Entries in the 'Portland' Category

August 25, 2010

Ordinary Bars, Extraordinary Tiki Drinks

Filed under: Continental Europe,Drinks,Houston,London,Los Angeles,New York,Perfect Tiki Bar,Portland,Seattle,Tiki,Washington, D.C. — Humuhumu @ 2:23 pm

Bartender Michael Bertrand tends to his fire at Vessel in Seattle,
photo by Rocky Yeh

First, let’s get this out of the way: the outstanding bars on this list are not ordinary by any measure, but one… they are not tiki bars. These establishments are part of a new class of cocktailing, where constructing a beverage is paid the same attention as that given to preparing a meal at a Michelin-starred restaurant.

But they are not tiki bars.

You won’t find them in Critiki, and they may very well be off your radar. They may not even be able to make tiki drinks any time, any day, as the ingredients required are notoriously numerous and fussy. But each location on this list has at least one bartender on staff who shares your passion, and wants to make your Nui Nui dreams come true. Some have regular or periodic tiki nights, some even have dedicated tiki sections of their menu. When it comes to tiki drinks, frankly these places are going to deliver better than most any tiki bar out there. Encourage them, won’t you?

Drink – 348 Congress St., Boston, MA
Drink keeps a number of flavored syrups around just for making tiki drinks–prepared for them with love and care by none other than Randy Wong of Waitiki!

Death & Company – 433 East 6th St., Manhattan, New York, NY
Though Brian Miller, a driving force behind Death & Co.’s tiki drinks, has moved on, his imprint lingers. Tiki drinks, and tiki-leaning beverages, can still be found on the menu.

Please Don’t Tell (PDT) – 113 Saint Marks Pl., Manhattan, New York, NY
There are reports that you may be able to snag a high-quality tiki drink at the world’s worst-kept-secret bar.

Flatiron Lounge – 37 W 19th St., Manhattan, New York, NY
Joe Swifka: ask for him by name. He’s gotten to have a bit of a reputation as the go-to bartender for tiki drinks in New York. Tiki drinks make frequent appearances on Flatiron’s rotating menu.

Clover Club – 210 Smith St., Brooklyn, New York, NY
Clover Club has the same owner as Flatiron Lounge, Julie Reiner. Reiner grew up in Hawaii and plans to open a tropical (but not tiki) restaurant in Manhattan later this year. Clover Club is Victorian in style, but if you ask nicely, they may be able to hook you up with the good stuff.

Dram – 177 S 4th St, Brooklyn, New York, NY
Dram’s rotating menu often has tiki items on offer—at this writing, it’s a Jet Pilot.

Dutch Kills – 27-24 Jackson Ave., Long Island City, NY
Dutch Kills is from the same team that opened New York’s latest tiki savior, Painkiller.

Rum Bar – 2005 Walnut St, Philadelphia, PA
Rum Bar is, well, all about rum. Most of the cocktail list is Caribbean-focused, but a few traditional tiki cocktails are also on offer.

Embury – 2216 Penn Ave., Pittsburgh, PA
Embury has a Tiki Tuesday event, and they’re game for tackling the complicated drinks.

Farmers & Fishers – 3000 K Street NW, Washington, D.C.
Zombies, Fog Cutters, Grogs… all part of their regular menu!

Anvil – Houston, TX
Anvil is perhaps most notable for their “100 drinks everyone should try at least once.” Naturally, tiki is part of the prescription, and Jeff Berry’s Grog Log is a heavily-thumbed reference behind their bar.

Vessel – 1312 5th Ave., Seattle, WA
Spur – 113 Blanchard St., Seattle, WA
Tavern Law – 1406 12th Ave., Seattle, WA
My hometown may be lacking in the tiki bar department, but I’m proud to say that when it comes to the drinks, it’s “ya sure, ya betcha.” All three of these establishments have the materials on-hand to whip up traditional tiki drinks, and each has periodic tiki nights. Vessel even serves some drinks out of tiki mugs.

Teardrop Cocktail Lounge – 1015 NW Everett St., Portland, OR
Teardrop hosts periodic Tiki Nights, typically with the involvement of local tikiphiles and cocktail obsessives Blair “Trader Tiki” Reynolds and Craig “Colonel Tiki” Hermann. The next one is on September 12.

Caña – 714 W Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles, CA
Caña is dedicated to all things rum, so of course this means some tiki representation on the menu.

Lewers Lounge – Halekulani Hotel, Waikiki, HI
It’s tragically difficult to find a decent drink in Hawaii. You may have heard good things about the House Without a Key in the Halekulani Hotel, but the better bet is actually the Lewer’s Lounge in the same hotel.

