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PostPosted: Fri Jun 16, 2017 11:27 am 
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Joined: Sat May 27, 2017 12:24 pm
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Location: Seattle
Ahoy!

I would like to begin the process of becoming a member of the Order.

I live in Seattle, next to that Space Needle thing, which looms right outside my bedroom window. I moved here in 2015 after living 22 years in Chicago.

2014 was the year I became interested in Tiki culture. I came to it via cocktail geekery - about a year prior, I had found the book "Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails" while randomly browsing at a bookshop. Now, I'd been a history geek for a long time (my home decorating style could be best described as "Victorian Gothic"), and the idea of drinking like it was the 1920s appealed to me. I bought the book and then began working on my home bar.

My home bar before that point was best described as "pathetic", as I mainly drank beer. I had a dozen or so liquors on hand, most of which were still more than half full, and my only rums were Bacardi and Malibu Coconut. Dr. Cocktail's book helped me fix this; I began making all sorts of early-20th-century cocktails (the Aviation remains a favourite), and I greatly expanded the bar. I began seeking out recipes and exotic ingredients, and started going to cocktail bars as well.

Scofflaw, a gin-focused craft cocktail bar in the Logan Square neighbourhood of Chicago, became my regular haunt - I loved their creative original drinks and the Victorian back room with a fireplace and old armchairs. In February of 2014, during the coldest, bleakest winter Chicago had seen in my lifetime, Scofflaw did a special event - a tiki night. This started me on the path.

Scofflaw's tiki night simply meant a different menu; they didn't do any dramatic transformation of the space. On this menu were a half dozen or so classic tiki drinks. I chose two that I had previously read and wondered about: the Painkiller and the Zombie.

Both were superb. I had always imagined a Zombie as a blunt instrument, just a bit of juice and far too much rum, but the cinnamon and mint made it something special. The Painkiller, too, was better than expected, sweet and full of creamy coconut. I asked the waitress how I could make drinks like this at home; she suggested that I first try a Jungle Bird, as the recipe is simple. A day or two later, I was drinking Jungle Birds and Painkillers at home, and tried my hand at several other recipes.

I wasn't a tiki-head yet, though; I'd merely added a handful of cocktails to my repertoire.


Last edited by NorthwestZombie on Fri Jun 16, 2017 7:54 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 16, 2017 11:44 am 
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Location: Seattle
Two months later, I went to a software conference in downtown Chicago. After each day of presentations and learning, there were several after-hours events to pick from, and I signed up for one sponsored by Groupon - a party (recruiting event) at Three Dots and a Dash. I'd read about Three Dots months before - a new tiki bar opened by Paul McGee, a renowned mixologist - but had never made an effort to go, as I figured it would be the kind of expensive, noisy, crowded bar that I hate.

With my programming colleagues, I entered the bar from an alley, descending a stairway under a wall of skulls, past the ornately carved host podium (salvaged from the Chicago Trader Vic's, I later learned), into a dark space full of wood and thatch and subdued lighting. Even the menu was a thing of beauty; each drink included an ingredients list and a drawing of the mug in which it is served. I ordered a Jet Pilot, and it came in a blue islander head garnished with flowers; I had a Saturn, too, and a tequila-based drink called Aloha, Mexico. As we drank and talked with colleagues and sponsors, waitresses in floral dresses circulated with platters of appetizers - crab rangoon, ribs, Thai fried chicken, and more.

My Three Dots visit opened my eyes to Tiki as a cultural and aesthetic movement, rather than just a collection of recipes. A month later, I went back, alone, and had a banana daiquiri served in a coconut-shaped mug with a decorative banana dolphin (half a banana, cut to look like a dolphin, with eyes and fins added) protruding from the top.

I began to read about tiki. I learned the life stories of Don the Beachcomber and Trader Vic. I ordered Beachbum Berry's books, and experimented with more and more recipes. I learned the difference between pot-still and column-still rums, and rhum agricole and rhum industriel. I added allspice dram and falernum and passionfruit syrup and Don's Spices to my bar fridge, and my rum collection grew to more than twenty bottles. I returned to Three Dots again and again, resolving both to drink everything on the menu and to collect the mug each drink came in.

A prize of my collection is the diving helmet mug shown in my avatar - Three Dots was serving the Pearl Diver in that mug, and it was illustrated on the menu, but when I ordered one it came in an entirely different mug; the bartender told me that they'd run out of those, all had been bought or broken and they wouldn't get any more. Then he saw that I was crestfallen - he went into the back and brought out one that had a few chips in it, said they couldn't use it or sell it because of the slight damage, but I could have it for free. (The chips are minor enough that I simply blacked them in with a Sharpie, and it looks fine. I also left a very large tip that day).

