Yes, that’s right, it’s a bear with topless island girls, having a cocktail. Oh, and an old miner too. That’s from the drink menu for a very unique Tiki bar in Alaska. Right, Alaska. This great menu is obviously a perversion parody or the classic Trader Vic’s menu. In one image, that bear is doing something with an Alaskan native totem pole. For a moment I wondered if this wasn’t pre-Tiki, as the only Tiki cocktail on the menu was Don the Beachcomber’s Zombie. But then, duh! It’s the Trader’s menu! So, maybe it is mid to late 30′s. Very low prices and few classic cocktails as we knew them.
There is a great thread on Tiki Central that details the quest for this place and what might remain of it. Pictures unearthed by Unga Bunga and Taboo Dan:
James Teitelbaum was on his way to try to find what remained of the place, but, it turns out, most everything there was destroyed by an earthquake in 1964. Bummer.
I have narrowed my collecting over the years, mainly due to the fact that I could quickly run out of space. Now that the Hideaway is in operation, I limited it even more.
One of the few things I do collect now are items from the Hawaii Kai, NYC. In the last few months, my very favorite recordings have become the live recordings from various island and Tiki establishments. Nothing is better than the sound of forks on plates in the background!
So when I came across this LP I thought I had hit a home run. However, I was more than a little disappointed to find out that it was a studio recording.
Here it is for you to download. If some expert out there can tell me what is causing the high end distortionin my recordings I’d appreciate it. My guess is the needle on the turntable. It is not a problem with recording levels, etc. It is at the source.
More help from Tiki 65 Saturday. We had to rehang the thatch over the bar. The support hook was not to our satisfaction and a few other tweaks. That was done. The big job was the bar top install.
Once the front row was installed, being very sure of the fit, it made the rest fit in lpace fairly easily.
11 foot bar, that’s near 3 feet deep, meant a lot of looking at flooring. We found what we wanted, and it turned out that one box would cover the whole bar. That was a very lucky break on this special order. We could not have bought another piece. Sahara is the color and it is very close to the look of the bar and tables at the Mai Kai. Ours has square pegs in it. It is hand scraped and faux aged bamboo. We tested a scrap piece by leaving a glass of ice water sitting on it for 24 hours. No change. No water penetrated.
I also reworked the foot rest. Picked to good straight pieces of 5 inch bamboo and cut them to match. We’ll do a little decoraing on them and screw them in when we do the bar front later.
More detail at Tiki Central.
It’s been slow going. Leaks have kept us from going forward with much energy. Got a bit done this weekend and hope to get and keep some momentum.
Did some finishing under the thatch. Where I had painted the ceiling black had to be painted back to match the wall.
The new white door had to be fixed. Painted the inner edges the burnt orange from the walls.
Painted the brown around the edges and cut and glued some fijian tapa cloth on the high areas. Had a very whacky 70′s vibe at this point.
Added this tiki and it worked well. Took away that weird 70′s vibe.
Ms. Swanky found a bunch of this fabric on Ebay and covered all the stools and we put it up as curtains over the back window in the Tapa Room.
The whole process is seen HERE on Tiki Central.
I built the Hideaway first in my rental house. Then I moved in with Ms Swanky and converted her dining room into the Hideaway. Now we are living the American Dream and I am living the Poly Pop dream and we are building a rather permanent Hideaway. This is a major undertaking. The sort of thing you’d only do if you own. We’ve hired contractors to rewire everything. That is, 4 outlets in the ceiling on a switch behind the bar. A wet bar. Just a serious bar build. We are now deep into the construction phase. We hope to get started on building the actual bar soon. And then we will get to the fun part where we start putting in decor. It has been a ton of work and there is a lot more to go. Been colecting specifically for th eproject now too. We are also doing a tropical lanai to go with the Tiki bar.
Basement Kahuna arrives here today and we depart for Tiki Eyeball in the morning.
