Modern Caribbean Rum

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”

Iron TikiTender goes on tour: Deadline looms for Atlanta regional competition

The Iron TikiTender 2018 print by artist B-Rex depicts host Blair Reynolds and the three competitors (Jeanie Grant, Kelly Merrell and Mark Hooper). It's available for purchase at IronTikiTender.com

Bartenders who hope to gain bragging rights in the Tiki cocktail world have until Monday, Jan. 14, to enter a new regional competition and earn a chance to compete in the finals this summer at Tiki Kon in Portland.
Bonus recipe: Jamaican Bad Decisions, the 2018 winning cocktail

Iron TikiTender

The Iron TikiTender competition has expanded this year and will hit the road to select the finalists for its fourth throwdown, won last year by Jeanie Grant of Pagan Idol in San Francisco. The first of these regionals will be held on Feb. 16 during the second annual Inuhele Tiki weekender in Atlanta.
* Facebook event

Bartenders: Click here to register to compete

The link above includes the official rules. Recipes must be based on the classic Hurricane and include sponsor BG Reynolds Syrups. Bartenders must work in one of 12 southern states.

The three competitors in the Atlanta competition will be selected on Jan. 21. The competition will be held during Inuhele at the Atlanta Marriott Century Center and include three challenges: Speedy Classics to Spec, Garish Garnish, and Mystery Ingredient.

Inuhele: Atlanta's Tiki Weekend

Inuhele: Atlanta’s Tiki Weekend, which debuted last February as a one-day home bar tour, has expanded in 2019 to a three-day weekend of bar-hopping, panels, bands, demos, networking and more. Headquartered at the Marriott, Inuhele (which fittingly means “cocktail journey”) will feature a Friday night bar crawl to the venerable Trader Vic’s plus new venues Tiki Iniki and Tiki Tango.

Panelists include cocktail legend Brother Cleve, artist Derek Yaniger, rum expert Paul Senft and Inuhele organizer Jonathan M. Chaffin of Horror In Clay, the Atlanta-based purveyor of horror, Tiki, and sci-fi themed barware and accessories.

The Iron TikiTender 2018 print by artist B-Rex depicts host Blair Reynolds and the three competitors (Jeanie Grant, Kelly Merrell and Mark Hooper). It's available for purchase at IronTikiTender.com.
The Iron TikiTender 2018 print by artist B-Rex depicts host Blair Reynolds and the three competitors (Jeanie Grant, Kelly Merrell and Mark Hooper). It’s available for purchase at IronTikiTender.com.

Also be sure not to miss History of the Mystery Drink, presented by Tim “Swanky” Glazner, author of Mai-Kai: History and Mystery of the Iconic Tiki Restaurant.

The Iron TikiTender competition will serve as opening act to musical headliners Kinky Waikiki and The Mystery Men on Saturday night. Deluxe and VIP tickets are already sold out, so act now and don’t miss out.

Launched at Tiki Kon 2014, Iron Tikitender is produced by Blair Reynolds, creator of BG Reynolds Syrups. The event returned to Tiki Kon last year after a two-year absence. Grant emerged victorious after doing battle with fellow finalists Kelly Merrell (Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar) and Mark Hooper (Arkansas-based bartender and Tiki ninja). Hosted by Reynolds with commentary by Ray Wyland (Tiki With Ray) and Jason T. Smith (Tiki treasure hunter), the contest was a spectacle that drew hundreds of Tiki cocktail fans to the main ballroom of the Red Lion Hotel.

Continue reading “Iron TikiTender goes on tour: Deadline looms for Atlanta regional competition”

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

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: Tiki-Caliente.com | 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.

Continue reading “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!”