Tiki Bar Review #22 The Mai Kai Fort Lauderdale FL

Mai Kai sign
Mai Kai sign

I live in Seattle. I booked a flight and flew six hours across the country to go to the Mai Kai. Why? Because when it comes to Tiki bars, the Mai Kai is it! My visit to the Mai Kai lasted five hours and I could have stayed longer. What is so special about the Mai Kai you may ask? Well, let’s start from the beginning…

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Home Tiki Bar #14 Spotlight Toad’s Grog Grotto East Vancouver, BC

Heather and Terry the owners of Toad's Grog Grotto

I was talking to a friend of mine and he mentioned that he really loves speakeasy bars. The idea of a speakeasy is borrowed from the days of prohibition when alcohol was illegal. People still wanted to party and get their drink on, so hidden bars were built. Some bars were in basements, in underground tunnels, or behind secret doors. Of course, it’s totally legal to drink booze now, but the idea of speakeasy is really cool.

I like to think of Toad’s Grog Grotto as a speakeasy Tiki bar! Heather and Terry Manning live in a townhouse in East Vancouver, BC and you would never think a Tiki bar would be near. But there is a Tiki bar and it’s in Heather and Terry’s garage. As much as Heather and Terry love Tiki, they also love bicycles. They needed to keep their collection of bikes somewhere, so they decided to split the garage in half. When you open the garage door, all you see are bicycles. Hidden behind the bikes is a curtain and behind that curtain lies Toad’s Grog Grotto! This is Heather and Terry’s story…

Toad's Grog Grotto Entrance
Toad’s Grog Grotto Entrance

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Tiki VIP #9 Jonathan M. Chaffin (Horror In Clay)

Jonathan M. Chaffin Horror In Clay
Jonathan M. Chaffin Horror In Clay

The gateway into Tiki culture for many people is the Tiki mug. Some mugs are found used at an antique shop or acquired as a souvenir at a Tiki bar. They look cool and collectable. It’s art that you can drink out of! At the beginning, Tiki mugs were just that. Mugs were designed to look like Tiki statues and that’s about it. Fast-forward to present day: Tiki mugs can be designed as pretty much anything. Many different subcultures like rockabilly, punk, hot-rod, or even just a general interest in Mid-Century lead people into loving Tiki. Why not combine those subcultures with Tiki? Luckily someone has! If you go to Frankie’s Tiki Room in Las Vegas, you can drink out of Tiki mug that’s shaped like a slot machine!

One subculture that has been mixed with Tiki is horror. I’ve seen Tiki mugs that are crafted as zombies, skulls, shrunken heads, and even as Frankenstein’s monster. Horror In Clay is the master of the horror-Tiki mug. The mugs they create are so cool and intricate. Jonathan M. Chaffin started Horror In Clay and here is his story…

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Tiki Bar Review #20 Lee’s Hawaiian Islander Lyndhurst, NJ

Lee's Hawaiian Islander

Lyndhurst, New Jersey.

It’s a city that’s a 45-minute train ride from downtown Manhattan. It has no claim to fame and I can’t see anyone needing to or wanting to go there—unless you happen to be my buddy Matt who lives there.

I was in Pennsylvania visiting my parents and long story short, I missed my connecting flight that would get me back to Seattle. I asked the man at the flight desk what my options were. He said I could come back the next day and fly out at 5:00 AM (no, I wasn’t doing that!) or I could fly down to Newark right then and fly out from there the next morning at 8:00 (okay, that’s much better). So that’s what I did.

Matt picked me up at the Newark airport and started heading back to his place. “Are you hungry?” Matt asked. “If so, there’s someplace you need to see.”

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Tiki Video Spotlight #1 Cinerama South Seas Adventure Movie

South Seas Adventure
South Seas Adventure

Slice of life. It’s one of my favorite forms of entertainment. I have always loved looking at old photographs or watching home videos of people just living their lives. I like to see what people were wearing, what the homes looked like, what the cars looked like, etc. No one has invented a time machine yet, so slice of life videos and photographs are the closest we can get to going back in time…

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Home Tiki Bar Spotlight #12 The Cabana Aloha OR

Dana at The Cabana

Imagine you wanted to make your own Tiki bar but you were “good with tools.” The possibilities would be endless! If you can dream it, you can build it and that’s what Dana Fryer, aka Cabana Man, did with his place. Dana wanted a bar, so he built it. He wanted a tide pool, so he built one. How about a cave? No problem, it only took Dana 74 beers to build one. The name of Dana’s Tiki escape is called the Cabana. Here is his story…

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Unlikely Tiki #1 Raul Antony with Peggy Nadramia (COS)

Karen and Raul
Karen and Raul

The last time my good buddy Matt flew in from the East Coast, we headed south to Tacoma to visit one of his favorite Tiki Bars, Tacoma Cabana (click here to read all about it). As always when enjoying the brilliant concoctions of mixologist Jason Alexander, the drinks flowed late into that beautiful evening.

Naturally after a late night, caffeine was in order the following morning. Because Matt is as much a fan of a “damn good cup of coffee” as he is a finely crafted cocktail—and because I like to keep things local—we paid a visit to Pete’s Coffee. This is Seattle after all!

Like clockwork, coffee conversations turned to the subject of music and we were discussing one of our mutual favorites: surf rock by way of St. Petersburg, Russia, the Messer Chups. They were scheduled to play this year’s Tiki Oasis in San Diego. Sadly, neither of us would be in attendance to catch their show. Matt mentioned an old friend of his living in the San Diego area, Raul, who would likely be there. Matt knew Raul from the New York City area music scene where they shared a common interest and friends in the noise/experimental/industrial scene. At first, I was surprised that someone into that kind of music would be into the Tiki culture. Matt went on to explain Raul’s involvement in the Church of Satan, which I honestly knew nothing about, let alone that there was a Tiki/Satanist connection. I wondered how Raul got into Tiki. Were there other Satanists into Tiki and is there a connection between these lifestyles?

Needless to say, my interest in these crossovers meant I had plenty more questions for Raul. Matt suggested that I simply ask him myself. That’s exactly what I did. Not only did Raul answer my questions, he passed them along to Peggy Nadramia and she gave her answers as well. Peggy is the High Priestess of the Church Of Satan, she also has her own blog about mixed drinks called Cocktail Vultures!

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