August 25, 2010

Columbus Dispatch Pays Tribute to the Kahiki

Filed under: History,Midwest U.S.,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 4:25 pm

Vintage rendering of the Kahiki interior, from the Columbus Dispatch

Can you believe it’s been ten years since the Kahiki Supper Club in Columbus closed? Time flies when you’re cursing frozen egg rolls. Time doesn’t seem to have healed this wound… of all the lost and lamented tiki temples, the Kahiki is the most legendary, the most beloved. The Columbus Dispatch misses the Kahiki, too, and they’re paying tribute today. They tracked down a number of former employees and patrons to get their greatest Kahiki memories. There’s a nifty little gallery of ten images, and even a quiz to test your Kahiki knowledge.

It’s a thoughtful, honest and loving look back, but dang if it doesn’t make me cranky. Can you imagine the Mai-Kai-like love they would have in store for them if they were still open today? Oof. Frozen food? Really? That’s the lasting legacy? I want to just enjoy this look back, but it’s hard for me to overlook the still-too-fresh tragedy of it all.

Mahalo to Jeff Chenault for the tip!

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

August 23, 2010

Dig This Nutty Rattan Egg Chair

Filed under: Tiki — Humuhumu @ 10:06 am

It’s not really a classic egg shape, is it? It’s a bit grander in scope, perhaps it’s more of a Banana Chair. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. This was a gift from a dear friend, comics genius Ted Naifeh. Ted’s parents bought the chair in the ’70s; he grew up sitting in it, and it came with him when he moved out of the house. Though it’s been a big part of his life, and he’s grown up to be a bit of a tikiphile himself, he just didn’t have a place for it anymore. He wanted it to have a good home, and it is my great fortune that he thought of me. It now holds court in my home tiki bar (under construction, please pardon the temporary white walls), along with its matching end table. I told Ted he gets dibs on it, so if you’re ever at my house and a handsome chap asks you to please get out of his chair, make way for the man.

August 21, 2010

Trader Vic’s Emeryville Is Hiring

Filed under: News,San Francisco,Tiki,Trader Vic's — Humuhumu @ 10:05 am
Chinese Ovens at Trader Vic's in Emeryville
Chinese Ovens at Trader Vic’s in Emeryville, photo by Coco Joe, via Critiki

Know your way around a Chinese Oven? Want to be part of the tiki action in the most traditional way possible? This could be your lucky day: Trader Vic’s is hiring for a whole mess o’ positions at the flagship location in Emeryville, which is due to reopen on September 23 after a remodel. When it comes to restaurant positions, you name it, they’re hiring for it: bartenders, servers, dishwashers, prep cooks, all the way up to an event manager, a floor supervisor, the lead hostess and even the restaurant manager.

The full details for these positions are helpfully listed on the Facebook page for Trader Vic’s Emeryville. There aren’t any instructions for applying, and since the restaurant is still closed you can’t drop in—perhaps try emailing UPDATE: Trader Vic’s tells me that the best place to send your resumes is


August 20, 2010

How to Survive Missing Tiki Oasis

Filed under: Events,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 2:57 pm
Oasis Video FeedView of the grounds right now, courtesy of the
Tiki Central Live Feed of Tiki Oasis

As promised, here’s my follow up to my earlier post lamenting my missing out on Tiki Oasis this year. I’m afraid I didn’t hear about much going on out there, which makes sense because EVERYONE IS IN SAN DIEGO. But these ideas may help you out:

Watch Tiki Central’s Live Video Feed from Tiki Oasis
Hanford Lemoore and Tiki Central present this live video feed of Tiki Oasis. Hanford says, “Sometimes it will be balcony shots, sometimes it will be of the main stage, and sometimes the infamous roaming party cam.” I heard some sound checks from the main stage happening a few minutes ago, and the sound quality is actually pretty good… we may be able to hear some great performances.

Hang out with Elvis at the Mai-Kai
If you live within driving distance of the Mai-Kai, you don’t need me to tell you where to drown your No Oasis sorrows. But tonight’s a special treat: a special Elvis tribute during happy hour in the Molokai Bar (that’s now!).

Support your Local Tiki Bar
You have to keep the home tiki torches burning! It would be terrible if all those tiki bars went out of business with all their regulars out of town. Think of the hero you’ll be when everyone returns!

Critiki Now Has Larger Images

Filed under: Critiki,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 2:36 pm
New and Improved!

Critiki’s image galleries have been spiffed up… you can now click on an image to view it in glorious widescreen, with images up to 60% larger than before!

This has probably been the #1 feature request for Critiki, and boy am I happy to deliver. The galleries are also a bit easier to use, now that all the thumbnails are presented in one scrolling carousel at the bottom of the page.

You can see the new image galleries on individual location pages, on people’s profile pages, and of course in the Images section.

Try it out now:

  • One of the more photogenic tiki bars out there, the Kon Tiki Lounge in Tucson, Arizona.
  • Critiki user Princess P. travels all over the world, and has shared some great pictures.
  • My personal favorite of the themed image galleries, Renderings.


August 16, 2010

Velvet Glass Has Something for Everyone

Filed under: Art,People,Shopping,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 11:50 am
Tiki Tray, by Velvet Glass
Tiki Tray, by Velvet Glass

I last mentioned Velvet Glass on Humu Kon Tiki in 2006, when they first started selling their stunning mosaics online. In the intervening four years, their pieces have only gotten better and more inventive; there are some particularly clever pieces that incorporate actual tiki mugs. A trip through the Velvet Glass website is a swell way to spend a Monday afternoon.

