Category: Tiki Month 2016
Tiki Month 2016

Aloha All, for Another Year

[caption id="attachment_11116" align="aligncenter" width="380"]Repurposed from Corey Tilley's Vine Repurposed from
Corey Tilley's Vine[/caption] Aloha, y'all! March comes in this year with a glorious hangover after one final, Leap Day Tiki experimentation party. Thanks to all who came to this blog and read about what I learned this year. And thanks to all who came and visited me in real life, and experienced what I learned this year. This year's Tiki Month confirmed the initial thesis I formed to start things out this Tiki Month. The modern flowering of Tiki culture and mixology has moved beyond a mere rediscovery of the decades-old lifestyles of our parents and grandparents, and is producing magnificent new ideas, recipes, and entertainments that expand the breadth of What is Tiki, while remaining true to the genre's original vibe. While remaining boutique in scale, compared to the mass appeal of the original Tiki era, the modern Tiki resurgence is growing nicely, with new bars opening all the time, and may well prove to be as durable as the overall modern cocktail renaissance. The mainstream Craft movement has brought a lot of new ideas and ingredients to the Tiki dugout. I tried many, and blogged several, Tiki drinks that use such spirits as Rye, Aperol, and Calvados to wonderful Tiki effect. Likewise, Tiki drinks are now to be found all over the place, proudly produced in all their over-the-top glory in sleek, modern craft lounges. You can enjoy your faux-Polynesian Three Dots and a Dash in your faux-Prohibition speakeasy. And Rum is everywhere now. The mainstream spirits world has awakened to the fact that it is a category filled with magnificent, high-end expressions, and possessing a variety and thus versatility that dwarfs that of other categories. I believe the steady resurgence of Tiki and Tiki-inspired drinks has much to do with this rise. Rum is experiencing some teething pains as it moves out of the basement and into the light, but that is further evidence of how important it is becoming to the industry. Tiki Month gets easier and more entertaining every year. But now it is time for Gin. abc
Mixology Monday
Rule 2
Tiki Month 2016

What Mixology Monday Has to Offer Tiki Month

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image="8037" img_size="full" alignment="center" style="vc_box_shadow_border_circle_2" onclick="custom_link" img_link_target="_blank" css_animation="bottom-to-top" link=""][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]In past Tiki Months, I either hosted the event myself, in a transparent attempt to generate a lot of extra Tiki content from the rest of the blogosphere, or did a secondary roundup of the Tiki representation in whatever theme was hosted elsewhere. This year's theme was Spring Break, which host Joel DiPippa at Southern Ash chose in part to chum the water for Tiki content as well. Bless his useful heart. The Tiki content that resulted from this was impressive. Almost all of the drinks offered could plausibly be considered Tiki Compliant, and a great many claim the mantle of Tiki outright. Instead of running them all down this time, especially since there is no way I have time to make a tenth of them, I thought I'd try out some of the new, high-tech features of this blog's new theme and see how I could showcase a bunch of links to the most Tiki Month-appropriate of the entries....[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row gap="10" equal_height="yes" content_placement="top"][vc_column width="1/3"][vc_single_image image="11091" img_size="full" alignment="center" style="vc_box_shadow_3d" onclick="custom_link" img_link_target="_blank" css_animation="left-to-right" link=""][vc_column_text]

Between Scylla and Charybdis

Southern Ash Blog
Rums, spices, citrus, and a fascinating blood orange falernum thingy.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image="11103" img_size="full" alignment="center" style="vc_box_shadow_3d" onclick="custom_link" img_link_target="_blank" css_animation="left-to-right" link=""][vc_column_text]

Idle Idyll

A heavier, darker, mango-y Missionary's Downfall.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/3"][vc_single_image image="11092" img_size="full" alignment="center" style="vc_box_shadow_3d" onclick="custom_link" img_link_target="_blank" css_animation="top-to-bottom" link=""][vc_column_text]

Queen of the Lava Beds

Cocktail Virgin Slut
Includes Pisco, falernum, absinthe, flame, and is built for Two.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image="11104" img_size="full" alignment="center" style="vc_box_shadow_3d" onclick="custom_link" img_link_target="_blank" css_animation="appear" link=""][vc_column_text]

Violet Kai

A big Tiki-style Daiquiri with Creme de Violette for special effects. And a factoid I did not know: Don the Beachcomber was born during Tiki Month![/vc_column_text][vc_separator color="black" border_width="2" css=".vc_custom_1456701854310{margin-top: 7px !important;margin-bottom: 7px !important;}"][vc_column_text]And of course, my own humble entry...[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image="11016" img_size="full" alignment="center" style="vc_box_shadow_3d" onclick="custom_link" img_link_target="_blank" css_animation="top-to-bottom" link=""][vc_column_text]

Rickey's Gin Dugout

The Pegu Blog
An attempt to meld the ultra-clean, refreshing Gin Rickey with a spicy Tiki undertone.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/3"][vc_single_image image="11096" img_size="full" alignment="center" style="vc_box_shadow_3d" onclick="custom_link" img_link_target="_blank" css_animation="right-to-left" link=""][vc_column_text]

