Modern Caribbean Rum

Exclusive: The Mai-Kai reveals new images, plans for restoration at Orlando event, continues $15M project (April 2024 update)

The Mai-Kai reveals new images, plans for restoration at Orlando event, continues $15M project (April 2024 update)

Key members of The Mai-Kai team traveled to Orlando in early April to share updates and plans for the $15 million restoration project that is entering its final stages in South Florida. The beloved restaurant has been closed since late 2020, but new interest in its history and rejuvenation has never been higher.

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
Tiki-a-Go-Go: Panel discussion overview | New kitchen, bar details | Artists showcase their work | Landscape architect’s plans | Pop-up cocktails
Latest news: April refurbishment updates

Hurricane Hayward kicks off the panel discussion on The Mai-Kai on the first day of the inaugural Tiki-a-Go-Go at the Caribe Royale Resort in Orlando on April 5. (Atomic Grog photo)
Hurricane Hayward kicks off the panel discussion on The Mai-Kai on the first day of the inaugural Tiki-a-Go-Go at the Caribe Royale Resort in Orlando on April 5. (Atomic Grog photo)

An audience of several hundred attended the panel discussion Return to Paradise: The Mai-Kai Rises Again, moderated by The Atomic Grog at the first annual Tiki-a-Go-Go. It was an honor to interview and get insights from manager Kern Mattei, creative director “Typhoon Tommy” Allsmiller, artist Scott “Flounder” Scheidly, public relations director Pia Dahlquist, author Tim “Swanky” Glazner, The Hukilau organizer Richard Oneslager, plus Jesse Muller from landscape architecture firm Perry-Becker Design.

The sold-out event at the at the Caribe Royale Resort ran from April 5-7 and also included a pop-up bar featuring Mai-Kai cocktails, served by Mattei and his son Cheyne. [See photos below] The veteran manager also joined us for the presentation Mai-Kai Cocktails: Tiki History in a Glass. Mahalo to everyone who attended the packed symposium.

The Mai-Kai's iconic sign, as seen from Federal Highway in Oakland Park. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward, April 2024)
The Mai-Kai’s iconic sign, as seen from Federal Highway in Oakland Park. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward, April 2024)

Following is a full recap of the panel discussion, including exclusive new images from the presentation. At the end of the month, we caught up with Mattei and Allsmiller for an update on all the work going on at The Mai-Kai, also detailed below.

The next major Mai-Kai event is planned for June, when The Hukilau will offer attendees holding Aloha and South Seas passes exclusive tours of the restored interior and a sneak peek at what’s still to come. The 22nd Tiki weekender is scheduled for June 6-9 at the Beachcomber Resort on Pompano Beach. Click here for our exclusive preview and click here to buy tickets.

Recent coverage
* Mai-Kai kitchen and bar take shape as team heads to Tiki-a-Go-Go (March 2024)
* Exterior reimagination up next as $15 million Mai-Kai project plows ahead (February 2024)
Story archive: Full coverage of The Mai-Kai refurbishment

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Tiki-a-Go-Go welcomes The Mai-Kai for presentations, cocktails

It was fitting that the first presentation at the first Tiki-a-Go-Go was focused on Florida’s beloved Polynesian palace, established in 1956. This new Tiki weekender puts a heavy focus on vintage Tiki and Florida attractions in its programming. Click here for a photo recap of the event, which featured two days of live music and entertainment, vendors, guest Tiki bars, and more.

Return to Paradise: The Mai-Kai Rises Again at Tiki-a-Go-Go in Orlando, April 5, 2024

Return to Paradise: The Mai-Kai Rises Again kicked off the event on Friday, April 5 at 11 a.m. in the Caribe Royale Resort’s massive Caribbean Ballroom. The enthusiastic attendees applauded throughout the presentation as the panel of experts talked about the history and future of the historic restaurant.

The first to speak was Glazner, author of Mai-Kai: History and Mystery of the Iconic Tiki Restaurant and the upcoming Searching for Don the Beachcomber. He admitted that he was “very skeptical” of a possible restoration after hearing about the scope of the damage caused by a roof collapse over the kitchen in October 2020.

Continue reading “Exclusive: The Mai-Kai reveals new images, plans for restoration at Orlando event, continues $15M project (April 2024 update)”

Minimalist Tiki

Photos, video: The first Tiki-a-Go-Go is a retro roadtrip through mid-century culture, appreciation

Photos, video: The first Tiki-a-Go-Go is a retro roadtrip through mid-century culture, appreciation

The first annual Tiki-a-Go-Go in Orlando delivered as promised. The April 5-7 event indeed was a trip back in time, taking guests on a rollicking ride through mid-century Florida theme parks, Tiki bars, and other retro touchstones.

