GIN & SONIC

Tiki drinks and Tiki tunes are colliding all over the map these days.

In Swansea, Wales, Alastair Jenkins and his surf band The Hangmen name half the tracks on their new CD after Tiki drinks, including “Singapore Slingers,”  “Shrunken Skull Stomp,” and our personal favorite, “Zombie Surf Party.”

Sweden’s The Archers, another surf band that never has to worry about getting a sunburn, opt to name their songs not after Tiki drinks, but after your humble Bum and his books.  They’ve got a single called “Beach Bum Bonanza” (pictured above), and another in the pipeline called “Sippin’ Safari.”

The ukulele combo Crazed Mugs, who hail from Florida’s Tampa Bay area, pay homage to two of the Bum’s favorite Tiki bars, the Mai-Kai and Smuggler’s Cove, in their upcoming CD Finding Forbidden Island; Southern California’s Ding Dong Devils, who sound like a sort of B-52s lite (The B-26s?), serenade two iconic Tiki drinks in their luau anthems “Sufferin’ Bastard” and “Mai Tais in the Moonlight.”

And then there’s Sven Kirsten’s vintage Polynesian Pop collection, The Sound Of Tiki.  Sven’s 2000 tome The Book of Tiki kick-started today’s retro Tiki revival.  A music CD was originally to be included with the book, but the publisher nixed it as too expensive.  “I was also supposed to lower printing costs by cutting pages from each chapter of the book,” Sven told us, “so I decided just to lop off the whole last chapter about Exotica music, in order to leave the other ones intact.”  Over a decade later, the CD has finally seen the light of day, along with a lavishly illustrated 47-page booklet including the text of Book Of Tiki’s missing music chapter.

The whole package is lovingly curated, with cherry-picked tracks running the gamut from hapa-haole and surf to the classic midcentury Exotica now referenced by revivalists like Mr. Ho’s Orchestrotica, a Boston-based, jazz-inflected outfit that plays addictive instrumental throwbacks to the work of past masters like Esquivel and Les Baxter.

When it comes to obscure Poly Pop references, Mr. Ho out-tikis them all with his new CD, Third River Rangoon.  Track Ten, “Lonesome Aku of Alewife,” laments the desecration of the 20-foot-tall tiki that fronted Cambridge’s defunct Aku-Aku restaurant, which is now a generic seafood eatery; the tiki still stands, but it’s been repurposed as a Gloucester fisherman.

Third River Rangoon also has its own drink, created by the CD’s producer, Boston bar fixture Brother Cleve.  Recipe: In a wine goblet, combine 1 ounce each fresh lime juice, falernum, and Mandarin Napoleon liqueur; add 1/2 ounce cinnamon syrup, stir with ice, top with 2 ounces of Mekhong Thai rum, and garnish with an orchid.

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  1. […] As Beachbum Berry points out, classic Tiki drinks have begun to inspire a new generation of musicians, such as The Hangmen, who […]