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Event preview: Join us at Inuhele 2023 in Atlanta for three days of Tiki education and festivity

Event preview: Join us at Inuhele 2023 in Atlanta for three days of Tiki education and revelry

The dead of winter in Atlanta is not typically what you envision when you try to picture a Tiki paradise. Defying the “Hotlanta” nickname, average temperatures for January hover in the mid-30s to mid-50s.

Inuhele: Atlanta's Tiki Weekend

But Inuhele has quickly changed that notion, making the city a must-do destination for Tikiphiles as the year’s first major event on the calendar.

Inuhele: Atlanta’s Tiki Weekend has grown from a modest home bar tour in 2018 into an action-packed, three-day event featuring an authentic luau, live music, a vendor marketplace, and an expansive lineup of symposiums. Guests will be treated to all this and more next week when Inuhele returns to the Atlanta Sheraton Downtown for a fourth Tiki weekender Jan. 20-22.
Quick links: Tickets | Schedule
Jump below: Guests and presenters | Live music | Craft classes | Vendors | Sponsors | Event history

Just make sure to grab your event passes before it’s too late. Only 50 tickets remained as of Saturday, all on the “standard” tier( $125). The entry-level pass gains you entry to the vendor hall, admission to panels all weekend, access to all the live entertainment and shows, plus more.

Mahealani's Polynesian Entertainment brings authentic South Seas style to Saturday's luau
Mahealani’s Polynesian Entertainment brings authentic South Seas style to Saturday’s luau. (Official photo)

Tickets to the Saturday night luau can be purchased separately for $100, but only 27 remained Saturday, according to an Instagram post. The buffet dinner and show will feature Mahealani’s Polynesian Entertainment, plus music by Kinky Waikiki. Holders of the sold-out “deluxe” passes also need to pay for the luau separately. The top-tier “VIP” passes, which include the luau, are also sold out.

Perks for deluxe and VIP passholders also include early access, a Mai Tai glass and event mug, VIP swag bag, private hospitality suite, and more.

The annual home bar tour was held in June, allowing the winter event to concentrate on its signature panels featuring experts from across the Tiki community. Past participants have included such heavyweight guests as the late Brother Cleve, Jeff “Beachbum” Berry, Sven Kirsten, Danny “Tiki Diablo” Galliardo, and Tim “Swanky” Glazner.

The Atomic Grog presents Okole maluna! The Return of The Mai-Kai

The Atomic Grog is honored to be participating in 2023, joining a stellar lineup of guests and presenters. Join us Friday for “Okole maluna! The Return of The Mai-Kai,” a multimedia presentation featuring the latest news and inside info on the restoration and renovations at the historic Fort Lauderdale restaurant.

I’ll bring you an insider’s view of the massive undertaking of restoring Tiki history at The Mai-Kai. Over the past three years, The Atomic Grog has been the most reliable source of information on the landmark Tiki temple’s closing, sale and upcoming revival.

Blog updates take you inside the hallowed halls with news, photos, and exclusive insights you can’t get anywhere else. The presentation will take place from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m., helping kick off the first day’s activities.

Below are links to some of our past coverage to get you warmed up for Inuhele. I hope to see you there!
NEW: Historic preservation board approves The Mai-Kai’s renovation plans, clearing way for project to move forward
* The Mai-Kai turns 66 as work progresses on multiple renovation projects
* The Mai-Kai’s new owner reveals renovation plans during The Hukilau
* The Mai-Kai’s renovation plans include reimagined entryway, new event space
* The Mai-Kai fans rejoice as new partnership paves way for reopening

More on The Atomic Grog
* Okole Maluna Society: The Mai-Kai Cocktail Guide
* The Tiki Times: Exclusive 2023 events guide

INUHELE 2023 LINEUP

Note: This is not a complete list and is subject to change. Please check the official schedule or the event check-in desk for the most accurate info.

