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!



How to Make a Chi Chi Drink

how to make chi chi frozen drinkI’m not a huge fan of “sweet” Tiki Drinks… but after trying one, I had to learn How to make a Chi Chi Drink. Granted… I was at the Kona Club, and had already had a Daiquiri… and a Mai Tai (but who’s counting?) when I saw this T-shirt on the wall… It had Tom Selleck on it saying  “Real Men Drink Chi Chis”.

Well.. I’m not a man…. but damn it, I’ve always been a sucker for Magnum … don’t know if it was the mustache, the shirts or the Palm Trees (could THAT be where my love for all things Aloha comes from?)

Despite the kindly bartender warning (he knows my taste) I insisted on trying one.


Think about a Chi Chi Frozen Drink as a Milk Shake (excuse me… Smoothie) with Alcohol. The flavor of Macadamia Nut and Coconut swirl through the rich frozen treat… and wait? Is that Pineapple? yes it is! It’s like the Hawaiian Dessert Menu from 1972 run through a blender .. with booze.

Works for me!

How to Make Chi Chi Frozen Drink

How to Make a Chi Chi Drink

8 minutes

Yield: 2 Tiki Mugs full

How to Make a Chi Chi Drink



  • Put the Ice, Pineapple Juice, Coconut Cream, Vodka, and Macadamia Nut Liqueur into a blender.
  • Blend until relatively smooth.
  • Pour into 2 Mugs (I used a glass, to show how it looks)
  • Top with an Umbrella
  • Put on a rerun of Magnum PI and enjoy!
Recipe Management Powered by Zip Recipes Plugin

Cream of Coconut

Please don’t mix up Cream of Coconut/ Coconut Cream with Coconut Milk or Coconut Water. They aren’t the same thing at all! Cream of Coconut is thick, sweet and cloying… while coconut water is meant to be healthy. You can find Cream of Coconut in the Adult Beverages section of most stores that carry a reasonable selection of alcohol and mixers. It comes in cans or squeezie bottles. I prefer bottles, because they are fun.  (I also use Coconut Cream in baking… YUM!)

I Love This Chi Chi Bar Sign

how to make chi chi drinkChi Chi Lounge Sign


Looking for Tiki Mugs?

Where Did Rum Come From? Rum: a Global History

where did rum come fromRum: A Global History (Edible)

Rum: A Global History by Richard Foss should be required reading for anyone who considers themselves a Tiki-phile. When you think about it, Rum, that golden elixir of the Sugar Cane, is at the center of our worship. It’s only right that we know the answers to these basic questions…. Where Did Rum Come From? What is Rum made of? How is Rum made? And what effect did Rum have on Global History?

Now, before you spin off into a panic with High School Pop Quiz flash-backs…. I have some good news for you. Rum: A Global History is a very engaging read. You may not even want to put the book down. Richard Foss presents the material in a way that is entertaining, interesting, and even funny. He even suggests that you read it while drinking rum (what High School teacher ever gave you that advice?)

Where Did Rum Come From?

You may (or may not) be surprised to learn just how much of United States history, and the history of the “New World” was tied up in Rum. Nation’s economies were entirely tied up in the production of rum (in some places it actually replaced money). The British Navy allocated their Sailors a ration of rum daily (and did so through 1970). And Slavery, while not entirely a result of the rum trade, was certainly increased because of rum… slaves were needed to work in the Sugar Cane fields, and these same slaves were given rum to keep them from rebelling.

where did rum come from
photo courtesy wikipedia

Remember that Trade Triangle from High School? (The thing your history teacher was droning on about?) Big part of the Triangle…. Rum.

Growing conditions for Sugar Cane in the Caribbean and South America were excellent, so businessmen swooped in to cash on the sweet tooth that was developing in Europe and America. Of course… when you produce sugar from Sugar Cane, you end up with a sticky sweet byproduct… Molasses… run that Molasses through the distilling process (something that humans have been doing for many years) and Ta Da! Rum.