Paparazzi – Laurinská 133/1, Bratislava, Slovakia
Paparazzi’s Stanislav Vadrna knows his way around a tiki drink… he’s even hosted a tiki drink seminar at his bar.

Cotton’s Rhum Shack – 55 Chalk Farm Rd, London, UK
Cotton’s Rhum Shack in Camden has a very long rum list, and a smattering of tiki cocktails to match. There is a sister location, Rhum Jungle in Islington, that may be worth trying, too.

The Merchant Hotel Bar – 16 Skipper Street, Belfast, Ireland
Crowned as the Best Bar In the World, the Merchant Hotel Bar’s menu is more of a book. The menu is exhaustively thorough, and tiki drinks do not get short shrift. On the contrary: Bar Manager Sean Muldoon takes tiki drinks so very seriously that he has the last remaining bottle of the true original Mai Tai rum: vintage 17 year Wray & Nephew. This is the only place in the world you can have a truly old-style Mai Tai—though it’ll cost you about $1,000.

Mahalo nui loa to the following for their assistance in compiling this list: Peter Andrijeski, Alice Berry, Jeff “Beachbum” Berry, Dan Budiac, Robert A. Burr, Nicole Desmond, Boris Hamilton, Liz Lang, Kiki Lenoue, Georgette Moger, Ben Wagner, Doug Winship

July 23, 2008

My Travels: Join Me Friday at Thatch in Portland

Filed under: My Travels,Portland,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 2:41 pm
Thatch entryway, photo by Heather Gregg
Thatch entryway,
photo by Heather Gregg

I love Portland so much, I’m coming back again. I’ll be at Thatch this Friday night (July 25) to meet up with the local tikiphiles — you’re invited. I had the great pleasure of meeting a few local folks the last time I was in town, and I always enjoy meeting more. Come on out if you’re in the Portland area!

Thatch
2733 NE Broadway St.
Portland, OR


June 24, 2008

My Travels: Thatch in Portland

Filed under: My Travels,Portland,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 8:20 pm

I’ve got a backlog of Tiki Travels to tell you about! Remind me to tell you about New Year’s Eve at Tiki-Ti, and the swell Sippin’ Safari event in Boston. But to get started, I went to Portland a bit more than a week ago…

It’s really quite silly it’s taken this long, but I finally made it to Thatch in Portland. Of course, the Portland tiki crowd can make any ol’ hole a blast, but Thatch is hardly any ol’ hole… I love this place. First off, it’s dark, and I’m a sucker for a nice, dark tiki bar. It’s not as dark as The Alibi, of course, but I think there are sensory deprivation chambers that are brighter than The Alibi. I digress…

Thatch in Portland
Thatch in Portland

What light there is at Thatch is provided by a lineup (literally — I’d actually love to see the lamps scattered a bit more) of really beautiful lamps by Kahaka, and a mess o’ pufferfish. Appropriate for the home town of the Velveteria, the place is lined with velvet paintings of varying quality. There’s a reclining wahine behind the bar who looks lumpy in good ways (boobies!) and in bad ways (I couldn’t shake the notion that her cheeks looked disturbingly like some paintings of Santa Claus). But much of the velvet there is really quite good, even great.

Also: there’s a black velvet clown. At least the clown is obvious in its wrongness, and Portland is a place that prides itself on obvious wrongness, so it sort of works in that regard, but really it’d be happier in a new home.

Clam shell originally from Portland's Kon-Tiki
Clam shell originally from Portland’s Kon-Tiki

As reported earlier on Humu Kon Tiki, there are pieces from the Portland Kon-Tiki (via the recently closed Jasmine Tree) throughout Thatch — the famous three cannibal tikis of course, but also scads of other, smaller pieces that are probably better showcased here than they ever were at the Jasmine Tree.

The sunken bar is rather cool. I chatted to one of the bartenders about what it’s like to work at a sunken bar — I thought it might make the bartenders feel at a disadvantage, but he told me he actually really enjoys the intimate feeling he gets when he’s chatting with customers seated at the bar. The seating throughout much of Thatch came from an old Armet & Davis Denny’s, and it fits quite nicely. I didn’t get to spend time in the raised hut at the back of Thatch, as it was taken over by a large group by the time we arrived, but it looks like someplace I could loseWeight Exercise many a happy evening.

The bridge entryway over a water pool works fantastically as a transition from the outside world. The bridge amazingly has no railings, but there haven’t been any drunken spills into the pool yet. Owner Robert Volz says that the absence of a rail forces even drunk people to pay a bit more attention to what they’re doing.

