Category Archives: Great Tiki Bars

Foundation Tiki Bar Milwaukee





Foundation Tiki Bar MilwaukeeOnly in Milwaukee can you walk into a Tiki bar wearing a dirndl, and no one bats an eye. My guy and I were in Wisconsin, where we spent the day at GermanFest drinking beer and visiting with friends, and needed rum to cap off the day. The Foundation Tiki Bar, Milwaukee ended up being everything we love in a Tiki Bar! Fabulous atmosphere, tasty drinks, a knowledgeable bartender, cool mugs and a great crowd.

Foundation Tiki Bar, Milwaukee

The Foundation Tiki bar didn’t look that far from the fest grounds, but I’ve never been in Milwaukee before, and we were totally at the mercy of our Uber driver… When she started driving us down a residential street, I got a bit nervous. Then we we arrived. Huh… this is it? From the outside… House.

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But then you step inside… and it’s magical.

Take a look at this–> Inside the Foundation Tiki Bar

Foundation Tiki Bar MilwaukeeDimly lit by Tapa cloth lamps and colorful fishing net floats, the Foundation Bar is absolutely enchanting. The space itself is longish and narrow. The well stocked bar runs down around 1/3 of the left side of the room. High tables and bar stools make up the front seating area… and in the back there is a bigger “family style” booth. I was also intrigued to see a Ladies only room… curtained off by strings of beads.

Tikis, masks, paintings and photos, puffer fish made from coconuts, fishing nets, starfish, funky woven monkeys, wooden boats and tiki-style carvings covered the walls and ceilings. Every post was carved into a sort of Tiki Totem Pole. The bar shelves were worked with Polynesian style carvings. There was even a fish tank! My head was on a swivel trying to take it all in. There was SOOOO much to look at.

Foundation Bar Drink Menu

Foundation Tiki Bar MilwaukeeBut, we weren’t just there to stare at the walls… after a day of beer, sausage and polka music, we needed to be swept off to a South Sea Island, or at the very least, have a tropical drink with a fair amount of rum in it. The menu at Foundation Tiki Bar is fairly complete with all the classics like a 1944 Trader Vic’s Mai Tai, Fog Cutter and Scorpion Bowl. And we were in Tiki Heaven when we found out that we could order a few special drinks in mugs… and take the mugs home.(And the prices! WOW! I could get into some serious trouble here).

The Pirate’s Grog and the Royal Hawaiian (shades of my 1977 vacation) were not only delicious, they came in groovy containers! The big surprise was the  Polynesian… I’m not normally a Gin drinker, but for this refreshing potion, I was happy to make the exception. (Oddly enough, the top selling drink in the place… at least while we were sitting there… seems to be a Blue Hawaiian… Again, shades of 1977..) The bar also carries a nice selection of Rums…so if you are a purist, you are in luck!

Foundation Tiki Bar Milwaukee

Our Bartender knew his craft, so when you order a your drink, you can be assured that it will be a good one. Plus he’s got some good stories to tell…so if you don’t want to hide in a corner, pull up a stool at the bar! If nothing else, you can watch the fishies swimming in their tank, and imagine you are underwater.

The music is a mix of exotica and surf music… kept at just the right level for conversation. I can see why locals would enjoy this place so much. It’s like a private home Tiki Bar. Drop in, have a drink and a conversation, enjoy the music…. perfect!

Foundation Tiki Bar Milwaukee
Our Haul…We came home with a box of mugs and glasses (did we really drink THAT MUCH? … apparently)

While Wisconsin might not jump into your mind as a Tiki Destination… I firmly believe that the Foundation Tiki Bar belongs on any Tiki Road trip. (Even if you are wearing a Dirndl…)



The Shameful Tiki Room, Vancouver




shameful Tiki Vancouver
Logo- Shameful Tiki Room Vancouver

Turns out, the quickest way to get newbies excited about Tiki is FLAMES! If you order a bowl of alcohol, and it arrives at the table ON FIRE! you are sure to make a Tiki-convert. Last week, while on a family trip, I visited the Shameful Tiki Room, Vancouver. And because Tiki is best appreciated with company, my 20 something niece and my newly minted 21 year old son joined me (as did my 13 year old daughter… apparently, kids can go into bars until 8pm in Canada… good to know when you need a designated driver).

