A trip to the mythical Isle of Tiki, Polynesian Pop and A/C Eden
September 9, 2016 11:12 AM   Subscribe

The bizarre rise and fall and resurgence of tiki bars and cocktails is an interesting history that starts with two men, Donn Beach and Victor Bergeron, who traveled to the South Pacific and brought back some "island culture" to the United States with them in the 1930s, continuing on with the craze really booming after WWII vets returned from tours overseas. With the ebbs and flows of popularity, the cultural appropriation in "Tiki culture" has often been overlooked, as to the Māori mythology and meaning behind Tiki carvings and imagery and Hawiian culture of leis and luaus. Let's talk Tiki bars: harmless fun or exploitation. [Soundtrack: Les Baxter's Ritual Of The Savage ( 1951) and Martin Denny's Exotica (1957)]

Ernest Raymond Beaumont Gantt, a Texas native, left home in 1926 and traveled the world, including the many of the islands of the Caribbean and the South Pacific. In December of 1932, when he arrived in Los Angeles penniless, he took the only job available at the time: bootlegging. When booze was legalized, Ernest kept with the trade, and took a place in the neon-soaked Hollywood in a thirteen by thirty foot space connected to the McCadden Hotel. His love of Jamaican rhum shaped his drinks, and his collection of items from the Pacific Islands and driftwood decorated his bar. He naming his establishment the Beachcomber’s Bar, and thus Donn Beachcomber (or Don the Beachcomber) was (re)born.

Victor Jules Bergeron, Jr., was Donn's first student and greatest imitator. The one-legged entrepreneur starting out in Oakland, California in 1934, first opening a bar named Hinky Dink's, later renaming it to Trader Vic's and Victor became Trader Vic. In 1951, he opened a restaruant in San Francisco as well. The others followed as did a company manufacturing Trader Vic food products. By the time he was 75, Trader Vic's had expanded around the world with 20 total restaurants (plus two Senor Pico's in California), and that year (1978) was his best year yet. But we're getting ahead of ourselves.

First, we should step back to 1945. When World War II ended and military men were returning home from their visits to various far-off lands, they came back with stories to tell and sights to remember. Not all were tales of war, and men who served in Hawai'i and other locations in the Pacific Theater (Google maps) had seen tropical paradises. James A. Michener's Tales of the South Pacific from 1947 captured some of those experiences, the same year that Thor Heyerdahl and his crew drifted from Peru to an uninhabited island in the Angatau atoll in their Kon-Tiki expedition, exciting (and misleading) the world about (navigation in) the Pacific. In 1949, Michener's book was turned into a hit Broadway musical, followed by a movie adaptation in 1958. A year later, Michener also lent his name as the creator of a different and unrelated television series, Adventures in Paradise, the same year Hawai'i finally gained statehood.

And then there's the music, the sounds of exotica that blended big-band jazz of the 1940s, easy listening pop from the '50s, lounge music and sounds from the South Seas, the Orient, Latin America and Africa, merged into the "imaginary and intentional construction of non-western sound arranged and/or performed for western audiences," which really captures the whole of Tiki Culture. Slip away from the western world, throw off sexual repression, and enjoy some brightly colored rum drinks with tropical garnishes in the air-conditioned eden (a 1996 BBC documentary about Tiki culture in the United States after World War II).

But Hawaiian culture is not a theme. Tiki culture is the amalgam of diverse Polynesian features and figures, usually featured American versions of Chinese dishes and rum drinks (while rum may have originated in India or China): Tiki culture left in the 1970s, as rebellion and freedom was found in other styles and music, returning with varying levels of interest and (inter)national at various times in the past decades. It's not quite clear if Disney was tracking these trends, as it opened Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room, first at Disneyland in 1963 (and presented on LP in 1968), later expanding to the Magic Kingdom in 1971 and Tokyo Disneyland in 1983.

Still, there are Tiki kitsch aficionados, fans of the aesthetic, the drinks and music whose love for the scene and style hasn't waned. The Mai-Kai Restaurant (virtual tour with Google streetview) in Oakland Park, Florida has been in operation since 1956, and is on the National Register of Historic Places, and Tiki fans gather there every year for the Hukilau, which was inspired by the California shindig, Tiki Oasis.

