Posted on December 31st, 2009 No comments
To all the kookie kats and hip kittens that have been following Tiki Lounge Talk since we started in April, I’d like to wish you the happiest, the healthiest, the most prosperous and the swingin’est New Year ever. Let’s put the insanity of 2009 waaay behind us and get hip to some new grooves while digging the good-old grooves in the new decade.
Drink up, enjoy your cocktails, but stay out of the jalopy unless you’re a passenger. Swing with your favorite chick or kat, dance like Astaire and have a ball. May the spirit of Miles fill your horns, and best of luck fill your pockets. Thank you all for hanging around the Tiki Bar and sharing a cocktail or two. I’m lookin’ forward to some very fun, very rum-soaked Tiki Lounge Conversations in the coming year!
Tonight, I’ll enjoy a cocktail or two (Chivas Regal) before dinner. The little lady and I are having dinner at home tonight, then heading to the Beach in Fort Lauderdale to to toast the new decade as it begins, at the edge of the US of A.
So again I say, Swing in the New Year with style, and best wishes for the Teens, baby!
-Tiki Chris Pinto, from the Pirate’s Cove Tiki Bar, Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Posted on December 30th, 2009 10 comments
This is a repost from a long time ago…it just works so well for New Year’s Eve, I had to repost it. Notice how a lot of New Year’s decor is reminiscent of the 1930s, 40s & 50s? With Art Deco styling and visions of cocktails? No holiday conjures up images of the good old days of Champagne Cocktails like the party to end all parties, New Year’s Eve.
Ah, the ’50s, a time of diverse cultures, Rock ’n Roll and Jazz living side by side, greasers and swingers intermingled in the same cities. While the rock ‘n rollers were drinking Pabst and dancing to Bill Haley and the Comets, the cool crowd…the jetsetters…the swingers…were sipping Manhattans, dressed in evening gowns and sharp tailored suits, dancing cheek to cheek to Ole Blue Eyes and Nat King Cole, or just conversing with Stan Getz or Martin Denny in the background. Here’s how to throw a cocktail party, hi-ball style…
The cocktail party. Suave, continental, the utmost.
Today’s cocktail parties are but a remnant of the original, sophisticated gatherings that grew up in the ’20s and ’30s and reached mature perfection in the ’50s. The music is different, the dress code is much less formal, and even the drinks are…just not the same.
But it doesn’t have to be that way, does it? With a little imagination and a few bucks, anyone can reach back to 50 years ago and pull the elegance and glamour of a real cocktail party into the present.
“The best way to wreck a party is to turn on the lights”. Atmosphere is everything, and before you buy your first bottle of Cointreau or open your first pack of swizzle sticks, you’ve got to get the mood right. Dig this: Mood = Lighting. Simple as that.
To create the proper atmosphere, you need the proper setting, and the most important part of that setting is the lighting. Experiment a few evenings before the party with different light combinations. Keep the lights low. A good rule is people, after their eyes adjust, should be able to read their watches, but have to get close to see the color of the eyes of the person in front of them. This makes for a much more intimate, social mood. Avoid direct overhead lights, unless you have a dimmer. A small light at the bar to see the bottles is good, as long as it doesn’t stream out and glare into the room. Colored bulbs can do wonders; blues and greens are very nice, and create a mysterious, vintage feel. Reds tend to make everything look like a bordello, so unless that’s the look you going for, shy away from red. Candles can create a nice effect, but remember two things: First, too many candles can create too much light, actually spoiling the mood, and second, in the Atomic Age, candles were considered quaint (or antiquated)…A true Atom Age party would use the keenest and most up-to-date electronics, even for lighting (which also means if you have special effect lighting, such as ultraviolet or image projection lights, using them sparingly can help create a retro atmosphere). A very cool effect is to have colored bulbs low to the floor, behind furniture shining up, to give it a sort of “glow” in the background. And of course, a lava lamp can’t hurt…http://www.spencersonline.com/decor_lighting_lava-lamps/. Oh, and by the way, the perfect time to start a cocktail party is 8:30pm. Not 8, not 9. Expect many of your guests to arrive at exactly 10:10.
The Decor & Party Favors
In the old days the decor was pretty simple…black and white streamers, balloons, and table cloths with pictures of the baby New Year. These days you can get a couple a zillion different gimmicks and ideas from the party stores. Silver mylar balloons add a nice touch, as do silver and black fringe. Plastic party fedoras and tiaras are inexpensive, and make great hand-outs. Black and silver noisemakers will pull it all together. Don’t worry if you don’t have enough for everyone…they’ll figure out a way to make noise.
The Dress Code
An essential part of the perfect cocktail party is what your guests look like. Let’s face it, jeans and sweatshirts just won’t cut it. You can be as formal or informal as you like, but whatever you decide, insist your guests dress the part. It will probably be difficult and annoying to your guests to have the wear evening clothes, ties, etc. But they should at the very least dress as well as they would for a wedding. Dresses for the ladies, sport coats for the men. If you’d like, get them excited about dressing the part by having a ‘best dressed’ contest with the winner getting a bottle of champagne.
