June 9th, in support of my recently released book on the history of the greatest Tiki bar on earth, the Mai-Kai, I will once again be giving a presentation at the largest Tiki event outside of California, The Hukilau.
This year I am holding a sort of Mai-Kai reunion and doing a live panel discussion with many of the people I interviewed for the book. Their first hand stories were the driving force behind the work. I had thousands of fantastic images and I knew a few stories, but getting the history straight from the people who were actually there was a truly rare experience. These folks are now in their 70s, 80s and even 90s, and it is harder and harder to get them together. This will be a once in a lifetime opportunity. Come get your book signed by those featured in it!
Here are some of those who will be in attendance:
While collecting way too many things related to the Mai-Kai as part of my book research, I bought this great 1959 weekly tourist magazine for the Mai-Kai ad. I got a lot of other great stuff as well.
Gotta love “Tropical Nights”, “Direct from Havana” when it appears to include showgirls in fishnet tights and coconut bras in The Biltmore Room at The Biltmore Terrace Hotel.
Even the ad for Lanotan suntan cream is pretty awesome and frisky!
An added Tiki bonus is the ad for the new Bamboo Room at Roney Plaza. This is where some south Florida Polynesian stars like Nani Maka and Kui “Kimo” Lee worked.
Kimo became world famous as song write for Don Ho.
More beauty from the Tropical Nights and an ad for “French Dressing” at the Carillon Hotel.
Cindy Fuller, one of the stars of “French Dressing.”
One of the Mai-Kai competitors the Luau.
The Life Bar is the oldest “Burlesk house” on Miami Beach. Fun! Girls! Gags!
A little write up about the Life Bar “girlie show” and the search for “Miss Moulin Rouge”.
Ice skating in Miami? Lessons? Well if Inge in that sweater is the teacher, sign me up! At the Deauville Hotel’s “Winter Wonderland”.
And of course, the reason I bought the guide, the Mai-Kai ad circa 1959.
My Mai-Kai history book just appeared on the Barnes and Noble website for pre-order. Coming soon to Amazon. Please pre-order and make your voice heard with the publisher to give the book more attention and better marketing. Spread the word! This is going to be a big year for the Mai-Kai!
And come see me at the Hukilau as I give a presentation on the Mai-Kai.
Then come to my book release party at the Mai-Kai, tentatively scheduled for September.
Then come to my book signing at Tiki Oasis.
Rare color image the Mai-Kai “hut” sign designed and built by Dave Stevens. Chicagoans Dave and his brother made a wide variety of custom items for the Mai-Kai, from spotlight covers that looked like rocks for the exterior to fake turtle shells for the interior. The Moai stone carving was stolen one quiet night by crane from the front lawn.
The sign was destroyed a few years later by hurricane Betsy.
A peak at the forthcoming book Mai-Kai: History, Mystery, and Adventure.
I have been researching the Mai-Kai in one form or another for over 12 years. I have been seriously looking into its history and people for a long time to document the past. I had thought I would do a book that was just pretty pictures. Once I began to talk to the people around this landmark, I found their stories amazingly compelling. Now the book will also have a wonderful story too.
I have worked on this book project in my spare time for years now. I have spent vacations in back rooms scanning images with my wife, and visiting old timers to hear their tales. I have tracked people down and interviewed people from Florida to California to Tahiti. I have a newfound respect for those who create books. It is a lot of work and time.
I hope to get the book ready in 2015 and get it published. Please support my efforts by simply liking the Facebook page first, and if you happen to have something you think will help the book, please email me and share it.
IMO, you can fit all you need to make many of the best Tiki drinks in a milk crate. Granted, these are for making Don the BEachcomber’s recipes…
- Light Rum
- Gold Rum
- Dark Rum
- 151 Lemon Hart
- 80 proof demerara (you may drop this and sub dark rum for space)
- Allspice dram
- Lime juice
- White Grapefruit juice
- Pineapple juice
- Orange juice
- Honey syrup
- Simple syrup
- Cinnamon syrup
- Passionfruit syrup
- Pernod or Herbsaint
- Soda water
Measuring devices (spoons and jigger, etc.)
Granted, the size of your containers will dictate whether it all fits in one crate.
Ice, glasses and a blender and you are set!
With this you can make:
- Navy Grog
- Jet Pilot
- Test Pilot (almost, Cointreau)
- Rum Barrel (almost, grenadine)
- 151 Swizzle
- Big Bamboo
- Cobra’s Fang
- Demerara Cocktail
- Derby Daiquiri
- Jasper’s Jamaican
- Nui Nui
- Q.B. Cooler
- Zombie Punch (almost, grenadine)
- Shark’s Tooth (almost, maraschino cherry juice)
- 2070 Swizzle
The drinks that may be missing a small ingredient are passable and your host may have what is needed or you can easily take it with.
