Entries in the 'Seattle' Category

August 30, 2010

New Syrups from Trader Tiki: Ginger and Falernum

Filed under: Drinks,Seattle,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 4:32 pm
An assortment of Trader Tiki syrups

Anyone who’s cracked the spine on a Beachbum Berry book has quickly recognized that your typical home bar setup will not be sufficient to tackle most of the drinks… some Special Ingredients are called for. That has meant a lot of hunting, searching, begging, pleading, and ultimately, cooking. It’s not uncommon to peek into the refrigerators of my friends and see a whole half shelf staffed with the cold soldiers of our War Against Lackluster Cocktails: cinnamon syrup, vanilla syrup, passion fruit syrup, grenadine, and more.

Thankfully, our dear friend Trader Tiki has made things a whole heck of a lot easier. Now all these amazing syrups are available from one source, and reasonably priced to boot. Another nice thing about using his syrups is that you can count on the quality—they’re all free of high fructose corn syrup, and are packed with the bright, vibrant flavor these recipes require. In our house, we also use his syrups for flavoring our morning coffee, and as syrup for our pancakes.

He’s steadily been expanding his line, and the most recent additions are shipping this week: Ginger and Falernum. His syrups are available in a number of stores; here in San Francisco, I’ve been able to buy the syrups at Cask. You can also buy them direct from Trader Tiki via his website, or you can pester your own local store to start stocking them.

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

February 2, 2007

Color Me Pleased

Filed under: Events,Seattle,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 9:41 pm
Seattle tikiphiles at Hula Hula, photo by monkeyskull
Seattle tikiphiles at Hula Hula, photo by monkeyskull
Swanky's pufferfish lamps at Hula Hula, photo by Exoticat
Swanky’s pufferfish lamps at Hula Hula,
photo by Exoticat

My hopes for Hula Hula were not high, but I’m so happy to hear that the local Seattle tikiphiles have made a couple visits to Hula Hula, and they like the place a lot. It sounds like some changes are coming to the drink recipes, and it looks like the place is darker and moodier than the Hula Hula website would suggest — and you regular readers know what a sucker I am for a dark bar. The music selections still sound incongruous to the decor, but as mentioned earlier, booking Lushy to play a show there is a huge step in the right direction.

The local tikiphiles are planning on meeting up there the third Thursday of every month, with the first get-together happening on February 15. If you live in the area and would like to get to know other tiki-lovin’ people, I can personally vouch for them — the Seattle tikiphiles are near & dear to my heart. Perhaps Hula Hula will play some Exotica or some old hapa haole music for them on those days? Or better yet, hire Selector Lopaka to lend them a hand with the music!

There are some pictures of a recent Tiki Central gathering at Hula Hula here, along with some of their reviews of the place. I have no idea what the glass bananas are about.

January 27, 2007

Seattle: Lushy at Hula Hula

Filed under: Events,Music,Seattle,Shopping,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 10:21 pm
Lushy, at the Polynesian Room in Vancouver, B.C.
Lushy, at the Polynesian Room in Vancouver, B.C.

Lushy, a darling bossa/exotica, loungey-but-dancey band based out of Seattle, is playing a show at Hula Hula on Wednesday, February 7. Lushy sounds so good in nice, intimate spaces, and Hula Hula’s space is probably just about perfect for them. It’s a great opportunity to give Hula Hula a whirl — early reports are that Hula Hula is a neat space, but that the modern/rock music played there is a mismatch — and my guess is that Lushy will give the place the mojo it may be missing.

Lushy's eponymous album
Lushy’s eponymous album

Vocalist Annabella Kirby leads the gang of stylish pop musicians through infectious songs that sound like they could have come off a ’60s European soundtrack. Two of my favorite songs of theirs are “French 75,” a cheeky ode to the francophone life, and “Bella Beretta,” an homage to Annabella’s kick-ass, Vespa ridin’ momma (as seen pictured on the cover of their album). If you can’t make it to hear them in Seattle, I recommend picking up their self-titled album, put out by Dionysus Records.

