Who Invented the Mystery Drink? – Answered!

bowl.jpgI 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.

UPDATE 2017:  All the answers are in the book!

Kahiki Collection

Post Card

A postcard of dinner at the Kahiki. Are you sure it’s the Kahiki? Why, yes, it says so right on the pig!


But to a collector, this is a laundry list of things to strive for.



Penang #1 Drink mug – Paul Marshal “Peanut” mug. Unmarked, these are very common.

Port Light


Starboard Light glass by Imperial Glass Company, used by many Polynesian places.



Native Nectar – Coconut mug – Marked on the bottom

salt and pepper

Salt and Pepper shakers – there were at least 5 types used at the Kahiki  – usually marked and not too hard to find


Necklace? Often hard to find, they are being seen more often. Marked.

kahiki necklace


Silverware, marked Kahiki

kahiki forks


kahiki knife

kahiki spoons



Mystery Blossom drink glass – The “Martiki” in saucer form by Morgantown – unmarked


Malayan Mist drink glass – unmarked


Chairs -generally found in Columbus, but likely all long gone


Tables – many in use at the Tropical Bistro



Ashtrays – sometimes marked


Sauce jar, lidded and marked




Menus – there are at least 3 types of drink menus out there. This looks like the 1961 version in the postcard. Later version above.

Idol’s Cast

Idol’s Cast bowl by Hoffman Pottery – two varieties (or more)



Lamps – by HiTiki? – several types



Zombie glass holder – extremely rare


 What do you collect? Me, I have a postcard or two, and a menu or two, and a mug or two…

Every piece brings more clues.

Kahiki – Lush Life

Kahiki Life Detail of a Kahiki postcard. Man, that’s the life.

Kahiki lives!

If there is a bigger fan of the Kahiki than tiki skip, I don’t know them. There are a couple of collectors I see spending money on Ebay, but skip has a huge advantage because he is in Columbus and has had a good relationship with the owners of the Kahiki and all those surrounding it since forever. His home is absolutely the bees knees of tiki and mid-century collectables and Kahiki stuff beyond everything else. The lamps alone would fill any 5 home tiki bars! So it is perfect and amazing that he got hold of this ultimate Kahiki item. There is no better place for it than skip’s home where so many other Kahiki items now are celebrated. Behold!


And skip will have it restored and it’s flame will once again burn for those who love the Kahiki and all that it stood for!



maoi down

We will never forget!

Hot Rod Hula Hop 2 – Columbus, OH

FezHot Rod Hula Hop 2 – Men in Fezes

Second year for this event was funner and more hectic than last year. We Honui brothers of the Fraternal Order of Moai recieved our fezes. Something about that is like being in gang colors, but without the danger. Belonging. All weekend I saw people in their fezes and I didn’t know them really, but I knew they were brothers. Nice.

JimThe Friday night “Feast of the Tiki Gods” was a real treat. The moment I walked in I was transported to that special tiki place I have visited many times. Great food, great friends and great drinks made by Kahiki barmaster Jim, seen here. Plus live music that was great. It’s a special thing to walk up to the musician and drop a buck in the tip jar and ask for “Henehene Kou Aka” and he tears right into it. That’s rare.

BistorThe feast was a sell out and the food really was good. As good a buffet as I have had.

HoffaAlways good to see Hoffa. He drove up from Fort Lauderdale. The man has a passion. He used to live near the Kahiki and moved to Lauderdale under condition that he be in walking distance to the Mai Kai.

hood carThis was a stand out for the car show to me. Great details and a great theme on this car.

dancerlightsLargo’s had a nice decor for the show. Fishermen and the Barnyard Burlesque were standouts for me. When are these guys coming to Hukilau?

Tropical drink home brewing

Dr. Cocktail exorts those who make their own versions of cocktail elixirs this month. In October, Hukilau will have a mixology seminar headed by Beachbum Berry. At his side will be a few friends of mine whose drinks I have imbibed with pleasure: Pablus, Kuku Ahu and Basement Kahuna. Thes guys have the drive for perfection that has caused them to make their own liqueurs when the original stock has dried up.

Basement Kahuna is a drink detective. Months after being at the Mai Kai last, he hands me a drink at Coon Tiki and asks how it compared to their “Black Magic.” He had been deducing the formula in his lab and thought he found the correct concoction. I think he is right. He’s reproduced a few of their recipes and made some great ones of his own.

Pablus tends to make his drinks in gallons. Crates of fresh fruit from the groves and it all comes together. He is a great soldier in the quest for perfect Falernum, and has indeed made his own! It was he who put together the great Falernum tasting of Hukilau 2004. He even sings songs he has written about Falernum and cocktails with his band The Crazed Mugs.

In my bar I have a bottle of Pimento Liqueur made by JTD and have sampled that made by Ahu. He has made his own Passionfruit Syrup, Grenadine, Pimento Liqueur, and tried his hand at Falernum and any number of mixers. Ahu has a background as a chef and brings that huge knowledge to bare on the drink making.

These guys have a great wealth of mixing knowledge, talent and taste. There are only a handfull of us who spend the hours and dollars to make our way through all the recipes in Berry’s books. These guys are some of the best.

And besides the seminar, you can check out their work in my room at Hukilau on Thursday night as the Fraternal Order of Moai host their bar there. Look for the guys in the blue Fezes.

In the mean time you can catch me and Ahu enjoying the Kahiki’s head bartender’s drinks at the Hot Rod Hula Hop 2 this August in Columbus. If you live near me in Tennessee, you can maybe get invited to my luau this month where I and Basement Kahuna will make a lot of classic and new tiki cocktails for my guests. And as always, visit your local tiki bar and encourage the classics!

Kahiki made clothing?

KahikiOne of the great tiki temples of the era was the Kahiki in Columbus Ohio. I keep an eye out for ephemera from the place on Ebay all the time. The Moai mug is very common, but the clothing sold by bad spellers just drives me crazy!

New discovery: photographs… on paper!

I got a digital camera a few years ago. Before that I had a nice 35mm camera and took a few pictures when the mood hit me. But since the digital came along, pictures now piled up on the computer. Thousands of pictures.

I made a nice screen saver of all the pictures of the dogcats. Occasionally converted them to web site use.

But the pile…

I decided the time had come to actually have pictures in my hands that I could share at with friends at work, at parties, in the car and around town. Trade with firends and collect all 12!

What I discovered was that the folks at Walgreens had made it darned easy to upload all the pictures I wanted, share with friends and click on a few and tell them to be magically transferred to paper at the Walgreens of my choosing in a jiffy.

Screw Flickr and and all those other sites. Can they print any picture I want down the street in a few minutes? No. Well, maybe. I have not checked recently.

But this works great, even if you are on vacation. Upload from the laptop and figure out the closest Walgreens.

I still hate the bastards for destroying the Kahiki however.