Ginger Pilot

Drink Something Completely Different
A Jet Pilot with cachaça and mezcal.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image="11105" img_size="full" alignment="center" style="vc_box_shadow_3d" onclick="custom_link" img_link_target="_blank" css_animation="right-to-left" link=""][vc_column_text]

Pistachio Planter's

Kitchen Shamanism
Don's Spice #2, demerara, and... Swedish pistachio rum?[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]There you have it! A bunch of new Tiki offerings to try. There's is only a day or so left of Tiki Month left, sad to say, so get with the program![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]abc
Tiki Month 2016
Rule 2

Fred Yarm, and the Mainstreaming of Modern Tiki

[caption id="attachment_11080" align="aligncenter" width="2000"]Fred Yarm Source—Eater Fred Yarm
Source—Eater[/caption] I call Fred Yarm (Cocktail Virgin Slut), The Hardest Working Man in Cocktail Blogness™, and if you disagree with me that he is the absolute king of cocktail blogging, I'll fight you. (Well, I won't fight you! But that other girl... looks like I could take her!) There are other bloggers who may get more hits, when they stumble around to actually posting (cough, Morganthaler, cough) but Fred produces quality content, day after day, month after month, and has done so, steadily, for years. In addition, he has taken over guidance for Mixology Monday, which keeps the blood flowing in the cocktailosphere. He is a treasure to the sometimes struggling world of cocktail blogging, so raise a glass, will you? I admit it seems a bit odd, even to me, that I am writing about Fred during Tiki Month. From his earliest days blogging, I always cataloged him in my mind as a "brown, bitter, and stirred" kinda guy. And that was true... to an extent. What makes Fred such a valuable resource for cocktail types in general is that he doesn't really make editorial decisions about what he blogs. He, for the most part, blogs what he drinks. Now sure, he decides from drink to drink what to have and to write about, but he chooses from what is out there in the vibrant, mainstream craft cocktail scene of Boston, and as I said, he blogs a lot... in statistically significant amounts. In aggregate, Cocktail Virgin Slut is a history of where the cocktail scene has gone, and where it is going. If you see Fred increasingly blogging about something, you can be sure it is a coming thing in the national cocktail movement. And what Fred has been blogging more and more in the last few years is Tiki drinks. Just so far this young year, Fred has written up at least seven certifiable Tiki drinks (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7), with at least six more that are at a minimum Tiki Compliant (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 is there, can you find it?). Are there more? As I said, Fred blogs a lot. This trend in Fred's blogging kind of snuck up on me, and I didn't really twig to it until I was preparing for this year's Tiki Month. I actually gave thought to just throwing up my hands and re-blogging Cocktail Virgin as this year's theme. There were all manner of lame virgiin/volcano jokes in my mind. You are all quite welcome that I had a cup of tea and a lie down until the thought went away. But I have borrowed several of Fred's finds this month, either to blog to to serve guests. [caption id="attachment_11081" align="aligncenter" width="700"] Fred's first book, Drink & Tell. Unlike scores of other blog-inspired book authors, he's produced a mass of good content on his same blog since.[/caption] My main point to this post is that Fred is exhibit A among the evidence for what I've been talking about with the modern Tiki movement.
  1. Tiki drinks are coming back into favor with mainstream drinkers big time.
  2. Those Tiki drinks can increasingly be found happily being served in full Tiki style right alongside the Vieux Carrés and Negronis of "traditional" craft cocktails
Now, some people might lament that even a great Tiki drink is a little diminished when it is served in some Prohibition-themed speakeasy-style joint. And perhaps you do not get the full experience in that circumstance. But you still are exposed to the greatness of this style of mixed drink, and may well want to seek out one of the true modern Tiki dens that are flourishing around the country. Tiki is back. Fred Yarm is proof. Let's all make sure it stays true to what it is, and doesn't slide back into obscurity
Tiki Month 2016
Rule 4
Rule 2