Lushy at Hula Hula
9:30 pm, no cover
106 1st Ave. N.

January 26, 2007

Selector Lopaka, Sundays at Fu Kun Wu

Filed under: Events,Music,Seattle,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 9:45 pm
Selector Lopaka
Selector Lopaka

I while back, I shared a reverie about my days in Seattle, when I could be found reliably once a week at Fu Kun Wu in Ballard, to hear Selector Lopaka spin Exotica tunes. Ahhhhh… those were good days. I’ve tried to convince Selector Lopaka to come move down to San Francisco, so that I can hear him every week once again; while I think I’m making progress, so far he hasn’t actually budged. But someday… someday I will succeed.

That makes it that much more urgent that you discover this Seattle treasure before I steal him away from you. He’s been on hiatus from Fu Kun Wu for a while now, but he’s starting up again, this time on Sunday nights.

Selector Lopaka – 6ish-9ish every Sunday
Fu Kun Wu
(back bar of Thaiku)
5410 Ballard Ave

January 7, 2007

Hula Hula, New Tiki Bar in Seattle

Filed under: News,Seattle,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 12:50 am
Hula Hula, a new tiki bar in Seattle, photo from Hula Hula website
Hula Hula, a new tiki bar in Seattle, photo from Hula Hula website

Seattle has a new tiki bar, near the Seattle Center, called Hula Hula. It’s in the space nextdoor to Tini Bigs (once upon a time, this space was a nightclub called the Romper Room, and I spent many an evening there shaking my tiny hiney). Hula Hula is run by the same folks who run Tini Bigs. Seattle once had a rich tiki history, but now virtually all traces of vintage tiki are gone; those holding their breath for a comeback of true tiki in Seattle will have to keep biding their time at the new Trader Vic’s in Bellevue. Hula Hula looks to be more about tiki as kitch.

The drink menu holds lots of familiar names (Mai Tai, Navy Grog, Shark’s Tooth, Zombie), but sadly the recipes are anything but familiar. Or rather, they’re the sad side of familiar — that familiar sinking feeling you get when you see that the tropical drink menu you’re staring down is nothing but a pell-mell assortment of alcohol and pineapple juice. Don’t take my word for it — I haven’t been able to check this place out myself yet, obviously — but a look at their online drink menu doesn’t exactly have me excited. From what I’ve been able to gather, the local tikiphiles aren’t exactly beating a path to the door, either; the general reaction I’ve heard so far from folks in the area is something along the lines of “meh,” which is telling in a town that doesn’t really have much to offer in the way of tiki in the first place. The website has one of the sure “tells” of a letdown of a tiki place: the website trumpets “EVERYDAY $2 PBR”.

Hula Hula, a new tiki bar in Seattle, photo from Hula Hula website
Hula Hula, a new tiki bar in Seattle, photo from Hula Hula website

But, like I said, don’t take my word for it. It’s hardly fair of me to judge a place so harshly without setting foot in it myself. Go out there and check it out yourself, and let me know what you think of it (rate it on Critiki, while you’re at it). There are plenty of tiki bars out there that have won my heart despite lackluster drinks (though it takes some pretty kick-ass decor [see: Bahooka, the Alibi, Kon-Tiki]). I would be extraordinarily pleased to hear that there is something loveable at Hula Hula.

November 11, 2006

This Week at Arkiva Tropika

Filed under: Arkiva Tropika,Central California,Hawaii,History,Las Vegas,San Diego,San Francisco,Seattle,Tiki,Trader Vic's — Humuhumu @ 5:54 pm

A weekly review of my favorite among the many items Mimi Payne has posted to her Arkiva Tropika website in the past seven days:

Trader Vic's Trading License, from Arkiva Tropika
Trader Vic’s Trading License, from Arkiva Tropika

This is a souvenir Trading License, given to customers in the ’40s at Trader Vic’s, granting the recipient “trading privileges.” This one was granted in 1945 to a couple after having dinner & a scorpion at the Oakland location.

