Rum, Fun and Tiki!
And so i went to the Tiki Oasis in San Diego, it was my first trip there and as a lover of all things tiki it was of course a blast! i headed over from New Orleans and went on a road trip with Mark Holt and Bryan & Joanne from the Lost Spirits Rum.
Tiki Oasis is probably the biggest tiki event in the world and is essentially one giant rum/tiki and booze party! – filled with elaborately “garnished” people because not only the tiki drinks are garnished but the people also 🙂
Hawaiian shirts, tropical muu muus and dresses, hats and fezzes. There were vintage cat’s eye glasses, beehive hair, coconut purses, flower leis and pineapple tiaras.
Held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in San Diego, this is a annual weekender event, starting on the thursday at the Bali Hai Restaurant and then friday to sunday at the Crowne Plaza.
I liked the hotel, it has beautiful surroundings and the food and service was great and reasonably priced and it had a very tropical tiki-ish vibe.
During the day there´s a whole lot of activities, a lot of them around the pool and stage area with live bands, contests, marketplaces, hula courses, arts and crafts, book signings, symposiums, fashion shows, Miss Tiki Oasis, burlesque dancers, surf guitar classes and the list goes on, there was a LOT to do! and the marketplace is really fun! so filled with fantastic creations of all sorts.
I was especially happy about that you could get fresh flower leis, which is something i been dreaming about for years!!
Tiki Oasis 13 included:
One Miss Tiki Oasis
One helicopter fly-over
16 Disc Jockeys
18 Burlesque stars
25 artists in art show
30+ Cars in car show
450+ hotel rooms
At night, there was live music and entertainment on the stage and then there was the room parties…
At least 10 parties going on at the same time in rooms and suites which all had their own themes from “Hula Hut” to “Tiki Hell” – the latter an “anti-tiki” type of thing…and all about all having fun, which we had indeed…that room was crazy fun! and i laughed when i saw the man sized paper figure of Ron Jeremy beside the stage..
The rooms and parties had some funny names too or how about “Booze and Brews Blowout Room” or “Jane Bond – The Spy Who Loved Tiki Party Room” or “Munster Monster Mash Party” or “RUM-ble in the Jungle Room”?
Ron Jeremy is watching you…
And so judging the room parties and the cocktails you`re supposed to pick the best cocktail, the best room and suite parties and the best room and suite decors. The cocktail i had no problem in the world to pick…Kahuna Kevin´s Headless Zombie in the Pixie’s Hula Hut swept them all…some came closer than others but none close enough…but the rest was a little bit more tricky because there were many rooms and suites that was great!
I was happy to see that his cocktail also won and you can find the recipe for the Headless Zombie in Kahuna Kevin`s first book “Why is the Rum Gone?”, you can find it here.
Picture by Kahuna Kevin
So the result of the contest after all the judges cast their votes is this:
Best Cocktail – Pixie’s Hula Hut
Best Decorated Suite – Deadhead Rum
Best Decorated Room – Ballast Point
Best Suite Party – Casba’sh Molikai’s Room
Best Room Party – Temptress Fashion
I made it to only two symposiums this time…but they were good!
The Bitter Side of Tiki – with Ram Udwin and sponsored by Ballast Point
Bitters and tinctures aid home and professional bartenders in bringing balance and zest to their cocktails – adding perhaps the perfect final element to a well-crafted tiki libation. In this class, you will get an introduction to cocktail bitters, their history and how they are made. The class will culminate with a discussion on the how and why of using bitters in creating complex and delicious tiki drinks.
Ram Udwin is a bitters maker, a booze blogger and a cocktail man, dedicated to the study and better enjoyment of spirited libations.
I have been a fan of Ram Udwin`s Serrano Cocktail Spice since he made them and i looked forward to his symposium on bitters in tiki drinks. He took us through the history, purpose and use of bitters in general, how they were used as medicine at first and then how they added spice and character to cocktails and also became the backbone to many tiki drinks.
He brought his grapefruit bitters and serrano cocktail spice to try plus his new soon upcoming passionfruit bitters which i really like a lot. If you wanna read more on his cocktail spice and bitters and maybe purchase them too here´s where to go.
The serrano cocktail spice is really amazing, a few drops of it can change a cocktail entirely adding a lively vibrant kick and I love it, especially in cocktails with citrus juices like lime and grapefruit and it’s fantastic in tequila and rum drinks.