Admittedly, I was worried. The family has always looked at my Tiki appreciation as a mild eccentricity, like a stamp collection or an obsession with moths. Luckily, we were all in for a treat. The Shameful Tiki Room was everything a Tiki-phile could want… and more.

Shameful Tiki Vancouver

Hidden in plain site on a main street in Vancouver (actually, it was LITERALLY on Main St), the Shameful Tiki Room is disguised as a closed up storefront with tan painted windows. The only give-away that we were at the right address… the smallish image of a wooden Tiki Mug on Palm Fronds. Pushing our way in from the bright Vancouver sunshine, we hit a curtain.

OK…that’s odd...

Walk through that… and you enter an enchanted world where Tiki gods are King, and Rum acts as the Chief Adviser. The room is dark… really dark… but as your eyes adjust, you can make out Tapa covered walls, Tiki gods, lamps made from fish floats, and palm fronds…  Anchoring the room, a bar that is more L shaped than long.

shameful Tiki Vancouver
Interior photo taken from Shameful Tiki Room Website

It smelled so good. That Tiki Bar aroma of rum, spices, and wood that comes from years of spills….

Thankfully, I wrote ahead for a reservation (nope, I didn’t call… they don’t have a phone! Reservations are taken for the first half hour only on weekends) and considering the crowd at 5:30, we needed them! Also, luckily, I had read through the menu before going in, because we were seated toward the back, and it was dark. The Tapa Cloth lamp didn’t do much to light up the table… and the small candle was more of a heat than a light source, but.. who cares? We knew what we wanted. (And hey, we can read by the light of a smart phone…)

shameful tiki vancouver
Grog Menu

The Mystery BOOOWL!

Don’t ask what’s in the Mystery Bowl (no one will tell), just be glad you ordered it. This fabulous potion is served with in a clam shell bowl with flames coming out of 2 floating lime halves while the bartenders and everyone else in the place chants MYSTERY BOOOOWLLLL. My niece took a sip and lit up! “Ohhh.. This is GOOOOD!!” And suddenly, the rest of us had to grab our straw and drink before she slurped it all down.

shameful Tiki vancouver
Mystery BOWL… and 2 new Tiki-philes
Shameful Tiki Vancouver
Designated Driver

(Now, if some of you are thinking I am leading the 13 year old down an alcoholic path to darkness and despair, be assured, she did not get the 4th straw… the Server brought her a Designated Driver. Not a Shirley Temple… a delightful Mocktail complete with pineapple garnish. In fact, we wanted to order the Voodoo Bowl, but because only 3 of us were drinkers, they wouldn’t let us have it… you need 4… and the kid didn’t count… Canadian law?)

We did order food to go with our drink… The menu is not huge, but covers a wide range of “typical” Tiki Bar fare like potstickers, Hawaiian ribs and Tiki Nuts…and they also had larger plates with Poke, Curry Nachos and Sliders. The portions were just right… and filled us up enough to go for another round of drinks.

We took our Server’s advice and ordered the Day of the Dead. She described it as a combination of a Painkiller and a Zombie. She was right, it was the perfect pick.. sweet and spicy, with loads of rum (enough to re-animate the dead) and a fruity taste.

shameful Tiki Vancouver
Day of the Dead….

At that point, it was time to get back to the rest of the family, so we picked up a bunch of swag (new mug, clam shell bowl, swizzle sticks and a t-shirt! YAY!), settled the bill, hugged our server, and headed back out into the Vancouver evening; a little tipsy, and content in the knowledge that I’ve lured a few more people into Tiki…

Best of all, for the rest of the week, when things got a little crazy on the family trip, the 4 of us would look at each other and say “Mystery BOOOWL”!

(All I need now is the recipes…..But I think I’ll need to move to Canada and get a job as a bartender first)

 Thank You Shameful Tiki!

 

 

 

shameful tiki room
More Swag- A Shameful Tiki Room Barrel Mug
shameless Tiki Vancouver
Nothing sadder than an empty Mystery BOWL!




