Just about Four Years ago Trader Jay’s Home Tiki Bar was born (read about it here). I thought I’d take a spell to enjoy how far it has come while keeping in mind that it will never be complete.
Over the past four years I have met so many wonderful people as well as grown my tiki mug collection and rum collection… but collecting tiki décor has really provided some great memories. Here are just a few followed by some updated pictures of Trader Jays…
Meet Georgina! She is a classic replica of a ship’s figurehead. She was a gift from one of my best friends. A few years ago his father, Big George, passed away. George thought that if his son wasn’t interested in keeping “Boobs” (her name at the time) then maybe I’d want her for my tiki bar. Of course I was honored and knew I’d be able to find a home for Boobs, however first I had to make her a little more “family friendly” (since she was very much naked, hence her name). Mrs. Trader did most of the handy work in adding a coconut bikini and grass skirt and then I decided to rename her Georgina in honor of Big George.
Now she hangs proudly watching over all of TJ’s patrons.
My “Maui Hook”… it is hard to ignore the influence of Disney on my bar, hence a Maui Hook. On our recent summer family trip to Hawaii I decided that I, obviously, wanted something to add to Trader Jay’s but since wall space is filling up it had to be something unique. All over the little gift shops you’ll find plenty of Hawaiian Fish Hook necklaces (called Makau) which symbolizes love and respect of the ocean. It was seeing those that set me on my path to find a big hook for TJ’s.
The feat, however, was not as easy as you might think it should be. Finally, after a week and a half my wife and I stumbled upon a nice lady who had a wood carving shop in Kona and saw the hook. The lady explained that her son-in-law had carved 14 hooks but only 2 remained. She said she was looking for the right “Ohana” for the final 2 hooks (and, of course, someone willing to pay the right price). Mrs. Trader and I decided if we didn’t go for it there in Kona then we might not find the right fit at all.
Now the hook hangs in direct line of site of the entrance to Trader Jay’s, a perfect staple.
The Caines Tiki has a much simpler story but still is very special to Trader Jay’s… it is actually the first tiki that I owned. What makes it even better is my good friend Caines personally carved it. This one-of-a-kind tiki was a gift to celebrate a promotion over 14 years ago and has had a place in my home ever since.
Those are just a few stories of the many treasures Trader Jay’s holds… and the great news is that its story will never end as Trader Jay’s will continue to grow and evolve. The ultimate dream is to put bamboo on the ceiling but that doesn’t quite make the list of overall house priorities just yet (maybe I can crowdfund it?)
Check out the rest of the photos below… if you see something you’d like to know more about then let me know, always happy to share! Mahalo!
Where do I even start to share our Laki Kane experience? It is almost beyond words but I will try to do it justice…
I will be 100% honest that there was a split moment in time that we didn’t want to leave London City Center however, in hind site, the 20 minute tube ride and 8 minute walk was WELL WORTH the effort… even in the rain. We were greeted with an extremely warm welcome by Georgi Radev, Creative Director for Laki Kane and other amazing members of the team. (As a side note, I want to apologize to the Laki Kane team because I am horrible with names and wasn’t able to remember everyone… but know you all offered first class hospitality.)
The entrance, like many great tiki bars, is unassuming. It looks like a storefront, however, different than others, you can see inside… possibly a ploy to lure guests into the tropical paradise? Then, as you entered, there is a covering on the windows that almost mask the outside as a island/ocean view. As we walked to our seats at the bar, Georgi provided a tour of his escape. He spoke with such love and passion… much like I start to speak when talking about my small DIY Tiki Bar. The tables and decor aren’t just “there”, there is a purpose to them with each section of tables representing a different tropical escape (The Caribbean, Thailand, Polynesia and Indonesia).
As we sat were we welcoming (again) by the attentive bar team and offered a wonderful mint and lime welcome drink. It was light and aromatic and the perfect precursor as we indulged in our menus.