I am in my office today, listening to my Exotica and islands music playlist and I am excited. It’s like when I was a kid and we were going to Disneyworld in the morning. I hear the music and I’m there, at the Aku Tiki Room, Navy Grog in hand. Dim lights, fish floats, Orchids of Hawaii and Witco decor… I just can’t wait! Giddy. Even though its a 9 hour drive for me. I am excited to get to go to that magic place again.
My attitude is a little different these days. I go there as a fan, but also as a researcher and a documenter too. I take my photography equipment to get the best pictures possible and plan to talk to anyone I can about the history and write it down. I want to share it as well as experience it.
I’m looking forward to seeing old friends and meeting some new people. I am really looking forward to the rare treat of having someone else mix my tropical concoction, and it be really good. I’ll savor it.
This is the lot of most of us tikiphiles. The only tiki bar near us is our own. We get to visit the real deal just a few times a year, if at all. I ache for it.
I may not be able to sleep tonight!
Humu Humu has posted her feelings about the closing of Trader Vic’s Beverly Hills. I commented on that and wanted to bring it here and share my thoughts.
There is a thread on Tiki Central to send messages to try to save Trader Vic’s. You’ll notice I never posted. It was never going to get anywhere towards saving the place, and, it probably led to what happened, a very quick, quiet closing that did not allow a bunch of weirdos to make a scene.
What seems to be lost on everyone is that these places are businesses. When your business is losing money, you close it, no matter if that is painful or very painful. And often, before they close the business, they try a lot of things to fix it. Tiki bars are not an exception.
The forces at work that have closed 90+% of the vintage tiki places in the last 30 years, are still closing them today.
Getting conservancy groups involved is also a sure way to piss off the owners and get them to close a place sooner. They want to avoid government regulators from preventing them from doing as they please with their property.
Writing letters and even going there yourself on a regular basis is not the answer, though your business helps. What can you do that will help your local or even, not so local tiki bar survive? Promote it.
You may be the most vocal and inspired advocate they have. I think the third Thursday get together at the new Hula Hula in Seattle is great. And their great reviews of the place and obviously their enthusiasm for it locally, are contagious. Such gatherings are happening all over. We need to spread a very positive message about tiki in general, and we need to put out positive things about locations specifically.
We in the Tiki community are, unfortunately, perhaps helping destroy a lot of places. If we venture to a classic bar, and then come to Tiki Central or our blogs and complain about the drinks and the beer signs, that may be the only description on the web for that place. And the young folks just discovering it search the Net first and see your negative comments. Though you may wrap it up with how great it is to go there, even though the drinks weren’t in tiki mugs, you leave an impression that no outsider is going to bother with, and is less likely to enjoy.
What we can’t do is make a bad place good, bad drinks good, or bad food good. You can’t save a sinking ship with good wishes. And when we are honest with ourselves, we will likely find we are only sad to see the facade go, and not the place where we complained about quality and quantity through our teeth.
Sucks doesn’t it?
The best tiki bars in the country are still A) Tiki Central member’s home bars, B) Trader Vic’s, C) a few old guard like the Mai Kai and Hala Kahiki, and D) the new generation like Forbidden Island. The ghosts are still growing in number as they have for the last 30 years. We are just painfully aware of them now and imagine that times have changed. All that has changed is the number of mourners and the depth of their sorrow.
p.s. To help out, go to this page, the second link when you search Google for the Mai Kai, and add a good review.
This is why I encourage everyone to start an entry on Tiki Central for every known Polynesian Paradise that ever existed. In August, back in 2004, Kono posted about the Volcano in Winter Haven Florida and a few people added to it. Recently, the daughter of the owner of the Volcano started looking around for information and came across the post. She began finding out more and sharing the family stories, articles and pictures. A wonderful wealth of tiki goodness came out that would likely have dissappeared otherwise.
Enjoy the thread here and add to the Tiki Central database so more kids and grand kids share their findings with us!