In addition to their famous mosaics, they are also creating smaller-scaled pieces like pendants and belt buckles, putting their work within most everyone’s reach. Their pendant version of the Kahiki fireplace logo is sure to be a big hit.

The folks behind Velvet Glass, Mark Bloom and Maggie Rickard, recently spearheaded the Relight the Night event celebrating the return of gas-lit tiki torches at their hometown tiki bar, the Kon Tiki Lounge in Tucson. In addition to being artists of astounding skill, they are also completely awesome people.

Mark and Maggie are vending at this year’s Tiki Oasis; unless you’re a sad stay-at-home tikiphile like me, seek them out and get your own piece of tiki glass!

August 15, 2010

Stuck at Home for Tiki Oasis?

Filed under: Events,San Diego,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 2:14 pm
Sad Tiki, by Eric Eggie Faust
Sad Tiki, by Eric Eggie Faust

If you’re like me, you’re feeling blue right now—missing out on THE west coast tiki gathering of the year, Tiki Oasis in San Diego. This year’s a biggie, too… the ten year anniversary, and Otto’s pulling out all the stops. Here in San Francisco it’s starting to feel like some kind of tiki rapture, and I’m the sad sack left behind. It’s a shame to be missing it, but sometimes you just can’t have it all.

So! What will you be doing while everyone else is having the time of their lives next week at Tiki Oasis? Hosting a Tiki N’Oasis for a few scraps of friends? Is your local tiki bar having a Tiki Fauxasis? Are you just going to sit at home with a Mai Tai in your hand and look at your lauhala matted walls, wondering what could have been?

Misery loves company, so if you know of a gathering happening near you, let me know. I’ll do a follow-up post to get the word out. Maybe we can each find our own oasis in the desert of No Tiki Oasis.

If you’re trying to get yourself into the rather sold-out Tiki Oasis and you’re late to the planning game, I have a friend with Tiki Oasis tickets and a room at the main hotel, and she can’t use them. Shoot me an email at and I’ll get you in touch with her. There still may be hope for you!

August 14, 2010

Swank Vinyl Exotica I & II, Now Free

Filed under: Music,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 11:02 am
Cover for Swank Vinyl Exotica I
Cover for Swank Vinyl Exotica I

2001… it feels like just yesterday, it feels like a lifetime ago. I had just purchased a new home, and wanted to do something totally immersive and over-the-top with one of the rooms. I wasn’t sure what, exactly… just something unexpected, just one room as a total escape from the world. After settling on Hawaiian for a theme, and digging into my decorating options, I stumbled into this vast and rich history of Tiki bars and Polynesian restaurants. And then came… well, this blog, and this site, and this other site, the bulk of my social life, and practically my whole existence.

The soundscape of my little basement getaway was one of my early design targets, and one of my very first Tiki purchases was Swanky’s Swank Vinyl Exotica I CD. As the title declares, it is a collection of tracks culled from Swanky’s vinyl collection. It’s a little rough around the edges, owing to the non-pristine state of your typical old exotica LP and the limitations of Swanky’s equipment at the time. But it was a great addition to my small-but-growing cache of Tiki must-haves back then.

Swanky no longer sells copies of his Swank Vinyl Exotica I (or its sister, II). But! He’s now making both albums available for download. For free! Right now! Some of the tracks are old standbys you’ve heard before, some of them are oddball recordings not available for purchase.

Mahalo nui loa, Swanky!

June 23, 2010

Remodel Underway at Trader Vic’s Emeryville

Filed under: News,San Francisco,Tiki,Trader Vic's — Humuhumu @ 10:46 pm

A felled tiki (temporarily, one hopes) at Trader Vic’s Emeryville

The remodel of Trader Vic’s flagship location in Emeryville has begun, with the in-progress pictures posted to the Trader Vic’s Facebook page. I’ve heard the full spectrum of rumblings on this one, from dire to ecstatic, but the fact that they’re willing to show pictures of the process I think bodes well. (Also: some spectacular pieces were saved from the recently-shuttered vintage Dallas Trader Vic’s that we can probably expect to appear in Emeryville.)

Trader Vic’s Emeryville closed at the end of April for this planned renovation, and the restaurant is scheduled to re-open in late September. Top of my personal wishlist: please make the ceiling in the bar dark again!

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

- Website Design and Programming

- A Worldwide Guide to Tiki Bars & Polynesian Restaurants

- Tiki Mugs & More: Track & View Collections




Arkiva Tropika
Mimi Payne’s massive Polynesian Pop collection

Barefoot Bloggin’
A surfin’, ukein’, freewheelin’ monkey boy

Beachbum Berry
Author of Grog Log and Intoxica!, and one of my dearest drinkin’ buddies
Blog from the user interface designer extraordinaire

Worldwide Guide to Tiki Bars & Polynesian Restaurants

Dumb Angel
A look at the 1960s Los Angeles mod, pop, surf, and music scene

Eye of the Goof
Pop culture with a tiki tinge

Forbidden Island
My Wednesday hangout, the Bay Area’s best tiki bar

Humuhumu’s Life in Photos
Pictures of my adventures
I build websites

Junkyard Clubhouse
Random interesting things from Humuhumu & Hanford Lemoore

Kevin Kidney
Kevin loves tiki, I love Kevin, you will too

Tiki links galore

Mai Tai Online
Montreal-based tiki ‘zine

Tiki Mug Collection Organizer

The Jab
Follow the way of the jab

Tiki Bar TV
Public Access meets Modern Drunkard

Tiki Central
Community forums

Tiki Magazine
Periodical publication covering the wide world of Tiki

Tiki Talk
Hot Lava’s Tiki Blog