If you can't make it to Florida or Califoria, or the Pacific Islands themselves, check out Critiki to find over 850 Tiki bars and other slices of Polynesian Pop around the world. Humuhumu, who runs Critiki, has a response to the NPR piece linked above the break, Let's talk Tiki bars: harmless fun or exploitation, which is quite a personal look at her experiences and understanding of Polynesian pop culture and authentic Polynesian culture. She also gives Critiki Symposiums, sharing Polynesian pop culture and tiki bar history with bartenders and others who want to understand the mixed history of how authentic Polynesian culture came to the US, primarily through Tiki bars.

Final detours:
posted by filthy light thief (60 comments total) 109 users marked this as a favorite
 
This all started when I wanted to know more about those Trunk Records compilations. Then I happened to hear NPR's short piece on Tiki culture, and it expanded from there.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:16 AM on September 9, 2016 [7 favorites]


Oh my god, so much to read! Bravo.

Quick sidenote, as a tiki cocktail lover:

If you visit Chicago, skip Three Dots and a Dash and go to Lost Lake instead. Trust me.
posted by Windigo at 11:16 AM on September 9, 2016 [6 favorites]


Nice FPP, filthy light thief!

I actually referenced the first link just the other day in the Burning Man thread, because of the similar themes of throwing off sexual repression, drinking/taking drugs, and escaping to somewhere "closer to nature."

Freaking excellent set of links and excellent detailed essay linking to them.

I already have read some of this, but thanks to you I'm diving deeper this morning.
posted by deadaluspark at 11:19 AM on September 9, 2016


I am already shaking the Coco Lopez in honor of this post.
posted by Hypatia at 11:22 AM on September 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


The Palo Alto Trader Vic's also closed a few years ago and is now a seafood restaurant offering $250 caviar appetizers. Screw you again, Facebook.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 11:28 AM on September 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


filthy light thief yet again brings home the gold.

I love Les Baxter more than Martin Denny but it's a pretty close race. Denny's Misirlou is delightful. The appropriate aspect of it does bother me but they're both dead so I try not to think about it too much.
posted by winna at 11:29 AM on September 9, 2016


Tiki bars have seen a bit of a resurgence out here in Hawaii. When I've gone, the customers seemed to be tourists and middle aged locals. I mean, they're still a niche thing out here, but then again everything is a niche thing out here.
posted by Joey Michaels at 11:31 AM on September 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


If you're into Tiki and Disney, you should make it a point to go Trader Sam's Grog Grotto at the Polynesian Resort.
It's Tiki taken over the top Disney-style.

Some of the effects/animatronics when you order a drink are pretty awesome, including an octopus that pours drinks and a "window" scene that includes an erupting volcano.

If you can endure the horribly bad puns (strong drinks help), it's a lot of fun.
posted by madajb at 11:32 AM on September 9, 2016 [8 favorites]


Also, I am horribly disapointed that this is one trend my town has not jumped on.

Cupcakes? Yes.
Cronuts? Yes.
Farm to table? Sushi? Hops in everything? Yes, yes and yes.

But Tiki? The last one left sometime in the 70s and it hasn't been seen since.
All I want is a hollowed out coconut with 7 straws, is that too much to ask?
posted by madajb at 11:35 AM on September 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


I made a wrong turn in the San Fernando Valley once and came upon this gorgeous Tiki enclave.
posted by infinitewindow at 11:40 AM on September 9, 2016 [7 favorites]


Fantastic post that left me me misty-eyed for The City's Tonga Room.
posted by DrAstroZoom at 11:45 AM on September 9, 2016 [3 favorites]


My hometown in Montana has a legendary tiki bar called The Sip 'n Dip (wiki), with mermaids (and sometimes mermen) visible through a window behind the bar, giant colorful drinks, and Piano Pat. GQ called it the #1 bar in the world worth flying to.
posted by msbrauer at 11:56 AM on September 9, 2016 [4 favorites]


Previously on Metafilter: The Tiki Con

The Kahiki Supper Club in Columbus, Ohio
The Kahiki Supper Club is a legend in the tiki world - a massive polynesian palace in the frozen land of Columbus, Ohio. Kahiki founders Bill Sapp and Lee Henry started work on the Kahiki after their bar, the Grass Shack, burned down on this site in 1959. . . . The Kahiki's building was a classic example of midcentury polynesian pop architecture, and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1997. Despite this, Walgreen's purchased the building and bulldozed it (in 2000). The Kahiki company now is focused on selling a line of frozen foods.

Some of the interior decor had been stored in a warehouse, and there was talk of the restaurant reopening in a new location. The potential for that seems to have ended: some of the decor was installed in the frozen food factory; the Kahiki's last owner, Michael Tsao, has died; and many of the remaining artifacts appear to have been sold at auctions.

