You don’t need to live near a beach to love tiki.
My first encounter with a tikiphile — a person who reveres Polynesian culture both ersatz and true — was while sipping on virgin kiddie cocktails in my grandfather’s basement bar. They were Shirley Temples, with a skewer of pineapple and cherries.
Grandpa lived in a town with a Midwestern Main Street not far from Santa Claus, Ind. — about as far from a tropical oasis as you can get. He served in the Pacific during World War II. His furniture business did well enough that he visited plenty of exotic locales.
I never thought to ask why he was drawn to tiki, but after Grandpa’s funeral and my last time in the house before it was to be sold, I tried to commit to memory all the facets of the time machine he had built.
Never had a grandpa with a tiki bar?
Then you’ll want to get yourself to TikiCat, a new tiki bar in Westport. It’s in the basement of HopCat. It’s a reservation-only bar, but I’ll be hosting a live broadcast at 3 p.m. Wednesday, May 10, if you want a sneak peek.
We’ll talk tiki drinks, tiki culture and tiki T-shirts.
When my grandfather’s house went up for sale, I figured the next owner would rip it out and the magic would land on the curb. I decided to settle for a single vintage 7-inch tiki mug by Paul Marshall, leaving one for his other grandchildren.
The scowling “peanut” tumbler mostly sits on my home mini bar and is used to stash hand-carved toucan and tropical fruit-studded twizzler sticks from a trip to Brazil. I’ve always thought it would make a great prop for a photo shoot, but most photographers want to see the liquid inside, so it remains Grandpa’s glass.
So don your flowered leis, Hawaiian shirts and hula skirts and join us for a tiki island getaway.