Guests, seminars, panels and classes

Among those scheduled to join us at Inuhele 2023:

Big Toe, aka Tom Laura, has been featured in galleries, books and magazines worldwide.
Big Toe, aka Tom Laura, has been featured in galleries, books and magazines worldwide.

Big Toe The Southern California lowbrow artist known for his tongue-in-cheek humor and playful eroticism will discuss “From Painting to Mugs: Stories Behind the Artifacts” on Saturday at 10 a.m.

John Brueggen – The director of the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park will present “Crocodile Art of Melanesia: What do Saltwater Crocodiles and Melanesian art have in common?” on Saturday at 10:30 a.m.

Dawn Mahealani Douglas – The owner of Mahealani’s Polynesian Entertainment will share her experience as a Polynesian dancer trained in Oahu in a workshop on her native art on Saturday at 3:30 p.m.

Tim Harnett – The bartender and cocktail educator from Ohio’s Tiki Underground will discuss “Gin in Tiki” on Friday at 4 p.m.

Margo Scott of Rocket Betty Designs is a professional designer, seamstress, and costumer.
Margo Scott of Rocket Betty Designs is a professional designer, seamstress, and costumer.

Sveinn Kjartasson – A photojournalist published in more than 50 magazines, the Icelantic native will share his experience shooting some of the world’s top Tiki bars on Friday at 6 p.m. He’ll also discuss his model/client work in “How to Tell a Story on Film” on Saturday at 11:30 a.m.

Rodney Ray – The concept designer, creative director and primary fabricator for HeadHunter Props and Fabrication will discuss “Tiki Bar Aesthetics Through Visual Storytelling” on Saturday at noon.

Paul Senft – The freelance writer and reviewer known for his expertise in the world of cane spirits will present rum symposiums throughout the weekend.

Margo Scott – The creative force behind Rocket Betty Designs will teach guests how to wear traditional South Pacific garments such as a lavalava, pareo, and sarong on Friday at 4:30 p.m. She’ll also discuss “Aloha Wear 101” on Sunday at 10:30 a.m.

Henrik Van Ryzin and Denise Van Ryzin founded VanTiki Studio in 2001.
Henrik Van Ryzin and Denise Van Ryzin founded VanTiki Studio in 2001.

Tiki Tom Tom – The author of an upcoming book documenting his travels to 75 home Tiki bars will discuss “Navigating a Home Tiki Bar Build” on Friday at 3 p.m. He’ll also host the interactive workshop “Tell Your Story: Tiki Bar Themes” on Saturday at 1:30 p.m.

VanTiki Former Hollywood artists Henrik and Denise Van Ryzin, who channel their creativity into a plethora of one-of-a-kind mugs at their Oregon studio, will share mug-making secrets in “The Spectacular Story of Slip” on Friday at 7 p.m. Pick up their merchandise at a meet-and-greet on Friday at 8:30 p.m.

Continue reading “Event preview: Join us at Inuhele 2023 in Atlanta for three days of Tiki education and festivity”

Minimalist Tiki

Inuhele celebrates Atlanta’s meteoric rise as Tiki destination

Updated Feb. 17

What city best exemplifies the recent explosive growth of Tiki bars and Polynesian Pop culture? A strong argument could be made for Atlanta, which has been blessed with at least three new exotic cocktail destinations since 2015. Now, in just its second year, the Tiki weekender known as Inuhele has greatly expanded to include three days of bar-hopping, panels, vendors, bands, demos and more geared to the area’s burgeoning scene.

Feb. 15-17 – Inuhele: Atlanta’s Tiki Weekend
See below: Bonus cocktail recipe – Makani Pahili
* Previous story: Iron TikiTender goes on tour at Inuhele
Inuhele: Atlanta's Tiki Weekend
* Facebook event | Get tickets
The Tiki Times: See all the upcoming events

Tiki in Atlanta

Tim "Swanky" Glasner, who will be presenting a symposium at Inuhele 2019, was one of the co-creators of The Hukilau in Atlanta in 2002.
Tim “Swanky” Glasner, who will be presenting a symposium at Inuhele 2019, was one of the co-creators of The Hukilau in Atlanta in 2002.