London Sour
London Sour

I had a London Sour, which was quite tasty. Overall, the selection of drinks looked pretty good (though I wouldn’t miss the “Donkey Punch” if it left the menu… ugh). We didn’t try the food, since we’d just come from dinner (meatloaf & potatoes au gratin at the Doug Fir — yum!).

The music! The music was all spot on — lovely Exotica. I don’t know exactly what the music mix was, as I was paying attention more to the conversation of my companions… but I take that as a good sign, that the music didn’t jar me with its inappropriateness. Thank goodness.

Huge mahalos to Thatch owner Robert Volz for showing us a grand time, and to Melintur, Tiki Mama, Kim, Trader Tiki, Trott, Erik & Michele for sharing yet another memorable tiki-scented evening with me. I’m already looking forward to my return in late July!

View of Thatch from behind a tiki's bum
View of Thatch from behind a tiki’s bum

February 2, 2007

Portland: Tiki Kon 2007

Filed under: Events,News,Portland,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 9:08 pm
Portland Tiki Kon 2007
Portland Tiki Kon 2007

Dates for Portland’s annual Tiki Crawl, a.k.a. the Tiki Kon, have been announced: it’s happening July 27-29, 2007. Tiki Kon: Venture into Darkness will include stops at Portland tiki mainstay The Alibi and of course Portland’s newest tiki hotspot, Thatch. HQ for the whole shebang is once again the Jupiter Hotel, and there will be a tour of area home tiki bars.

I was at the first Portland Tiki Crawl five years ago, and I haven’t missed one since — I’ll be there again this year, and I’m particularly excited to get to see Thatch in person. The Tiki Kon website only has a teaser image for now, but stay tuned to the site for details.

January 26, 2007

Thatch vs. The Alibi: Portland Tiki Throwdown

Filed under: Portland,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 9:30 pm
Welcome to Blog goes to the Alibi
Welcome to Blog goes to the Alibi

Brandon at Welcome to Blog recently went on a one-night mission to take the pulse of Portland tiki, and he found a nice, strong heartbeat, indeed. After a brief lament for the loss of the Jasmine Tree, he pits the Portland grand dame of tiki, The Alibi, against brand-new upstart Thatch in a contest of Decor, Tikis, Drinks, The Crowd, The Background Music, The Bathrooms, and The Staff. Sounds like my kind of night out on the town. He gives thoughtful consideration to each location’s strengths and weaknesses — in particular, it’s great to hear that Thatch is playing Les Baxter. Which Tiki reigns supreme? Well, thankfully, one doesn’t have to win over the other — Portland is just lucky to have two great tiki bars, and hopefully that will be the case for a long time to come.

January 5, 2007

Pictures from Thatch Sneak Preview

Filed under: News,Portland,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 12:32 am
Thatch, Portland's new tiki bar, photo by Heather Gregg
Thatch, Portland’s new tiki bar, photo by Heather Gregg
Water feature near entrance to Thatch, photo by Heather Gregg
Water feature near entrance to Thatch,
photo by Heather Gregg

Tonight there was a sneak preview of Portland’s new tiki bar thatch, an art installation party for two velvet paintings by Portland’s Pander Bros. Another sneak peek is planned tomorrow, for Tiki Central members only. Heather Gregg and Noel Henneman both uploaded photos to Critiki (psst — Critiki is always looking for more photos of tiki places!).

Owner Robert Volz hired Portland’s Bamboo Craftsman to do the bamboo construction, and it looks absolutely gorgeous in these pictures. The bamboo and decor even extends into the restrooms. The water features near the entrance do a great job of letting visitors know they’re heading into a different world when they come off the street (it’s great to see the use of clam shells).

Inside the private hut at the back, photo by Noel Henneman
Inside the private hut at the back,
photo by Noel Henneman

My one little quibble is that the pufferfish and tapa lamps, which are gorgeous, are lined up a little to neatly for my taste — I prefer a look that gives the impression of items added over time, one where there’s a sense of discovery as you see things you hadn’t seen before. That may be Robert’s way of marrying the midcentury modern booths and seating to the inherently flotsam & jetsam-driven world of tiki. It sounds like there’s more work to be done before they open though, so maybe more stuff is going up on the ceiling. Overall, the place looks really inviting.

There’s still no final word on what date Thatch will be open to the public (Saturday is not looking likely, but the opening is definitely imminent). Visit Critiki to see the all the pictures, and thanks to Heather and Noel for sharing them so quickly!

UPDATE: Thatch will be open for regular business starting next Wednesday, January 10.