As a bonus, the inaugural event at the picturesque Caribe Royale Resort also turned back the clock with a carefree vibe and spirit of aloha that harkend back to the early days of the Tiki revival. A good time seemed to be had by all during the Friday and Saturday activities at the hotel, spilling over into Sunday’s Magical Tiki Meet Up.

As evidence, we submit the photos and videos below. See you next year!

April 5-7 – Tiki-a-Go-Go at the Caribe Royale Resort in Orlando (Friday-Saturday). Featuring symposiums and classes (Sven Kirsten, Tim “Swanky” Glazner, Ed Hamilton, Spike Marble, “Typhoon Tommy” Allsmiller, Tiki Tom-Tom, Rocket Betty, David “Dr. Skipper” Marley, et al.), guest cocktail bars, live music (The Hula Girls, The Intoxicators, The Disasternauts, The Kreepy Tikis, Hot Rod Hornets, more), supper club and burlesque, artists and vendors, plus more. Magical Tiki Meet Up (Sunday) at the Magic Kingdom and Polynesian Village Resort at Walt Disney World.
* Tiki-a-Go-Go on social media: Instagram | Facebook page and group
Event preview: Tiki-a-Go-Go looks to the past for a fresh take on the modern weekender
BREAKING NEWS: Don the Beachcomber announces new bar concept, three upcoming locations in Florida (April 2024)

The Atomic Grog photos

Continue reading “Photos, video: The first Tiki-a-Go-Go is a retro roadtrip through mid-century culture, appreciation”

Event preview: Tiki-a-Go-Go looks to the past for a fresh take on the modern weekender

Event preview: Tiki-a-Go-Go looks to the past for a fresh take on the modern weekender

Updated May 9

More than a quarter century into the modern revival, the appetite for Tiki weekenders has never been more voracious. But if you’re creating a new event, how do you stand out on an ever-more-crowded calendar?

Tiki-a-Go-Go 2024 in Orlando

PHOTOS, VIDEO: The first Tiki-a-Go-Go is a retro roadtrip through mid-century culture, appreciation
More event recaps
* The Mai-Kai reveals new images, plans for restoration at Orlando event, continues $15M project
* Don the Beachcomber announces new bar concept, three upcoming locations in Florida

For the organizers of the inaugural Tiki-a-Go-Go in Orlando, it was simple: Go back to the roots of the revival with an emphasis on what inspired the fascination with retro culture in the first place.

Their location in Central Florida in the shadow of the theme parks also makes the perfect setting to focus on Florida’s role in 20th century kitsch in addition to the over-arching Tiki craze. The icing on the cake is a partnership with the annual Magical Tiki Meet Up that folds that Disney World gathering into the weekend.

The result is a distinctive new event that adds even more depth and nuance to the annual Tiki event calendar. Event passes sold out in late March, with only a few tickets remaining for additional activities for passholders.

Tiki-a-Go-Go will host Tiki revival veterans including author Sven Kirsten, beverage director Marie King of Don the Beachcomber, and clothing designer Margo "Rocket Betty" Scott. (Tiki-a-Go-go / Facebook)
Tiki-a-Go-Go will host Tiki revival veterans including author Sven Kirsten, beverage director Marie King of Don the Beachcomber, and clothing designer Margo “Rocket Betty” Scott. (Tiki-a-Go-go / Facebook)

April 5-7 – Tiki-a-Go-Go at the Caribe Royale Resort in Orlando (Friday-Saturday). Featuring symposiums and classes (Sven Kirsten, Tim “Swanky” Glazner, Ed Hamilton, Spike Marble, “Typhoon Tommy” Allsmiller, Tiki Tom-Tom, Rocket Betty, David “Dr. Skipper” Marley, et al.), guest cocktail bars, live music (The Hula Girls, The Intoxicators, The Disasternauts, The Kreepy Tikis, Hot Rod Hornets, more), supper club and burlesque, artists and vendors, plus more. Magical Tiki Meet Up (Sunday) at the Magic Kingdom and Polynesian Village Resort at Walt Disney World.
More below: Personalize your experience | Q&A with the organizers
* Tiki-a-Go-Go on social media: Instagram | Facebook page and group

The venue is the Caribe Royale Resort, which will host all the Friday and Saturday events. The property was recently completely reimagined with the perfect tropical atmosphere and amenities for Tiki-a-Go-Go guests. All the rooms are suites with the standard one-bedroom including a living room with a sleeper sofa. Maximum occupancy is five in a suite and six in a villa.

