Category: Kahiki
Tiki Month 2011

The Port Light Cocktail, a Columbus Tiki Contribution

Port Light cocktail from the Kahiki in Columbus Ohio My recent post about the demolition of the Kahiki Supper Club got me to wondering about what contributions, if any, Columbus and the Kahiki had made to the Tiki drink oeuvre. Fortunately, when you wonder things about Tiki, the path to answers is fairly simple....
Google it?
No, silly sockpuppet. Beach Bum Berry it. For a guy who calls himself a bum, he's put a bit of work into researching the whole Tiki thing. Remixed has not one, but two drinks we owe to those who toiled at the Kahiki in its heyday. The one I want to talk about is the Port Light, a child of Sandro Conti from 1961. The Port Light is that relative rarity among Tiki drinks, a whiskey-based one. The recipe calls for bourbon, but since I was working on my Crown Royal Black review at the same time, I decided it would be a good way to test the Tiki suitability of the brand.
Canadian whisky for Tiki drinks? Globally, doesn't that miss by, um, all the way?
Hey, the original recipes for this supposedly South Pacific movement came from the Caribbean, which misses by, um, most of the way. So I fail to see why I should expect geographical consistency to be any more of a hobgoblin of the Tiki mind than any other kind.
True, the mind of Tiki is indeed gloriously free of any consistency hobgoblins.
Exactly. Now, a lot of Canadian whiskys are so gentle that they might well become lost among the wildly varied flavors of Tiki-style cocktails. But since Black was specifically designed to hit the Bourbon dance and not be a wallflower, I figured it would be up to the challenge. Here's the recipe (substitute bourbon for the Black if you want the original):
  • 1 oz. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. passion fruit syrup*
  • 1/4 oz. home made grenadine
  • 1 1/2 oz. Crown Royal Black
  • 5 oz ice
Combine in a blender and flash blend for about five seconds, until you have a chunky slush consistency. Pour into the glass of your choice and add ice if needed for fit. (The original recipe calls for a full cup of ice, but that seems like too much to me.)
The resulting drink is one of the more refreshing whisky based drinks I've tried, Tiki or otherwise. In fact, I've marked the recipe for reuse this Summer when things get sticky. It is not as perfectly balanced as some recipes. I think this is because from a texture standpoint, I just don't want to use so much ice. And as I learned earlier this month, the amount of ice you use in a blender drink can seriously affect the balance. Still, perfectly balanced or not, it's perfectly tasty. The flavors go so nicely together, I'm surprised that there aren't more passion fruit and whiskey recipes. Next time round, I'll up the grenadine or simply hit it with a quarter ounce of simple syrup. Or a few of you could make the effort and report back here. I've got other drinks to make this month, you know! Regardless of your deification to helping me with my research, I suggest you give this drink a try. It's well worth it. * I've been specifying Trader Tiki's syrups this month for most everything he makes, but the passion fruit syrup is one I don't have. abc
Tiki Month 2011

The Kahiki

Kahiki Supper Club Columbus Exterior View Each year during Tiki Month, I reflect on one of my real cocktail-related regrets: That I never visited the Kahiki Supper Club here in Columbus while it was still open. The Kahiki was a massive, and I mean massive, Tiki palace. I've never heard of a Tiki-themed restaurant that was larger. Inside the massive building you see pictured above, were something like six smaller thatched buildings housing various bars and dining rooms. Surrounding these were a lagoon, a rain forest, and an eighty foot high fireplace. The Kahiki survived far longer than the original age of Tiki (2000), succumbing finally not to abandonment by its customers, but to a need by the owners to divert capital to their frozen food business, which still thrives today. The Kahiki food in its early days got the laughing reputation around Columbus as the only place where the food could kill you, served as it was on sharp swords and spears with lots of open flames on the table. I've eaten the grocery store product they have now, and it isn't half bad. I worte this post to direct you to the Kahiki's website, where they have an incredible, vintage video of the Kahiki that gives an idea of what the experience was like. I curse them for not making it embedable, so you'll just have to follow this link, then click on "Kahiki Supper Club Video" right below the picture of the grand old palace. It's a pain, I know, but it's worth it if you have any Tiki in your soul. I do have one video I can embed. When the place was finally torn down (to make room for a CVS Pharmacy!) Much of the decor was salvaged. To get an idea of the scale of the place, check out this clip of the massive fireplace being removed: UPDATE: Mike Monello, who posted the YouTube video above has dropped by in the comments, and provided a link there to his Flickr page with lots of stills of the demolition! Thanks, Mike!abc
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