I now had a place to go and enjoy tiki culture, and to draw inspiration for my home bar. I added to my decor - a Japanese glass fishing float and some saltshakers from Trader Vic - and I kept all my Three Dots mugs and swizzles to reuse at home.


Last edited by NorthwestZombie on Fri Jun 16, 2017 1:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 16, 2017 11:54 am 
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Joined: Sat May 27, 2017 12:24 pm
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Location: Seattle
By the end of 2014, however, I was sinking into depression, and not even Tiki could save me. That weather that year had been brutal, both cold and hot; my car had been broken into twice (I worked in a dodgy neighbourhood); my employer was having a cashflow crisis and I'd had to accept a salary reduction; my best freelance client was about to go out of business; my life was basically in the shitter. I needed to reboot my life; I chose to do that by moving to a new city, and chose Seattle for its incredible natural beauty.

At this same time, Paul, the master mixologist of Three Dots and a Dash, was having issues with his business partners, owners of a local restaurant holding company. (I later read that it was because they were putting too much pressure on him to cut costs and use cheaper ingredients). He quit, taking much of the staff with him, and in early 2015 opened a new tiki bar, Lost Lake, in my own neighbourhood. Lost Lake was quieter, more intimate, less tourist-focused, and imitated the 1930s Beachcomber style more than the late-tiki style of Three Dots. I liked it better, and went every few weeks, getting to talk to the owner and the bartenders regularly. As I worked on purging 22 years of accumulated clutter from my apartment and packing for the move that would happen in September, I returned to both tiki bars again and again.

Then came the long dark tea-time of the tiki. When I moved, I had to purge my bar - every bottle (except the many bitters) was given to friends, for the moving company refused to transport open liquor bottles, and warned me that if anything leaked or exploded it would not be covered by insurance. So I gave it all away, about ninety bottles. Even the bar itself was dismantled and given away - there simply wasn't space for it in the tiny apartment I was moving to. I kept only the blender and icecrusher, the mugs, swizzles, menus and books.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 16, 2017 12:19 pm 
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Location: Seattle
In Seattle, my interest turned towards exploration of my new city and improving my photographic skills. For the first six months I unpacked only the necessities - my apartment was full of boxes for the longest time, as I'd rather spend my time exploring.

On my second night here, I visited my neighbourhood tiki bar - Hula Hula in Queen Anne. The decor was superb, but the drinks were disappointing - fruit juice, syrup, and Bacardi rum, for the most part. I went twice more in the next few months, then never again.

My own bar was neglected. I bought a few bottles right away, but the liquor taxes here are astronomical (20% +$3.77 a liter!), so the collection was slow in growing. Worst of all, I couldn't find Lemon Hart 151 - I asked the shopkeeper to special-order it for me, and she couldn't; the distributors no longer carried it. I didn't really have space for a tiki bar either.

So I accepted that I would have to give up tiki for a while, and move on to other interests - photography and travel and nature and wildlife. Tiki was not a part of my life, for more than a year.

In the Spring of 2017, the stars aligned and I was called back to Tiki. It started with a simple thing... I was in the liquor store, and a customer was asking the proprietor a question about rum, and I joined the conversation to make my own recommendations - looking at that section of shelving, I saw new bottles of Lemon Hart 151 on the bottom shelf and gasped with delight. I took one home and made a Zombie that day (I had some cinnamon syrup on hand already, though I'd not opened the bottle in a year).

Then I learned of a new tiki-influenced bar, Navy Strength, in the neighbourhood south of mine. I had to go to a conference in another city that weekend, but I set a calendar reminder, and one week later I was there. While the decor was minimalist, the drinks were superb - the quality matched the two tiki bars I missed so much from Chicago. I had two of their own concoctions, plus a Three Dots and a Dash (the Don the Beachcomber drink my old haunt had been named for). In the cabinets above the bar, I spotted several familiar mugs, Trader Vic saltshakers, a classic Pearl Diver glass - showing me that the owners had done their research, even if they weren't going for a full classic Tiki look. The bartender told me of a book they had - the new Smugglers' Cove book - and let me read their copy as I drank and ate.

I ordered a copy of that book within an hour after leaving. Tiki had called me home.