The Caribe Royale Resort in Orlando. (Official photo)
The Caribe Royale Resort in Orlando. (Official photo)

There’s a giant pool with a 75-foot waterslide, a spa and hot tubs, multiple fitness and sports activities, plus eight restaurants and bars (including the Rum Bar). Most important for the purposes of Tiki-a-Go-Go, the resort features more than 240,000-square feet of meeting space.

Continue reading “Event preview: Tiki-a-Go-Go looks to the past for a fresh take on the modern weekender”

The Year in Tiki 2019: Recap all the top events with photos and video

The Year in Tiki 2019: Recap all the top events with photos and video

The Tiki Times

Once again, The Atomic Grog documented an entire 12 months of events in 2019, following the top Tiki and rum events, plus mid-century modern, surf and rockabilly music, Disney and other happenings of interest to the Tiki community. Check below for official artwork and links to the official sites along with our own unique coverage. Under many events, you’ll also find images and videos from social media plus links to news sites.
NEW EVENTS: UPDATED 2020 CALENDAR
Social media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

THE TIKI TIMES: 2019 EVENTS RECAP

Jan. 12 – The Original Tiki Market Place 7th Anniversary in Garden Grove, Calif.
* Atomic Grog event preview
The Original Tiki Market Place 7th Anniversary print by Clee Sobieski

Jan. 17 – Tiki Bingo at The Mai-Kai in Fort Lauderdale.
* Atomic Grog event preview
Tiki Bingo at The Mai-Kai

Jan. 19 – The Mai-Kai Takeover in Fort Lauderdale.
Special event: ‘Demerara Rum – The Mai-Kai’s Secret Weapon’
Demerara Rum: The Mai-Kai's Secret Weapon on Jan. 19, 2019, at The Mai-Kai The Atomic Grog was pleased to present a special happy-hour talk during The Mai-Kai Takeover event on Jan. 19, presented by the Magical Tiki Meet-Up and Retro Rekindled. Click here to check out our full event recap, including photos and highlights of our Demerara rum discussion.

Continue reading “The Year in Tiki 2019: Recap all the top events with photos and video”

Photos: Demerara rum flows at The Mai-Kai’s magical retro event featuring The Atomic Grog

The Atomic Grog was pleased to present a special happy-hour talk about “Demerara Rum: The Mai-Kai’s Secret Weapon” during The Mai-Kai Takeover event on Jan. 19, presented by the Magical Tiki Meet-Up and Retro Rekindled.

SEE BELOW: Event photo gallery | Previous: Atomic Grog event preview

Armed with a Zombie, Hurricane Hayward is ready to get started with his talk on Demerara rum
Armed with a Zombie, Hurricane Hayward is ready to get started with his talk on Demerara rum.

A big thanks to sponsor Lemon Hart & Son rum and brand ambassador Miles Maximillian Vrahimis for all the assistance, including the photos below plus the promo materials featured at the event as well as a special Blackpool spiced rum package that was presented to a lucky charity raffle winner. The raffle raised $275 for the Humane Society of Broward County.

The event kicked off at 4 p.m. with an extra hour of happy hour that included our talk in The Molokai bar. There was a full house of close to 100 people on hand for the 30-minute presentation, plus two sample cocktails featuring Lemon Hart’s two traditional Demerara rums.

Lemon Hart 151 is a legendary Tiki cocktail ingredient and one of the world’s most distinctive rums. The Mai-Kai features it in seven of its most flavor-packed (and strong) cocktails, including the Jet Pilot and Zombie. Guests at the Jan. 19 event were treated to a mini version of the 151 Swizzle, a classic that showcases the rich and smoky overproof rum.

Demerara Float samples make the rounds
Demerara Float samples make the rounds.

As a special treat, we also sampled the long-lost Demerara Float, perhaps the best of all the drinks from the 1956 menu that have been retired over the decades. It’s served only at special events, so it was a unique opportunity to try this Don the Beachcomber creation (originally known as the Demerara Dry Float) using Lemon Hart’s 80-proof rum, aka Original 1804.

