Entries from August 2005

August 26, 2005

Exotica Sundays at the Lucky Tiki

Filed under: Events,Los Angeles,Music,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 7:47 pm

The Lucky Tiki is a new tiki bar from Bobby Green, who is also responsible for the much loved Bigfoot Lounge and Little Cave bars in the Los Angeles area. This new location is in Mission Hills (conveniently located where the 405 meets the 118). The small bar boasts an impressive interior, with a bar featuring carvings by Tiki Diablo, carved tiki stools from Tiki Tony, and a large stone fireplace and tiki pole from Crazy Al Evans. It’s appropriately dark & moody, a nice escape.

Starting a few months ago, DJ Lee Joseph (owner of Dionysus Records) started spinning Exotica on Sunday nights, and the music makes Lucky Tiki feel juuuust right. Combined with the mixology prowess of Sunday night bartender Suzy, Sunday nights at the Lucky Tiki are quickly becoming a local institution with the tiki set. The easy breezy Sunday night traffic doesn’t hurt, either — I’ve bopped from the Lucky Tiki to the Good Luck Bar to 101 to West Los Angeles with relative ease.

This coming Sunday, August 28, a tiki art night is being hosted in conjunction with the regular Exotica night. This is sure to be a swinging evening!

Hooptylau — Central California’s Tiki Crawl

Filed under: Central California,Events,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 6:31 pm

Most of you are probably aware of The Hukilau, happening in early October in Ft. Lauderdale (and if you’re not, well thank goodness we’ve now fixed that!). However, the very next weekend California’s Central Valley area will be enjoying their own not-to-be-missed event, the 2nd Annual Hooptylau.

Hooptylau may not be able to boast so exotic and elegant a destination as the Mai Kai, but it’s no slouch in terms of history and tikiness. Destinations on the tour will include Modesto’s Tiki Lounge, which was once a part of the Modesto Tropics (former sister to what is now Palm Springs’ Caliente Tropics, location of the annual Oasis event) and where once can still see some great Ed Crissman tikis in the parking lot. The Tiki Lounge is small and has become a dive bar of sorts, but it still retains some fantastic details and structure, most notably in the form of lovely bamboo and thatch cozy booths, and beautiful wahine paintings.

Speaking of wahine paintings, the nearby Minnie’s Restaurant has an amazing collection of velvet and oil wahine paintings by Tyree, a protege of Leeteg. Minnie’s was once part of the same collection of restaurants that included the Stockton Islander, Torrance’s Latitude 20°, and Oxnard’s Trade Winds. Minnie’s has an impressive amount of tiki charm and remains a popular restaurant today. You may find it hard to leave without enjoying their Oyster Beef.

There is a fabulous home tiki bar in Ripon, the Dark Marq Room, that will also be included on the tour. Owned by Tiki Central’s The Drunken Hat and Tiki Cleen, this location will combine the 1-2 punch of Hat’s tasty mixology (Hat’s grog won the Oasis Mixology contest this year) with their amazing tiki collection and bar.

The Hooptylau organizers have fun with the Central Valley’s seedy reputation (one of last year’s highlights was the Worst Aloha Wear competition), but make no mistake — the destinations on this tour are top-notch and individually worth a visit.

Extremely Rare Historic Rum Being Served at Trader Vic’s for the London Luau

Filed under: Events,History,London,Tiki,Trader Vic's — Humuhumu @ 12:52 pm

The London Luau, which is being organized by Cheekytiki, will be taking place on September 3, 2005 at the London Trader Vic’s. Cheekytiki has scored a massive coup for the event with Appleton Estate’s assistance — according to Cheekytiki, Appleton has “managed to get hold of some Rum for us from the same Barrel that provided the Rum that Trader Vic himself created the original Mai Tai.” This extraordinarily rare rum (which is not available for sale) will be used to make a Mai Tai for one lucky person at the event.

It sounds pretty remarkable, and I can’t help but wonder how it can possibly be true. However, I don’t doubt that it’s good old rum, and it makes a great story, which Vic would love. Sounds like a lot of fun — plus, one of my favorite bands, Fisherman Vibraphonic Trio, will be playing. Tickets include a three course meal and a Mai Tai in an exclusive event mug to take home. Hmmm, I wonder how much a flight to London would be….

August 25, 2005

The Master Ninja — Tiki Ti’s Ray Buhen

Filed under: History,Los Angeles,People,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 7:42 pm

Jeff “Beachbum” Berry has written an excellent article about the life of one of the great contributors to midcentury Polynesian Pop — Tiki Ti’s Ray Buhen. Ray Buhen worked as a bartender in every great tiki bar in Los Angeles (with the notable exception of Trader Vic’s): Don the Beachcomber, Sugie’s Tropics, Steve Crane’s Luau, China Trader, Christian’s Hut… the list goes on. Ray was one of the original bartenders inventing and mixing such classics as the Blood & Sand, the Zombie, Navy Grog, Shark’s Tooth, Pearl Diver, Chief Lapu Lapu… and he taught these recipes to his son Mike, who still mixes them today at Tiki-Ti along with Ray’s grandson, also named Mike. Every Wednesday at around 8:30, a bell is rung, and the bar quiets for a special toast to thank Ray for all he gave us. The Bum’s article about Ray Buhen’s life provides a rare and entertaining view into the celebrity-rich Los Angeles bar scene from the 1930s through present-day.