In true Trader Jay fashion, I have to start with the eponymous drink, so I asked for a Laki Kane (Lucky Sugarcane). Mrs. Trader started with a recommendation from Georgi, the Guinness Punch in Manhattan. The Laki Kane was very light, and fruity but not too sweet. It blended coconut water with passion fruit and rum. It was a great compliment to the Guinness Punch in Manhattan… this drink was deep, complex… a work of art. It took the classic Jamaican Guinness Punch and added the sophistication of a Manhattan for a regal drink.
With our first drinks in hand, Georgi whisked us upstairs to show us something new they were almost ready to roll out upstairs… the Spiced Dry Rum Club. It is truly an experience I’ve never seen and am a little sad that I wasn’t able to partake. During the 2 and a half hour experience you sit at your own pot still, learn all about the history of rum whilst distilling and creating your own a bottle of flavored rum to bring home! Then, your recipe is saved into their database so, at any point, you can re-order your rum. (Georgi, how do you feel about starting one of these in the U.S.?)
After our extended tour we returned to the bar and continued to explore and enjoy the menu. We had some food and it was all delicious, but we came for the drinks… Here are the others that we enjoyed:
The Mahi Mahi (Trader Jay): The bar team seemed to agree that this was one of their favorite drinks. The layering and coloring was SPOT ON… just like a mahi mahi fish. The drink was good as well, a nice overproof rum with fresh fruits and even some tangerine sherbet shaken in.
Southern Lights (Mrs. Trader): This drink featured one of Mrs. Trader’s Favorites… Bombay Gin. This fresh drink featured star fruit (carambola) juice… something that you rarely see. It was the right level of sweet and tart. The bonus was that it comes with a souvenir Laki Kane tiki necklace! SCORE!!!
The Rita Hayworth (Mrs. Trader): This is Laki Kane’s take on a Margarita. It has the key flavors of a marg but with some additional feel. The pineapple is a nice touch as well as the Blood Orange (Solerno) liquor replacing triple sec. The Morano glass vessel is beautiful and the fired lemon on top gives it an aromatic edge.
The Pin-Up Zombie (Trader Jay): This one was my favorite for Multiple Reasons…
I love “Rum Forward” drinks where the rum is 100% the star
Who doesn’t love a drink on FIRE?!
I enjoy the fact that, as Georgi put it, that they like to take some of the classics and put their own spin on it. With the Pin-Up Zombie there is a hint of “pine”… yes, I said PINE. It is so subtle but gives it that different ending that makes you think “what was that? I liked it!”
I am a sucker for an amazing Tiki Mug and this is one of my new favorites! There are plenty of Zombie mugs out in the world… I enjoy my Shrunken Head from Trader Sam’s… however I have yet to see a female zombie. The design is beautiful and unique and I’m thrilled that I was able to bring her home in 1 piece. (Georgi explained that they have a local artist design all their mugs and I thought that was remarkable… there were many great designs and I’m thrilled that I was able to bring home two!)
Tropical Fever (Trader Jay): This is probably the most “out there” drink I have had in a long time and it, like the rest, was amazing and wonderful. It is a take on “High Tea” but mixed with the caramel tea is rum, maple syrup, grapefruit juice and… wait for it… peanut butter! Yes, PEANUT BUTTER! And, if you are a fan of it like myself then it is the tiki drink you have dreamt of. It even has a dry ice component so that “steam” is released from the teapot it is served in.
Before I wrap I want to point out some other things that took the Laki Kane experience to the next level…
They use either Bamboo or Pasta straws!!! While I don’t agree with the whole “if we stop using plastic straws then they world will be saved” movement, I can appreciate people trying to limit the waste. What I cannot appreciate is a paper straw! So hats off to Laki Kane using pasta! It is for sure more expensive but a much better alternative than paper.
The garnish game was top notch! They opt for all natural garnishes instead of plastic stirrers and toys… while I love me a good stirrer, these drink toppers kept with the fresh ingredient theme and were just as fun, beautiful and creative.