 

 

Forbidden Island Porthole Mug




forbidden island porthole mugFor weeks teasers about the new Forbidden Island Tiki Mug had floated around. Nothing concrete, just “it’s like nothing you’ve ever seen” and “it’s really cool”. No prodding could get anyone to drop more information, there was nothing to do but show up at Forbidden Island on April 3rd for the 3 pm opening, and see it for ourselves.

We had just parked on Sherman, just around the corner from Forbidden Island, when my boyfriend says… “oh no, a line”. Sure enough, we blew it. It was new mug release day, and when we showed up at 3:15, the line was already stretched down Lincoln and around the corner.

But we weren’t going to give up. Bracing ourselves, we jumped into line with fellow Tiki-philes, and resigned ourselves to a WAIT.

Rumors swirled… “They only made 100 limited edition mugs” was the scariest. We counted the people in front of us and watched Aloha Shirt clad people leave Forbidden Island with 2 and even 3 cardboard boxes. I admit my emotions roller-coastered a bit every time I saw another mug box leave… yet someone leaving meant another seat opened up inside.

forbidden island tiki loungeSomeone said it was so packed inside, that even the Kill Devil Club members had to wait. Not good.

People gave up… other people joined the line… one couple made cracks about crazy Tiki Mug collectors (grrrrr…. I notice that didn’t stop them from jumping into the line ahead of us when they saw “friends”).

After an hour of making new friends and swapping Tiki Bar stories the seas parted, our IDs were checked, and we were granted admission to the hallowed bamboo hall…

I’ve been to Forbidden Island on busy nights (can you say New Year’s Eve), and this crowd rivaled those times. All the seats were full. People were elbow to elbow, waiting their turn to order the Porthole. But as crazy as things were in front of the bar, behind the bar was a choreographed frenzy of pouring, mixing, and concocting. I really have to hand it to the crew. They were absolutely amazing under the pressure! Orders were constantly being peppered at them, folks were thirsty from the long wait and the anticipation of trying something new… but they never missed a beat. Poor Autumn was run off her Converse sneakers keeping up with serving, but she never lost her smile, or her composure.

And then we saw it… and it really was like nothing we had ever seen before… the Forbidden Island Porthole mug.

Forbidden Island Porthole Mug

forbidden island porthole mugTo really appreciate this mug, you should first see it in the dim lighting of a Tiki Bar. Doug Horne (of Octo-mug fame) really outdid himself. The mug itself is a bit over-sized, and has the familiar slant eyed Forbidden Island Tiki on one side… it’s the back that sets this mug apart from all the others. There is an actual PORTHOLE in the mug! No, this doesn’t mean a short pour; the mug is lined with a plastic glass liner that holds the drink. To add to the effect, a lighted “ice cube” in the drink gives off that eerie yellow glow … just like the one you see in the Nautilus porthole in 20,000 leagues Under the Sea ( I half expected to see Deep Sea Creatures to swim by. )

But even in the light, this is a pretty spectacular mug. Each mug is “unique”, since the blue glaze seemed to come out a slightly different shade every time… We were lucky to get a darker glaze and a lighter glaze (nope, don’t even think about asking them to open up the boxes to let you pick out the one you want… just NOPE… you get what you get.)

And the drink in the glass…. bliss… a wonderful combination of rums, juices and bitters was well balanced, and not too sweet. The closest I could get to the recipe from Michael Thanos (Owner and Founder of FI) –

The drink is “Our custom blend My Gay Black Barrel, Mt Gay XO, Mango, Lime, Falernum, Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth, a house made Chai-honey syrup and Park Avenue Provisions’ Grenadine bitters.”

Why We Love Forbidden Island and the Tiki Culture

forbidden island kill devil clubThe Tiki gods smiled on us yesterday. We ran into friends in the bar who graciously shared their booth (and their friends) with us (Thanks Jenny and Chad!). Tiki Royalty even sat with us for a bit (Hey Otto!) and shared some inside information about this year’s Tiki Oasis. To the delight of everyone in the bar, we even got to see a new member inducted into the Kill Devil Club! Applause!

All this reminded me why I’ve come to love the Tiki Culture so much… it’s not just the rum drinks (although, I have to tell you, that part is certainly a bonus). It’s the people; the camaraderie. The sharing of stories and comparing notes about mugs, bars, music.

