The Turkeymingo Club.
What a mysterious name for a Tiki bar, right? But the mystery doesn’t end there! There are hidden ducks and other treasures to be found in Kristy and Miguel’s Tiki escape. How did the Turkeymingo Club came to be? It started with a man learning how to make cocktails…
What’s the Tiki scene like in Portland?
Miguel- In Portland, we have beautiful spaces such as the Alibi and Hale Pele that provide a perfect blend of old-school vs. modern Tiki. In addition, there are a lot of hidden gems, many of which you can find on critiki.com throughout the city. I even found a random Tiki fifteen feet high on a telephone pole just a few blocks from our house!
What brought you into the “Tiki lifestyle” and how long has it been part of your life?
Miguel-The cocktails and history of Tiki is what first got me into the Tiki scene. My wife (a wonderful chef) kindly asked that I start pulling my weight around the house, so she put me to work making cocktails (harsh!), which I’d never been interested in. From there, I began to explore. When I discovered Tiki, it was a whirlwind experience. Hundreds of dollars, several Tiki mugs, and dozens of bottles later, I found myself fully immersed.
What made you decide to build your own Tiki bar? Any story behind the name?
Miguel- When we moved to Portland last summer, I knew that I wanted to build a bar. My wife and I were first skeptical of making something Tiki-centric, because we thought having a Negroni in our Tiki bar would feel odd. But after a lot of planning and many iterations on what we could convert our garage into, we finally decided that we wanted to make the Tiki theme happen.
The name of our bar, the Turkeymingo Club, has a long, long history filled with jet pilots, lost lovers, and nightclubs after the Great War. Or maybe it had to do with a White Elephant gift exchange a few years ago. Swing by the bar and we’ll let you be the judge.
Can you give a little history of how your bar all came together?
Miguel- I come from a thrifty and handy family, but hadn’t done any major projects on my own before. Thankfully, winters in Portland are so rainy and gray that confining myself to a garage for weekends at a time made it possible to take on this project. In total, it took me about five months of weekend work to complete. I started off by building a bike shed to move all of our bikes into, then I just tore down all of the existing walls and cabinets so that we could insulate and re-wall the inside as well as replace the crappy Plexiglass window situation.
The vibe we were going for was “a cabin in the woods meets a Tiki shack,” so we used some thin plywood for the walls, which were then distressed, burned, and whitewashed. I found a fun window with etchings for $20 at ReStore. Our bar also has a gym set up (earn your booze!), so I had to set this up to get it out of the way before the real fun began. Once I had walls to work with, it was time to create the BAR. I constructed the frame of the front and back bar with 2x4s that were again burned and stained. My wife had some connections to get a ton of weathered gray wood on the cheap, so I used this wood to make the “floating” shelves for the booze as well as the shelving in the frames of the bar.
Throughout this whole process, my wife and I had been collecting furniture on Craigslist, Lounge Lizard, as well as on random getaways to Bend, etc., until basically our spare bedroom was filled with stuff that was going in to the bar. I think the biggest relief for both of us is that we got it all to fit in an organized way into our garage bar and we’re very happy with how it all turned out.
What is your favorite Tiki drink? Why?
Miguel- Mai Tai. Trader Vic knew what he was doing when he created this (regardless of whether or not he stole it from Donn). Also, it was the first drink I had at Hale Pele that blew my mind. From then on, I have been on a mission to recreate what I find to be the perfect balance of tart, funk, and depth. The fun part is, there are a lot of interchangeable parts for this cocktail which leads to endless (delicious) tinkering.
What is your favorite Tiki bar, not including your own?
Miguel- Hale Pele. Hands down. It was where I had my first real Tiki bar experience and I still remember the sense of wonder and excitement that it brought. The drinks kept me coming back again and again until I’d had them all. Now I’m working on their rum list. Also, the team at Hale Pele is top-notch and always doing a tremendous job. This is why I’m happy to call this place my “go-to” bar in Portland.
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?
Miguel- The truest Tiki experience covers all the senses. It smells like rum, cinnamon, and fire. It tastes like the best damn drink you could think of. It looks like an oasis for the Tiki gods. It feels like you’ve time warped to another era or another place. And it sounds like Les Baxter. Well, that’s how I imagine it, but I have much work to do on my knowledge of music in Tiki.
What does the future hold for you and your home Tiki bar?
Miguel- I met a fellow home Tiki bar owner while at Tiki Kon, Keith Hart, and he has on multiple occasions tried to convince me to get on the Tiki Kon home bar tour for next year. And I think we shall!
Anything else you would like to add?
Miguel- All are welcome, just look for the pineapple on the garage door.
I’d like to thank Sveinn Kjartansson for his fine photographs used for this post.
Here is Sveinn’s website
And Facebook page.