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 Field Report #3 Hale Pele Portland OR 3/11/16

Rob Marlon Andrew and Ray at Hale Pele
Rob Marlon Andrew and Ray at Hale Pele

I live in Seattle. What I love about living in the Pacific Northwest is that two really cool cities are only a couple hours away. One of these is Vancouver, BC and the other is Portland, OR. I had a free weekend, so I went down to Portland to get together with my buddy Rob and hit Hale Pele!

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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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Punk Rock Tiki Bars and why they are cool with me!

Ramones Album and Tiki Mug
Ramones Album and Tiki Mug

When you start getting into Tiki bars you realize quickly that not all Tiki bars are created equal. There are different ways you can go with a Tiki theme. I’m mostly into the traditional Tiki bar. I like Tiki bars that provide an escape and create a mood of relaxation…

Hale Pele from the back view
Hale Pele from the back view

Then there is the punk rock Tiki bar, which creates neither of these things, but that’s not a bad thing!

Ray Pete and Byron at The Lava Lounge Seatle WA
Ray Pete and Byron at The Lava Lounge Seatle WA

So what makes a Tiki bar a punk rock Tiki bar? More importantly, why are they still cool even though they go against everything that makes a traditional Tiki bar so great?

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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 Field Report #2 Tacoma Cabana, Tacoma, WA 2/19/16

Jason Alexander and Ray at Tacoma Cabana
Jason Alexander and Ray at Tacoma Cabana

When you have a friend come into Seattle from the East Coast and he likes Tiki bars, there is one place you have to take him. Sadly, that place is not in Seattle but in Tacoma! It’s the Tacoma Cabana, to be exact. Tacoma is about 45 minutes south of Seattle (with no traffic). For a bar to worth such a drive, it must be good!

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Low-Carb Italian Soda, Tiki Style!

Low Carb Italian Soda
Low Carb Italian Soda

So right off the bat, I know that an Italian soda isn’t really a Tiki drink. However, depending on what syrup you use, it totally could be! There isn’t any alcohol in an Italian soda, so this would be great for non-drinkers or even kids. This is a really simple drink to make and it tastes better than you can imagine! Let’s begin…

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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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