Welcome to letstiki.com.  Your source for Tiki BarsTiki Drinks, and Tiki News.

Rum Review: Sammy’s Beach Bar Rum


Wow how time files.  I’m really sorry, that I haven’t posted anything in quite awhile! I miss posting recipes, and talking with all of my Tiki friends on Facebook and Twitter.  My day job has been really busy this summer, and I haven’t had much free time.  I am a software developer by day, and in that field you have to update your skills all the time. So I have been doing a lot of learning.  

Last week I was at the airport for work, and saw a big sign for Beach Bar Rum.  That feeling of a tropical escape by way of a Tiki cocktail was calling my name.  I knew immediately that I had to get a bottle of that rum and try it out!

The rum is actually called Sammy’s Beach Bar Rum, and is named after Sammy Hagar of Van Halen.  Sammy wanted a rum for his restaurants.  So he joined up with a distillery in Hawaii.  The rum is make with sugar cane from Hawaii. 

Sammy’s beach bar rum is a nice smooth white rum. It is a bit on the sweeter side, and is a lot like a Cachaça. Drinking a little bit of this rum will transport you to Hawaii.  As you will see in the video I just cannot pronounce Cachaça no matter how hard I try. 🙂  Maybe another drink would have made it easier. 

The website for Sammy’s Beach Bar Rum had a number of drink recipes.  One that stood out to me was Sammy’s Maui Rocker

To make a Sammy’s Maui Rocker combine the following ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice:

  • 1.5 oz Sammy’s Beach Bar Rum
  • 1.5 oz pineapple juice
  • 1 oz fresh sour mix
  • .5 oz orange Curacao
  • .25  oz grenadine

Shake the drink up really good and pour it, unstrained, into a tall glass. 

Sammy’s Maui Rocker is a little on the sweeter side, but it was still pretty good.  When you pick up the glass the aroma of pineapple, orange, and lime fill your nose and transport you to the beautiful Hawaiian Islands.  After the first sip you taste the sweet flavors of pineapple, and orange.  Then, the lemon and lime balance out the drink nicely.  You can start to hear the gentle ocean waves, the warm sea breeze rustle the palm trees, and in the distance a steel drum playing that oh so familiar Hawaiian music…. Ah.. paradise.

How to Make A Pineapple Upside Down Cake Martini

Today we are making a Pineapple Upside Down Cake Martini.  

A few weeks ago I was at a local bar where a friend of mine bar tends. The distributor gave him a bottle of cake flavored vodka. So we did some experimenting to see what we could come up with. We mixed the cake vodka with a variety of things but nothing was tasting quite right. Finally, we tried some pineapple juice. That is when we knew we were on to something. We added a little amaretto to the drink and it tasted just like a pineapple upside down cake.  

Later, at home, I added some dark rum and the recipe was even better. The first time I tried cake flavored vodka I was surprise at how good it was. It truly tastes just like cake. Mixed with the pineapple juice, rum, and amaretto the cocktail is truly amazing.  

To make a pineapple upside down cake martini put some ice in a cocktail shaker. Then add:

  • 2 oz cake flavored vodka
  • 2 oz pineapple juice
  • 1/2 oz amaretto
  • 1/2 oz dark rum

Shake it up real good and then pour the drink, strained, into a martini glass. Garnish the drink with a cherry, and enjoy!  

Let me know what you think about the martini by leaving a comment below. I would love to hear your thoughts on what might make it even better.



A Tiki Adventure: Don’s Special Daiquiri


It was such a hectic week at my day job this past week.  I couldn’t wait to get away from it all in my very own Tiki bar. So, to relax and unwind I’m continuing my Tiki cocktail adventure through Beachbum Berry’s Remixed and having Don’s Special Daiquiri.  

I love a daiquiri!  Now, I’m not talking about those sickeningly sweet blended monstrosities that most places pass of as a daiquiri. I’m talking about a simple little cocktail made from rum, lime juice, and a little sugar.  An original daiquiri is shaken and then strained into a cocktail glass. A daiquiri like that is simply perfection.

Originally, a light rum was used in the daiquiri, but it is fun to experiment with different rums in a daiquiri.  When sampling a new rum for the first time I like to try it in a daiquiri.  It gives a great sense of what the rum is like.

So, while I was thumbing through Beachbum Berry’s Remixed to see what cocktail I wanted to try next I was excited to see Don’s Special Daiquiri. So I mixed one up right away.  

Don’s Special Daiquiri was a little different than the traditional daiquiri, but the recipe didn’t veer off course too far.  It has a little less lime juice, honey mix (equal parts honey and water) instead of sugar, and some passion fruit syrup.  Instead of one rum there was a light Puerto Rican rum, and a gold Jamaican rum.  