Finally, the table “doorbell”… this is not an original idea but I like the thought process. Each table has a device that both says who the table is reserved for as well as can be used to call your server when you need a new drink. This is especially helpful on a crowded Friday or Saturday evening. Since we sat at the bar we didn’t need one but nice to see that one was ready for us!
In parting can I just say that Laki Kane is a MUST visit! Everything about it is FIVE STARS, 10 out of 10, two CocoThumbsUp! The decor is wonderful and thoughtful, every drink we had was better than the last and, most important, the staff was amazingly hospitable and top of their class!!! Keep it up, Laki Kane Team, I cannot wait to find a reason to return!!!
So you’ve taken the time to read about my private Tiki Bar… and maybe you’ve even taken that next step to experience one of the amazing Tiki Bars I’ve mentioned or reviewed but how will everyone know that you really went? The TIKI MUG, of course!
No one knows exactly what the first tiki mug was but it is estimated it dates as far back as the late 50’s. Since then collecting Tiki Mugs has been a pastime of many a Tiki Fan.
Here is what Wikipedia has to say about Tiki Mugs:
Tiki mugs are large ceramic cocktail mugs which originated in tiki bars and tropical themed restaurants. The term “Tiki mugs” is a generic, blanket term for sculptural drinkware that depict Polynesian, mock-Polynesian, or tropical themes. Tiki mugs are not commonly seen outside tiki bars and restaurants, but are also a kitsch collectors item.
In building an at home Tiki Bar, having a good Tiki Mug collection is important. They are not only vital to the bar’s décor but they also serve as great conversation pieces. I won’t pretend that my Tiki Mug collection is the most extensive out there… BY FAR… but I think it is well on its way. (Now, if you ask Mrs. Trader she will say that I’m almost at Tiki Mug capacity, but I say you can always add more shelves.)
My first Tiki Mug was actually a gift from my lifelong friend, Andy. Following our first trip to the famed Mai Kai he bought me a pair of the famed Barrel O’ Rum barrels. They probably are closing in on 15 years old by now and still an important part of my Tiki Mug collection.
Things just taste better in a barrel! – Andy
Following my barrels, the Tiki Mug collection grew very little until my first trip to the magical Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto. This was the point in which I decided to build my Tiki Bar (read about it here) and I knew the mugs would be an important part of this new journey. After only two visits to Trader Sam’s (and thanks to the generosity of two more lifelong friends, Rick and Goat) I had all the Grog Grotto Tiki Mugs. The collection was well on its way!
Another thing that I’m finding about becoming a known “Trader” to friends is that I’ve also been fortunate to be gifted Tiki Mugs and tiki barware along the way. Mugs from Smuggler’s Cove were gifts and there is a great story surrounding one of my mugs from Three Dots and a Dash. Also, the friend who convinced me to start this blog was kind enough to gift two tiki glasses from Lost Lake in Chicago (a bar I have yet to experience).
Other big additions to my Tiki Mug collection are not from a Tiki Bar at all. Some might say that they aren’t TRUE Tiki Mugs but with how awesome and unique they are I don’t particularly care. They are the first release of Geeki Tikis by Beeline Creative (sold on ThinkGeek). Being such a HUGE Star Wars fan, these Tiki Mugs are the perfect way to bring a little modern pop culture into Trader Jay’s (plus the kids love using them).
Finally, the most recent addition to my Tiki Mug collection (and chief reason for this blog topic)… Tiki Mugs directly from the home of the “Creator”, Trader Vic’s. This is the Tiki Bar at the VERY TOP of my “must visit” list, however the wonderful and generous staff at Trader Vic’s was kind enough to provide Trader Jay’s with three of their iconic Tiki Mugs. I plan to one day visit and order a drink housed in each mug (as well as an Original Mai Tai, of course).
So there is my Tiki Mug collection story. I’m happy with how it has grown and plan to continue to grow it. If you want to help me add to it, I’ll always allow that… The Trader isn’t picky. And if you are in the San Fran area or Atlanta, be sure to visit my friends at Trader Vic’s!