Detail of a menu from the Islander in Stockton, from Arkiva Tropika
Detail of a menu from the Islander in Stockton, from Arkiva Tropika

This is a bit hard to make out here, but I love this bit from a menu from the Islander in Stockton. “The Gourmet Deluxe Dinner” (“For those discriminating people”) cost $4.75 per person, and was served with a bottle of Paul Masson Rose Wine. Also: “The Islander is available for private parties, fashion shows or any special activity.”

Menu from Halekulani Hotel in Waikiki, from Arkiva Tropika
Menu from Halekulani Hotel in Waikiki, from Arkiva Tropika

This 1952 dinner menu, from the Halekulani Hotel in Waikiki, is just dag-flippity gorgeous. The artwork and color palette look like they could have come straight from a vintage rayon aloha shirt. The Halekulani, and its famous House Without a Key restaurant & bar, are still operating today.

'60s or '70s postcard from the Hanalei Hotel in San Diego, from Arkiva Tropika
’60s or ’70s postcard from the Hanalei Hotel in San Diego, from Arkiva Tropika

With the sad news about the remodeling of the Islands Restaurant at San Diego’s Hanalei Hotel this week, Mimi pulled out a lot of great Hanalei & Islands items from her collection. Above is a great postcard from the ’60s or ’70s, showing how the front of the hotel used to look, including its famous sign, which was sadly removed a few years back.

'60s brochure for the Hanalei Hotel in San Diego, from Arkiva Tropika
’60s brochure for the Hanalei Hotel in San Diego, from Arkiva Tropika

This brochure from the 1960s has lots of full-color pictures from the Hanalei’s heyday, inclulding views of the Islands Restaurant.

'60s postcard for the Hanalei Hotel in San Diego, from Arkiva Tropika
’60s postcard for the Hanalei Hotel in San Diego, from Arkiva Tropika

Another postcard from the Hanalei has two different views of the Islands Restaurant.

Page from a '60s cocktail menu from the Islands restaurant, from Arkiva Tropika
Page from a ’60s cocktail menu from the Islands restaurant, from Arkiva Tropika

And this ’60s cocktail menu, from the early days of the Islands restaurant, features some fantastic illustrations of tropical cocktails.

'60s appetizer menu from Aku Aku in Las Vegas, from Arkiva Tropika
’60s appetizer menu from Aku Aku in Las Vegas, from Arkiva Tropika

Another item inspired by a recent closing — this 1960s appetizer menu is from the Aku Aku in Las Vegas, which was part of the Stardust Casino for 20 years. Aku Aku closed in 1980, but the Stardust closed just last week.

'60s postcard from Trader Vic's in Seattle, from Arkiva Tropika
’60s postcard from Trader Vic’s in Seattle, from Arkiva Tropika

This postcard shows the exterior entrance to the Trader Vic’s in Seattle, which was in the Benjamin Franklin Hotel (today it’s the Westin). The Seattle location was Vic’s second restaurant, after the original Oakland location; it was initially named the Outrigger, and was renamed Trader Vic’s later on to be consistent with the rest of the chain. This picture is from the 1960s. Trader Vic’s used birdcage lamps like these in several locations; when the Seattle Trader Vic’s closed in 1992, some of these lamps went to the then-new Crocodile Cafe a few blocks north, where they can still be seen today — perhaps even the lamps in this very postcard!

Gadzooks, Mimi went on a posting rampage this week! This is truly just a smidge of all the great things she posted — be sure to check it all out yourself at Arkiva Tropika.

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.

