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…
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…
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…
Most artists use brushes and paint to create their art, but Brian Rechenmacher does it differently. He uses his computer! Taking full advantage of the technology that we have today, Brian creates Tiki and Disney themed “paintings” that are truly stunning and very cool. On top of being a digital Tiki artist, Brian has spent time behind the bar mixing Tiki cocktails at Trader Sam’s at Disneyland and Forbidden Island in Alameda, CA. Sometimes, Brian takes off the Aloha shirt and slips on a shirt and tie to make craft cocktails at Five Points in San Jose.
If there is anyone that should be considered a Tiki VIP, it has to be Martin Cate. Martin’s Tiki “resume” is just incredible! He has had his hand in several Tiki bars, including Forbidden Island, Hale Pele, Smuggler’s Cove, and San Diego’ False Island. Did I mention he also wrote one of the most important books on Tiki? It’s called Smuggler’s Cove, named after his bar. This book covers everything you want to know about Tiki and Tiki culture. It really is an essential read for anyone into the Tiki lifestyle.
The Shameful Tiki Room will always have a special place in my heart. It’s where I came up with the idea of starting this blog!
I heard there was a Tiki bar up in Vancouver, BC and I decided to take a little road trip up to check it out. When I finally made it through the border patrol into Vancouver, I arrived at the Shameful Tiki Room. As I walked up to the place, I noticed all the windows were covered up. My first thought was that the bar was closed or under construction. I figured I came this far, so I might as well try the door. It opened and I stepped inside to a very dark room. Once my eyes adjusted to lack of light, I realized I was in a really cool Tiki bar! I got a seat at the bar and started ordering drinks. They were good, like Tiki Ti good! The windows out front were covered on purpose to block out the realities of outside. Great idea! I thought whoever owns this bar is in the know when it comes to Tiki. I was right! That guy is Rod Moore and I had a chance to ask him a couple questions.
I’m finding out that the answer isn’t as simple as it might seem. I definitely got this sense as I’m talking with Peter Andrijeski of Seattlebars.org. “You have to think about a few things,” Peter said. How long has the bar been in business? How old is building? A bar may be in a building that’s really old, but that doesn’t mean the bar itself is that old as well. The correct answer is the Merchant’s Café, which is located in the oldest part of Seattle: Pioneer Square.
A few years ago, Peter had the grand idea to have a drink at every bar in Seattle. That’s right gang: every bar in Seattle. How would one go about doing this? Can this even be accomplished? Peter was going to find out!
David Bowie. We all loved him and his music. But why? What made him so special? I believe it was because Bowie always was two steps ahead of everyone else. He truly was a trendsetter. It takes guts to be into something no one else is doing and to break all the rules on how something is supposed to be done.
Bowie was a music trendsetter. Tiki has its own trendsetters. The Tiki revival started in the ’90s. Dawn Frasier was already ahead of the rest of us. She was living the Tiki lifestyle back in the ’80s.
Remember the ’80s? It was a decade of new wave and pop music, arcades and Atari, and bad clothing and hairstyle choices! Pastel pants and mullets: need I say more? While we were watching MTV, Dawn was painting Tiki landscapes and collecting Mid-Century furniture. When the ’90s finally came around and we started rediscovering Tiki culture, Dawn had already lived in Fiji for a few years.
There are two things I love about Tiki bars: they create mood and they create an escape. When you live where the weather isn’t the greatest, it’s nice to have a place that you can go and forget about what’s going on outside. I live in Seattle and it’s all about escaping the rain. If you live in upstate New York, you want to get out of the snow. If you live in a city where all you see are buildings and sidewalks, maybe going somewhere that has palm trees—even fake ones—would be nice.
Tiki Brian is out of Baltimore and if you’ve ever been there, you know that it’s a tight city with small streets and big buildings. It’s truly the concrete jungle. If there ever was a place that could use an exotic escape, Baltimore would be it. Tiki Brian created an exotic escape by creating a podcast: the Exotic Tiki Island Podcast!