I've become pretty obsessed with all things tiki lately (well, as it relates to drinks, at least). And I know that in the bartending world, I'm probably at least five years late to the party. I just said to a friend in the beer industry that I heard goses were "so in." She cut me a look, and said, "yeah, like three months ago" - meaning more that by the time the mainstream hears about a trend, the industry is off and running to the next new thing. But I'm still tiki'ing over here - I don't think we've jumped the shark yet!
For those of you who might need some background, tiki culture first came to the U.S. in the mid-1930s, and then became trendy in the 50s and 60s after WWII. Many men returned home after spending time in the South Pacific, and the tiki culture reminded them of the "exotic" lands they'd spent time in. Combine it with the SoCal mod scene, and you've got the perfect mix of scenester escapism. (Note: avoid racism and cultural appropriation by focusing on the fantasy of paradise and not so much the tiki sculptures that Maori people hold sacred.)
But by the 80s, the drinks had gotten all syrupy and overdone (so I hear) and were due for a makeover. The craft cocktail renaissance of the 00s kicked out the corn syrup and brought the Mai Tai, the Zombie, the Pina Colada back into balance.
|Mai Tais at Eventide Oyster Co.|
My favorite place to get tiki drinks in Portland is, hands down, Eventide Oyster Co. I gravitate towards the rum tiki drinks - so I enjoy the Mai Tai, the Walking Dead, and on occasions, a Scorpion Bowl. In addition to Caribbean rums, flavored syrups, and fresh juices, Eventide's bartenders complete the effect with great garnishes like paper umbrellas, bendy straws, and fresh fruit. Sipping on one becomes very "Calgon, take me away."
I'm working on building my home tiki bar (OK, I should say, Original Roomie A. is building one on my behalf), so I'm looking forward to the Tiki Cocktail Seminar during the Portland Rum Riots events. Briana Volk of Portland Hunt & Alpine Club is organizing a fantastic weekend of workshops, dinners, and themed events at bars around Portland, May 30th through June 3rd.
The Tiki Seminar is taught by friends of Briana's, who bartend at the tiki bar The Yachtsman in Philadelphia. It's at Hugo's on Saturday, May 30th from 1-3pm, and snacks are provided by Eventide. The tickets are limited to 40 and going fast, so if you want to go, grab one now.
If that event sells out or you can't make it, dry your tears on a bar napkin at one of the other fantastic events. Maybe you want to learn about the intriguingly weird-tasting Italian liqueur Chartresue? Or cocktail books with bartender John Myers and Don Lindgren of Rabelais Books? Maybe you want to help to judge a shot and a beer competition? It's all there for the taking. Briana has done the community a fantastic service by putting these events on in our little town, so let's get out and support them!
View the full Rum Riots schedule of events at rumriots.com.