And… we got to bring home two fantastic new mugs for our collection. They weren’t cheap (at $50 a pop), but they are pretty spectacular. Each comes with a liner and your very own light-up ice cube. A quick check shows that they have already hit the collector’s market, so if you want one, you’d better hurry, despite the edition being limited to 1000 (and not 100), I just heard that there are only few left…. (at least until the new order comes in).



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Saturday Afternoon at the Kona Club Oakland





Kona club OaklandMy boyfriend and I stumbled into the Kona Club in Oakland completely by chance. Don’t you just love when that happens? You’re out and about, then suddenly, a Tiki Bar is open in front of you like a tropical mirage… and the whole day is vastly improved.

Our goal on this dreary Saturday was to hike the paths in the Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland. Don’t think I’m creep, I just dig looking at the headstones (dig might have been the wrong word), and the hills are good for working off some of the excess libations that I’d enjoyed over the holidays. Besides, we had a goal, Elizabeth Short, the Black Dahlia, is buried there, and I was determined to find the headstone this time. (For those of you who don’t know, the Black Dahlia is a famous murder case from Los Angeles in the late 1940s. James Ellroy wrote a fabulous novel about the case that transports you back to that time and place. Read It).

As we approached the cemetery, we saw the sign for the Kona Club. Why haven’t I heard of this before? We live in Alameda. What the heck? My boyfriend said it must be closed up, and we started plotting to purchase the sign. (Really, purchase, both of us are a bit old to be climbing around on buildings to steal signs, besides, that would be bad Tiki Kharma, and who needs that?)

After our hike (no Elizabeth Short headstone sighting, despite following instructions very carefully), we headed back past the Kona Club…. and saw the OPEN sign.

I admit I almost jumped out of the car before it stopped.

When we opened the door, and the smell hit us like a wave… you know it, Rum, dust, spilled drinks, damp wood. It’s a smell bars just can’t scrub or air out. I smiled… home.

Inside the Kona Club is decorated in loads of Tiki Kitsch . Wonderful woven wall coverings and velvet paintings of native beauties cover the walls. Behind the bar, shelves loaded with mugs and Tiki Tchotchkes (we started playing the “I have that one and that one” game). Colorful Puffer Fish Lamps dangle above the bar adding a warm glow to room. There is even grass hut trim over the booze giving it that “we’re actually outside on an island” feel. And in the center of the bar back, a big ass volcano! (Was hoping it would erupt; and was wondering why the hell a polar bear was climbing it?)

Our bartender, Connor, who looked like he would be more at home in Dublin pouring pints, handed us a menu, and gave us some tips. I took his advice and ordered the Beachcomber Zombie, a killer drink with a pineapple base that I just love. My boyfriend ordered the Navy Grog, which he pronounced delicious, but wouldn’t share. (He knows me well, my sips turn into gulps).

Chatting with Connor, we learned that the Kona Club was originally called the Kings X, and is one of the oldest bars in Oakland (side note, Fantasy Football was “conceived” and first played in that bar). Rumor has it that the bar may have had a brothel upstairs (there are some interesting secret passages). And the bar even managed to stay open during the Prohibition (secret passages apparently hid bathtub gin as well as girls). So the place had history (explains the vibe and the smell), just not as a Tiki Bar.

Kona Club oakland
Volcano, Polar Bear and Magnum…

Kona Club History

I asked how the Kings X went Tiki. Apparently the Kings X owners sold out, and the new owner, Doug Miller, had a huge collection of Tiki Stuff that his Ex didn’t appreciate. Together with Bamboo Ben and Crazy Al, they created a Tiki Haven and it all fell into place. New décor, great carvings, new drinks menu, an Ex/X and really nice location (right around the corner from the final resting place of Victor Bergeron (our next cemetery quest)…. yet it maintains that “been there forever” feel.

While the Kona Club is a Tiki Bar. It remains a neighborhood bar. You get the Tiki Look, but you also get a pool table and TVs that play Football games (at least by day). The mix works. Locals were having beers, and a neighborhood couple was in the pool room sinking some balls. Yet, there were others like us, Tiki-philes searching for rum drinks and a cool mug. We met a great guy in a cool shirt (someone please tell me where I can find Tiki Buttons!) who turned us on to a place in Sacramento. ROAD TRIP!