After pouring the drink into the cocktail glass a nice aroma of citrus and passion fruit was in the air.  Don’s Special Daiquiri had a nice yellow color that came from the passion fruit syrup.   My first sip started with a great passion fruit flavor that was followed by a hint of honey.  That gave way to a hint of lime juice and a little tartness.  You could also taste the rum.  I used Appleton Jamaican rum and it worked beautifully in this drink.  

With the honey and passion fruit syrup Don’s Special Daiquiri is sweeter than the original, but it isn’t too sweet.  I really enjoyed it.  If you find an original daiquiri too sour try Don’s Special Daiquiri.  It isn’t nearly as sour as the original.

As usual, I’m not giving out the recipe to the cocktails in my Tiki Adventure series.  Instead, I would encourage you to buy Beachbum Berry Remixed.  You’ll find this recipe in the book along with many other amazing Tiki cocktails.

After one of these, the stress from the week had melted away, and I was off to paradise.



Book Review – Murder on Tiki Island


I want to tell you about a great book I recently read, Murder on Tiki Island.  I really enjoyed the book. It made me feel like I was on a tropical vacation when, in reality, I never left Wisconsin.  Murder on Tiki Island was written by Tiki Chris Pinto.  The book takes place in October, 1956, and follows the story of New York City detective Bill Riggins. 

After being forced to take a vacation, Bill decides to spend some time in the Florida Keys.  Shortly, after arriving on Tiki Island Riggin’s vacation turns into anything but relaxing.  He gets tangled up with two women, a murder mystery, and some paranormal activity.  

The author, Tiki Chris, describes the island resort so well that I truly felt like I was there. He combined all the best elements of Tiki places from around the world and put them into one island resort.  There were even mermaids swimming in the pool that you could watch from a ship wreck style bar.  Sound familiar? Tiki Chris really did his homework to make you feel like it was truly the fall of 1956.  Many of the details and references in the book took me back to that time period.

The contrast when following Riggins from cold grey, dirty New York, to the bright, vivid, and colorful Florida Keys was amazing.  It reminded me of the transition in The Wizard of Oz from black and white Kansas to the Technicolor Land of Oz. That transition of opposite places, made Tiki Island all the more beautiful.  

Although, Riggins was the hero; he wasn’t without his own faults and vices.  He was young, and good at what he does, which gave him a bit of an ego.  I also got the sense that he felt invincible.  All of this made the character more human, and truly likeable.  

I would highly recommend Murder on Tiki Island to any Tiki fan, or really anyone who likes a good mystery.  So, travel down to the Florida Keys with Detective Riggins, and escape the winter that is almost upon us.

You can buy the book at Amazon.  For more information about the book visit, http://keywestmurdermystery.com/. Tiki Chris also has a great blog, http://tikiloungetalk.com/.



The Revomatics at The Kapu Tiki Lounge


My Friends, Pete and Kelly, had a Halloween party, Friday night.  It was held in their basement Tiki Lounge, The Kapu Tiki Lounge.  Kelly put out a huge spread of snacks.  They were really delicious!  The cocktail of the evening was The Zombie.  That’s the perfect cocktail for a Tiki Halloween. 

Pete is a member of a newer surf band; The Revomatics.  As part of the evenings entertainment The Revomatics played an excellent set in The Kapu Tiki Lounge.  The set included some surf classics, as well as a few originals.  As a Halloween treat they played the Theme from Halloween.  It isn’t often you get to hear a great band play in a more intimate venue than that.   The evening was a real treat.  

The band has a vinyl LP coming out soon.  I know I’ll be first in line to get a copy.  Until their record comes out you can hear their music on their MySpace Page, or live in concert.  Their next concert is on Monday, October 31st at The Milwaukee Public Market. The show starts at 6:00 pm.  

Dave Hansen a Tiki carver from Milwaukee was also in attenance, and he brought along some of his Tikis that he carved.  They were really cool.  I bought one of the little Tikis.  It was a great souvineer for the evening.



Chicago Area Tiki Tour Recap – Part Three


The Tiki TerraceThis is part three in my series of recapping the Chicago Area Tiki Tour.  If you haven’t read part one and two yet. You’ll want to check them out too.

