Is the Tiki drink revival here to stay? We hope so, for Sten Vd Berg’s sake. Not just because he serves them at the two bars he owns in Eindhoven, but because of his new tattoo (pictured above). We know of no greater commitment to Tiki drinks than tattooing yourself with their inventor: Don The Beachcomber’s newfound retro popularity may fade, but not the ink on Sten’s forearm.

Sten showed us this impressive homage to Don over a cheese-infused cocktail at Amsterdam’s Door 74 bar (they do love their cheese in Holland). The Beachbum was in town to co-judge the Bols Around The World competition, in which 11 mixologists from Bulgaria to Japan all made very creative — and very delicious — drinks incorporating Bols genever (a malty, whiskey-like Dutch spirit distilled from wheat, rye and corn).

Picking a winner wasn’t easy, but in the end Hungary’s Gábor Onufer took first prize with a cocktail he calls “The Merchant.” Recipe: 45 ml (1 1/2 ounces) Bols genever, 20 ml (just under 3/4 ounce) Bols apricot brandy, 15 ml (1/2 ounce) lemon juice, 5 ml (a little over 1 teaspoon) Pedro Ximenez sherry, a barspoon of simple syrup, and a dash of orange bitters; stir with ice, then strain into a cocktail coupe and garnish with an orange peel.


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Chapter Six of the Beachbum’s upcoming book (Potions of the Caribbean: 500 Years of Tropical Drinks … and the People Behind Them) is devoted to a now largely forgotten but once world-renowned creator of tropical drinks. The book won’t be out till the end of the year, but there will be a sneak preview of Chapter Six at the Museum of the American Cocktail in New Orleans this Monday, June 25.  After shaking up a round of Kiliki Coolers, the bum will present his slide-show seminar, “International Barman Of Mystery:  The Saga Of Joe Scialom.”  (That’s Joe pictured above, circa 1952.)

In case you missed Todd Price’s New Orleans Times-Picayune coverage last week, Joe’s amazing life story began in Cairo with him creating the Suffering Bastard — the infamous hangover cure that enabled Montgomery’s Desert Rats to win the battle of El Alamein — and continued in Havana, Paris, London, Istanbul and Manhattan as Joe slung drinks through two revolutions and three wars to become the world’s most famous midcentury bartender, serving the likes of Winston Churchill, Conrad Hilton, and Truman Capote along the way. For ticket info:



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Well, they finally did it.  They put the Beachbum to work.  But only for one night, and for a very good cause:  to get New Yorkers sloshed on tropical drinks.  From 6 p.m. to the wee hours, the bum will join Brian “Derelict” Miller and his Tiki Pirate crew slinging slings, punches and swizzles behind the bar of Lani Kai restaurant — in a very special episode of Brian’s Tiki Mondays series.

The bum cannot guarantee he’ll get your order right, or that he’ll correctly count your change, but he is certain you’ll have a good time — especially with the musical stylings of Pablus of Florida’s Crazed Mugs, playing live on the ukulele, and grass-skirted hula girls bearing Mystery Drink bowls.  It all happens here Monday June 18.
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With what’s left of his hair turning whiter than Coco Lopez cream of coconut, it’s hard to believe there was ever a time when the Beachbum was below drinking age. But in 1974, the 16-year-old aspiring vagrant was legally barred from Tiki bars. To get his Tiki fix, he had to go to a museum. Specifically, the Hall of Pacific Peoples wing of New York’s American Museum of Natural History. (That’s the bum pictured above in the summer of ’74, communing with the museum’s Easter Island moai.) The wing is a treasure-trove of authentic Polynesiana. On June 13, it will be a treasure-trove of faux-Polynesiana.

Because this Wednesday at 6:30 p.m., amid the wondrous, mysterious tribal artifacts of the museum’s South Pacific collection, the bum will present a 90-minute slide-show lecture — chased with three vintage Tiki cocktail samples — on America’s 40-year faux-Polynesian restaurant craze, particularly its impact on New York City’s dining and drinking scene.

In the 1960s, at the height of the 40-year Tiki drink craze which began after Prohibition and died with Disco, Manhattan was sometimes referred to as “Hawaii’s ninth island.” Sophisticated young professionals hired caterers to throw “urban luaus” in their apartments, and dined in Manhattan’s lavishly decorated, high-priced, South Pacific-themed restaurants: Hawaii Kai on Broadway, the Gauguin Room at Columbus Circle, the Luau 400 on East 57th, The Hawaiian Room at the Hotel Lexington and Trader Vic’s in the Savoy-Plaza Hotel, to name a few.

We’ll take a guided tour of them all, under the watchful eyes of the Polynesian, Melanesian and Australasian gods of the museum’s Pacific wing — whose wrath we shall endeavor not to incur. For ticketing info on the seminar, which is part of the museum’s “Adventures in the Global Kitchen” series:



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You are forgiven for not recalling Part One, since that post appeared here some four years ago.  The Bum would have followed it up sooner, if he wasn’t a bum.  At any rate, here are more sightings of Tiki drinks on TV:

THE APARTMENT (1960):  Fred MacMurray downs Daiquiris with Shirley Maclaine in a perfect example of a mid-century Polynesian restaurant (although the piano player looks like he stumbled onto the wrong set while looking for the Casablanca remake).

A SHOT IN THE DARK (1964):  In this sequel to The Pink Panther, Peter Sellers and Capucine survive assassination attempts — and supersized drinks in pineapple shells — at a Trader Vic’s-style Polynesian restaurant that looks even better than the one in The Apartment.

BACK TO THE BEACH (1987):  This parody of the 1960s American International “beach party” movies looks even more slapdash than the originals.  It does round up some original cast members (what else did they have to do?), but most of them have not aged well — except for Connie Stevens, who’s never looked better, especially with a vintage tiki mug in her hand.  And then there’s the Big Kahuna Bar, where Frankie Avalon chugs a drink called the “Stunned Mollusk.”

DIAMOND HEAD (1963):  In addition to Yvette Mimieux doing the hula, this soaper prominently features a Ku warrior tiki in the front yard of Charlton Heston’s Hawaiian plantation estate.  No doubt Ku was displeased by the fact that Heston drinks bourbon in his presence instead of okolehao.

DONOVAN’S REEF (1963):  Aside from the not inconsiderable pleasures of watching Lee Marvin punch out John Wayne in a tropical island bar, there’s the bar itself — which features two tikis guarding the entrance, and another hiding behind the piano (a wise decision, as just about everything in the bar is destroyed except him).

PAGAN ISLAND (1960):  Stranded on a tropical isle inhabited by women who have never seen a man, a sailor angers Queen Kealoha by teaching nubile Nani Maka how to kiss.  Turns out Nani’s been promised to the Sea God, a jaw-droppingly strange stone statue with a head shaped like two 1950s Cadillac tail fins joined at the nose (pictured above).  Miami-based sculptor Lewis Van Dercar created the Sea God; whatever contraband he was ingesting at the time, we want some.

THE RIGHT APPROACH (1961):  Five young men on the make set up a bachelor pad in an abandoned Polynesian restaurant called the “Hideaway Hut.”  We wholeheartedly agree:  this is indeed the right approach.


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