So next time you are invited to a cocktail party, or a room party at an event, show up prepared!
If you don’t yet own the Mini Mai-Kai Mystery Bowl, well, go get one HERE. Follow along regardless.
To make the ice volcano that goes in the center of the Mystery Drink, here is my plan. If you have your own, great! This is how I tackled it.
First you need finely crushed ice. I have sworn by my vintage Oster Snoflake for years and it still is the champ as far as I know.
I have found them in antique, vintage and thrift stores, but they are also on Ebay.
The result is a tray full of fine crushed ice.
Perhaps the more difficult aspect is finding the best sized vessel to form the ice volcano. The inner ring in the mini bowl is 2 inches. So you need something that tapers and is smaller than 2 inches at the top of the volcano form. I went through the cabinet and picked some small juice glasses. I had pilsners, but they had too steep an angle and the top would have been too small for the fire container.
I lightly packed the ice into the glass with s spoon as scoop about 3 inches deep. The quicker you do this, the better. Any melting can make the bottom of the glass fill with water and become a very smooth slick surface.
Then put them in the freezer for maybe 15 minutes to freeze your forms.
When they come out they will be frozen to the glass. You can just set them on the counter for a minute or two until they thaw enough to slip out. I can’t wait, so I use my hands to try to warm the glass. Then carefully slip them out and set them in the inner ring of the bowl.
Pour in a nice Scorpion Bowl recipe.
For the final touch, and to do it like the Mai-Kai, cut the end off a lemon and mash it with a juicer to make a “bowl”. I also cut the tip off to make it flatter. Pour some 151 proof rum in it and set it on the volcano. Light, serve and enjoy!
As the drink begins to melt the volcano, it may tip. Just press it back down and you can make the base flat again.
They are on sale now at the Swank Pad Productions website and next week in the Mai-Kai gift shop!
In researching the Mai-Kai’s history, I come across a lot of things that I am not sure will ever make it into a book, or a lecture or anywhere besides me and my wife. This weekend, with spare time due to the holidays, I did some digging. I have an October/November 1965 “Happy Talk”, a news magazine published by the Mai-Kai, and it is full of great stuff. The cover announces that Mariterangi will begin performing in the Molokai soon. I had not heard that name come up before, so I searched for the story of her life. There is not much.
There is a ton of her music online. I found Dub DJs with her in their list of music to mix. She, like many of the performers at the Mai-Kai, was from Tahiti, born in 1926. The fast tempo of the Tahitian drums is a draw for creating a live show I am sure. Toti was the lead there. Mireille was the choreographer and dancer from Tahiti. They likely knew of Marie and when she landed on the mainland of the US, they worked to recruit her. Marie came to the US via Hawaii, like many of the island performers, and created her own troupe. She started at the Bora Bora in San Francisco in 1960. That location became a Skipper Kent’s in the late 60’s after the owner was shot by his wife. Few even knew it was ever anything else. It stayed a Skipper’s into the 80s.
There were local island natives who would come to the Mai-Kai and as the evening came around, they got out their guitars and began to play and sing the songs of their homelands. It was simply a natural thing and it was enjoyed by the snowbirds as well. The Mai-Kai recognized the beauty of it and made this a standard practice there. Marie may have been the first formal player in the Molokai.
Sadly, Marie passed away of cancer in 1971. She was honored in her homeland, along with her sister Emma with a stamp. Her music lives on forever. Her voice is so full of emotion. If you can find her “Tahiti Nui”, it is a classic.
And today, the tradition lives on. It may be Mua and his guitar or any number of other musicians playing in the Molokai. Singing the songs of the islands…
If you are interested in helping with this project, please email me. I do not have every calendar.
Check back for updates!
When I heard that the Mai-Kai was having an open contest to redesign their logo to use on new gift shop items, the first person that came to mind was Mookie. His incredible work on my Tiki Daze calendar project blew me away. I knew he would do something great.
I had no idea he would do a lot of great images!
The 2 above are my favorite. See them all HERE on Facebook.
In this economy, things are tough for a business that depends on tourists. And the new owner, Dave Levy has also invested a ton of money in renovating the Mai Kai in the last year.
So, spend a couple of minutes adding your glowing reviews to these online travel pages to counter the many stupid reviews of people who are clueless. Help keep the Mai Kai around for your kids and their kids to go and marvel. Hell, do it so you can go and marvel!
These are the top review sites when searching for the Mai Kai. And while there, be sure to look up your other favorites and give them good reviews too. They need more people who don’t complain about them being too dark or expensive to chime in!