In 2006, former employees opened a new restaurant in a strip mall in nearby Hilliard, called Tropical Bistro. It doesn't have the Kahiki's grand looks (much of the decor comes from the space's earlier, typical Chinese buffet incarnation), but the food and drink recipes remain the same, and drinks are served in tiki mugs.

--Humuhumu, Critiki
The Tiki Wars: How do we distinguish the historic from the sentimental?
From time to time a nearby table would order up [the 'mystery drink'] a four-person flaming drink, which was delivered amid the sound of gongs by an exotic "mystery girl"—a ritual that, according to the menu, "symbolizes an ancient sacrifice, which reportedly stopped volcanoes from erupting."
[. . . ]
I realize that I'm hardly alone in saying I hate it when drugstore chains raze cool old buildings. . . [but] the Kahiki was, after all, a fake Polynesian restaurant that served mediocre, dangerous food. . . .

Then I called Nathalie Wright, the National Register coordinator at the Ohio Historic Preservation Office. . . .

Placed in its socio-historical context, Wright argued, the Kahiki vividly recalled a time when America inhabited a sort of South Seas Camelot. Songs from the movie musical South Pacific (1958) were on everyone's lips, Hawaii had joined the union as the fiftieth state just two years before (1959), and Elvis was starring in Blue Hawaii (1961). . . .

Furthermore, Wright said, tiki bars were among the original theme restaurants, dating from a time when Americans began to evince an apparently lasting appetite for the artificial over the real.

-- Wayne Curtis, The Atlantic, Feb 2001
posted by Herodios at 12:10 PM on September 9, 2016 [3 favorites]


Because I play the ukulele, I've paid some attention to Hawaiian culture. Tiki bars held some appeal with me for a minute, and I love wearing barkcloth in the summer, but seeing girls with tiki-god earrings or hairpieces made me feel a little uncomfortable. I'm glad there's some discussion about whether or not tiki culture is appropriation, and I probably won't wear anything with tiki heads on it.
posted by pxe2000 at 12:29 PM on September 9, 2016 [3 favorites]


Mother of god.
It's befitting of the subject matter that this is a destroyer-class post.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 12:30 PM on September 9, 2016


(That said, the Kowloon in Saugus is...well, it's something.)
posted by pxe2000 at 12:30 PM on September 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


Shout out to Trad'r Sam in San Fran! The decor ain't quite as Tiki as in days past, but they still got all them fruity tropical drinks - and a menu outside bragging how much they'll fuck you up!
posted by Trinity-Gehenna at 12:41 PM on September 9, 2016


This is a great post. Thanks.

The Trader Vic's in Dallas reopened about 10 years ago. It was one of the hottest bars in Dallas during the 60s-70s until it finally closed in the late 80s. When they announced it was reopening in 2005 in the same hotel across from SMU, there was a lot of buzz and countless blog posts from local journos about Trader Vic's nostalgia. The place was trendy hot in 2005. We went two times I think. And I only went the second time because it was someone's birthday and they picked it. Other than the kitschy 60's tiki feel, the actual drinks were garbage. Turns out really boozy sweet rum drinks get old really fast. Like after the second sip. Pretty much everyone I know who went there agreed. And for a place that people went to for the drinks, that's not a good thing. Not surprisingly, the great Trader Vic's resurgence in Dallas only lasted a couple years before it was closed again.

Oh, and George Carlin once said the Mai Tai got its name when two Polynesian alcoholics got in a fight over some neckware.
posted by dios at 12:42 PM on September 9, 2016


Great post, thank you! I had a brief, intense interest in Tiki in the last year or so that I lived in Los Angeles; I had been fascinated by mid-century architecture in general, and I was an avid collector of Capitol Records' amazing Ultra-Lounge compilations (If you only own one, it should be Mondo Exotica for sure.) Then I discovered Shag, and when I went to see a show of his at La Luz de Jesus I discovered Tiki News. I made a few weekend drives around SoCal in search of tiki architecture and, as with a lot of the mid-century architecture that was left what I found was very sadly run down and/or partially destroyed by decades of haphazard repainting and remodeling. Those fascinating glimpses of post-war space-age-tiki-car-culture southern California were one of my favorite things about living there, but it was always bittersweet because so much has been swallowed by soulless strip mall sprawl.
posted by usonian at 12:42 PM on September 9, 2016 [3 favorites]


A+ post would read again while sipping a mai tai. (Just kidding, I actually can't stand sugary cocktails.)

