For 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.
Someone 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
To 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
The 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).