Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Post-Hukilau 2012.

Go here for a wrap up.
I originally volunteered to work one shift, but then an APB went out that those who pulled a 2nd shift could attend a symposium of their choosing at no charge.
Then, the lovely & gracious Tiki Kiliki asked if I could come by a day early with a printer (I had a spare) and so I did, spending a few hours formatting and printing. Then, on the day of the symposium I wanted to attend -- Jeff "Beachbum" Berry's History of the Zombie -- I was asked to help out at the merch booth, as TK herself had been pressed into duty and she was needed elsewhere. Sunday, when I went to pick up the printer, I got some additional volunteerin' done packing up extra mugs for redelivery.
So, um, yeah, I managed to work 4.5 shifts.
And I loved every bloody nanosecond of it.
The attendees -- and there is a spectrum -- are generally exceedingly nice and pleasant. There is a whole raft of things to do, and, let's be honest...there are cocktails.
In the Republic of Tiki, there are many provinces. You have folks doing that whole pinup/rockabilly trip, you have people who glom on to the kitschy aspects, there are those into it for the music (lounge, rockabilly, surf, hapa haole, exotica, etc.), some people like that Mid Century vibe, others authentic Polynesiacs, and finally some cocktailians.
Most people, like me, fall in more than one category.
But for today's purposes, let's focus on Tiki drinks.

One thing that finally dawned on me, after trying verrrrrrry hard to be fair is that in terms of cocktail camps I have decided that I prefer the rummy aesthetic of Trader Vic over that of Don the Beachcomber.

YES, DtB invented Tiki. YES, without DtB there would be no TV. YES, DtB pioneered the use of multiple base spirits, and crazy syrup and juice combinations. But on the whole, to my palate, Trader Vic's drinks taste better on average. I was having this discussion via Twitter (probably the least efficient way to do so, admittedly) with the estimable Doug Winship, who is one of the Top Twenty Cocktail People Blogging These Days (I'm guessing because he is one of the few that still bothers to blog every once in a while) and we both had arrived at a way to condense the mixological differences between Don & Vic: Falernum vs. Orgeat. A case could be made, similarly, for grapefruit vs. lemon juice.

I'll give Don the advantage in the layering of flavors and the intringuing notes and all that. Problem is that too many times, too many of those layers are those about which I'm mostly "meh." This is not to say, at all, anything against Don, many of whose drinks I'd happily consume (and have), especially the Navy Grog and the Pearl Diver. But, to my guests -- admittedly neither hardcore cocktailians nor Tikiphiles -- Vic's drinks tastes more "tropical" or more "Tiki" than Don's. At my home bar, if I were to keep score, the results would overwhelmingly skew Vic-wards. Funky rums, potent proportions, and multiple spices just don't register with the average (not the hyper-avid Tikiphile) cocktail fan.

For the purposes of home bartending for a crowd of not-especially-rabid-Tiki-cocktailians, mixing TV drinks vs. DtB is no contest. Pull up any recipe and you'll see that TV's recipes are far less irregular in measures, more accessible in proportion, and easier to source ingredient-wise. Once you have managed to find and add to your existing rig 2-3 good aged rums, assorted fruit juices or frozen pulp for the rarer tropical fruits (with which you may also make juices/syrups, although you may also buy Blair's giga-excellent passion fruit syrup) and made/purchased orgeat and made/purchased real grenadine, you're set, TVwise.

For DtB, you're in for a spree, as you need falernum, Don's Mix, Don's Spices #2 (and who knows how many other Don's Spices #whatever), cinnamon syrup, allspice dram, ginger syrup and a cellarful of rums many of which seem to have been distilled from pure unobtainium. (As of this writing, Lemon Hart 151 Demerara rum, a key component in the DtB ouvre, is still in needle-haystack territory.) In short, give half your money to Blair Reynolds and the other half to your local liquor store.

Don's ingredient arsenal seems far more dependent on "unitaskers" vs. "multitaskers."

So there it is.
Beyond the cocktailiness, we had Swanky's "biography" of the Mai-Kai (the most hallowed ground in Tikidom) and excellent, excellent music. Oh, and the wildly awesome folks from PKNY and Lani-Kai (their "flight" of Mai-Tais was glorious) and Sailor Jerry (which conducted a free symposium, to boot) providing complimentary cocktails to those in attendance.
If you're ever in Manhattan, please swing by and give these excellent persons your business. (In the case of Sailor Jerry, your local liquor store will do.)


Blogger Tiare said...

Hm..interesting with your writing on the various styles of tikiphiles..i myself is a Polynesiac Cocktailian of some sort...also i really enjoy both DtB AND VicĀ“s drinks, both:-) but i do lean more heavily towards funky rums and spices though..

I hope i can attend the Hukilau someday..

4:43 PM  
Blogger Joke said...


1) It is my hope that our European Tiki cousins get to attend Hukilau soon (I'm also working on Ivan "Bastardo Saffrin" Castro to come!).

2) Something that was VERY cool was seeing the teams from PKNY and Lani Kai -- which, being from New York, SHOULD mean they would be the most jaded -- heading excitedly for the Mai Kai, almost like pilgrims going to a shrine.

3) I like both also! (But prefer Vic, but I could go for a Missionary's Downfall right about now...)

1:02 AM  

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