For a relationship to work, you need to have things in common. For Gen and Jim, their common interest is Tiki. Their love of Tiki Pop snowballed into one of the coolest Mid-Century home Tiki bars I’ve seen! Their place is called the Lime Lounge and it’s hidden in Gen and Jim’s apartment in Montreal, Canada. Here is their story…
What brought you into the “Tiki lifestyle” and how long has it been part of your life?
Gen: Even when I was little, I was always drawn to restaurants or places that had that exotic vibe to them. My favorite Chinese buffet had a regular dining room on one side and the decked-out Tiki side. I always wanted to go on the Tiki side! I’ve been more serious about collecting and seeking Tiki since about 10-15 years ago.
Jim: I’d have to say that my first bit of Tiki “intrigue” was about 30 years ago when I had my first Suffering Bastard at a Chinese restaurant back in my hometown. I was easily taken in by the fancy mug it got served in as well as the cool name! I didn’t really pursue Tiki much after that, but was always subconsciously curious about it. It wasn’t until I met Gen that my interest resurfaced. When I saw how much she was into it, I was hooked.
What made you decide to build your own Tiki bar?
Since Montreal lost the last of its Tiki bars/restaurants almost 2 years ago now, there wasn’t any place to go up until a couple of weeks ago! But seriously, we love to have people over and entertain, so having our own bar just made sense.
Can you give a little history of how it all came together?
We started our bar in our last apartment around 2012. After changing apartments 2 years ago, we started really putting more effort into getting our bar up to speed. Since we’re in an apartment, we can’t go “all out” like we’d like to, but we have to admit that we’ve done a pretty good job!
What really kicked us into gear was when we found an awesome bar with stools for sale in a neighborhood antique store. We snatched it up and started to build around it. We wanted to lower the ceiling to make the space more cozier, so we built a suspended bamboo frame and a little thatch roof.
It takes up about half our living room and it keeps growing! We add stuff bit by bit as we come across the perfect items. We also recently built a little shelving unit for some mugs we got in our trip to California last summer. We, as probably everybody here, seek Tiki in all our travels, so that’s where we get our inspiration from.
We have some nice pieces of art in there from a few artists like El Gato Gomez, Shag, and Witco (our latest mega score!). We know we still have plenty of space on the walls and we’re always on the lookout for the next perfect item.
We use the bar area fairly often, especially when we have guests over. We then put on the tunes and let the spirits flow!
What is your favorite Tiki drink? Why?
Gen: I always thought, up until recently, that my favorite drink was the classic Mai Tai, but a visit to Tonga Hut in North Hollywood changed my mind when I had a Honi Honi (whisky-based Mai Tai). I fell in love! I also love it with rye: so many possibilities! There are so many excellent Tiki cocktails, it’s hard to pick just one!
Jim: I’ve always been partial to Navy Grogs, but only because the balance of the sweetness of the honey and the bitterness of the lime and grapefruit juice. It offers a complete cocktail experience. Served with an ice cone, it stands out with the visuals.
What is your favorite Tiki bar (not including your own)?
We would have to say the Mai Kai, hands down. You can have the complete, perfect experience there.
Outside of great drinks, what do you think are essential elements in creating the perfect Tiki environment?
Lighting is a big one. A great place that serve the perfect cocktails, plays the right music, and looks decent will be a turn off if it’s not lit properly. Nothing should be harsh. It’s all about creating ambiances. Another big no-no is when you can see too much of the outside world. It should be about escaping from it!
Do you feel that music has an important role in creating a great Tiki experience? What would be some of your favorite artists and albums?
Music is a vital part of the Tiki experience! It’s always a good idea to go with music that helps set the overall tone and vibe, so lots of exotica, Hawaiian, and surf. You can’t go wrong with Les Baxter, Martin Denny, and/or some laid back traditional music from the Hawaiian Islands.
What does the future hold for you and the Lime Lounge?
We consider our Tiki bar to be in a perpetual state of development and it’ll never be “finished,” per se. Amongst the many plans we have for this space, we’re thinking of covering some walls with a collage of different menus (copies of) we acquired during our travels. The tricky part is to keep it all “temporary,” since we rent the place.