[by john]

(conga room via flickr)

my former self knew nothing about tiki. about the island culture that can flavor your drink beyond the falernum and tiki bitters. about the music, the forget-the-weather-outside vibe, and the crazy carved demigods. that former self is, well, still drunk on three kinds of rum, leaving me to tell the tale.

eastern standard held a tiki bash this weekend that only eastern standard could throw. jackson cannon greeted mike and i with trader vic's punch (rum, more rum, even more rum, orgeat, orange and lemon juice) from a flower-laden tropical punch bowl. that knocked us into our seats, where we played bobby's captive audience.

bobby mccoy is a bartender at e.s. who caught the tiki bug, and taught us a bit about the rise(s) and fall(s) of tiki culture in the states. tiki apparently got big in the early 1900's, when travel by sea (to, say, polynesia) became easier. it was revived during prohibition when peopled traveled to drink, then re-revived after prohibition when (unaged) rum was easier to come by than (aged) whiskies, by the enterprising don the beachcomber, then re-re-revived in the '80s, and currently re-re-re....revived due to the focus on fresh citrus and complex spice flavors.

he made a zombie punch, with FOUR (count 'em) ounces of different rums. smooth sailing from then on, needless to say. paired with a coconut shrimp salad.

brother cleve was next up, and detailed a rambling musical history of tikification, including the necessary cocaine use. he presented his drink from the last tales of the cocktail, the cactus flower. eleven ingredients (including prickly pear puree - ask mike about it) later, i had a tasty drink and part of a roasted pig in front of me. i was starting to understand this tiki thing...

sugar-crusted donuts and a wild, spicy batavia arrack-based non-standard tiki drink rounded out the polynesian afternoon (did i mention it was still light out?).

before i stepped back into the cold, bostonian real world, i had come to realize that the flavors weren't the whole tiki story; a large part was the other fun people sitting at the long table, enjoying the alternate world they had entered and agreeing, 'yeah, this drink is a strong one!'. tiki transports to a -state-, more than a place, and that is why it is alive and well in new england.


  1. Glad you enjoyed it, be sure to join us at Ohana Luau at the Lake for more of the same on a grand scale in September.

  2. Nice to meet you (again), John and Michael. Let me know when you're staging your next cocktail party.

  3. I'm a little late to the game here (having slipped out of the state for a spell), but I enjoyed your recounting of the afternoon. It was fun sitting across the table from observational gastrophysics, and I look forward to keeping up with your blog.