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Mar 31, 2013 01:43 PM

Tiki? Tikki? Tiki Bar? Enlighten me

On more than one current post, CHers are lamenting the demise and disappearance of THE TIKI BAR.

At the ripening age of 44 with a completely nonalcoholic background, I'm clueless. Say "tiki" to me, and I think two things--
The Tikitikitiki tiki barrrr song from Disney
Dishes enhanced with canned Dole heated through with Heinz. and called Polynesian.
OH-- and I guess I get a "bamboo hut" image.
But that's all.

So-- definitions? Menus? Must haves? Stories? Glories? [and maybe a few horrors to boot]

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  1. Tiki was sort of a faux Polynesian food and "tropical" drinks from the late 1930's through 1970, and in some places still going strong. The restaurants have very fanciful Polynesian themed interiors, and exteriors for some as well. The drinks were complicated with all kinds of house made syrups and mixes, using fresh fruit and juices, and typically very strong. The recipes were usually kept secret, and the drinks are very good.

    I recommend the books be Jeff "Beachbum" Berry. The three to get are Beachbum Berry Remixed, a compilation of his first two books, Sippin' Safari, and one food one, can't remember the name. they have tons of accurate history, and hundreds of the original recipes that he tracked down.

    4 Replies
    1. re: JMF

      I'm still not a drinker, although I cook with wine when I want/can.

      So nonalcoholic versions of many of these drinks would be...okay? They 'd turn into complex smoothies?

      1. re: Kris in Beijing

        They'd basically be a bunch of fruit juices mixed together, plus syrup. Eh.

        1. re: linguafood

          Sounds justtttt like the chain smoothie places' recipe, plus ice.

        2. re: Kris in Beijing

          I'll post some non-alcoholic tiki drinks. I just have to pull them out of my files tomorrow.

      2. Zombie is a good example for a tiki drink.

        1. Check out Kipling's Rikki Tikki Tavi, or Donovan's Rikki Tikki Tavi mongoose is gone (there are reggae versions that are better). Tiki bar definition? On the water, thatch palapa roof over pole frame. Menu? Bar seafood - coconut shrimp, blackened fish sandwiches, blender drinks. Must haves? Either a Caribbean/Jamaican beat, or straight teeth and cleavage. Stories? I plead the fifth. Many hours under the thatch here. Glories? Ask her. Horrors? No, it's all good.

          1. If you're really interested, you might lay your hands on a copy of Trader Vic's cookbook. I've got one published in '68. It provides a good cross-section of Tiki dishes, and drinks, too, I bleeve.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Perilagu Khan

              I went to Trader Vics on NYE in 1980? 81? Amazing! The height of cool for someone under the legal drinking ageā€¦

            2. I have one!

              I converted a covered area outside into an outdoor tiki bar 1940 to1960 era. It is a big hit with my friends and family. Bamboo bar and bar stools, ceiling fan, tabletop grill, blender, rat pack music and Elvis on the outside stereo, vintage candleholders and tiki masks, vintage bar wear: wood tiki mugs, vintage Polynesian coasters, 50's glass wear and app plates. Specialites of the house are Mai tai's and zombies. Rumaki and chicken skewers are popular.

              Very fun.

              5 Replies
              1. re: sedimental

                You will need orgeat for many fun tiki drinks.

                1. re: sedimental

                  Rat Pack - Tiki connection?

                  I KNOW I could go a'googling, but you guys are going to give me so much more... right? : )

                  1. re: Kris in Beijing

                    Never heard of a Rat Pack tiki connection.

                    1. re: Kris in Beijing

                      Heck, just buy Berry's books, cheap on Amazon.

                      1. re: Kris in Beijing

                        My bar is a 50s and 60s tikibar. My decor and ambiance is of that era. A bit kitschy to say the least ....Elvis Blue Hawaii, etc. I modeled it after my families tiki rooms during that time. Many of my relatives had them. I guess they were just super cool...uh....or maybe just big drinkers.?

                        My aunt and uncle had a "lanai" also (but I didn't go that far).... :)