Cocktails & Spirits

The Hukilau 2015 Helps You Set up a Home Tiki Bar (Photos)

This past weekend's Hukilau transformed Fort Lauderdale into an exotic tropical island with its parties, potent rum cocktails, and seminars. Arguably the best part of the event was the Tiki Marketplace at the Hyatt Regency Pier 66 resort., selling everything from vintage Hawaiian shirts to hot sauces. The marketplace was also the perfect spot to finally get a start on working on that Tiki Bar you've been threatening to build.  

But how do you start your very own Tiki Bar?  What do you look for in a Tiki mug?  And how much money should you spend? Here's a good primer, courtesy of some of the friendly vendors at the Hukilau's Tiki marketplace. 
This bar is an imitation Witco, the company that furnished Elvis' famous Jungle Room. This home bar doesn't take up too much room, so it's perfect for an apartment. At $200 for the bar and another $125 for both chairs, the price is right, too.

Decor is an important part of a Tiki Bar. Freda Nichols of Aloha Art & Alligators collects and sells everything from maps of Hawaii to old Airline posters to a lighted blowfish. Carved coconut heads and totems round out the look.

Vintage Tiki mugs are true collectibles, but you have to know what you're looking for. Freda Nichols says that mugs from classic bars like Trader Vic's and Harvey's in Lake Tahoe are worth snatching up. Look under the mug for the manufacturer. A true vintage mug should be made by Orchids of Hawaii or Otagiri. Expect to pay around $25-30 for a well-kept mug that's free of cracks,although rare items like the Suffering Bastard mug from Trader Vic's could command as much as $250. Nichols says to always be on the hunt for vintage Tiki items at garage sales and thrift stores.
Hand crafted Tiki mugs are another way to go. Tiki Tony's hand made ceramic mugs include whimsical characters like Koke Parrot, Ellie the Elephant, and a tipsy pineapple ($80-100 each)
The Hukilau also offered a collectible mug, complete with his own lit torch.

You'll also need a vintage shaker. Most come as part of a set that includes highball or shot glasses. These are particularly clever. 
All these vessels and nothing to drink? Stock up on some local rum. Wicked Dolphin's rum shine, an ode to moonshine, is a good base to your own cocktail creation.
Tahiti Joe's hot sauce makes a great tropical version of a Bloody Mary. Just add white rum instead of vodka, Clamato juice, and some liberal shakes of this hot sauce for new version of a Sunday morning classic.

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Laine Doss is the food and spirits editor for Miami New Times, covering the restaurant and bar scene in South Florida. She has been featured on Cooking Channel’s Eat Street and Food Network’s Great Food Truck Race. Doss won an Alternative Weekly award for her feature on what it’s like to wait tables. In a previous life, she appeared off-Broadway and shook many a cocktail as a bartender at venues in South Florida and New York City. When she’s not writing, you can find Doss running some marathon then celebrating at the nearest watering hole.
Contact: Laine Doss