Tiki bars have seen a bit of a resurgence out here in Hawaii. When I've gone, the customers seemed to be tourists and middle aged locals. I mean, they're still a niche thing out here, but then again everything is a niche thing out here.

Hawaii already has a hugely syncretic local culture, on top of being built on a lot of tourist kitsch, so this isn't too surprising. And it's not like Germaine's hasn't been a staple for decades, either.
posted by tobascodagama at 12:44 PM on September 9, 2016


Also, I can't believe that the native Hawaiians adopted the wearing of shirts without coercion. I'm fairly certain the Little Ice Age didn't reach out to the middle of the Pacific, but even if it did Hawaii is fucking hot.
posted by tobascodagama at 12:46 PM on September 9, 2016


I caught the tail-end of the Tiki craze when I started tending bar in the early 70's. The only time I ever waxed nostalgic about it though was after the frozen drink nightmare began in earnest later that decade...
posted by jim in austin at 12:49 PM on September 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


"Also, I can't believe that the native Hawaiians adopted the wearing of shirts without coercion. I'm fairly certain the Little Ice Age didn't reach out to the middle of the Pacific, but even if it did Hawaii is fucking hot

Seems like the average temperature for Hawaii is in the mid 70s. Their record high temperature is 100 degrees F.
posted by I-baLL at 12:51 PM on September 9, 2016


Here in New Orleans we have three tiki-ish choices:

Tiki Tolteca (run by / associated with a Mexican restaurant of all things) which is just fine, and would probably satisfy the itch for any idle Tiki seekers.

Cane & Table, a bar and restaurant that bills itself as 'rustic colonial' and 'proto-tiki'. Rum-heavy drinks menu, all fresh ingredients. Nominated for the James Beard Award for outstanding bar program.

and then finally we have Latitude 29 which is run by none other than Jeff Beachbum Berry and his wife Annene Kaye. That place is tiki.

For my money Cane & Table is the one to visit if you're looking for the overall best food and drinks experience. However, if it's straight-up tiki that you want then Latitude 29 is for you.
posted by komara at 1:01 PM on September 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


Seems like the average temperature for Hawaii is in the mid 70s.

I was born and raised there. The average temperature is fucking hot with a heat index of oh god why is all this water in the air.
posted by tobascodagama at 1:13 PM on September 9, 2016 [4 favorites]


If you visit Chicago...

Ahem, Hala Kahiki.
posted by hwyengr at 1:19 PM on September 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


Man I can remember really loving going to Don the Beachcomber on Steven's Creek and 280 in Cupertino.
posted by humboldt32 at 1:27 PM on September 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


Tiki is both minority cultural appropriation and a uniquely American cultural phenomenon and aesthetic. If we stripped away all minority cultural appropriation (including Native American) from American culture, would there be anything left?
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:37 PM on September 9, 2016 [3 favorites]


What separates rum from pretty much all other spirits is that it comes "pre loaded" with a living subculture: Tiki. That's why it's pretty much impossible to open a bar based on a spirit like bourbon or even mezcal and turn it into a center of gravity the way you can if the program is based on rum. I mean, as much as I love American whiskey, I'd never dress up to go out to drink it. Serious Tiki folk, on the other hand, wouldn't think of heading out for a night of reveling unadorned.
posted by Insert Clever Name Here at 1:39 PM on September 9, 2016


Also, I can't believe that the native Hawaiians adopted the wearing of shirts without coercion.

Even in hot places, shirts and/or wraps of light-colored cloth are great for being less miserable out in the sunshine.
posted by tclark at 1:48 PM on September 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


yeah, i don't know how to feel about Tiki bars and drinks, and i'm surprised there's not much more thoughtful commentary on the appropriation that's going on.

I like the idea and the thought of going to a Tiki bar or restaurant, and I must admit that i'm familiar with the Critiki site, since I have seriously considered finding a nice place to visit.

But I've been fortunate to read enough of Metafilter to learn that using (actually, exaggerating and warping) another culture's people, icons, philosophy and history for vapid entertainment is no longer acceptable, and it's too-bad-so-sad for me, but I probably won't go.

