Frankie’s Tiki Oasis—not to be confused with Frankie’s Tiki Room in Las Vegas—is dedicated to one of the most famous monsters of all time: FRANKENSTEIN!
Frankie’s Tiki Oasis is the perfect homage to Tiki and classic horror monsters and these two blend together perfectly! There’s nothing cooler than having a personal touch added to a home Tiki bar. And if you ask nicely, maybe Frankenstein himself will make you a drink.
Jorge Romero is the man behind this unbelievably cool bar and here’s his story…
What brought you into the “Tiki lifestyle” and how long has it been part of your life?
Jorge– I think my father accidentally introduced me to Tiki when I was about 8 or 9 years old. He used to love going to Kelbo’s in West Los Angeles. I remember walking into Kelbo’s for the first time and loving how dark it was inside. I don’t think my dad was into Tiki as much as he was into Kelbo’s ribs. Looking back, I think my future love for dark bars and Tiki started then. But it wasn’t until about 2005 that I discovered there was an actual Tiki scene when my wife and I went to our first Tiki bar together, the Lucky Tiki in Mission Hills. I was in a car club at the time and mostly hung around the Rockabilly crowd. Unfortunately, my friends weren’t really into Tiki, so we hardly frequented any Tiki bars, much less any Tiki events. It wasn’t until around 2010 that we really got into the Tiki lifestyle. We started going to Tiki bars weekly, checking out events, and I started making Tiki cocktails at home. I think Tiki brought my wife and I closer together. It was something we both loved and could do together.
When and what made you decide to build your own Tiki bar?
Jorge– It was in 2012 when we first decided to turn our garage into a bar. We were cleaning out the garage when one of my friends saw all my Frankenstein art and classic horror collectibles and suggested we display everything and turn the space into a man cave. My wife said, “Forget a man cave, lets build a bar.” At first, we were going to do a traditional style Tiki bar, but I decided to have fun with the space and incorporate my love of Frankenstein and Tiki.
What’s the story behind the name of your bar, Frankie’s Tiki Oasis?
Jorge– Frankie’s Tiki Oasis, a.k.a. Frankentiki, is named in honor of my favorite monster, Frankenstein. I know technically he’s Dr. Frankenstein’s Monster, but everyone knows him as Frankenstein. The bar is full of Frankenstein art, figures, photos, and a life-sized animatronic Frankenstein.
Can you give a little history of how it all came together?
Jorge– We had a lot of help from family and friends building and decorating the bar. We worked weekends on and off for about a year. Some weekends, we got a lot of work done. Other weekends, we ended up just drinking and not getting much work done. I guess that’s what happens when you build a bar with your friends.
My father-in-law is a carpenter and built the bar and all the shelves for us. One of our friends works for a large party/event planner and was able to get us tons of bamboo and thatch. We also installed a sink, a freezer, and a small refrigerator. We wanted the bar to have a speakeasy vibe, so for the entrance, we cut a small door in the garage door. That’s the only entrance to the bar because we ended up bolting down the whole garage door.
I wanted the bar to be very dark with no bright white lights. We installed the lighting and used colored gels and dimmers to achieve the look we wanted. We were also lucky that the garage had high ceilings so the space feels bigger than it actually is. When we were putting the thatch on the ceiling, one of the staples in the middle came out and made it look like the thatch was bubbling. We thought it looked cool and ended up doing it to the rest of the ceiling. It reminds of what the inside of a hut would look like after a heavy storm.
After we finished the ceiling, we started decorating the bar with all our art and mugs. We got our favorite and most expensive piece at Tiki Oasis 2013. It was the Voodoo Witch Doctor by Adam “Kreature Kid” Dougherty: an awesome highly-detailed latex piece standing at over 5 feet tall. It’s a witch doctor holding up a shrunken head. We ended up naming him Juju and gave him his own corner and a wall of shrunken head art.
We had our very first party in December of 2013. We usually only invite people we know or if one of the regulars or someone who has been there before vouches for you. We like playing up the whole speakeasy aspect.
What is your favorite Tiki drink? What do you think makes the perfect cocktail?
Jorge– My favorite drink is the Navy Grog. I prefer tart, strong drinks over sweet ones. The perfect cocktail to me has to have great balance. To paraphrase Mr. Miyagi: “Balance good, drink good. Everything good.”
What is your favorite Tiki bar, not including your own?
Jorge– Tiki Ti is our favorite bar. It’s our home away from home and it really feels like home when we go. We have met so many great people there and made many new great friends. Tiki Ti is also the first Tiki bar my wife and I started going to regularly. I love the place so much I had Tiki Ti tattooed on my arm. Even when I’m not drinking, I still go to the TI for a club soda and lime.
Do you feel that music has an important role in creating a great Tiki experience?
Jorge– I feel music is very important in creating the complete Tiki experience. At our bar, we like playing a mix of surf, lounge, exotica, ’50s and ’60s rock ‘n’ roll, and R & B. When we first started doing parties in the bar, we would set up turntables and let people spin their records. I don’t like playing anything modern because I think it just sucks you out of the mood we’re trying to create.
What does the future hold for you and Frankie’s Tiki Oasis?
Jorge– We keep saying we’re done with FTO and we’re not going to invest any more money into it, but then we find cool stuff and end up buying it anyway. We do hope to change the flooring this year. Other than that, no big changes, just continue throwing parties and having new people over so they can experience FTO.
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