Always Time for Another Tiki Drink

Kona CLub Oakland
Real Men Drink Chi Chi’s

Finished my drink, and needed another (it was HIS turn to drive). The Kona Club’s Magnum PI T- shirt with “real men drink Chi Chi’s” logo had me curious, so I gave it a try. (I’ve always been a sucker for a guy in Mustache wearing an Aloha shirt) It really was everything that Tiki Drinks are infamous for… sweet, cloying… like melted ice cream with a kick. (To be fair, Connor warned me) but, in the end, I was slurping up the dregs with my straw, wishing I had time for another. (Note to self- get a bottle of Macadamia Nut liqueur for my home bar).

kona club mug
The “unfinished” Kona Club Mug

We bought a Pint Glass (my guy brews his own beer, so Pint Glasses are a Bar essential in our home) and, of course, a Tiki Mug. The mugs are a bit funky, they look like carved bamboo, and are rough and unfinished on the outside (Connor claims it’s so we can paint and finish it ourselves… like that’s gonna happen). Both were wrapped up in bubble wrap to make the trip home safely.

The Kona Club brightened what could have been a drab drizzly East Bay afternoon. I can’t wait to see what it’s like at night!

 

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Tiki Bob’s -The Making of an Smiling Icon

With his goofy smile and 50’s pop stylizing, Tiki Bobs is an icon of Tiki Culture, born in San Francisco, at the legendary Tiki Bob’s.

tiki bob barStanding vigil at the corner of Post and Taylor streets in the city of San Francisco is a goofy faced Tiki named Bob. Tiki Bob’s, Baghdad by the Bay’s famous 50’s Polynesian restaurant and Icon maker is gone, but the memories (and the Tiki) linger on.

Tiki Bob’s came into existence in 1955 when “Sneaky” Bob Bryant, bar manager of Trader Vic’s, left after his job after a falling out with Vic Bergeron himself. He opened a new place down the road … called Tiki Bob’s. Bryant decorated the place in true Tiki style with various Tiki statues, bamboo, velvet paintings of naked women, globe lamps, fugu and netting. The walls and ceilings were paneled with corrugated tin, and later plastered over with Chinese newspapers from the 50’s for that authentic exotic experience.

tiki bob's

The restaurant served the usual Polynesian fare, but was famous for their 3 1/3 inch thick Pork Chops, crab cakes, and sesame chicken. For dessert you could order Banana Fritters loaded with whipped cream, and topped, naturally, with a paper umbrella.

tiki bob's mug ooga mooga

The Tiki Bob Mug

But of course, most important of all was their signature drink, the Super Sneaky Tiki, served in what many consider to be the FIRST Tiki mug, the Tiki Bob Mug.

The famous and happy faced stylized Tiki logo was created by Alec Yuill-Thornton, and according to Sven Kirsten, author of the indispensable Tiki Pop, looks “part George Jetson, part modern primitive.” The Tiki Bob Mug, with his friendly eyes  and instantly recognizable smile, is one of the most collectible of all Tiki mugs, and has almost a cult following among those who collect Tiki. (Love him or hate him, very few people are neutral on the subject of Bob).


Tiki Bob’s Lingerie at Lunch

Along with the free Tiki Mug, Bob Bryant was looking for another innovative way to drum up customers from the San Francisco business district lunch crowd, and the famous Lingerie Lunch was born. Patrons could enjoy a titillating fashion show of four voluptuous models in diaphanous nightwear while sipping their rum drinks. After winning a court battle over the “decency” of his show lunchtime patronage went from 50 on a good day to 200, with again that many being turned away (After the trial, Police Chief Cahill said that it was “morally OK”, but that “he would keep an eye on it”…. I’ll bet he did).

In 1957, Bryant opened a second Tiki Bob’s in Sacramento, catering to the Capitol crown, after his wife complained about having to make the long drive to San Francisco.

Bob Bryant himself left Tiki Bob’s in 1962 to work on another venture in Hawaii. Tiki Bob’s limped along until the late 70’s when the doors were finally shut for good.


