Modern Caribbean Rum

The Week in Tiki (July 27-Aug. 9, 2015): Tiki Oasis blasts off, plus Summer event recaps, more rum and cocktail news

The Week in TikiThe summer Tiki event season reaches its climax this week with the big kahuna, Tiki Oasis in San Diego. We have a full preview, plus a recap of many other recent happenings: Texas Tiki Week, Hot Rod Hula Hop, the Surf Guitar 101 Convention, plus Shag at Disneyland and Tiki Night in Hollywood. There’s also news on the upcoming Mai Tai Festival in Hawaii, a Trader Vic’s rum tasting, and lots more. Our regular features spotlight Tiki mug creators PopTiki; the otherworldly music of Man or Astro-man?; the Bali Hai Restaurant in San Diego; and the website of Americana ambassador Charles Phoenix. The rum of the week, Angostura 5, is featured in The Morning After cocktail.
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EVENT PREVIEW: Tiki Oasis takes guests back to the retro future

Tiki Oasis

San Diego becomes the center of the Tiki universe when the 15th annual Tiki Oasis presents “Yesterday’s Future Today” on Aug. 13-16 with four whirlwind days of 20 live bands and 20 DJs, 35 educational symposiums, art, mixology, book signings, a 100-vendor marketplace, 20 burlesque performers, comedy, vintage cars, fashion, food, kids events, and more. If you can’t find something to enjoy at Tiki Oasis, you’re following the wrong pop culture subgenre.

As a testament to the popularity of Tiki Oasis, it’s pretty much sold out. Organizers announced Monday that limited tickets will be available for Thursday night’s Bali Hai party starting at 6 p.m. And those with hotel room reservations will still be able to buy two tickets if they haven’t already. Otherwise, you’re out of luck. However, the festival marketplace, car show, and an assortment of other activities are free and open to the public.

King Kukulele leads kids in a sing-along
King Kukulele leads kids in a sing-along. (Tiki Oasis photo)

Thursday’s’s Meet and Greet takes place at the legendary Bali Hai Restaurant on Shelter Island, while ground zero for the rest of Tiki Oasis is the Crowne Plaza Hotel (formerly The Hanalei Hotel). Though it has suffered through renovations, the hotel still features waterfalls, lava rock pools and eight-story glass elevators, plus classic tikis featured in Sven Kirsten’s The Book of Tiki.

In keeping with the theme, many events are centered around mid-century modern primitivism (think the jet age meets Tiki). Musical acts include spacy surf band Man or Astroman?, out-of-this-world rockabilly band The Phenomenauts, and ’60s garage legends The Chocolate Watchband. Other notable bands include The Phantom Surfers, Tikiyaki Orchestra, Clouseaux, and Project: Pimento.

Symposium educators include original Mothers of Invention keyboardist Don Preston, Rodenberry Entertainment CEO Rod Roddenberry, author and Tiki historian Sven Kirsten, and mid-century historian and entertainer Charles Phoenix. The art show features more than 30 top Tiki artists from around the world. The first San Diego Tiki Bartenders Challenge will be held during a beefed-up Sunday schedule that also features a special garage band showcase.

Don the Beachcomber room parties at Tiki Oasis

Guests always get in on the fun, so look for lots of retro and mod fashion, and appropriate Tiki space age decor for the famous room parties. Of course, everything is bigger at Tiki Oasis, including the Friday-Saturday room crawl. For example, Don the Beachcomber in Huntington Beach is hosting a two-night bash featuring live music from The Hula Girls and the Jimmy Psycho Experiment. New Las Vegas bar The Golden Tiki will also host a massive room party with live music and the owner himself DJing in his suite at the Crowne Plaza. Branden Powers is actually no stranger to the hotel, having DJ’d a weekly lounge event called Taboo 20 years ago when it was still the Hanalei Hotel.

Tiki Oasis is also a collector’s and shopper’s paradise, with some 100 vendors selling hand-crafted Tiki art, vintage clothing, records, collectibles and more. The marketplace is free and open to the public for most event hours Friday through Sunday at the Crowne Plaza. The vintage car show, also free, is held Saturday and Sunday in the hotel parking lot.

Here’s a day-by-day preview of all the headlining entertainment:

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Minimalist Tiki

Mai-Kai cocktail review: The story of the Floridita Daiquiri rivals any novel

Updated July 2014
See below: Our Floridita Daiquiri review | Official Mai-Kai recipe
Related: Lost Cocktails of The Mai-Kai: Short-lived daiquiri disappared when Cuba fell
The Derby Daiquiri: The Mai-Kai’s ‘$100,000 drink’ | Mai-Kai cocktail guide

The Floridita Daiquiri, the legendary cocktail born in Cuba and reportedly consumed by author Ernest Hemmingway in prodigious numbers, is one of history’s most debated rum drinks. One thing not open for debate, however: The Mai-Kai’s version has become a classic in its own right after more than 50 years on the Fort Lauderdale restaurant’s menu.

Ernest Hemingway at El Florida with bartender Constantino Ribalaigua.
Ernest Hemingway at El Florida with bartender Constantino Ribalaigua Vert.

Stories about La Floridita Daiquiri, as it was known at Havana’s El Florida bar (later known as El Floridita), are varied and many. One thing’s for certain: It was created by legendary mixologist Constantino Ribalaigua Vert, who spent nearly 50 years at the bar until his death in 1952. He started as a bartender and later owned the place. According to our favorite bum, cocktail historian and author Jeff “Beachbum” Berry, Vert was known as “El Rey de los Coteleros” (“The Cocktail King”) and reportedly squeezed 80 million limes and poured 10 million daiquiris in his lifetime.
* Rum Connection: Watch bartender Alejandro Bolivar make a daiquiri at El Floridita

Continue reading “Mai-Kai cocktail review: The story of the Floridita Daiquiri rivals any novel”