Historically, this is the rum used by Don the Beachcomber and The Mai-Kai in their mid-century masterpieces that you can still taste at the Fort Lauderdale Tiki temple. Be sure to check out the Yeoman’s Grog (aka Navy Grog), S.O.S. (aka Three Dots and a Dash) and Bora Bora (aka Donga Punch). These days, The Mai-Kai employs the 86-proof Hamilton rum from the same distillery as Lemon Hart, the famed Demerara Distillers in Guyana.

Attendees received my handy checklist documenting all The Mai-Kai cocktails featuring Lemon Hart 151 and Hamilton 86, with the strong warning that I don’t advise trying all 13 in one sitting. Or two. Or three. Take your time and savor them.
RELATED: See all the cocktails featuring Demerara rum at The Mai-Kai

Here are some nuggets of info from the 30-minute talk:

Continue reading “Photos: Demerara rum flows at The Mai-Kai’s magical retro event featuring The Atomic Grog”

Magical Tiki Meet-Up special event: ‘Demerara Rum – The Mai-Kai’s Secret Weapon’

Demerara Rum - The Mai-Kai's Secret Weapon on Jan. 19, 2019

Updated Jan. 30, 2019

Mahalo to everyone who turned out to our talk on Lemon Hart and Demerara rum, plus all the festivities at The Mai-Kai Takeover from the Magical Tiki Meet-Up and Retro Rekindled. The rum raffle raised $275 for the Humane Society of Broward County.

Click here to check out our full event recap, including photos and highlights of our Demerara rum discussion …

Demerara Rum: The Mai-Kai's Secret Weapon on Jan. 19, 2019

EVENT PREVIEW:

The Atomic Grog is joining forces with the Magical Tiki Meet-Up and Retro Rekindled for a special talk at The Mai-Kai on Saturday, Jan. 19: “Demerara Rum – The Mai-Kai’s Secret Weapon.” This event is sold out!

The Mai-Kai Takeover on Jan. 19

Here’s the schedule:
4 p.m. – Early entry for happy hour in The Molokai bar. Meet and greet, Demerara rum discussion and cocktails.
5 p.m. – Seating for dinner.
* Advance dinner show tickets include early entry and sample cocktails. Happy hour tickets were also offered separately.
* Facebook event

Two sample cocktails featuring Lemon Hart Demerara rum, including one retired drink from the 1956 menu, will be featured at the Jan. 19 event at The Mai-Kai. (Atomic Grog photo)
Two sample cocktails featuring Lemon Hart Demerara rum, including one retired drink from the 1956 menu, will be featured at the Jan. 19 event at The Mai-Kai. (Atomic Grog photo)

Attendees will enjoy two sample cocktails featuring sponsor Lemon Hart & Son rum, there will be a raffle to win a bottle of rum, plus an assortment of free goodies.

Everyone who bought tickets or RSVP’d will have their names listed at the door. Early entry and the sample drinks are included for those who signed up for dinner. For those attending happy hour only, there will be a $15 charge for the Demerara rum drinks, which will include a “lost cocktail” from the 1956 menu that is rarely served.

Among the topics we’ll cover:
* What is Demerara Rum?
* The History of Demerara Rum and Lemon Hart.
* Tiki arrives with Don the Beachcomber.
* The Mai-Kai, Mariano Licudine and mid-century Tiki.
* Mixology magic: Demerara Rum’s greatest hits.
* Lemon Hart at The Mai-Kai: Yesterday and today. Brand ambassador Miles Maximillian Vrahimis will also be on hand to answer questions.

If you’re not attending the dinner show, feel free to hang out for the remainder of happy hour and we’ll continue to discuss the finer points of Demerara Rum and The Mai-Kai’s historic cocktails. For a little background, check out this deep dive on the history of this distinctive rum:
* Rums from Guyana star in The Mai-Kai’s classic cocktails

Continue reading “Magical Tiki Meet-Up special event: ‘Demerara Rum – The Mai-Kai’s Secret Weapon’”

The Tiki Times: Full 2019 events calendar now available!

