Tiki Bar Review #6 Tiki Lounge, Pittsburgh, PA

The Bar at The Tiki Lounge
The Bar at The Tiki Lounge

The Steelers, the Penguins, the Pirates, Pirmanti’s, and Tiki? That’s right! Pittsburgh is known for its sports teams, food, and its steel industry. But most people wouldn’t know that it has one of the coolest Tiki bars there is.

I live in Seattle now, but I actually lived in Pittsburgh a few years ago. I was only there for a year, but while I was there I discovered the Tiki Lounge!

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Tiki Bar Review #5 The Alibi, Portland, OR

 

The Bar at The Alibi
The Bar at The Alibi

An interest in all things retro and old is a actually a new thing. Up until the ’90s, we mostly thought about the future and what it will bring. We were all about owning a new car, having a new home, and buying new clothes and furniture. The past was, well, just that—the past. Recently, I think websites like Youtube have brought the craze for nostalgia. Right now, you can go online and watch footage from any decade you like! I was a teenager in the ’80s, so I love watching old commercials, music videos, and clips from TV shows that were on while I was growing up. I think we’ve all become more nostalgic, just because we can be.

One great thing about people becoming more nostalgic is that there has been a push to preserve older buildings. For example, Mai Kai in Fort Lauderdale, FL has been deemed an historical landmark. This is awesome and it makes me happy. I think that’s one of the reasons why I like going to older Tiki bars. If a place has been around for a few decades, you’re seeing a piece of history. The Alibi in Portland, Oregon is one of these bars…

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Tiki Bar Review #4 The Lava Lounge, Seattle WA

Lava Lounge Sign
Lava Lounge Sign

Seattle is a growing city. It’s not just growing, but growing quickly. New buildings are appearing everywhere, from Downtown to West Seattle. I counted thirteen construction cranes in Downtown alone!

I grew up in Pennsylvania’s Coal Region. The coal industry started dying out there even before I was born in early ‘70s. For decades, buildings have been getting shut down, demolished, or boarded up. Most of the little towns around the Coal Region have become ghost towns. It’s a sad reality. I learned early on that you want your city or town to be growing, not dying.

Progress and growth are great things for a city, but as the saying goes, you can’t have an omelet without breaking some eggs. To construct Seattle’s new buildings, the old ones need to be removed. Dozens of really cool restaurants and bars are being shut down and destroyed in the name of progress.

I was down in Portland a few weeks ago. What I noticed and admired about Portland was it still had tons of cool places that have been around forever, some since the ‘50s! You don’t have to travel far before you run into some cool old place with a neon sign flashing above its door. Seattle used to be the same way, but not so much anymore.

Thankfully, there are still some “old school” Seattle bars left. The Lava Lounge in Belltown is one of them…

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Tiki Bar Review #3 Hale Pele, Portland, OR

Hale Pele main room ins
Hale Pele main room ins

The TV show Portlandia has made the city of Portland famous. It’s a really funny show that pokes fun at some of stereotypes about Portland’s residents. The parodies are pretty much spot on. Portland has a very big cycling scene, cute little shops selling bric-a-brac, punk rockers, hippies, punk rock hippies, and more organic food shops that anyone could ask for. But when I think of Portland, I think of one thing: Tiki bars! Portland has not one, but three! It has the Alibi, Trader Vic’s, and last but not least, Hale Pele.

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Tiki Bar Review #2 Tacoma Cabana, Tacoma, WA

Front room at Tacoma Cabana
Front room at Tacoma Cabana

I live in Seattle. I love my city. There are tons of things to do. There are more than enough restaurants, bars, coffee shops, places to buy cupcakes (I love cupcakes!), etc. But sadly, Seattle is lacking one important thing: a really great Tiki bar!

Sure, there is The Lava Lounge in Belltown, but it’s not really a Tiki bar in a traditional sense. I’d go there to hear some punk rock and drink a couple PBRs! I wouldn’t go to hear exotica or to order a Mai Tai, though.

There is Hula Hula, which actually is the first Tiki bar I ever visited. It started my love affair with Tiki! (I will be doing a review of Hula Hula really soon.) At first, Hula Hula had it all going on. It had a very large menu of drinks, plenty of surf music, and awesome decor. But over time, Hula Hula started putting up large screen TVs and eventually it became more of a karaoke bar. Don’t get me wrong, I have spent some time on Hula Hula’s stage singing my favorite tunes from the ’80s while I had a few cocktails in me. But I digress…

So I started searching online for Tiki bars outside Seattle. I found one here and there, but the “Tiki bars” I discovered were pretty lame. Throw the word Tiki in front of a guy’s name. Put up a Tiki head somewhere. Throw up some bamboo, offer some “blue” cocktails, and there you go: a “Tiki” bar!

Then I came across Tacoma Cabana.

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Tiki Bar Review #1 North Shore Lagoon, Bothell, WA

 

North Shore Lagoon Bar
North Shore Lagoon Bar

Hey gang!  This is my first Tiki bar review and I figured I wanted to keep it sort of local. I live in Seattle. Bothell is about 25 minutes away (with no traffic). In Bothell is a Tiki bar called North Shore Lagoon. Before I begin with the review of the Tiki bar itself, I need to give a little background about the North Shore Lagoon.

The North Shore Lagoon is part of the McMenamins Anderson School. If you’re not familiar with McMenamins, they are a bar and restaurant chain that buys and restores old, classic, historical buildings and turns them into pubs, restaurants, movie theaters, and hotels. The cool thing is they maintain the integrity the of the buildings they acquire. They have places all over the Pacific Northest including Portland, Centraila, McMinnville, Mill Creek, and now Bothell.

What McMenamins did with the Anderson School is completely turn the entire school—which is several buildings—into a large entertainment complex. There’s a fine dinning restaurant, a pub, a movie theater, a convention center, a hotel, and last but not least, a Tiki bar, which of course is the North Shore Lagoon.

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Who am I? Why am I doing this Blog?

So… who am I?

Hello! My name is Ray Wyland. I live in Seattle, WA. Welcome to my Tiki blog!

I’ll be talking about Tiki culture and music, Tiki drinks, and doing Tiki bar reviews. Really, I’ll be covering pretty much anything dealing with the Tiki lifestyle.

Ray at Don The Beachcomber Huntington Beach
Ray at Don The Beachcomber Huntington Beach

So… why am I doing this Blog?

Bars, bars, and more bars…

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There are so many types of bars. Let’s name a few, shall we? There are dive bars, sports bars, Irish pubs, English pubs, craft cocktail lounges, breweries, and so on and so on. When you’re heading out to a bar, you’re going out to have a good time and enjoy a drink or two. Maybe sometimes you want to have a little escape. With a Tiki bar, the escape is paramount. A good Tiki bar should create a mood—a relaxing mood. When you step into a Tiki bar, the outside world doesn’t exist anymore. The combination of a Tiki cocktail (which usually has two or more shots of alcohol!) with the decor and music creates a unique tone. It’s a tone and feeling that can only be achieved at a Tiki bar, at least for me. To be honest, I rarely even get anything to drink when I’m with friends at any other type of bar.

Of course, all Tiki Bars are not created equal. Some Tiki bars got it dialed in! Others, not so much. This blog is my journey of going to and checking out Tiki bars anywhere and everywhere! I plan on posting pictures, talking to the owners, and giving my take on each Tiki bar I visit.

This blog is going to be about more than Tiki bars and drinks, though. I’ll discuss music, clothing, actual cocktail recipes, lifestyle and more. I hope you all enjoy this blog! -Ray