Of course, the early rum was of the lowest quality. In fact, the worst rum you’ve ever tasted (going back to that party in high school… thank goodness for Cola) is far superior to any of the rum that existed then. No problem… the upper classes were drinking other things, so Rum was left to the worker bees.

Eventually, Rum was improved. Better distillation (in Brazil, they were actually cooking it in CLAY pots… you can imagine just how tasty that mud must have been), and aging the rum in old wine barrels improved rum to what we have today.

Rum in the 20th Century- The TIKI Revolution

rum a global history
WHOOO..signed copy!

When Prohibition (hereafter to be referred to as “that black spot in history”) ended in 1935, most of the New England Whiskey distilleries were still not up to speed, but companies like Bacardi had plenty of Rum on hand ready to export. Ernest Gannt opened a swank little spot called Donn the Beachcomber in Los Angeles,  and created some crazy Tropical Drinks, like the Zombie and Navy Grog,  to match the breezy Polynesian style. Up in San Francisco, Victor Bergeron redecorated his old bar Hinky Dinks with Tikis, palm leaves and Puffer fish, christened it Trader Vic’s, and came up with his signature drink… the Mai Tai.

And it was good.

Rum Today

As Richard Foss points out, today Rum is making a new resurgence. What once was a means of keeping Slaves sedate, is treated like Whiskeys or Fine Wines. New processes of blending and aging is creating Rums that are flat out amazing.

Why Should you Read Rum A Global History?

I was lucky enough to hear Richard speak about Rum at Tiki Oasis (and was VERY lucky to try some of the wonderful and rare rums he brought along). His knowledge of the topic goes quite deep… but his treatment is very approachable. The book, Rum: A Global History,  is less than 150 pages (with LOADS of photos). Yet, in this short book, you will learn all you need to know about the production of rum, the history of rum (including some great stories about those Founding Fathers that no one bothered to tell you before), and what wonderful things are happening in the rum industry today. He’s even included some recipes for drinks that you may want to try…. (although, truth is, some of these early recipes seem a bit… sketchy (let eggs, sugar and cream sit a few days… add beer, rum and a hot poker…. YIKES).

After reading this book, you will know the difference between Rhum Agricole and Rhum Industriale, you’ll understand the etiology of words like rummage, and most importantly, you will be able to appreciate where your rum comes from.

And maybe, just maybe, you will love your Daiquiris so much more….

Where to buy RUM: A Global History

You can find the book, both new and used, on Amazon.

Rum: A Global History (Edible)Rum: A Global History (Edible)


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).

wine gifts

Dark n Stormy Drink Recipe- A Refreshing Drink for a “Fool or Dead Man”

dark n stormy drink recipe“It was a Dark and Stormy night…” words inspire thoughts of horror films, Snoopy and best of all, the Dark n Stormy Drink Recipe… This combination of Ginger Beer and Dark Rum just works! It’s strong and flavorful with a hint of lime that gives it a spark of freshness, perfect to cool you off on a hot day… yet according to a World War 1 sailor a Dark and Stormy is the  “colour of a cloud only a fool or a dead man would sail under.”

This is a drink I make at home quite frequently. It’s similar to a Moscow Mule… but Dark Rum takes the place of Vodka, and shifts the flavor to a different place. It’s got a deeper taste. Unlike many Tiki drinks, we aren’t dealing with sweet syrups or fruity flavors, the Dark and Stormy fills your mouth with a punch of ginger and then a mysterious darkness. Keep the ingredients on hand, and you can go “Tiki” without a huge fuss or blender.

