Tiki gone mad – Travel Photo Mondays
Where have I been all these years – I had no idea that there was an active Tiki cult scene that is thriving here in the Bay Area of California. Especially with all these cool divvy bars all around Northern California. For those that are not familiar, the Tiki culture and lifestyle is simply about enjoying the good life especially with a tropical drink in hand, wonderful music in the background and a fun, tropical environment, with the typical kitschy overtones.. Those following this Tiki lifestyle are craving an escape from the busy and frenetic life that we all seem to be living lately and why not create a little escape with a tropical drink, a pupu (appetizer) party or go to your local tiki bar when the mood strikes.
Tiki purist believe that the trend was inspired by the 1930 to 1950 Hawaiian/Polynesian pop culture and lifestyle. Creating a fun environment of blended Polynesian kitsch with fruity drinks, pupu appetizers and tropical décor can be appealing for a quick getaway to a fantasy world away from the mundane and boring and just fantasizing for a short time frame. The whole ensemble with bamboo, thatch and rattan mixed in with real tropical plants and sounds of a waterfall or tropical tunes make for an inviting and short getaway.
One of the most iconic landmark destinations is on the little quiet island of Alameda across from Oakland. The Forbidden Island is a fantasy tiki bar with all the bells and whistles that make you gawk at everything and anything once you walk into the dark cavernous rooms. Very dimly lit, you immediately notice it seems like millions of inscribed dollar bills from various ‘sailors’ that have plied to this bar to make a wish and visit someday in the future to see if they can spot their good luck charm.
Truly exotic drinks rule the menu here with locally inspired places and personalities infused into the drink menu. Even reading the menu is fun and conjures an imaginary tropical journey that describes the drink and the exotic flavors. Some of these yummy drinks include their signature Forbidden Island, Beautiful Kauai, China Clipper and zany titles like Planet of the Apes, Painkiller and Sharks tooth. The drink menu is extensive, so take your time to enjoy the menu and little stories about the drinks. Sitting by the long bar counter is definitely a better way to enjoy the action and see the drinks being poured quickly and with visual panache.
Don’t forget to tack on your dollar bill greeting on the ceiling!
The Tonga Room
While in the city, I met up with a my friend the Tami to make a pilgrimage to the very grand Tonga Room at the basement of the Fairmont Hotel. Now this joint truly imbues the complete Tiki culture with ponds, waterfalls, islands and thatched waterholes throughout the expansive club. It was Happy Hour and the place was packed with tourists and a few locals that wanted to much on the yummy pupu appetizers available with a price of a tropical drink. And boy do they also come out with the classic Tiki inspired cocktails including: Mai tais, Singapore Slings, Daiquiri, Island Margaritas and the Zombie. I opted for the Zombie which is potent: a blending of three rums, pineapple and passion fruit juice with Angostura bitters. I had to water it down with my glass of water since the rum mixtures were just a little too intense for me to sip slowly without getting tipsy right away (I’m a light weight)
The pupu appetizers are extensive and costs an extra $10, so come hungry if you want to fill up on this buffet comprising typically of spicy drumsticks, egg rolls, noodle dishes and some vegetarian options. I decided to try the pupu buffet, but I would opt out of this unless you don’t mind typical pupu offerings that are fairly standard and bland.
There is live music that gets under way around 8pm, but since we went there at the opening (5pm), we opted from staying too long. I would recommend going to the Tonga Room around 7pmish, if you want to still get a table and watch the live performances and if you do, please tell me how it went.
Hope that you enjoyed this tour and post of Tiki gone mad for Travel Photo Mondays, if you did please do share it with any of the social media buttons on the post. Also, please do visit the other contributors for todays link up below.