Monthly East SF Bay Gathering

Filed under: Events,San Francisco,Tiki,Trader Vic's — Humuhumu @ 3:53 pm

Tikiphiles in the San Francisco area (the East Bay, to be specific) have started getting together at the Emeryville Trader Vic’s and the Conga Lounge in Oakland on the last Thursday of every month. Both the Emeryville Trader Vic’s and the Conga Lounge have been very tikiphile friendly in the past, and they’re offering drink specials for the event. This month, it’s a discount Dr. Funk at the Trader Vic’s, and a discount Gilligan’s Island at the Conga Lounge.

A Tiki Trip to Monterey

Filed under: Monterey & Big Sur,My Travels,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 1:46 pm

About a week ago, we made a short trip for a visit to Monterey to visit Stuckie & Yoko, our friends at Munktiki. It was awe-inspiring to see shelf after shelf of beautiful white unglazed tiki mugs. We got a sneak preview of some of the new design ideas in the works, and got to see Paul’s (that’s Stuckie’s dad) new CaveTiki designs, which looked incredibly difficult to make, but with beautiful results.

After visiting Munktiki, we had dinner at Hula’s Island Grill & Tiki Room, which was a first visit for me. I’d been wanting to check Hula’s out for some time, but to be honest I didn’t have high hopes — I’d figured that the locals loved it because it was all they had in terms of tiki, and what I’d seen of it in pictures led me to believe it was more of a rinky-dink Hawaiiana joint. I was beyond pleasantly surprised — this place is fantastic, and one of my new favorites! First of all, the food is amazing… and on top of that, they make a proper Mai Tai! We were surrounded by bamboo and cozy traditional tiki details, with carvings & black velvet repros all over. This restaurant is the first time I’ve encountered both food and drinks that are top-notch. I only wish it were closer. We spoke with one of the owners, Chris, who indicated that he’s a big fan of the Mai Kai, and wants to open another restaurant in a new city that is like Hula’s, only more tiki and more elegant. I’m crossing my fingers in the hopes that he’ll pick a city near me.

After dinner, the four of us ventured to the Carmel Highlands to visit with my friend Kevin (a.k.a. Unga Bunga) at his home tiki bar. Another pleasant surprise! Lots of neat water features, great music, great company, a lovely evening all around.

To top off our Monterey adventure, we picked up a San Francisco Tiki Bob mug at an antique mall the next morning on our way out of town — we paid a bunch, but less than we likely would have on eBay. Score!

Trader Vic’s Chicago Closing?

Filed under: Chicago,News,Tiki,Trader Vic's — Humuhumu @ 1:11 pm

There are some rumors and speculation that the Trader Vic’s in Chicago is going to close by the end of 2005. The Chicago Trader Vic’s is in the Palmer House Hilton, and opened in 1957. It’s been remodeled a bit, but the bar in particular remains an excellent example of Trader Vic’s in its heyday. The Palmer House Hilton was recently sold, and it appears that the new owners may want to replace Trader Vic’s. Tabu Tiki Nights, a popular monthly event organized by James Teitelbaum, was unceremoniously shut down by the hotel recently (stiffing James Teitelbaum on some rather large bills in the process).

Trader Vic’s Adding Locations

Filed under: Las Vegas,News,San Francisco,Seattle,Tiki,Trader Vic's — Humuhumu @ 12:52 pm

After closing many locations during the mid-’90s, Trader Vic’s is now opening new ones. Trader Vic’s had continued to expand outside the United States, but the situation here had looked bleak. A few years back a new location opened in Palo Alto to lukewarm reviews, and a new location in San Francisco opened a few months ago.

The latest new locations that have been confirmed are Bellevue (just East of Seattle) and Las Vegas, with other cities rumored to be targets for more expansion. If the new San Francisco location is any indication, the new restaurants will have plenty of tiki but will not have the same dark, intimate feel. Picture a cross between an old Trader Vic’s and a Roy’s.

Rethinking Leilani Lanes

Filed under: My Travels,Seattle,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 1:11 am

On a recent return visit to my hometown, Seattle, I happened to pop into Leilani Lanes, an old bowling alley in the north end of town. I’d spent many a tipsy early-20s evening at Leilani Lanes, and for years I’ve been steering tikiphiles away from it, saying any cool stuff must have been torn out.

Boy, was I wrong: the building itself is actually pretty impressive, not showy by Southern California standards, but considering its location and how far away from the city center it was when it was built in the ’60s, it’s not bad at all. The fountain in the lobby is still nicely tiled and working. Most amazingly, I’d totally missed the tikis on site. There is a large tiki bolted right to the front entrance, and a matching one just behind the fountain after entering. There are a couple of tiki masks mounted on the front desk where you get your shoes. There are two purple painted crapola tikis on either side of the lanes, but the bar is the real prize: the bathroom hallway on that side has three large Witco tiki pieces. Even beyond this, the bar area is pretty darned cool. The seats are in decent shape, the hammered-metal freestanding fireplace was in use, and it even had a semi-hidden water feature still operating underneath it.

It seems, though, that the bar at Leilani Lanes has been mounting some sort of World Record attempt for longest karaoke night — I think they’ve been having someone in there singing nonstop since 1994. This, combined with the wretched carpet, is the only reason I can think of that made me think it wasn’t a worthwhile tiki location. Regardless, I’ve changed my tune, and updated Critiki accordingly.


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About Humuhumu
Humuhumu
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Humuhumu is the creator of several tiki websites. She is a designer and programmer based out of San Francisco.

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