September 24, 2006

They Just Don’t Make ‘em Like They Used To

Filed under: Phoenix,Seattle,Tiki,Trader Vic's — Humuhumu @ 12:36 am
Scottsdale Trader Vic's, photo by Jackie Mercandetti for the Phoenix New Times
Scottsdale Trader Vic’s,
photo by Jackie Mercandetti
for the Phoenix New Times

This summer, Trader Vic’s returned to Scottsdale — Scottsdale’s original Vic’s operated from 1962 to 1990, and it was a legendary fixture on the local restaurant scene. However, the Phoenix New Times’ review of the new Scottsdale Trader Vic’s is a very interesting read (emphasis is mine):

I was hoping for a more straightforward experience — either a pan or a rave — but Trader Vic’s left me on a bamboo fence, both in terms of the food and the mood. The place felt slick and shiny and spacious. That’s a mistake. Flickering torches are only sexy in the dark, so I wasn’t keen on the high industrial ceiling and too-bright halogen lights.

The starkly missing sense of mystery at the newer Trader Vic’s locations is a common lamentation among tikiphiles, but it is interesting to now see that sentiment spelled out so plainly in a restaurant review. Trader Vic’s has an immense advantage in their strong brand recognition — time and again when explaining Polynesian Pop to someone, they will perk up and say “oh, you mean like Trader Vic’s!” and go on to relate a story of how much fun they had there years and years ago. That’s a powerful thing for a restaurant to have on its side. The Phoenix New Times reviewer, Michele Laudig, clearly had an expectation, and it wasn’t delivered on — and she can’t be alone. Why on earth would Trader Vic’s want to dilute the meaning of its brand?

Bellevue Trader Vic's, photo by Tracy Anderson
Bellevue Trader Vic’s, photo by Tracy Anderson

Take the new Bellevue Trader Vic’s, pictured above. Does that look like a place that is going to transport you to an exotic land? Does that look like a place where a drink can be a vacation in a glass? I’ve seen dry cleaners with more character.

This comes at a time when the appreciation of Polynesian Pop is reaching new heights. With articles like the one in American Heritage Magazine last month, the awareness of Tiki is growing much wider, and not just as an ironic goof on the past — it’s a growing understanding that it doesn’t have to be tacky, that it can be tasteful, elegant, and fun in a way that is more about intrigue than camp. People are looking for an immersive experience again — they’re looking for a place that lets them cast away their cares, in favor of some time spent in another world, one that is full of dark corners and details to be discovered. These are things that Trader Vic’s once mastered, and no organization is better poised to take advantage of that. That’s what makes it so painful to see them drop the ball.

Restaurants are a risky business, to be sure, and expensive. But if you’re going to bother to play the game, you’ve got to be willing to take risks that allow you stand out from the pack. I know it can be done, because Forbidden Island did it — in a much smaller space, yes, but also with an infinitesimally smaller budget than Trader Vic’s has at its disposal. Today’s modern Trader Vic’s aren’t delivering the kind of dining experiences that you reminisce about decades later. That’s a terrible shame.

September 11, 2006

Shag at Tiki Art Now in Seattle This Weekend

Filed under: Art,Events,Seattle,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 8:59 pm
Headlights, by Crazy Al Evans
Headlights, by Crazy Al Evans

The latest updates on this weekend’s Tiki Art Now show at Roq la Rue in Seattle’s Belltown district:

Shag Will Be There
Not only will there be art by Shag in the show, Shag will be there in person. Other artists who will be in attendance include Lisa Petrucci, Heather Watts, Dawn Fraiser, and Davey.

Busotica: A Seattle Tiki Junket
Some of the Tiki Central folks have organized a lunch at The Islander downtown, followed by a trip to four very excellent Seattle home tiki bars for Saturday, the day after the art opening. $15 gets you a seat on the bus, you can read more details in the thread on Tiki Central. Should be a great day!

View the Art
For us poor schmucks who can’t make it (or for those who can and can’t wait to see what’s in store), Roq la Rue has an online preview of the art.

You can also read my earlier Humu Kon Tiki post for more of the nitty-gritties. I won’t be able to be at the show myself, which has me a bit bummed (I’ll be drowning my sorrows at Hooptylau, so don’t feel too sorry for me). It will be a great weekend in Seattle, with some fab art and some of my favorite people — the Jet City Mucky Mucks.


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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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