Here is Boy Drinks World website.
No rum related event without Martin Cate right? from New Orleans, Stockholm, London and San Diego…i see Martin everywhere and his seminars/symposiums are ALWAYS great and have a high entertaining factor.
When you sit down at one of his symposiums you just KNOW it gonna be a good time and great learning and no matter how much you know about rums….there is always more to learn.
Can you spy yourself in this picture? (i see me, Joanne and Bryan 🙂 thanks Baby-Doe von Stroheim for this magnificient picture of the crowd at Martin`s Rum Revolution symposium!
The rums featured that we tasted were these: Angostura No. 1, Denizen Merchant Reserve, Privateer Rum, Penny Blue XO, Owney`s NYC Rum, Rhum Clement Select Barrel, Real Mc Coy 5 yo and Lost Spirits Navy Style Rum.
Co-Sponsored by Lost Spirits, Owney’s, The Real McCoy, Penny Blue and Rhum Clement.
Martin took us through the tasting and the rums, the history of McCoy, the theory about the Martinique rum part in Trader Vic`s Mai Tai being molasses based rum rather than agricole based as believed before in an entertaining symposium.
This was my first experience of a great Tiki Oasis! and i met quite a few other first timers too! plus others that i have known from before. BIG Mahalo to Otto and Baby doe, and EVERY ONE who made this event happening, it was a blast!
Countdown to TO 15 is starting…
Here is a picture parade of the Tiki Oasis and from our road trip:
The Crowne Plaza and the pool area, full with music, people, food, drinks and vendors…we loved to sit down there at night for a while with a cocktail after the room crawls.
Room Crawl in the Hula Hut, picture by Crystal Lee
Tiki Hell Room Party, picture by Mark Holt, this room party was WILD!!
The Headless Zombie, picture by Kahuna Kevin
Beautiful lovely fresh flower leis…it´s a special feeling wearing one.
I bought a ti-leaf lei and took it home…because they can be dried and last forever..so it now adorns my home tiki bar. The fresh lei i also got i brought with me back to New Orleans and gave to a good friend 🙂
I should of bought one of those hibiscus signs, they are beautiful..
I also met my friends Scott Taylor and Rob Hawes for the first time, i have been buying mugs from them before and i just love their beautiful intricate and detailed tiki mugs! Scott have a shop on Maui called Beachbumz and Rob operates Maui Tiki Tours.
They shared booth with Christine Benjamin and Woody Miller who makes awesome tiki art and Jason Shelfow who makes the beautiful tiki lamps. Later i heard their booth won the prize for best vendor booth, congrats!
All these mugs…waiting to be filled with goodness and rum…
And look at those beautiful paintings..you gotta come here the next year y`all…so much fun! so much to see!
People really had a good time!
What did i say about beautifully garnished people? see it there!
When the sky look like this and the air is warm you want a tiki drink….by the pool…and that we had, sometimes life is really good…
Yes, Tiki Oasis was a blast! i can warmly recommend anyone who loves rums, fun and tiki to go there next year!
And here are a few pics from our 3 day road trip which started at Mark Holt`s amazing tiki house…then went to LA and a whole bunch of bars…to finally end up in San Diego.
This is a pretty cool pool area me thinks…
The pirate guards the outdoor tiki bar…
There`s a LOT to see in this house…the bitters and stuff hanging upside down on magnets is a brilliant invention by our friend Cheryl Charming used in the Bourbon O Bar in New Orleans.
See that bowl? that bowl is not just any bowl…it`s the worlds second most powerful volcano bowl, the one Martin Cate used at Tiki Oasis in 2009, and it was in there that he first created and served one of Smuggler’s Cove’s most popular drinks: The Top Notch Volcano! Only rivaled by the bigger bowl he used for the 2010 Oasis Seminar…
And from Mark`s house we embarked on the road trip to Tiki Oasis after a very late rum party involving plenty of great rums, barrel aged negronis and JWray`s under the stars in the outdoor jacuzzi, and first stop was LA where two days of bar hopping awaited.
And one of the stop by bars was of course Tiki Ti...where else?