 

Tiki Bob’s Still a San Francisco Icon

The bar is long gone, but the statue of Tiki Bob still guards the corner of Post and Taylor. He’s part of the support structure of the building, so whenever a new business pulls in, they just freshen him up with a coordinating paint job.  When you go there to pay your respects, always rub the Tiki Bob’s nose. In Tahiti, this is considered a surefire way to get lady luck on your side.

Tiki bob's Bob bryant

Sneaky Tiki Recipe

– From Beachbum Berry’s Taboo Table

(This Tiki Drink is SWEET…. But it will sneak up on you if you aren’t careful!)

1 part fresh lemon juice

1 1/2 part unsweetened pineapple juice

1/3 part orange curaçao

1/4 part hot-process grenadine

1 part Puerto Rican light rum

1 part dark Jamaican rum

Mix in blender with 8 ounces ice until almost smooth.

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Don the Beachcomber- Home of the Zombie!




Don BeachcomberErnest Gnatt was born in Texas, but lived a life of Adventure. He traveled all over the Carribean and South Pacific in the late 1920s, came home to the US and was a bootlegger during Prohibition, finally in 1934, he moved to Hollywood, CA, opened a Tropical Themed Bar and Restaurant called Don the Beachcomber, and changed his name to Donn Beach.

During the late 30′s and into the 40′s, people flocked to Don the Beachcomber’s. The exotic food and cheap rum drinks were a fantastic escape from everyday life. Hollywood celebrities “discovered” the place which brought in even more people.

Don BeachDuring WW2, Don Beach was (ironically) stationed in the European theater… but his wife continued the success. When he returned Stateside, his empire had grown to 16 Restaurants. He also opened a Polynesian Village in Encino that drew people wanting to stay in a Tiki Hotel.

Don the Beachcomber is credited with serving the first PuPu Platter (a mixed plate of exotic polynesian appetizers), for mixing the first Zombie Cocktail, and for creating the first Tahitian Rum Punch. He and Victor Bergeron (Trader Vic) were friendly rivals, who both claimed to invent the Mai Tai (I lean toward the Trader Vic story).
At one point there were 19 Don the Beachcomber restaurants across the United States… slowly, as Tiki fell out of favor, many of them closed. As of 2010, there are only 30 left worldwide according to Tiki Central.
                                               

 

The Tonga Room – 70 Years, and Still Raining!





tonga roomIn the ritzy Fairmont Hotel at the top of swanky Nob Hill, you will find an indoor lagoon, complete with palm trees, fantastic tropical drinks, savory foods, flowers, and an occasional rain shower.

The Tonga Room was created in 1945, by Mel Melvin, the leading set designer at MGM, transforming the original hotel pool into an over the top Tiki Bar. The band would play on a barge floating in the middle of the lagoon, while guests dined around the edge of the water. Now and then, the sky opens up, and it rains… a nice tropical rain (but you don’t get wet).

Movie stars and others flocked to the Tonga Room for Scorpion Bowls and Egg Rolls. It was an instant success.

Today, the Tonga Room is still a destination for anyone visiting or living in San Francisco, who has a love for a kitchy and old fashioned type of Tiki bar. Drink, dance, listen to music… and remember how fun it was, and how fun it still is.

The Tonga Room Turns 70!

Tonga room 70

tonga roomSeptember 23rd, 2015, the famous Tonga Room celebrated it’s 70th Anniversary. As usual, the band played on a barge, and it rained…. But on this day, the room really shone! Food stations were placed around the room (including a massive roasted pig!), and, of course, special drinks were served. A Photo Booth captured the memories for everyone in attendance..

And who was there?

All the Tiki “super stars” were in attendance! Everyone dressed to the nines. (And, for some reason, a dog) (??)

It really was a night to remember.

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The Tonga Room San Francisco

Watch Anthony Bourdain experience the Tonga Room

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Trader Vic’s -Putting the “There” in Oakland, California

trader vics history




In 1937, Victor Bergeron transformed Hinky Dinks, his beer bar on the corner of 65th and San Pablo in Oakland overnight… He called it Trader Vic’s, after himself and his wheeling dealing ways. Vic loved Rum Drinks… he and his wife had even traveled the Caribbean on a shoe-string to learn to mix them. Rum Drinks, along with the decorative items they brought home from their travels, became the center of Trader Vic’s Empire.Vic would put on a show every night… entertaining while mixing… making everyone feel at home. He was a true showman, and he used his personality to bring in crowds.

