- Illustration by Ralph Johnston
Though landlocked, San Antonio has found a way to keep that island fantasy afloat by capitalizing on the once forgotten tiki movement (some tiki scholars posit the U.S. involvement during the Vietnam War and its tropical shores along with the unfair treatment of indigenous people caused the style to fizzle out).
Our taste for everything pineapple began in 2012 with Tiki Tuesdays at The Brooklynite, but with several personnel changes since then, the trend has spread, first with the opening of Concrete Jungle off South Presa and later with tiki nights at Park Social, Mezcalería Mixtli and even Faust Tavern, which recently hosted its first Shrunken Head Sunday and will do so every first Sunday of the month. And not to be outdone, Esquire Tavern and Hotel Emma’s Sternewirth have rum-filled menus this season.
It could be our love of laid-back temperate climes that have helped spur this boozy trend. Perhaps it’s our love of nostalgia and themed parties. For Hillary Woodhouse, one of SA’s tiki priestesses who rocked Tiki Tuesday at The Brooklynite before moving over to The Esquire, the style’s retro feel and the surf vibes are most appealing.
“I saw Dick Dale, the King of the Surf Guitar when I was 14 and I’ve loved him ever since,” she said. “It’s just a big party every time.”
But one can’t just make a single tiki drink to enjoy while listening to Jack Johnson. No, tiki requires that you commit to the whole experience. We tapped a trio of bartenders from Park Social to Sternewirth for recipes on throwing your own tiki shindig, and we’re sharing a few bites for you to soak up that rum .
Crank up the surf rock, scour estate sales for tiki glassware, pull that old Hawaiian shirt out of your dad’s closet, buy a bunch of mini umbrellas and squeeze your own citruses (we’ll allow store-bought fresh-squeeze pineapple juice from Central Market) and don’t forget the citronella for your torches — it’s party time.
Words to know to get you started in on your tiki adventure.
Native Texan, smuggler, and founder of Don the Beachcomber restaurants in California, a chain of “Polynesian”-tinged eateries and bars. Real name: Ernest Raymond Beaumont Gantt.
Born Victor Jules Bergeron Jr., who founded a similar chain to Don the Beachcomber named Trader Vic’s. Both lay claim to creating the Mai Tai.
You bet your ass Don Draper drank these.
1½ ounce white rum
½ ounce lime juice
½ ounce orange Curaçao
½ orgeat syrup (fancy word for almond syrup)
¾ ounce dark rum
Shake all ingredients, except for the dark rum, with ice. Strain into glass and float dark rum on top.
A twist on the piña colada
2 ounces Pusser’s rum
4 ounces pineapple juice
1 ounce orange juice
1 ounce cream of coconut
Add ingredients to a Hurricane glass or large snifter and fill with ice. Stir to combine and garnish with orange wedge, cheery and freshly grated nutmeg.