December 27, 2006

Portland’s Thatch Opening Soon

Filed under: Events,News,Portland,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 8:52 pm
Pander Bros. velvet painting, for Thatch
Pander Bros. velvet painting, for Thatch

Robert Volz has been working on his new tiki bar, Thatch, for a loooong time now, and it looks like the work is finally wrapping up. Robert reports that while Thatch will not be open in time for New Year’s Eve as he’d once hoped, he is now aiming to have a preview party for VIPs and Tiki Centralites on January 5. Those who are interested in attending can send Robert (a.k.a. Robertiki) a personal message on Tiki Central to score an invite. No word yet on the grand opening date for the general public. Robert is pictured above, along with a large black velvet painting for Thatch by Portland artists the Pander Bros.

November 11, 2006

Ace Jackelope Goes Lewis & Clark

Filed under: Art,Portland,Seattle,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 3:46 pm
The Alibi in Portland, photo by Ace Jackelope
The Alibi in Portland, photo by Ace Jackelope

Ace Jackelope, a.k.a. Tikijackelope, is a kindred spirit, if ever I’ve encountered one. He travels the nation, visiting the best Americana ‘murica has to offer — especially tiki places — taking pictures all the way. His latest tiki-flavored adventure brought him to the northern wilderness of my youth, the Pacific Northwest. He’s taken some wonderful photos (pictures that handily trump the many I’ve taken) of the Alibi in Portland and the Islander in Seattle, and got a sneak peek at Portland’s Thatch. He also grabbed a few pics of the recently-closed Tiki Art Now show that was at Roq la Rue in Seattle. Special Lake Wobegon bonus: another recent post on his blog features Ace Jackelope sitting on the head of Garrison Keillor.

November 6, 2006

New York Trader Vic’s Tikis Headed to Portland

Filed under: History,New York,Portland,Tiki,Trader Vic's — Humuhumu @ 9:42 am
Robert Volz with tikis from New York Trader Vic's
Robert Volz with tikis from New York Trader Vic’s

A wild, almost too-good-to-be-true story came to me from Robert Volz yesterday. Robert is the owner of the new Thatch bar in Portland (development is well underway, and the bar will be opening soon, hopefully). Robert has already had some fantastic scores of items for use in his new bar, including original Armet & Davis booths from a local Denny’s that was one of the last midcentury Denny’s in the nation to be remodeled, and all of the decor from the local Jasmine Tree restaurant that recently closed.

Robert, who was once editor of a magazine for scooter enthusiasts, recently took part in a coast-to-coast scooter race. (Yep — from Pacific City, Oregon to Orange, New Jersey in ten days, on a scooter.) Once he was in New Jersey, it was clear that he wasn’t going to be one of the top finishers, so when he saw a sign saying “Restaurant Auction Today,” he decided to take a breather. In between the kitchen equipment and other typical restaurant fixtures were eight tikis. Not just any tikis, really honkin’ big tikis. And they were reported to be from the New York City Trader Vic’s. Robert said:

The funny thing, is that no one bid on the eight large statues that used to be in the NYC Trader Vic’s in the Plaza Hotel.

After no takers on several, I wrote a note to the auctioneer who passed it onto the the manager. The note was a ridiculously low offer for all of them.

To my surprise, I got them all.

Back of one of Robert Volz's Trader Vic's tikis
Back of one of Robert Volz’s
Trader Vic’s tikis

Now, as I said at the top of the story — too good to be true. But I think in this case that it could very well be true. For one, two of the tikis are the same design as the Trader Vic’s salt & pepper shakers, and have “TRADER VIC’S” carved in the back of them — which anyone can do, but the carving doesn’t look fresh. For another, the tikis look somewhat consistent with (though larger than) some tikis Trader Vic’s still has in their possession, as seen when they loaned them out for the San Francisco Airport tiki exhibit.

If these tikis did indeed come from Trader Vic’s, it’s likely they date to 1965, when the Trader Vic’s moved from the Savoy Hotel to the Plaza Hotel; when Donald Trump bought the building in 1989, he closed the Trader Vic’s. These tikis have been somehwere — probably a warehouse — ever since.

Shipping these fellas back across the country was no small feat — shipping was quoted to Robert at $3,200, so he rented a van and drove all the way to New Jersey and back to get them himself. He says these guys are all going into Thatch, where they will get to hang out with the three massive cannibal tikis from the Portland Kon-Tiki he scored from the Jasmine Tree. To learn more about Thatch, check out this thread on Tiki Central, and this one where Robert asks a bit about one of the tikis.