It's weird what's passes as "acceptable cultural appropriation" on this site!
posted by bitteroldman at 2:15 PM on September 9, 2016 [4 favorites]


I don't remember my last visit to Tiki Ti, but damn do I miss going to that place.
posted by drewbage1847 at 2:23 PM on September 9, 2016


San Francisco actually gained a new tiki bar a few months ago: Pagan Idol, in the financial district. It's by the team behind SF bars Tradition, Bourbon and Branch and Local Edition (all excellent) and it's really, really good. Despite being fully decked out in octopus shaped lamps, tiki huts and fake portholes it somehow managed to feel genuinely classy - and I ordered a mega-sweet drink in a voodoo head shaped mug and the drink was well balanced and tasty! If you're a tiki aficionado (or just someone who likes good bars) I strongly recommend it.
posted by simonw at 2:46 PM on September 9, 2016


I'd patronize the hell out of a bar that served mai tais and zombies and fog cutters and their ilk without the the kitsch. Also, I'll put on my best shoes and a hat for American whiskey any day of the year, unless you're taking me to some shithole with a jukebox.
posted by crush-onastick at 2:51 PM on September 9, 2016 [4 favorites]


Also previously, in the blue, last year, almost to the day -- it must be annual Tiki-time!
The American Tiki Fantasy
(note this post so much more than joseph conrad is fully awesome's - thanks!)
posted by Rash at 2:55 PM on September 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


Just popping in to recommend one of the best exotica shows out there, Jet Set Planet, well worth everyones time.
posted by wheelieman at 3:43 PM on September 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


When I was (allegedly) growing up in L.A., one of my family's short-list 'fancy restaurants' was Trader Vic's in the first floor of the Beverly Hilton hotel. Dressing up required, all the Tiki decor, prominent bar overlooking the dining area (my parents didn't get Mai Tais, instead chose the Scorpion, served in big margarita-style glasses) and visible behind a big heat-proof window, a humongous 'Hawaiian BarBQ' oven. And we saw several celebrities there, because their parties were usually seated in one of the booths set against one wall on risers for maximum visibility. I tasted my first 'Teriyaki Steak' there, as well as Pea Pods & Water Chestnuts as a side vegetable, but the appetizers were my favorites: Egg Rolls, 'Coco' Shrimp, Rumaki (the ONLY time I ate anything with Liver in it) and small slices of BarBQ Pork you would dredge in a bowl of sesame seeds. A disproportionate number of my childhood food memories were from Trader Vic's.
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:38 PM on September 9, 2016 [3 favorites]


"The Shameful Tiki Room" in Vancouver, on Main Street, is actually much more fun for me to go to than I think it should be. They have a menu of special drinks for sharing with friends that are served with special musical accompaniments, crashing thunder and/or (machine) fog. The windows are completely blacked out and the place is dimly lit, providing a few disorienting moments when you step inside while your eyes adjust. Great fun, get there early because it fills up quickly.
posted by WaylandSmith at 5:15 PM on September 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


*pours one out (of a ceramic Moai-shaped mug) for Ciral's House of Tiki in Chicago*


It was like if there was a Tom Waits song that takes place in a Tiki bar
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 5:28 PM on September 9, 2016


"The Shameful Tiki Room" in Vancouver

The Shameful Tiki Room in Vancouver & the new location (well, new last winter) in Toronto recently made the list of the Travel Channel's Top 16 Tiki Bars Around The World.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 5:51 PM on September 9, 2016


Also, on the subject of Tiki Culture in Canada, there's the Montreal Tiki Appreciation Society, who put out 14 issues of Mai Tai: The Official Newsletter of the Montreal Tiki Appreciation Society in the late 90s/early 2000s.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 6:04 PM on September 9, 2016


I live in a country (New Zealand, or perhaps Aotearoa) that may or may not have the biggest Polynesian population on the planet, and while we are suckers for all kinds of Americana, I cannot see this flying here. So obviously detached from reality of the cultures who live here, and sketchily appropriative.

We still put pineapple on pizza and call it "Hawaiian" though.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 7:21 PM on September 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


Oh and apropos the origin of the word tiki in "tiki culture", I expect that the second meaning given, ie the stylised human figure used in a hei tiki, is much more likely.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 7:27 PM on September 9, 2016


As I believe I have said before, enough time has passed that I believe you can have an authentic tiki bar in the sense that it's faithful to the original tiki bars of a half century ago, even though those bars were not, themselves, authentic. At some point even appropriated fake culture becomes real culture.

I am unashamed to admit that I love tiki bars and drinks. It's just a fun, relaxing experience for me and my life is so full of stress that I really appreciate that experience. Mai Tais are a traditional Christmas drink in my family.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 9:06 PM on September 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


" At some point even appropriated fake culture becomes real culture."

It does, but that doesn't mean it stops being problematic for the people whose culture was the source. It's not about authenticity, it's about trivialising important symbols and practises and reducing them to decorative elements.