On What is “Properly” Tiki

[caption id="attachment_11067" align="aligncenter" width="1500"]One of these things is not like the other.... One of these things is not like the other....[/caption] At least once every Tiki Month, I try to write something about the underlying nature of Tiki. The question of if something is Tiki, and what makes it so; be it attire, decor, or beverage, is a source of fascination for the student of the genre. Even better, it is a source of controversy. I've gotten into the Tiki weeds with a lot of Tikiphiles, amateur and professional alike, and it is impossible to find two who agree on everything... and nearly impossible to find three who all agree on anything. In the drinks world, any topic that you can't easily have a good argument about while consuming the subject matter isn't really worth the time. So my argument this year is based on a piece by Humuhumu from back in November that I have been saving until now to talk about. For mainstream readers who may not know her, it is tough to make out whether Humuhumu runs some of the essential internet Tiki resources, or if it's better to say that she is the essential internet Tiki resource. Her sites are Ooga-Mooga, the best place on Earth to learn about ceramics and other Tiki drinking vessels, and Critiki, the Yelp of the Tiki world—minus the culture of horrible people infesting the reviews. She also writes quite a bit about Tiki herself, and went on a tear at the end of last year about the difference between Tiki and Tropical. The best bit of this for my purposes is What is a Tiki Drink? Part of me wishes that I'd had access to this post early on in my Tiki explorations, as it neatly identifies the essential essence of Tiki in eloquent fashion. But I'm also glad I didn't have a chance to read it when I started out, because I think it misses certain subtleties that are critical to why Tiki works. Her contention is that the origin of a drink is the critical factor in knowing whether it is a Tiki drink or not. Tiki drinks, she believes, can only be Tiki drinks if they were created to be served in a Tiki environment.
Tiki drinks are not merely drinks you find on a menu at a tiki bar. By that standard, a Brandy Alexander would count, you see those on old tiki bar menus all the time. Tiki drinks are tropical drinks that were born in a tiki bar. Drinks that were created with an eye to the role they would play in this theater, the immersive, transporting world of the Polynesian themed establishment. ... When we lump other tropical drinks under the “tiki” label—drinks that were not created in or for mainland America’s faux Polynesia, drinks born in totally different circumstances, for different audiences, to play different roles—we dilute the story of tiki, and worse yet, we strip these other tropical drinks of their true provenance.
This is all true, as far as it goes, but I think it is unnecessarily didactic and limiting, especially for a movement with the specific characteristics of Tiki. The phrase that I have settled on in my Tiki explorations to encapsulate the nature of Tiki is "gloriously inauthentic". It is important to remember that there are precisely zero authentic Polynesian elements in Tiki. The music is an agglomeration of disparate western genre music. The drinks are Caribbean in heritage, style, and (for the most part) ingredients. The closest Tiki comes to authentic is in bamboo building materials and carved wooden idols. But the tikis are cartoons of authentic aboriginal icons, and 99% of all the bamboo in any commercial or home Tiki bar is a veneer over steel or American white pine 2x4s. Simply, a drink is a Tiki drink if it is plausibly believable as such. Does it possess that elusive, exotic blend of flavors that is characteristic of Tiki drinks? Can it be properly presented as a Tiki drink, icy and/or frothy, and garnished in elaborate tropical style? If you can answer both "yes", I say that it's a Tiki Drink. Let's look at some illustrative drinks, some drawn from Humuhumu's post. Manhattan. No way, no how a Tiki drink. This is an obvios gimme to start this off, and to demonstrate that there are rafts of drinks that are not open to debate. The Manhattan's flavor profile is all spirit, a Tiki no no. Plopping a pineapple leaf or orchid garnish would be about as welcome as inviting Donald Trump to a La Raza fund-raiser. And the slightest hint of ice shards or aeration in a Manhattan is enough to give people like me an aneurysm. Dark 'n' Stormy. One of Humuhumu's examples, and I agree with her. It's not a Tiki drink, but because it doesn't taste like one. And you can garnish the heck out of it, but a properly made one will still not look like a Tiki drink. Jungle Bird. Another of Humuhumu's examples, and she's dead wrong about it. The Jungle Bird is indeed not an invention of an American Tiki bar, but it's origins make it more of an authentic South Pacific creation than 99% of Tiki drinks. Besides, authenticity doesn't matter, remember? A Jungle Bird tastes inarguably but ill-definedly "Tiki", as any good Tiki drink should. It looks, in most classic interpretations, like a Tiki drink. And while the Jungle Bird doesn't have to be dressed up for Tiki, and has a considerable following in classic mainstream bars (I had my first at Attaboy, as un-Tiki a bar as exists), it is not just a Tiki drink, it is a modern Tiki staple. It has been adopted fully into the family, so to speak. Attempting to deny that an adoptee is nonetheless a true child leads only to heartbreak and Ragnarok. Queen's Park Hotel Super Cocktail. This example of mine fails all Humuhumu's tests. It is from outside the continental US, it predates the opening of Don the Beachcomber, and it possesses no Polynesian pretensions. But come on. It is just this sort of drink, if not quite possibly one of the actual drinks, that Ernest Gantt modeled his life's work after. It may not have been created for the glorious faux-Polynesian grottos of the mid 20-th century, but it is truly at home there. I understand Humuhumu's desire to keep the idea of "Tropical" and "Tiki" distinct. Let's look at her first example, the Piña Colada, a tropical "classic". It looks and sounds for all the world like a Tiki drink, but it sure as hell is not. Its bland profile and goopy consistency are not remotely Tiki. Its decade of popularization, the 1970s, is the beginning of Tiki senescence. The Piña Colada is perfectly suited to a decade where everyone drank this kind of drink to keep their energy levels up and their cocaine jitters under control, rather than to appreciate anything about the drink itself. I agree wholeheartedly with Humuhumu that we would do well to maintain a distinction between Tiki and Tropical. It protects consumer's perceptions and connoisseurs' taste buds. But let's base the distinction on what is in and on the glass, and what it does for the drinker, rather than arbitrary distinctions of origin. Give Leonard Da Vinci a time machine and a $10,000 gift card for Blick's and see what you get... Update: I likely won't have time to link this before Tiki Month is over, but I cannot more heartily endorse any bar business post more that this one of Humuhumu's about televisions in Tiki bars. abc
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