So, after our visit to Hala Kahiki we boarded the bus again for our final destination of the evening.  We were headed to a dinner and a show at The Tiki Terrace.  Before arriving at The Tiki Terrace we had one last bus cocktail to enjoy.  The final cocktail was the CATT Cooler, this lovely libation was named after the event.  The recipe is:

  • 1 oz Coruba dark rum
  • 1 oz Cruzan aged dark rum
  • 1.5 oz white grapefruit juice
  • 1 oz Welche’s passion fruit juice
  • .25 oz lime juice
  • .25 oz cinnamon syrup (from the Grog Log)

I’ll be completely honest.  I don’t recall much about this cocktail.  By this point my senses were getting a little overloaded.  I’ll have to get the ingredients and make it at home to give it a proper review. 

Upon arrival at The Tiki Terrace the place doesn’t look like much.  It’s in a white strip mall wedged in between an auto parts store and a Radio Shack.  The Tiki Terrace Virgins didn’t have high hopes, but I knew what awaited us on the other side of that strip mall door.  When we walked in everyone was blown away by the decor.  It quickly became the favorite of the day.  

Everyone took a seat, and had a cocktail in a pretty short amount of time.  The meal was included with the event, and we had their egg rolls and taro chips for appetizers.  The egg rolls are one of my favorite things at The Tiki Terrace.  They have a thin and crispy shell.  The filling is a step up from your standard egg roll.  For my dinner I had the kalua pork.  It was a big portion of delicious shredded pork, and was served with rice.  It was really good. You can read my full review from January.

Shortly after eating the show began.  I’ve seen the show three times now.  It is exactly the same every time.  That isn’t a complaint though.  Everyone really enjoyed it.  They should stick with a formula that works.  The show is a review of dance and music from different Polynesian Islands, and there is even a special guest.  It’s a fun show that lasts about an hour.

After the show everyone was pretty exhausted.  We rode back to the hotel, and had a mixture of left over cocktails on the way back.  A few brave souls kept the party going all night. 

Sunday, everyone met up at Chef Shangri-La.  We started out in the bar with cocktails.  There signature drink the Dr. Fong was on special for the day.  It was a nice cocktail.  It tasted like orange juice, sweet and sour, and a hint of almond; maybe amaretto.  It was pretty good, but a little to sour for most.  Next, I had a Mai Tai.  They made a great Mai Tai.  It was a nice balance of almond, sweet and sour.  I really enjoyed it. It was a Trader Vic’s style but not quite as strong.

For lunch I had the “Souper” Bowl.  This enormous bowl of soup had noodles, wontons, jumbo shrimp, and pork.  It was really good, and way too much food.  I barely put a dent in it.  While we ate Alewife played a great set. 

A raffel was held to raise funds for CatNap from the heart.  They raffle included one of a kind CATT mugs, Witco carvings, and even a picture that hung at Chef Shangri-La for years.  Some lucky people took home great prizes.

A HUGE thank you to the organizers of this event.  It was such a great time, and organized so well!



Chicago Area Tiki Tour Recap – Part One


This past weekend my friend Derek and I took part in the Chicago Area Tiki Tour (CATT).  We had an awesome time!  The event was put on by the Red Palms Chapter of the Fraternal Order of Moai.  The Red Palms Chapter really out did themselves.  This was the first Chicago Area Tiki Tour and it was organized perfectly.  The event was a great chance for Tiki fans from across the Midwest and beyond to get together, hop on a bus, and visit some of the best Tiki places in the Chicago area.

Friday night everyone checked in to the Aloft O’Hare, and made it their Tiki home for the weekend.  That evening the Cocktail Preachers played a great set of surf and exotica inspired music.  Sadly, I got held up at work and only got to see them play the last two songs.  After The Cocktail Preachers, Jason Croft “Java” did a live recording of The Bachelor Pad Radio Show.  I have been a faithful listener to The Bachelor Pad pod cast for quite some time now.  Java always plays a great mix of music that is perfect for a Tiki lounge.  It was a lot of fun to see the show recorded live, and was the perfect setting for the Tiki cocktails that were on special at the Aloft bar.  This is one show that every Tiki fan should listen to religiously. 

Saturday morning we were up bright and early to begin our tour.  At 10:15 AM around 100 Tiki fans boarded the two busses for full day of Tiki bars.  By 11:00 AM we had our swag bags, our first cocktail in hand, and we were headed to our first stop, Malahini Terrace.  The first bus cocktail was the Derby Daiquiri.  They had talented individuals mixing and serving cocktails while we drove down the highway. The highway factor resulted in the proportions being off a bit on most of the ingredients.  Everyone still enjoyed them, and had a great time!

