“Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes made of ticky tacky,1
Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes all the same…”
If your familiar with the TV show Weeds, you’ve heard this song sung by Malvina Reynolds. The neighborhood Malvina was singing about was actually Daly City and she describes it perfectly. All the homes are literally square boxes that are different pastel colors and built on the side of a hill. Hidden in one of these “square boxes made of ticky tacky” lies the Alta Tiki Lounge.
Buz Deadwax is the proud owner of The Alta Tiki Lounge and here is his story…
If there is any Tiki bar that should get honorable mention, it should be the Waldorf Hotel in Vancouver, BC. The place is essentially a dance club. I can assure you, electronic dance music will be pumping out of the speakers—not Martin Denny. When I visited the Waldorf, I didn’t even have a drink. In fact, I don’t know if they even serve any Tiki cocktails at all.
So why am I writing about this place? Two reasons. Well, maybe three.
Everyone has their favorite Tiki bar and mine is Hale Pele in Portland, OR. When you walk into the bar and take a seat, you honestly feel like you’re in a Tiki hut somewhere in the South Pacific. The décor is incredible. What also is incredible at Hale Pele is the drinks. One of the women behind the bar making these awesome Tiki drinks is Sierra Kirk.
Sierra is unbelievably talented. Her Tiki drinks are some of the best I’ve ever had. If you want a drink with fire and flames, she’s just the woman for the job! I consider her to be one of the great Tiki bartenders right now! Here is Sierra’s story…
You don’t know what humidity is until you go to Florida.
I just touched down in Fort Lauderdale and it’s so humid here that my glasses fog up as soon as I go outside. I flew in from Seattle on a six-hour flight and I’m here to do two things: visit the legendary Mai Kai and reconnect with my friend Dave who I haven’t seen since the early ’90s. Back in the day, we were heavily into skateboarding and punk rock. Time passed. I grew up to be a guy who blogs about Tiki bars and Dave became a professional photographer (Gittleman Studios). I made an offer to Dave: if he could take some pictures of the Mai Kai for me, I would pay for his drinks. It was a deal!
If I had a nickel for every time someone said this to me, I would be rich! Okay, well maybe I would have enough to buy a cup of coffee, but I digress.
Yes, starting a Tiki bar is a dream of mine, but it’s not easy and it’s not cheap. You need to find a place that’s in a good location and somewhere you can afford the rent. You also need a license to serve alcohol AND a license to sell it. I haven’t even talked about the money needed for décor.
One idea I thought of was doing a “pop-up” bar. I was down in Los Angeles and they got pop-ups for everything including food, clothing, music, and of course, booze. The idea is to rent a space out for a week, a month, or even a day. I thought a Tiki pop-up bar would be a great idea. Well, great minds think alike. Duffy De Armas made my a dream a reality! He opened the Tiki pop-up bar: the Low Tide Lounge.
It meant the actual distance between two points via a straight line. The town of Olalla is only 15 miles away from Seattle, but that doesn’t mean it’s close—let alone easy—to get to. The Puget Sound stands between Seattle and Olalla, which means you have two ways of getting there: taking a ferry or driving around and below the Puget Sound. A ferry trip is not cheap, so that means driving is the best way to get there. Why all the fuss about getting to Olalla? Because Debbie and Mark Whitehead live there and down in their basement lies the Fuzzy Smudge…
I’m always excited to find cool stuff going on back where I grew up in PA. Outside of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, there isn’t much in between. Sometimes you have to create your own scene and JoJo Feo is doing just that with her own Tiki jewelry business: JoJo’s Tiki Hut! There’s a growing rockabilly and pin-up community happening in central PA and JoJo is adding Tiki into the mix. This is her story…