The last time my good buddy Matt flew in from the East Coast, we headed south to Tacoma to visit one of his favorite Tiki Bars, Tacoma Cabana (click here to read all about it). As always when enjoying the brilliant concoctions of mixologist Jason Alexander, the drinks flowed late into that beautiful evening.
Naturally after a late night, caffeine was in order the following morning. Because Matt is as much a fan of a “damn good cup of coffee” as he is a finely crafted cocktail—and because I like to keep things local—we paid a visit to Pete’s Coffee. This is Seattle after all!
Like clockwork, coffee conversations turned to the subject of music and we were discussing one of our mutual favorites: surf rock by way of St. Petersburg, Russia, the Messer Chups. They were scheduled to play this year’s Tiki Oasis in San Diego. Sadly, neither of us would be in attendance to catch their show. Matt mentioned an old friend of his living in the San Diego area, Raul, who would likely be there. Matt knew Raul from the New York City area music scene where they shared a common interest and friends in the noise/experimental/industrial scene. At first, I was surprised that someone into that kind of music would be into the Tiki culture. Matt went on to explain Raul’s involvement in the Church of Satan, which I honestly knew nothing about, let alone that there was a Tiki/Satanist connection. I wondered how Raul got into Tiki. Were there other Satanists into Tiki and is there a connection between these lifestyles?
Needless to say, my interest in these crossovers meant I had plenty more questions for Raul. Matt suggested that I simply ask him myself. That’s exactly what I did. Not only did Raul answer my questions, he passed them along to Peggy Nadramia and she gave her answers as well. Peggy is the High Priestess of the Church Of Satan, she also has her own blog about mixed drinks called Cocktail Vultures!
There has always been a connection between Asian culture and Tiki. Food served at Tiki restaurants back in the day was pretty much Chinese food. (Shhh! Don’t tell anyone!) If you step up to the bar inside a Chinese restaurant, don’t be surprised to find some Tiki drinks on the menu. Jeffrey has a love for both Chinese and Tiki cultures. So Jeffrey and his partner Erik created a bar in their home that combines both. It’s called Shangri-La 66…
The San Fernando Valley has many names. Some people refer to it as “the Valley.” Others may call it “North Hollywood.” The “No” in Tiki No is a reference to North Hollywood. The Valley has the oldest Tiki bar in So-Cal, which is the Tonga Hut. Now the Valley has the newest one with Tiki No. Visiting two great Tiki bars is totally worth the trip to North Hollywood!
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.
The late ’80s/early ’90s was a great time for music and no, I’m not talking about grunge! There started to be a renewed interest in music from the Mid-Century, music like jazz, swing, exotica, surf, and lounge. It was mostly punk and alternative types that re-discovered all this great music and leather jackets and boots were replaced with suits and skinny ties.
Russell Scheidelman is one of these punks who got turned on to this great music from the ’60s and went head-on into the Seattle lounge scene. Russell is one sharped-dressed man who channels Andy Warhol and John Steed from the Avengers.
The Tonga Hut is a Tiki bar that turned into a dive bar, then turned into a Tiki bar again. It’s the oldest Tiki bar in Los Angeles, opening for business in 1958. Tiki was very popular back in the ’50s, but by the time the late ’60s rolled around, people had moved on to other things like polyester pants and underpowered automobiles.