The vibrant multicultural city has long had a connection with modern Tiki and its surrounding subcultures. After all, the Atlanta Hilton hosts the country’s longest operating Trader Vic’s location, circa 1976. The Hukilau started there in 2002 before moving to Fort Lauderdale the next year. Atlanta is home to talented lowbrow artists such as Derek Yaniger and Jonathan M. Chaffin of Horror in Clay. And there’s a longtime instrumental surf scene celebrated at the annual Southern Surf StompFest, along with a history of events (such as the late, great Drive Invasion) spotlighting other retro music styles.

But things really got interesting when the Tiki and craft cocktail revivals merged, creating a hot trend among bartenders and owners worldwide. Atlanta caught the bug, resulting in the opening of The S.O.S. in Decatur, just northeast of Atlanta, in 2015. In 2018, the Virginia Highland neighborhood of Atlanta saw the opening of Tiki Iniki, the first stateside franchise location of the concept created by Todd and Michele Rundgren in Hawaii. And while not truly traditional, Match Bamboo Lounge offers spirited aloha in the Castleberry Hill neighborhood.

Derek Yaniger at Inuhele 2019

Meanwhile, the city’s Tiki underground organized on Facebook in The Atlanta Tiki Revival Society group. And the area’s home bars (such as the Enchanted Treehouse High on the Hooch, Mon-a’ Roa Lanai, and The Kingfish Lounge) received high ratings and worldwide recognition on the Critiki website.

Just in time for Inuhele 2019, the city will get its newest full-blown exotic cocktail locale when the ambitious, three-story Tiki Tango opens in the former Lava Lounge space in Midtown (grand opening set for Friday, Feb. 15). The opening will indeed be grand. As part of the festivities, there will be an attempt to set a record for the world’s largest Mai Tai with a 55-gallon cocktail.
Press coverage: Say ‘aloha’ to Tiki Tango, Midtown’s new three-story Tiki bar
* First Look: Tiki Tango brings Tiki drinks and food to Midtown
* Atlanta Eats: Polynesian vibes and specialty cocktails

About Inuhele: Atlanta’s Tiki Weekend

All this activity spurred Horror in Clay’s Jonathan and Allison Chaffin to organize the first Atlanta Tiki Homebar Tour, dubbed Inuhele (for “cocktail journey”) on Feb. 24, 2018. It was a small affair with 50+ people taking a bus tour of local home bars for a day, then concluding the night at Trader Vic’s.

Atlanta Tiki Home Bar Tour

For 2019, the Chaffins are taking Inuhele to the next level as a full-blown weekender on the same scale as other mid-sized Tiki events such as the pioneering Tiki Kon in the Pacific Northwest, which also started as a home bar tour nearly two decades ago. The Marriott Century Center has been secured as the host hotel, and the Chaffins promise “a weekend of bar hopping, panels, bands, demos, sharing of ideas, and most importantly community building.”

Eekum Bookum at Inuhele 2019

The community definitely came together to help make such an ambitious undertaking possible. Among the more than a dozen sponsors are:
* Tiki Tango, host of the “Tiki Hop-on Hop off Shuttle” and Friday night party.
* Spiribam rum specialists, presenting sponsor of the home bar bus.
* BG Reynolds, the premium bar syrups purveyor and man behind the “Iron TikiTender On Tour” event that will take place on Saturday at the Marriott.
* Royer Corp., the popular swizzle stick manufacturer known for its cutting-edge designs.
>>> See all the sponsors here

Inuhele highlights

Friday kickoff and bar crawl: Events at the Marriott Century Center include classes and meet-ups, the trading post, a DJ dance party with Brother Cleve, plus more. Meanwhile, a bus will shuttle guests to Trader Vic’s, Tiki Tango, and Tiki Iniki all evening.

Continue reading “Inuhele celebrates Atlanta’s meteoric rise as Tiki destination”