Dark and Stormy Cocktail History

A Dark n Stormy Cocktail is found on the menus of most Tiki Bars. The recipe goes back to the late 1800’s, when the Gosling family in Bermuda started playing around with darker rums and came up with the dark, full-bodied Gosling’s Black Seal. Around that same time, the British Royal Navy began serving their sailors Ginger beer, most likely because ginger helps calm sea sickness. It didn’t take much time for the two to come together, along with some of the ubiquitous lime, and you have the ultimate sailor’s drink…. Lime to prevent scurvy, ginger to keep your tummy calm, and rum to help you forget you are at sea…

Dark n Stormy Drink Recipe

Dark stormy drink recipeTraditionally, a Dark and Stormy is made with Gosling’s Black Seal Rum. Supposedly, other dark rums will work… but I wouldn’t bother. We keep a bottle (or two) of Gosling’s on hand all the time, just for this drink. It’s not the most expensive, and it’s not difficult to find. While I’m not crazy about it straight, I’ve yet to find a better rum for a Dark and Stormy.

As for Ginger Beer? Use real Ginger BEER, not Ginger Ale. It’s not the same thing.


2 ounces Gosling’s Black Seal Rum
1/2 ounce Lime Juice
6 ounces Ginger Beer


Fill a Tiki Glass (Highball) with ice. Add the Rum and Lime Juice.
Top with Ginger Beer.

Drink up!


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!


wine gifts

I Dream of Tiki…. Tiki Oasis 15 Memories

Tiki Oasis 15

tiki oasis mugIt’s been a week now since I unpacked my suitcases loaded with floral print tiki oasis pool partydresses, Aloha Shirts, Cosmic Laser guns and the newest Tiki mugs that I bought at Tiki Oasis 15… but I still have Tiki Dreams… I close my eyes at night, and it all rushes back into my head; surf rock, giant Moai, and rum all jumble together in a colorful swirl.

I wake in my own bed and feel a little lost, the connection slowly slipping from my consciousness. I’m back in the mundane real world.

Tiki Oasis 15

tiki oasis 2015
Every year Tiki Oasis works with a theme, and this year’s “Yesterday’s Future TODAY” was like a blast from our future past. Most people took the opportunity to put on costumes from Space Shows and movies of the 50s and early 60s. The creativity was awesome! Imagine Disney’s Tomorrowland populated by people from mars… but wearing Aloha shirts…

What is it that brings hundreds of people to the Crown Plaza in San Diego to worship the Tiki god; to drink, to laugh, to dance, to learn, and to wear wild floral prints? Is it a desire for a time that never really existed? A simpler mid-century lifestyle? Many of us are old enough where we caught a bit of that time in childhood. It’s a memory of parents or grandparents laughing in the backyard with a cocktail in hand. It’s a photo of a trip to Hawaii with a visit to the Polynesian Cultural Center, or a Luau with Fire Dancers.  Maybe it’s the colorful dresses, worn at a time when fashion was straight lines, couture was important, and bold colors were a break from the dreary every day. For some it might be the music, lively and fun without the harsh synchronized beat that we hear all too often on the radio.

Tiki Oasis is a chance to connect with others who share that desire. Age, tiki oasis gogo dancerappearance and economic status lose importance. Friendships are formed over the print on a shirt or the mug in your hand. Who you are in the real world matters less than your enthusiasm for a surf band and some awesome go-go dancers.

tiki oasis crowdOtto and Baby Doe von Stroheim have created this wonderful fantasy world for Tiki-philes. What started as a backyard luau has evolved into a fabulous party for 3000! But, Tiki Oasis is more than just a 4 day Bacchanalia. Certainly, you can spend your time at the Crown Plaza in a Rum soaked haze, dancing and floating from one room party to the next. But you can also turn it into a fun family vacation by the pool. (Yes, there were full families in attendance…. kids and all. Special programs and rooms are set aside for the young ones, everyone is welcome in the pool, and overall, the event is family friendly…)

DJ’s spinning records all day and high energy Bands (like Jason Lee and the Rip Tides) played well into the evenings giving the scene a constant party atmosphere. Dancing and drinking were the norm, but I never saw anyone take it over the top. It was as if everyone was there for a good time, and no one wanted to wreck it by going too far.

rumsession2rumsession  rumsession3  tikioasis15_4

Tiki oasis 15
El Vez Crowning Miss Tiki Oasis

Well planned seminars
give us a chance to learn. Topics like “Where did the rum come from”? “What is the best way to mix a drink?” “How can I throw a tiki party on a budget?” “What are the basics of surf guitar? And what the heck does “tiki” mean anyway?? We even heard from the legendary Sven Kirsten (author of Tiki Pop… and all around Tiki Icon). These talks were more interesting than anything I learned in school… and most of them included a cocktail!

