newbie looking to dip your toes into Tiki, or a seasoned veteran trying to keep up with the latest happenings, Modern Tiki Lounge is worth following.
* | Facebook page | Twitter | Instagram | Pintrest
* See all past featured websites

The latest bottling of Santeria Rum, featuring a new white label, was spotted at The Hukilau 2016. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)
The latest bottling of Santeria Rum, featuring a new white label, was spotted at The Hukilau 2016. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)

Santeria Rum

The inaugural rum from South Carolina’s Rational Spirits distillery is a dark, 92-proof flavor bomb that displays all the hallmarks of a funky, dunder-style Jamaican rum. The label touts it as “100% pot still rum,” and you’d be hard-pressed to dispute this fact based on the bold flavors dominated by burnt sugar, with complex fruit notes and a pungent nose. It’s also worth noting that Santeria Rum contains no coloring or flavoring additives. A gold medal winner in April at the Miami Rum Festival in the “premium aged rum” category, Santeria is also creating a buzz in the rum world for its unusual production methods. Rather than aging in barrels for years (or decades), Santeria is created in a matter of days via a revolutionary chemical process invented by Bryan Davis of Lost Spirits Distillery in California. After producing a string of acclaimed rums (and whiskeys) for Lost Spirits, Davis turned his attention to licensing his “aging reactor” to other distilleries. Apparently, this would have changed the rum industry to such a degree that Davis was persuaded to return to his roots as a master distiller and partner with Rational Spirits, setting up shop in Charleston, S.C., to produce a new line of rums. Davis, the Willy Wonka of the rum world, has lots of creative ideas that still could radically change the industry. Santeria, named for the Caribbean religion that flirts with black magic, is the prefect first effort toward that end.
* Rational Spirits: Official website | Facebook | Twitter
* High-tech “Frankenstein booze” aged without the barrels (CBS News)
* Listen: 5 Minutes of Rum podcast on Santeria Rum
* Lost Spirits confounds expectations yet again (Cocktail Wonk)
* See all past featured rums

Koko Kahuna featuring Santeria Rum. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward, June 2016)
Koko Kahuna featuring Santeria Rum. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward, June 2016)

Koko Kahuna

(By Hurricane Hayward, The Atomic Grog)

* 1 1/2 ounces Santeria Rum
* 3/4 ounce gold Jamaican rum
* 3/4 ounce cream of coconut
* 3/4 ounce pineapple juice
* 1/2 ounce orange juice
* 1/2 ounce fresh-squeezed lemon juice
* 1/2 ounce coffee liqueur
* 1/4 ounce cinnamon syrup
* 3 dashes Angostura bitters
Pulse blend in a drink mixer with 1 cup of crushed ice for 8-10 seconds, or until frothy. Pour unstrained into a double old-fashioned glass or coconut mug. Garnish with an orange slice and pineapple spear. Glassware: Beachbum Berry Coconut Mug, part of the author and Latitude 29 owner’s Tiki collection from Cocktail Kingdom.

“Kahuna” is a Hawaiian word meaning, among other things, “priest, sorcerer, magician, wizard, and minister.” So it fits perfectly as the name for this decadent Santeria Rum cocktail that riffs on classic creamy coconut drinks. I paired the bold Santeria Rum with a gold Jamaican rum (try Blackwell or Appleton Special), creating an underlying rumminess to offset the creamy coconut and tropical fruit flavors. The bitters and cinnamon add a bit of spice, and the coffee liqueur (try Kahlua or Trader Vic’s Kona Coffee Liqueur) brings another layer of flavor and nicely complements the cream of coconut. Try a spiced coconut cream if you’re really adventurous. Koko Kahuna is rich and complex, yet accessible and easy to drink. You could consider it an elevated Painkiller, and the garnish is a nod to Jeff “Beachbum” Berry‘s version at Latitude 29 in New Orleans (see photo). Lacking Santeria, try a bold Navy-style rum such as Pusser’s or Smith & Cross.
* Related recipes: The Mai-Kai’s Santero’s Elixir featuring Santeria Rum
* The Dark Side, a tribute to The Atomic Grog’s Black Magic tribute (5 Minutes of Rum)
* Santeria Rum review, cocktails from A Mountain of Crushed Ice
* See all past featured cocktails

SAVE THE DATE: Upcoming events

Mai-Kai: History and Mystery of The Iconic Tiki Restaurant

***** In Florida *****
* Sept. 16-17 – Mai-Kai: History & Mystery of the Iconic Tiki Restaurant book release party, Fort Lauderdale.
* Sept. 29-Oct. 2 – Ohana: Luau by the Sea, Fort Lauderdale. [Atomic Grog coverage]

***** On the Eastern Seaboard *****
* July 19-24 – Tales of the Cocktail, New Orleans, La.

Surf Guitar 101 Convention

***** Across the U.S. *****
* July 8-10 – Tiki Kon, Portland, Ore. [Atomic Grog coverage]
* Aug. 5-6 – Hot Rod Hula Hop, Columbus, Ohio. [Atomic Grog coverage]
* Aug. 13Surf Guitar 101 Convention, California.
* Aug. 13 – Don the Beachcomber Mai Tai Festival, Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.
* Aug. 18-21 – Tiki Oasis, San Diego, Calif. [Atomic Grog coverage]
* Aug. 26-27 – California Rum Fest, San Francisco.
* Aug. 27 – Asbury Park Surf Music Festival, New Jersey
* Sept. 17 – Makahiki: A Night of Tiki, Indianapolis, Ind.
* Oct. 20-23 – Mod Palm Springs, Palm Springs, Calif. [Atomic Grog coverage]

***** Worldwide *****
* Oct. 15-16 – German Rum Festival,, Berlin.
* Oct. 22-23 –
The RumFest: London, United Kingdom.
* Nov. 4-5 – 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.