On May 13th, 2020, Michelle, the founder of Ladies Who Tiki, her husband Todd (our resident bartender), and their hometiki bar were featured on Liquid Alchemist’sInstagram channel via Instagram Live. During the interview, they made an original cocktail called “Fantasy Island.” Below is the recipe:
We know things are a little crazy out there for everyone right now and we hope you’re all okay and safe at home. To ensure the safety of their staff and patrons many of our favorite tiki bars and restaurants have had to close their doors, often not knowing when (or if) they’ll be able to reopen. Our friends in the hospitality industry are doing their part to help flatten the curve for the Covid-19 pandemic but its especially difficult for bartenders and servers who often work paycheck to paycheck or rely on tips. A handful places are still keeping the tiki torches glowing through take out food orders (and cocktails, in some cases thanks to some swift changes in regulations), while others are pushing online mug sales, gift certificates or have started fundraisers for staff. If you’ve ever enjoyed a delicious beverage in any of these fine establishments or are an admirer from afar and can afford to lend a hand, here’s how you can help our Ohana during this difficult time.
Archipelago – Washington, DC
If you’re local, the team is working behind the scenes to offer take out food, beer, wine and cocktails (yes, you read that right!). They have single drinks ($10) or party size ($45) for a Mai Tai, Mojito, Piña Colada and a special cocktail called If the Phone Don’t Ring. The takeout food menu is available via Uber Eats or text 202-627-0794 for more info. The staff at Archipelago has also created a Venmo account for donations. Find them under the username @archipelago-staff and donate.
Max’s South Seas Hideaway – Grand Rapids, MI
To help until they can reopen, the crew at Max’s is holding a huge e-commerce discount sale on all merchandise including mugs, hoodies, shirts, and more. The sale goes until Friday March 20th at noon ET.
UPDATE 3/20: Max’s has reopened for takeout and delivery service. They are now selling food, cocktail mixes and a “takeout tiki party” to support their employees while giving guests an opportunity to create a mini vacation for their families. Each order includes leis, Max’s swizzle sticks, cocktail napkins and ice. http://www.maxstiki.com
Hidden Harbor – Pittsburgh, PA
Hidden Harbor is selling “just-add-rum” mocktails in both individual portions and in 32 oz. crowler cans that serve four (just add long straws!), along with select tropical food dishes. Order online and pick up “Tiki To-Go” food & mocktail sales next door at their sister restaurant, The Independent, 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m. every day until further notice. Don’t live in PGH? You can still support by purchasing a gift card or merch online via their webshop. Their tiki space robot and marquesan mugs are both currently on sale while supplies last. http://www.hiddenharborpgh.com/merch
False Idol – San Diego, CA
The team at False Idol and Consortium Holdings is selling a special social distancing relief t-shirt and 100% of the profits are being donated to their staff. You can also support them by purchasing a gift card or other items from their online shop. Per their website, proceeds from gift certificates to any of their locations go directly to team members who have lost their jobs due to the closures. https://consortiumholdings.com/product/sixfeetplz/
VenTiki – Ventura, CA
The Steepleton’s, VenTiki’s loyal patrons, set up a Go Fund Me fundraiser they are calling the Ventiki Ohana campaign. The goal is simple – to raise funds to help the staff pay their bills during the Coronavirus crackdown. The patrons are encouraging people to donate what you would normally spend during a visit to VenTiki if you can. https://www.gofundme.com/f/ventiki-ohana
Trader Vic’s – Emeryville, CA
The bar is closed until further notice but still providing food through DoorDash and discounts on gift cards. If you’re local, you can also place an order by calling (510) 653-3400. To purchase a 20% off gift card that can be used for full value at a later date please email either email@example.com or Mishan.firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you would like to support Tiki-Ko and their bartenders while we they are closed in response to coronavirus pandemic you can get gift cards to use when they are able to safely reopen, purchase a limited edition Tiki-Ko glaze Ofrenda mug by Tiki Diablo or leave a virtual tip on their Go Fund Me for. They are currently offering $25 gift cards for $20. https://tiki-ko.com/shop & https://www.gofundme.com/f/tikiko-ohana
Three Dots & Dash – Chicago, IL
This Chicago tiki bar staple is offering 40% off their online store through March 24th. Sale includes mugs, enamel pins and t-shirts. If you’re local, they are also selling mugs and rums on-site by private appointment, message them on instagram to schedule a time to shop. https://shop.threedotschicago.com/collections/all