The Tiki Times: Full 2019 events calendar

The Tiki Times

NEW: Announcing The Atomic Grog’s updated calendar for all the major events across the world of Tiki culture. This list includes rum events, plus modernism, surf music, Disney and other happenings of interest to the Tiki community. It will be continually updated throughout the year, so check The Tiki Times main page frequently:
UPDATES: FULL 2019 EVENTS CALENDAR
2018 in review: Photos, video, recaps of all the top events NEW
Social media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

2019 EVENTS CALENDAR
Updated Jan. 18, 2019

Jan. 12 – The Original Tiki Market Place 7th Anniversary in Garden Grove, Calif.
* Atomic Grog event preview
The Original Tiki Market Place 7th Anniversary print by Clee Sobieski


Jan. 17 – Tiki Bingo at The Mai-Kai in Fort Lauderdale.
* Atomic Grog event preview
Tiki Bingo at The Mai-Kai

Jan. 19 – The Mai-Kai Takeover in Fort Lauderdale.
The Mai-Kai Takeover Atomic Grog event preview: ‘Demerara Rum – The Mai-Kai’s Secret Weapon’ The Mai-Kai Takeover on Jan. 19

Jan. 25 – Book signing and spirited discussion with Jeff “Beachbum” Berry at Trader Vic’s in Emeryville, Calif.
Book signing and spirited discussion at Trader Vic's with Beachbum Berry

Jan 26 – Winter Surf Fest in Huntington Beach, Calif.

Feb. 8-9 – Miami Rum Congress in Miami Beach.
Miami Rum Congress
Takeover by Reàl Ingredients & The Hukilau at Miami Rum Congress

Feb. 14-24 – Modernism Week in Palm Springs, Calif.

Feb. 15-17 – Inuhele: Atlanta’s Tiki Weekend.
* Atomic Grog preview: Iron TikiTender goes on tour
Inuhele: Atlanta's Tiki Weekend

Feb. 22 – Taste of Aloha and Art of Tiki Cocktail Showdown at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival in Miami Beach.

Feb. 23-24 – Polynesian Cultural Festival in Oakland Park, Fla.
Polynesian Cultural Festival 2019

March 2 – Exotica Moderne #3 release party hosted by House of Tabu at The Devil’s Reef in Tacoma, Wash.
Exotica Moderne #3 release party

March 2 – Taste of Rum in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

March 3 – Adventureland Day at Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif.

March 9-10 – Arizona Aloha Festival at Tempe Beach Park.

March 10 – Adventureland Day at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World, Orlando.

April 5-6 – Magical Tiki Meet Up at Walt Disney World, Orlando

April 12-14 – Arizona Tiki Oasis in Scottsdale.
Arizona Tiki Oasis

April 12-14 – Chicago Area Tiki Tour
Chicago Area Tiki Tour

April 13-14 – Rhum Fest Paris.

April 18-21 – Viva Las Vegas rockabilly weekend.
Viva Las Vegas

April 27 – Chicago Rum Festival.

May 16-19 – Tiki Caliente in Palm Springs, Calif.
Tiki Caliente

May 17-18 – Rum Renaissance Festival in Coral Gables, Fla. [Atomic Grog past coverage]
Rum Renaissance Festival

May 18 – Czech RumFest in Prague, Czechoslovakia.

May 23-26 – Nashville Boogie vintage weekender and car show.

May 25 – Club Rum in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

May 27-30 – International Rum Conference and Madrid Rum Festival in Spain.

June 5-9 – The Hukilau in Fort Lauderdale. [Atomic Grog past coverage]
UPDATE: Hotel room parties are back, The Surfrajettes return to The Mai Kai
OFFICIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: Tickets go on sale Feb. 1
The Hukilau 2019

June 7-8 – Rum Love Festival in Wroclaw, Poland.

June 8 – Manchester Rum Festival in the UK.

June 15 – New York Rum Festival in New York City.

June 27-30 – Ohana: Luau At The Lake at The Tiki Resort, Lake George, N.Y.
Ohana: Luau At The Lake

July 5-7 – Tiki Kon in Portland, Ore.

July 16-21 – Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans, La.

Aug. 7-11 – Tiki Oasis in San Diego, Calif.
Tiki Oasis 2019

Aug. 16-18 – Hi-Tide Summer Holiday: Asbury Park in New Jersey.
Hi-Tide Summer Holiday: Asbury Park

Aug. 31-Sept. 1 – German Rum Festival in Berlin.

Sept. 7 – California Rum Festival in San Francisco.

Sept. 20-21 – Southern Surf StompFest in Atlanta.

Oct. 19-20 – The UK RumFest in London.

Make our calendar better
Feel free to share events via email or Facebook message (special events only, no regular band gigs or general bar promotions).


More on The Atomic Grog
2018 in review:
Photos, video, recaps of all the top events
* Past news and events from 2015-2017
Special spotlights: Artists | Bands/music | Bars | Websites | Rum | Cocktails