When we arrived at the Malahini Terrace they didn’t know what hit them.  Don’t get me wrong, the event was scheduled in advance, and arranged with the restaurant, but serving 100 people cocktails and food all at once is a big job.  Unfortunately,  I didn’t get a drink.  I ordered one shortly after arriving, but we had to move on before it arrived.  I did get to sample their egg rolls, and they were pretty good.  The egg rolls were huge, and had a peanut flavor to them.  Derek tried some of the, chicken, chicken, chicken, which was also pretty good.  The Decor at Malahini Terrace was your typical Chinese restaurant, but they did have some Tiki looking lamps.  I’ll have to go back sometime to sample their cocktails.

Our second bus drink was The Koval Lei.  It is made with:

  • 1.5 oz Simply Lemonade
  • 1.5 oz pineapple juice
  • .25 oz Koval Honey Chrysanthemum Liqueur
  • .25 oz Koval Orange Blossom Liqueur
  • 1.25 oz Cruzan aged light rum
  • 1 tsp honey mix (recipe from the Grog Log)

Again, the measurements were, understandably, a bit rough on the bus, but this complex little cocktail had a lot going on.  The enticing flavors of honey stood out, and a nice orange, and lemon flavor was there too.  The cocktail gets it’s name from the Koval products in it.  Koval is a Chicago based distillery.

Click Here for Part Two of The Chicago Area Tiki Tour…

How to Make Cinerama Luau Punch


I needed to bring a drink to pass to a pool party recently.  One easy way to make drinks for a crowd is to make a punch.  You can make the punch in advance, and your guests can help themselves during the party.  I took a look at the Tiki+ app that I have on my IPod, and found Cinerama Luau Punch.  Cinerama Luau Punch was invented in 1958 by Don the Beachcomber for the premier of the film Cinerama South Seas Adventure.

To make Cinerama Luau Punch combine:

  • 8 oz unsweetened pineapple juice
  • 8 oz fresh lemon juice
  • 8 oz fresh lime juice
  • 8 oz fresh orange juice
  • 2 oz orange Curacao
  • 1/2 bottle (13 oz) white wine
  • 1 and 1/2 bottles ( 38 oz) gold Jamaican rum

Mix everything in a punch bowl with ice.

Top Moments From Tiki Oasis 2011

As I write this I am on the airplane flying home from Tiki Oasis. As I sip my airplane cocktail and eat the mini pretzels I’m looking back at some of my personal favorite Tiki Oasis moments. Note: It toook me a week to post this, but I did write it on the plane last week…

Thursday Night Dinner and Mai Tais at Bali Hai

The Bali Hai offers a beautiful view of The San Diego Harbor and the city skyline. We started off with The Bali Hai’s famously potent Mai Tais. They were great, but also very strong. I’m planning on sharing the recipe soon.

For dinner I had the Kalua Pork Tenderloin. It was excellent. The pork was very tender and it was served with Bacon, Caramelize Onion, Petite Cabbage, and Sherry Reduction. It was truly amazing.  More about Thursday night soon!

The Room Crawls

The room crawls were a lot of fun.  It is like a college dorm or house party. Picture 20, 50, or 70+ people squeezed into a tiny hotel room, or suite.  Each party has a featured drink.  There were so many creative themes and great cocktails. I’ll post more about this soon!

Watching A Live Recording of The Zen Tiki Lounge Podcast

What do you get when you combine Tiki Oasis, a Tiki Bar, flamingos with mini sombreros, and Tequila Tiki cocktails? Also, if you listen to ZTL 223 Tiki Oasis 2011: South of the Border you will hear yours truly.  I’m the one from Wisconsin who runs into Michelle Bachmann every week at the Piggly Wiggly. Confused? Read More

Meeting Many Great Tiki People

I met so many great Tiki people.  I really felt welcome, and a part of the Tiki community at my first Tiki Oasis.  There are too many people to mention here, but watch for more Tiki Oasis posts to hear about these great people.  

Polynesian Pop in Mid-Century San Diego Symposium

Bosko hosted a symposium that explored San Diego’s rich Tiki history.  We learned about Shelter Island and how that island used to be almost all Tiki, and where you can still find Tiki today in San Diego.  Finally, we learned the history on how the Crowne Plaza where Tiki Oasis is held. The Crowne Plaza has a history of rich tiki theming that has been removed over the years.  

Jack “Mr. Bongo” Costanzo & His Latin All-Stars

My favorite band of the week was definitely Jack Costanzo.  Jack is a legend in the bongo scene.  In the 40s and 50s he worked with such greats as Dezi Arnez and Nat King Kole.  His Latin bongo style was excellent to listen to from our balcony.  If you haven’t heard his music look him up.

So, those were some of my favorite moments from Tiki Oasis.  I have all my pictures posted here.  I’ll be posting more in depth about some of these things soon.  If you were there what were your favorite moments?