On Memorial day weekend, I read the Smuggler's Cove book. I read Sven Kirsten's enormous and beautiful "Tiki Pop". I hauled up my tiki mugs from my storage unit elsewhere in the building, where they had languished for a year in darkness and bubble wrap. My small steel and wire "baker's rack" shelving unit, which had been my pantry the last year, became a tiki bar again - bottom shelves crowded with bottles, top shelves with mugs. The blender and icecrusher were moved to more easily accessible counter locations. I bought some things online - a copper pineapple, some classic mugs from the Kahiki and other lost tiki temples, and a set of replica Pearl Diver glasses. I went back to Hula Hula, now relocated a few miles away (their old building is to be demolished) and found the new location much more enjoyable than the last.

Tiki needs to be a part of my life. I didn't realize how much I missed it until I came back.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 16, 2017 1:34 pm 
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Hoa Manu
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Joined: Thu Feb 24, 2011 10:39 pm
Posts: 3908
Location: New Hampshire
Personal Statement: 2 seconds?!?!?!?
Welcome to the port!

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 16, 2017 3:21 pm 
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Honui Moai
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Joined: Mon Sep 21, 2009 9:56 am
Posts: 3575
Location: Pineapple Lounge
Personal Statement: Kungaloosh!
Aloha! Why don't you tell us a little about yourself.

:pieface: Seriously though, that was one hell of an introduction! Glad you found your way onto our shores.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 16, 2017 3:26 pm 
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Joined: Sat May 27, 2017 12:24 pm
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Location: Seattle
Thanks for the welcome!

Aside from tiki, my interests are photography and history. When I was in Chicago, these came together in the form of a web site and a book, "Graveyards of Chicago" (Lake Claremont Press, 2013) and http://graveyards.com. These days, I photograph landscapes and nature; you can see my work at https://www.flickr.com/photos/matthucke.

I work from home as a programmer and sysadmin for an online shop based in Chicago.

My real name is Matt; I chose this alias based on the place where I live, and the drink that introduced me to tiki and remains one of my favourites.

Mahalo, NorthwestZombie (matt)


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 16, 2017 9:03 pm 
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Joined: Thu May 30, 2013 3:39 pm
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Location: Indianapolis, IN
Personal Statement: Just call me Surly
Alooooha! That was by far the best intro I've read since I've joined the FOM. HELL, better than most folks I meet at events.

Cheers!

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FOM MC

Rako Motu Nui

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 16, 2017 9:06 pm 
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Manawale'a Rua Motuha
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Location: The Land of AstroTurf, BBQ & Cupcakes
Aloha & Welcome!!!

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 16, 2017 9:32 pm 
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Location: Seattle
Rev_Dan wrote:
Alooooha! That was by far the best intro I've read since I've joined the FOM. HELL, better than most folks I meet at events.

Cheers!


I firmly believe that anything worth doing is worth doing to extremes. Especially tiki!


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 17, 2017 9:20 am 
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Matato'a
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Aloha NorthwestZombie! That was quite a tale.

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A toast to Roger


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 17, 2017 9:48 am 
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Joined: Sat May 27, 2017 12:24 pm
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Location: Seattle
Thanks for the warm welcomes, everyone.

I would like to pledge and become a member of the FOM, here in the remote fourth corner of the US.

Are there any nearby events, or FOM members in my area whom I should contact?

Mahalo,
NorthwestZombie.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 29, 2017 8:49 pm 
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Matu'u
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Joined: Wed Nov 28, 2007 10:34 pm
Posts: 19424
Location: Queequeg Chapter (NH)
Personal Statement: Conch ceviche.
Honestly we are a bit thin on the ground up that way. Sounds like you may travel a bit so there might be chances to cross paths with Moai on the road more easily.

-Rev

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2017 12:15 pm 
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Hoa Manu
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Location: New Hampshire
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Wow dude! I just checked out some of your photography. Stunning!

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2017 12:57 pm 
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Fellow Moai
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Aloha and welcome!

I didn't know Paul was behind Three Dots! I plan on going to Chicago this fall and my boyfriend and I are concocting little "Chicago Area Tiki Tour" of our own. Three Dots and Lost Lake are for sure on top of our list!

Again, welcome to the port :)


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2017 1:45 pm 
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nifertiki wrote:
Wow dude! I just checked out some of your photography. Stunning!


Thanks! I just got back from Mount Rainier National Park with lots of photos... I'll be processing them for weeks.

After three days of camping and half a day of driving, after I stepped in the door, set down my backpack and camera bag, and took a quick shower, I immediately made myself a Nui Nui.


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