The lovely Nui Nui, picture by Mark Holt
And another Nui Nui…with Lost Spirits 151 Cuban Style Rum! made after suggestion by our friend Matt over at Cocktailwonk, if you haven`t checked out that outstanding blog you need to do it! pic by Mark Holt
I love this place! it has such a homely feeling, and since this was the first time i got there i just had to start with a Ray`s Mistake, which i been reading so much about for so long! it was good…and even better was the Nui Nuis, 151 swizzle and Rum Barrel. I need to go back for more drinks, i haven`t tried enough!!!!!
A taaasty Rum Barrel, pic by Mark Holt
We also passed by Cliff`s Edge to have cocktails made by Matthew Biancaniello who creates his outer wordly farm fresh cocktails every Wednesday through June, July and August with his Pop-Up Bar on the patio.
I dunno how to praise his creations enough…what can i say? i think they are the best cocktails in ever had, as far as cocktails go, i´m not comparing with tiki drinks here because they are a different thing.
Cocktails by Matt Biancaniello…artworks…and out of this world.
Arugula gimlet, grapefruit mint cocktail, ant beer cocktail, (yes ants!) etc don`t ask what was in all of these…one had bergamot infused 123 Tequila Blanco, yellow nectarine, home made ant beer and flowering oregano.. The passionfruit one had foraged white fir infused calisaya, passionfruit and Italian cayenne and was totally amazing…but they all were, every single one of them.
The thick but light airy foam you see on the cocktail on the upper right was just amazing…like a caress on your lips covering a cool somewhat mellow and incredible experience of a cocktail…wooow
If i was anywhere near Cliff`s Edge until end of august i would not miss this for anything…you heard me?! just go there…
The beautiful patio at Cliff`s edge, pic by Mark Holt
Another great bar and restaurant we stopped by was Rivera, finally i could get to try the Barbacoa!! and that legendary cocktail was AMAZING….it contains mezcal, chipotle, ginger, lime and beef jerky. I also very much liked “Constantino`s Revenge” with Diplomatico reserva exclusiva, pineapple, fresh lemon and angostura.
The lovely Barbacoa, pic by Mark Holt
We also went to Honeycut where i asked for a Mai Tai with demerara rum which they perfectly made…and then to Cana Rumbar, where i had a rum filled coconut followed by another Mai Tai with Appleton White and a Cruzan Black Strap float. It`s an unusual rum combo for a Mai Tai i know…but i have had it in New Orleans at SoBou and it´s very tasty!
Mai Tai with Cruzan Black Strap float over Appleton White rum…
At the Spare Room there was a tiki drink pop up by Paul McGee from Three Dots and a Dash in Chicago with the bars namesake drink of course on the menu plus Pieces of Eight, Poipu Beach Boogie Board, Bunny`s Banana Daiquiri and then the lovely tasty Painkiller. Great drinks and fun evening of Tiki!
The Spare Room is situated on the mezzanine level of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, and while you`re there you might as well look down on the street right outside because that´s where all the stars of the Hollywood stars are in a long row.
Here´s a link to Three Dots and a Dash website, their cocktail menu looks great!! and if i ever have my ways through Chicago…i know where to go.
They were all tasty…and beautiful.
Another interesting bar….the Noble Experiment with it´s “Paris catacomb” like wall of bronze skulls…inside the Neighbourhood restaurant (which btw have great food!) hidden speakeasy behind a stack of false kegs by the restroom…and their Laphroaig tiki style drink is just amazing!
Wall of skulls, blinking eyes in a deer painting and a timeless chandelier…dark and intimate, a place for craft cocktails and conversation.
In between Los Angeles and San Diego we passed Trader Sam`s…which i think was a funny and goofy place…you cannot but smile when they start to do the krakatoa show and the “rain” is water they spray on us…and i enjoyed both the food and the drinks a lot! Trader Sam`s Enchanted Tiki Bar is located at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim, California.
Trader Sam`s Uh Oa Bowl…great pic, by Bryan Davis (Lost Spirits Distillery)
The Shrunken Zombie Head and the Uh Oa Bowl ready to be set on fire.
Krakatoa is soon ready to erupt…you better go and grab a drink!!
I think that was all….we went to more bars than these but i cannot add them all…i hope to do this again next year!
These babies were with us everywhere we went…
Aloha! and until next year…okolemaluna!
Thanks to Mark Holt for letting me use his awesome picture of the pool area as cover photo for this post! i just wish my readers could also hear all the great music we know was in that pic as well….