I have always believed that the Mystery Drink was created at the Mai Kai and copied by the Kahiki. I had wondered why my early Mai Kai drink menu copyrighted 1957 did not have it in the list. I knew it came later. In fact, I was told this last weekend at Hukilau that it was first served in 1962.
The Kahiki opened in 1961. The oldest menu I have from there has the Mystery Drink on it. The bowl it shows on that menu is exceedingly rare. That bowl shows up in a few pictures of celebrities at the Kahiki from those early days. But for the Kahiki to copy the Mystery Drink, it would have to come at the very earliest, in 1962. More likely even later.
If there are images from their opening showing the Mystery Drink, dated 1961, then the invention of this classic height of Poly Pop is now in doubt. I will search out my own archives later for the photographic evidence. Post your pics if you have it already before you.
UPDATE: The Kahiki ran an insert in the newspaper on September 24th, 1961, with an image of the Msytery Bowl, and mentions the Mystery drink and where the Mystery Bowl was made. That stamps a clear date on the Kahiki Mystery Drink as 1961. If the Mai Kai served the first Msytery Drink in 1962, they were copying the Kahiki.
Does anyone have more proof on the Mai Kai doing a Msytery Drink before 1961?
UPDATE 7-23-07: Kern Mattei, GM of the Mai Kai says the Mystery Drink was announced in their “Happy Talk” newsletter. If you are in possession of a pre 1961 “Happy Talk,” please check it for mention of the drink and report the facts!
UPDATE 7-30-07: I asked Mimi Payne, who runs Arkiva Tropika to look through her collection for a Happy Talk to try to prove this mystery. No luck on the Happy Talk, but, she did find in her collection that the Okole Maluna Club menu had the Mystery Drink on it, and was dated 1958. Sure, that’s not 100% factual, but, nobody is going to make up a date on something like that. I consider this proven. The Mai Kai invented the Mystery Drink. Proof. And far earlier than was thought.
I have been looking for this for years. Nice tiki, nice, um, gal.
This carving must be in the photographer’s home. This is all we get to see. A random prop. If this was a recent picture, I’d be inclided to say those are too perfect. They must be fake. I know they had boob jobs in the 60s. Regardless, that’s a pleasing set.
The magazine is full of that odd fetish for shockings, feet and rather oddly, girls in dirty white sneakers and stockings.
Tim Hollis has created several great books of vintage Americana, concentrating on the South. His latest offering is about the good old Smokie Mountains and the many vacation destinations in the time of automobile travel on highways. It should jog many memories.
He will be here in town at Carpe Librum book store on Wednesday, June 27th. I have added his books to my store here on Swank Pad.
Also appearing at:
MONDAY EVENING, JUNE 25 – Joseph Beth book store, Charlotte, NC
THURSDAY EVENING, JUNE 28 – Joseph Beth store, Lexington, KY
SATURDAY AFTERNOON, JUNE 30 – Joseph Beth store, Cincinnati, OH
I got this little menu on Ebay a while ago. I thought it was maybe just a mini ordering menu, perhaps for a luau or small event. This weekend at Hukilau, I found out what it was.
The “Big Bamboo” is of interest to this story.
Having the “Cobra’s Kiss” and “Deep Sea Diver” marked out I thought meant it was just not available at the time the menu was passed out. Not so.
The real answer came during Beachbum Berry’s talk. He had introduced Mai-Kai original mixologist, Mariano Licudine’s son to the crowd and had him come up to answer questions. He had been around the Mai-Kai since it was being built when he was a lad of twelve. His Dad had supervised every minute detail of the building of the bar.
He told about one of the recipes on the menu today which was a weakened version of the “Big Bamboo” recipe. The “Big Bamboo” was a drink you only got after you had worked your way through the “Okole Maluna Club”. This little menu was for that club. You got a drink marked off as you tried it and when you had tried all the drinks, you got a big bamboo mug of your own and got the “Big Bamboo” drink as a member of that club. That is why there is a “Cobra’s Kiss” marked off on this menu! That is what it is for and the drink is right there on the back! The only way to get the “Big Bamboo” was to try all these drinks.
So many great things come from Hukilau. I want to know more and more! He also said the origianl doors to the Mai-Kai looked like this and the original drink menu with the tikis on one door and “Mai Kai ” on the other, carved in Mohogany. Where are those doors now Kern?
I have not gotten Basement Kahuna to post here yet, but he has agreed to let me be the first to publish his cocktail recipes. Besides his great carving skills, he has a great pallette and has recreated some recipes from tasting them, like the Mai Kai’s “Black Magic,” as well as created new ones of his own.
But here is the catch. You don’t just get to see the recipes. They are now integrated into the Grogalizer. So, when you use the Grogalizer to find recipes to make, you will find a few extras that come from BK’s private recipe book…
As I gear up for the annual trek to Fort Liquordale and Hukilau, I start thinking about old friends I will see. One of them is Cybertiki. Dave and his wife are great folks and incredibly generous. His wife makes the lucious costumes the bar gals wear in the Molokai Lounge. She’ll make one for you too if you want. Look for them in the vendor area. He has a great collection of Mai Kai ephemera. He had started sharing some things a long time ago and I know most people who have not been around as lone as I have don’t know about it. So, I searched his site out and wanted to shine a spotlight on it. Especailly this 1966 Mai Kai calendar. Here is an image from it:
They had the remaining fabric that was used to make the aloha shirt Elvis wore in Blue Hawaii. Some lucky soul is wearing the last dress made of that fabric…
A few people have asked for it, so I am going to try to make it happen. I like the Google calendar and use it for my personal planning. It prints out real nice. I have started a public calendar of Tiki Events. Please email me if your event is not there or if you want more info to be added. This is just a short bit to get started so far:
This was a spectacular moment at Tiki Eyeball as Tiki Culture meets Kustom Car Culture. Torching a tiki after it is carved is normal. Adds a patina and burns off some splinters. No one ever did it like Kevin Moore before…
And here is video of Kevin showing his skills at torching his tires…