I guess this is on my mind because Disney's Moana movie is a controversial thing in my neck of the woods right now.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 9:22 PM on September 9, 2016 [5 favorites]


This was awesome. I read Kontiki but never knew about the much more important voyage of Hōkūleʻa. Thanks for this!
posted by blahblahblah at 9:34 PM on September 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


I live in a country (New Zealand, or perhaps Aotearoa) that may or may not have the biggest Polynesian population on the planet, and while we are suckers for all kinds of Americana, I cannot see this flying here. So obviously detached from reality of the cultures who live here, and sketchily appropriative.

Who needs tiki bars when you've got Te Puia and Tamaki?
 
posted by Herodios at 10:11 PM on September 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


I don't think Maori-operated tourist attractions that are at least somewhat tied to history are parallel with the tiki bar phenomenon, no. And even here it doesn't fly when white people just pick it up and go for it.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 10:27 PM on September 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


Here in New Orleans we have three tiki-ish choices:

Not counting Aunt Tiki’s.
posted by St. Sorryass at 10:46 PM on September 9, 2016


Not counting Aunt Tiki’s.

Hah, I should have specified new-ish choices and/or places that are truly tiki joints in spirit, not just name.
posted by komara at 11:06 PM on September 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


When talking about the history of the aloha shirt, it would be remiss to neglect the shirt that functioned as a balancing yin to the aloha shirt's yang: the palaka shirt, a garment worn by immigrant workers in agriculture.

"The pattern made it’s [sic] way in the late 1900’s when Americans ordered tons of checkered-patterned thick cloth from England to make the uniforms for the field workers. [It was] named it after the Hawaiian work for ‘frock’ which was also a mistranslation for “checkered.”"

The palaka made an appearance in a recent exhibit of aloha wear, which also featured the willowy crepe "kabe shirt," and, yes, the "reverse aloha shirt," which is still a favorite component of business clothing worn by people of all job descriptions.
posted by Gordion Knott at 12:39 AM on September 10, 2016 [6 favorites]


I'd patronize the hell out of a bar that served mai tais

We tried out a new Asian place tonight, and I ordered a mai tai. It showed up in a martini glass, and was sorta orangy. Tasted rum in it, and it was drinkable, so I went with it, but had to explain to the wife my reaction, and why I was taken aback since it's an IBA official cocktail, the lack of a highball glass derailed my brain.
posted by mikelieman at 12:53 AM on September 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


The palaka made an appearance in a recent exhibit of aloha wear, which also featured the willowy crepe "kabe shirt," and, yes, the "reverse aloha shirt," which is still a favorite component of business clothing worn by people of all job descriptions.

Indeed. Hawaii was way ahead of the curve when it comes to business casual. (See above re: temperature.) You might wear a suit to your graduation if you went to a private high school, but you'll wear an aloha shirt to your job interview.
posted by tobascodagama at 9:15 AM on September 10, 2016


Psycho Suzi's in Minneapolis is a bizarre, self-consciously-ironic over-the-top hipster tiki bar . There are seemingly about 500 people in the place every single night, so it seems to work OK for them. Drinks are around $20 and there's a two-drink minimum....
posted by miyabo at 7:05 PM on September 10, 2016


Whoa.
Wow.
Awesome. As a guy who recently spent a year bartending at a top Bay Area tiki bar... Wow.

And I don't think I saw this link above, but tiki bars are hardcore part of the modern swizzle stick comeback. Swizzle sticks are awesome.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 7:49 PM on September 10, 2016


[One deleted; cultural appropriation is already a fraught subject here, and jumping in late and with a bunch of explicitly racist examples isn't the best way to enter that really difficult discussion.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 12:03 PM on September 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


Amazing to see no mention has been made of Tiki Road Trip: A Guide to Tiki Culture in North America. This book mentions a large number of Tiki properties all over the world, past and present.
posted by mbn at 3:26 PM on September 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


Here's the Critiki News article on the second edition of Tiki Road Trip, noting that Critiki didn't copy from the original Tiki Road Trip, which came out a bit after Critiki went online, and referencing a few more Tiki books coming out in 2007, when the 2nd edition was published.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:45 AM on September 12, 2016


Sydney had an awesome pop-up Tiki bar for about a year... I know it's culturally problematic, but it's also super-fun.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 10:12 PM on September 12, 2016


Couple of weeks ago, my "Clothing-Optional Resort" cocktail took 3rd place (NorCal) in California Rum Fest's "Beyond the Piña" rum colada contest.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 9:32 AM on September 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


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