UPDATE — Perhaps a bit too good to be true, after all. Sven Kirsten and Tim “Swanky” Glazner have weighed in on Tiki Central, and they’re of the opinion that these are more recent carvings (Sven speculates that perhaps these were rounded up for a proposed re-opening of Trader Vic’s in New York that didn’t happen).

November 4, 2006

This Week at Arkiva Tropika

Filed under: Arkiva Tropika,Daytona Beach,History,Las Vegas,Midwest U.S.,New York,Portland,San Francisco,Tiki,Trader Vic's — Humuhumu @ 3:52 pm

Mimi Payne keeps adding great items from her collection to Arkiva Tropika — she adds cool things too frequently for me to post about it every time, and I can’t not post about the wonderful things she’s sharing, so there’s only one thing for it: a weekly roundup. This is just a small fraction of the items she’s posted this week; if you like these, make sure to check out Arkiva Tropika yourself, and you’ll be over the moon.

1954 Waikiki Room menu, from Mimi Payne's Arkiva Tropika
1954 Waikiki Room menu, from Mimi Payne’s Arkiva Tropika

This is a 1954 drink menu from the Waikiki Room at the Hotel Nicolette in Minneapolis, Minnesota. There was another Waikiki Room across town, in the Hotel Leamington. I love the woodgrain backdrop of the menu, and the tiki is simple, but beautifullly illustrated. Inside, the menu has full-color photos of the drinks, rather than the more commonly seen drawings. Very cool!

1950s postcard from Portland Trader Vic's, from Mimi Payne's Arkiva Tropika
1950s postcard from Portland Trader Vic’s, from Mimi Payne’s Arkiva Tropika

This is a lovely postcard view of the Portland Trader Vic’s, which was in the Hotel Benson. I have no idea what that carved thing in the foreground with the white thingy on top could be.

1950s menu from Zombie Village in Oakland, from Mimi Payne's Arkiva Tropika
1950s menu from Zombie Village in Oakland, from Mimi Payne’s Arkiva Tropika

Without a doubt, hands down, no contest, this is my favorite bit of Polynesian Pop imagery anywhere. That woman is just gorgeous. I want her tattoed on me. I want to be her. She even makes the menacing dark cloudy figure seem like something you can’t be bothered to be concerned about. Who could possibly be distracted by a 50-foot angry genie when you’ve got that woman mezmerizing you? Oh yeah, there’s a neat building in the back, too. Seriously, aside from the beautiful woman, it’s a nice, simple composition that conveys a mood without having to try too hard. Beautiful. This image can also be seen at the beginning of the Book of Tiki.

Fan from Aku Aku at the Stardust in Las Vegas, from Mimi Payne's Arkiva Tropika
Fan from Aku Aku at the Stardust in Las Vegas, from Mimi Payne’s Arkiva Tropika

This fan is an unusual item, although Mimi has a few fans in her collection. It comes from the Aku Aku at the Stardust in Las Vegas. The Aku Aku closed long ago, but the Stardust closed just this past Wednesday. I like the rendering of the Aku Aku moai as an Asian brush painting, and I like the muted colors.

Back of a 1964 menu from the Hawaiian Room in New York City, from Mimi Payne's Arkiva Tropika
Back of a 1964 menu from the Hawaiian Room in New York City, from Mimi Payne’s Arkiva Tropika

And straight from muted colors, we have color overload, with food, no less. Look at this — this is every classic ’60s food cliche in one spread. I’ll just let it speak for itself, since I wouldn’t be heard over its screaming, anyhow.

1950s menu from the WikiWiki Coffee Shop at the Hawaiian Inn in Daytona Beach, from Mimi Payne's Arkiva Tropika
1950s menu from the WikiWiki Coffee Shop at the Hawaiian Inn in Daytona Beach, from Mimi Payne’s Arkiva Tropika

This menu is interesting to me not so much because of the design, but because this is from a place I’ve been to, that’s still operating today. The Hawaiian Inn in Daytona Beach still has a Polynesian floor show and restaurant, but this menu comes from the small coffee shop just off the hotel’s lobby. Today, the coffee shop is run by the same family that performs the floor show at night; it’s kind of fun to be served your hangover-healing coffee by the same woman who was hulaing for you the night before. Gives it a sort of end-of-Wizard-of-Oz feeling. Another interesting thing about this menu is that while it’s from the coffee shop, and has “Good Morning” printed in the decorative border, the paper insert is a dinner menu, which seems a little odd.

Check out Arkiva Tropika for more — much, much more — stuff just like this!


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About Humuhumu
Humuhumu
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http://www.humuhumu.com
Humuhumu is the creator of several tiki websites. She is a designer and programmer based out of San Francisco.

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