Lost Lake – Chicago, IL
Leave a tip for the staff at Lost Lake via the link below and they will sign you up for a twice-weekly newsletter with cocktails to make at home, recipes from their kitchen, Q+As with Lost Lakers, and maybe even a crossword. Every cent will go directly to Lost Lakers. https://www.gofundme.com/f/lost-lake-loves-you
Donate to the Go Fund Me for S.O.S and as a thanks, they will send you a card in the mail, and once this whole thing clears, you’ll be able to flash the card at any of their establishments and receive a treat from them, plus a “Fight Club” nod of appreciation, and maybe even a fist-bump. 100% of proceeds will go to their staff, starting with those who need it the most. https://www.gofundme.com/f/all-fcks-given
Otto’s Shrunken Head – New York, NY
The staff at Otto’s have found themselves in an unprecedented situation. Some are home self isolating with some symptoms, some are trying to adjust to the new normal. All have financial burdens that must be dealt with and the team has set up a fundraiser to help. https://www.gofundme.com/f/otto039s-staff-fund
It’s no surprise that the world of tiki has transcended from what it once was in the 1950s. While many of the aesthetics remain, such as bamboo, palm fronds, hibiscus flowers, and of course delicious tropical cocktails; the world of tiki is developing into a much more inclusive community – with a high-level focus on rum, and what comprises these beautifully garnished drinks.
This transition was evident at Trader Vic’s Emeryville on April 7th, 2019.
Created by Vic “The Trader” Bergeron, Trader Vic’s opened in 1973, overlooking the San Francisco Bay and Emeryville Marina. With its tropical interior and exotic cocktails, it was the perfect venue to host a book-signing for the author, Shannon Mustipher on her successful new cocktail book, TIKI: Modern Tropical Cocktails, and hold a Tiki panel from prominent women in the rum and Tiki community.
Eve Bergeron, host and granddaughter of Trader Vic himself, brought together these women in Tiki, including our fearless leader, Michelle Perez!
Taking the stage of the panel was Shannon Mustipher, the Beverage Director for Glady’s Carribean in Brooklyn, and now the first female African-American bartender to create a cocktail book; Suzanne Long, founder of Longitude in Oakland and one of the only female rum experts in the world who has appeared in numerous symposiums and cocktail events such as Tales of the Cocktail, the Beverage Academy at Bourbon and Branch in San Francisco, Hawai’i Cocktail Week, and Tiki Oasis (just to name a few). Jeanie Grant, bar manager at Pagan Idol in San Francisco and the 2018 Tikitender champion (she won using Rum Fire overproof rum!); Humuhumu Trott founder and creator of Critiki, who has also appeared in symposiums at Tiki Kon, the Bar Institute, Hale Pele, and at her own home tiki bar, Balhi Ha’i. And of course, Michelle Perez, founder of Ladies Who Tiki who has hosted numerous meetups across the US, winner of Best Tiki Drink at Tiki Caliente 9, and has hosted rum sponsored room parties at Tiki Oasis, Tiki Caliente, and her own home bar, the Hollywood Lanai.
The panel of women answered questions about everything from rum to Tiki’s former days of cultural appropriation and to where they feel Tiki is headed today: A more inclusive community of people appreciating more than appropriating and completely revolutionizing this facet of Americana culture with a more modern approach.
Jeanie Grant told Ladies Who Tiki directly, “What I found most inspiring about the event was seeing how many people care about continuing the Tiki movement with a modern view. This view includes well-crafted cocktails, transparency in rum and the creation of an inclusive environment for all people. Being in a room full of people eager to talk about these aspects of Hospitality affirms that I am on the right path.”
When the panelists were asked what the new trend in rum was, there was a resounding agreement that the future lies in Rhum Agricole – a cane juice rum originally distilled in the French Caribbean islands from freshly pressed sugar cane juice rather than molasses. The term ‘Rhum’ is used to distinguish the fact that it is a sugar cane rum since most rums are distilled from fermented molasses. Rhum Agricole typically comes from Haiti, Martinique, and the Guadaloupe islands of Marie-Galante, Grade-Terre, and Basse-Terre, and throughout the Caribbean including Trinidad, Panama, the Dominican Republic, and Grenada. Sugar cane is specifically grown for the production of Rhum Agricole, and the fields are managed and controlled like vineyards. Distillers first ferment the raw cane juice with wild, indigenous yeast to create a sugar cane wine, which they then distill into a raw, funky, and flavorful spirit that’s more vegetal than sweet. So when someone says they think rum is too sweet and they don’t like it, have them try a good Rhum Agricole.