And don’t forget, it’s a chance to shop! Find that perfect hand carved sign for your bar…. buy 2 or 3 (or 5) new Tiki mugs that you just can’t live without from the talented artists who created them… and of course, you need that fabulous new dress for tonight’s room crawl.


Tiki Oasis us all together.

In the real world things move at the speed of light and there isn’t much time to breathe. We text, snap chat, and the internet zaps information around the world before we get the chance to finish a thought.

Tiki Oasis takes us back.

tiki oasis friends

It’s a loosening of life that allows us to slow down, to savor bold colors, exotic music and newly forged friendships with kindred spirits. It’s a way to remember that not everything must be cold and digitized.


And we remember what we think might have been. We strive to touch a memory … A simpler life….. with a lot of rum.

tiki oasis rum seminar
Rum and then some

And remember everyone….

A video posted by Tiki Time (@itsalwaystikitime) on

It’s Always Tiki Time! at Tiki Oasis

Tiki Mugs Cult Artifacts of Polynesian Pop- The ULTIMATE Tiki Mug Book

Tiki Mugs Cult Artifacts of Polynesian PopTiki Mugs: Cult Artifacts of Polynesian Pop

Whether you are just getting started collecting Tiki Mugs, or if you had to build a new addition to your home to house your current collection, Tiki Mugs: Cult Artifacts of Polynesian Pop by Jay Strongman is an essential addition to your Tiki library.

This book is loaded with hundreds of fabulous photos of Tiki mugs that will leave you drooling for more. It is serious eye candy for any Tiki Lover! Ok, yes, the book is a little pricey…. but, it is an encyclopedia of Tiki Mugs, and a must for anyone who is investing time and money into collecting.

Tiki Mugs: Cult Artifacts of Polynesian Pop

I love the set up of the book. It begins with a history of Tiki. What was it, and just how big did it get? Legendary Tiki restaurants and Tiki performers are remembered in word and photograph. Old menus, bamboo architecture and hula girls in black and white tell the tale of the 1950’s Polynesian  love affair. Then it moves on to the Tiki Revival stage… what brought Tiki back from the wrecking ball and Thrift Shop? Turns out… nostalgia and Rockabilly were heavily involved….

Tiki mug collecting


The Tiki Mug as an Art Form

Strongman calls Tiki Mugs what they are… an Art Form. This isn’t much of an exaggeration. Think about it. These amazing creations are carved or molded with as much care and attention to detail as any statue or artifact you might find in a museum, by artisans who truly love their craft. The Tiki Mug is not merely a vessel for getting the Mai Tai from the Bartender to your mouth, it’s a symbol of a culture! (Although, thankfully, that symbol does get the Mai Tai to your mouth rather well….).

My favorite section of the book is the gallery. Mugs are grouped by type…whether they are Stone Faced Easter Island Moai or Wildly Tattooed Maori or even a Gruesome Shrunken Head… each mug is photographed to show off it’s amazing beauty.

tiki mugs book

These fabulous Tiki Mugs, once relegated to Thrift Store dollar bins, are now highly collectible and quite valuable. To tiki mugs booklearn much more about them, read “Tiki Mugs: Cult Artifacts of Polynesian Pop”.


From Amazon– “Written by a recognized expert in the field, this resource includes the complete production listings of the major manufacturers, from 1950 to today. An essential purchase for specialists, the photos and descriptions of styles such as the Frankentiki and the Monkey Mugstack will provide brilliant inspiration for those new to collecting.”


“Tiki Mugs: Cult Artifacts of Polynesian Pop”

Order now from Amazon or Ebay


Tiki Mugs: Cult Artifacts of Polynesian Pop

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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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