Trader Vics XXX Rum - Vintage Bar Menu Cover by Kay c.1947 - Hawaiian Master Art Print - 13 x 19inTrader Vics XXX Rum – Vintage Bar Menu Cover by Kay c.1947 – Hawaiian Master Art Print – 13 x 19in

When the bar was still Hinky Dinks, Vic started serving “free lunch” at 5pm… usually Olives or another snack… to go along with the beer. The “free lunch” evolved to Happy Hour, and the food became a bit more elaborate. He looked to his favorite Cantonese food, served in nearby China Town. Ironically, the menu he served was made up primarily of foods that weren’t on the Ration list, so was able to keep serving his clients the flavorful crab rangoon, egg rolls, fried chicken livers that meshed so well with drinks like Tonga Punch and Hot Buttered Rum.

During World War 2, the proximity to the Alameda Naval Base helped his business thrive. Trader Vic’s became the unofficial Officers club across the estuary… and Vic took care of the servicemen. He made sure they ate steak in his place. But he wanted to do more. He began filling cardboard boxes with a few bottles of rum. Jeeps from the Naval Base made midnight runs to Trader Vic’s to collect the boxes…. which were then smuggled onto transport ships. Trader Vic’s Officer’s Clubs began to pop up all over the South Seas.

When the War ended… and the men came home… they remembered, and they came to drink at Vic’s. Herb Caen, the San Francisco columnist, spread the word… and suddenly, people were heading OUT of San Francisco for food and drink.

Trader Vic’s moves to Emeryville

trader vics

Over time, Trader Vic’s outgrew its Oakland location, and it moved to Emeryville… right on the water. They are a full service restaurant, as well as fabulous bar.

Other Trader Vic’s restaurants were built all over the US (and one in London)… most are gone now, but the legend of Trader Vic and his drinks lives on.

Trader Vic’s Recipe Books

You can re-create his drinks and “Polynesian” fare with these recipe books.

Trader Vic's Tiki Party!: Cocktails and Food to Share with FriendsTrader Vic’s Tiki Party!: Cocktails and Food to Share with FriendsTrader Vic's Bartender's Guide, RevisedTrader Vic’s Bartender’s Guide, RevisedTrader Vic's Book Of Food & DrinkTrader Vic’s Book Of Food & Drink

Trader Vic’s SECRET Mixers

Wnat to make the drinks JUST LIKE the Trader Vic’s Bartenders….? Stock up on some of these special Mixers…

Trader Vic's Mai Tai Mix, 33.8-Ounce BottleTrader Vic’s Mai Tai Mix, 33.8-Ounce BottleTrader Vic's OgreatTrader Vic’s OgreatTrader Vic's 63945 Rock Candy Syrup (SET OF 12 PER CASE)Trader Vic’s 63945 Rock Candy Syrup (SET OF 12 PER CASE)Mai Tai Mix Variety Three PackMai Tai Mix Variety Three Pack

More Trader Vic’s Swag

Trader Vic’s is more than drinks and nibbles… there are mugs and more…..

Vintage Trader Vic's tiki scorpion bowlVintage Trader Vic’s tiki scorpion bowl6 Trader Vic's Ceramic Coconut Tiki Mugs, Vintage Hawaiian Style Tiki Coconut Cups, Mid Century Tiki Barware6 Trader Vic’s Ceramic Coconut Tiki Mugs, Vintage Hawaiian Style Tiki Coconut Cups, Mid Century Tiki BarwareVintage Tiki Mug - Trader Vic's Big Shot Mug - Imperial GlassVintage Tiki Mug – Trader Vic’s Big Shot Mug – Imperial Glass1963 Trader Vics Coffee Grog Short Headdress Tiki Mug Black Ceramic1963 Trader Vics Coffee Grog Short Headdress Tiki Mug Black CeramicVintage Tiki Mug - Trader Vic's Tall Fog Cutter BrownVintage Tiki Mug – Trader Vic’s Tall Fog Cutter Brown

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