From Mustipher’s new beautifully constructed book published by Rizzoli, a quote from the mixologist herself, “Mixing a fantastic cocktail requires a balance of art and science – knowledge of ingredients, flavors, and technique, and the skillful application of all three, Before being tasked with creating a rum-focused bar at Glady’s Carribean, I’d had very few craft cocktails made with rum, Tiki or otherwise. The latter I regarded with skepticism: While the restaurant’s interior – trimmed by jewel-toned formica, adorned with lush foliage, and energized by upbeat island music – created the perfect setting, I knew one of the challenges the bar would face was the perception of rum being too sweet, and Tiki as tacky.”
It’s clear that bartenders in Tiki are changing this mindset with their new cocktail inventions and twists on some of the classics. “I made it my mission then to present bright, crisp, and nuanced drinks to not only debunk these clichéd notions but to show rum as an exemplary mixing spirit.” (7 Mustipher, Shannon. TIKI: Modern Tropical Cocktails. 2019)
As the panel continued on and Mai-Tais were sipped, it was a powerful moment to be surrounded by these female movers and shakers within rum and Tiki. It truly showed that women in this community are rocking the industry and they’re not stopping.
If you missed the opportunity to buy Shannon’s book in person, you can still purchase it online through Amazon. The layout is easy to follow and it’s the perfect size to prop open for mixing up delectable cocktails. The gorgeous photography is done by Noah Fecks.
“The key to making a truly special cocktail is to engage all the senses, and this is the heart and soul of Tiki.” – Shannon Mustipher.
Hollywood Boulevard may be known for its glittering sidewalk of stars paying homage to the celebrities of old and new, but locals and tiki lovers alike are now familiar with Lono; a new den of tropical cocktails named after the Hawaiian god of agriculture and rain.
Opened on June 9th, 2017, by the Umbrella Hospitality Group, Lono combines the refined edges of old Hollywood glamour with the beloved kitsch of Polynesian and Tiki decor. Palm fronds and banana leaves adorn the corners and edges of the deep restaurant and bar, while rattan chairs rim tables that invite guests to have a seat and order a Pearl Diver and the avocado-yuzu creme fraiche dip.
After you enter the Instagramable neon-lit sign of “Where the Wild Things Are,” sounds of Martin Denny waft out of speakers as you sidle up to the bar and order a classic like the Navy Grog or a new take on the traditional called the Banana Boo Loo. A cocktail crafted by Helena Olsen with Bryan Davis’ Lost Spirits Navy Rum and fresh lime, pineapple, banana, and demerara. If you’re so inclined to stay for dinner, award-winning chef, David Lespron, can be thanked for the delicious food.
On an early Saturday evening in late March, the Ladies Who Tiki had the pleasure of hosting one of their fun and inclusive meetups. Victoria Barabas from Lono was our amazing ‘hostess with the mostess’ as she kept the appetizers and cocktails coming. We had ladies (and gents!) from far and wide packed into the back section of the bar. And with high atrium glass ceilings, five lage cabana booths, and another bar to accommodate everyone, it was a wonderfully roomy space for all the LWT guests. The beautiful and effervescent Miss Tiki Oasis 2018, Ruby Champagne, was in attendance and she graciously posed for so many pictures with everyone! The chic ladies of Vintage Life LA were also there looking fabulous and they were able to snag a Lono mug and snap some beautiful photos of the event.
It was an evening of meeting new and familiar faces with tropical cocktails flowing well into the night. Founder, Michelle Perez of LWT stated, “I’m so thankful to Lono for allowing us to host our event. They went above and beyond to accommodate everyone! With each event, I truly appreciate the support we continue to garner from the Tiki community. Ladies Who Tiki just turned ‘One’ and it has been the most humbling experience. Cheers to what the future holds!”
If you weren’t able to make it to this meetup we do hope you can join us for the next one! And definitely stop into Lono for a cocktail and some food. Their busiest “club and touristy” hours usually start after 9 and 10 pm on weekends so we encourage you to check out Lono on a weekday or earlier in the evening.