Increasingly, I'm not alone. Late last year, tikipreneur Martin Cate opened Smuggler's Cove, a San Francisco bar with the ambitious agenda of rekindling the popularity of and appreciation for all things rum-related, notably including the exotic drinks from the mid-20th century. In Los Angeles, two rum-oriented bars have recently opened: Cana Rum Bar and La Descarga, each embracing different aspects of rum's cocktail history. And in New York, later this month Giuseppe Gonzalez and Richie Boccato are opening Painkiller, a Gotham-style exotic-drink bar on the Lower East Side that, while embracing the tiki aesthetic, will range into the realms of whiskey and gin for its drinks, while still relying on the engaging character of rum.
As if further evidence was needed that we're in the midst of a full-blown tiki revival, this week saw the release of a new book from cocktail historian and cultural anthropologist Jeff Berry: Beachbum Berry Remixed
Okay, I'm using the term "new" with a little license; a compilation of the (mostly) vintage recipes included in Berry's first two books, Beachbum Berry's Grog Log and Intoxica!, Remixed revisits and updates these earlier works, while sweetening the Scorpion Bowl with an extra 107 new drink recipes. The original Grog Log was a black-and-white, spiral-bound book with a lot of history and ambition, but low production values (few changes were made from the book's 'zine-like precursor that Berry had produced himself); in contrast, Remixed is full of color photos and illustrations from the mid-20th century peak of Polynesian style, along with custom photos of drinks and period artifacts, interspersed with detailed historical notes and drink-mixing asides that make Remixed more informative, entertaining and user-friendly than the original editions.
The drinks have been updated, too; as Berry continued to research drink menus from the 1930s, '40s and '50s, interviewing bartenders and digging deeper into the drinks once served at exotic-drink oases such as Don the Beachcomber and the Kahiki, he's tweaked the recipes for authenticity or for ease of preparation. And then there's the new stuff: Ranging from the Gantt's Tomb, by Death & Company bartender Brian Miller, to the Pamplemousse Punch, from The Atlantic drinks correspondent Wayne Curtis, Berry has selected drink and ingredient recipes from dozens of exotic-cocktail enthusiasts, many of whom found their original inspiration in the early editions of Berry's books (and if you look closely, you'll find my recipe for falernum, a Caribbean-style sweetener, on page 197).
From dedicated Kava Bowl devotees to casual fans of a well-mixed Mai Tai, Beachbum Berry Remixed may help spur the latest escalation of the tiki revival. I'll raise my Miehana in a toast to that.
About the author: Paul Clarke blogs about cocktails at The Cocktail Chronicles and writes regularly on spirits and cocktails for Imbibe magazine. He lives in Seattle, where he works as a writer and magazine editor.