Let’s be Frank…this is a ’50s cocktail party. Stick to the right kind of music. Since you have a couple of decades and several styles to choose from, it would be incredibly cool and mix a few together…Sinatra, Nat Cole and Billy Holiday, Lester Young, Stan Getz and Miles Davis, Martin Denny, Esquivel and Charlie Parker. The “Ultra Lounge Series” of CDs covers a lot of the tiki-inspired music of the era, real bachelor pad stuff. The Peter Gunn soundtrack has a lot of great cuts too. Don’t play anything corny like Percy Faith or Lawrence Welk, and stay away from Rock ‘n Roll, even the old stuff. The music is for background only, or slow dancing, and if anyone complains, call them an uptight square and hand them another drink. http://www.ultralounge.com/
Turn off the Tube, unless it’s to watch the Ball drop in Times Square
Remember, TV was not the center of attention in the Atom Age. The TV would never be on at a cocktail party. If you absolutely must have the tube on, consider playing DVDs of old movies or TV shows, such as The Malteze Falcon, The Peter Gunn series, Bell, Book & Candle, etc…or of course, Ocean’s 11.
Since this is going to be a New Year’s Eve party, you absolutely MUST have champagne on hand. Get the good stuff if your guests actually like to drink the stuff. If not, $6 a bottle toasting champagne is quite acceptable…just don’t let your guests see the bottle, that’s tacky. Also consider serving Champagne Cocktails, a very sophisticated drink from a bygone era.
You can’t force your guests to drink Side Cars and Singapore Slings, but you can try! Look up three or four old school drink recipes, and get familiar with making them. When your guests ask for the usual vodka and cranberry, offer them Vodka Collins instead. Or a Tahitian Sunset. Or maybe a Stinger. But don’t be too pushy…if they really want that Crown and Diet, let them have it. After all, they’re your guests, and you want them to have fun.
It’s a good idea to try to find out ahead of time what people will be drinking. I’ve found the best bar set up consists of a lot of vodka, one Crown, one Jack, one Captain, one tequila and a bunch of fruit juices, plus coke, diet coke, seven up and a bottle of seltzer. If people ask if they can bring something, I tell them they don’t have to but (whatever you’re lacking) would be great. And I never buy beer…someone will always bring it, and if not, someone will go get it. Just make sure you have a couple 5 lb bags of ice. Oh, and a few lemons, limes, and cherries should be enough to get you through the night, unless you’re incredibly detailed about your garnishes. Then go the whole route with cocktail onions, olives, oranges, pineapple, etc.
Someone once gave me a great book with cocktail recipes: The Great Tiki Drink Book. Found one here: http://www.amazon.com/Great-Tiki-Drink-Book/dp/1580084052
The fare served at a cocktail party can vary from simple snax to extravagant hors d’oeuvres. Just remember, once the party starts, the last thing you’re going to want to do is cook. Plan a menu ahead, taking into account the number of guests, the time of year, and the occasion itself. Stay away from anything soupy or glorpy…no chili, stew, or beef-a-roni, kids. If it needs a fork or spoon, forget it.
No matter what the occasion, you’ll want simple finger foods that can be made in advance. Cocktail wieners are a sure-fire hit. Cheeses cut into one inch cubes, arranged with crackers and pepperoni is always popular. Frozen mini quiches are quick and easy to make, too. Put several small bowls of chips, dip, and nuts around the different rooms. If you’re having an informal friend and family affair, onion dips, mini hot dogs, or a large (6’ or longer) sub cut into small pieces is acceptable, but if you’re having a sort of “singles” get-together, stay away from anything with onion, garlic, etc. Don’t serve anything that can spill easily, and never…NEVER…serve anything out of a can (Except canned fruits or fruit cocktail).
A chocolate fondue fountain is a nice modern touch that seems old fashioned, too. They’re inexpensive and easy to use. http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/product.asp?order_num=-1&SKU=16035785
Don’t underestimate the power of a good old fashioned conversation piece. In the ‘50s, this could have been anything from a piece of avant-garde art, to an antique cigarette box, to a rare book. Today things aren’t too much different…art of any kind, particularly originals, will always catch people’s attention. Antiques today can also include collectibles from the late 20th century, including ‘50s bar memorabilia (I have a few goodies myself that always get a laugh, including VIP matchbooks…Very Important Places…gag advertising matchbook covers denoting various brothels, flophouses, sailor saloons and other funny establishments). And If you don’t have art or collectibles, you still don’t have to go out of your way to find interesting things. Have an old photo album with you in your younger days? Bring it out. Play a musical instrument? Put it on display. Even a few Playboy magazines placedon the coffee table, in the right company, can be a fun way to spice up the Tiki talk. Of course there are some of you who just don’t have anything “conversationally”. When all else fails, hire a stripper to jump out of a cake. Need ideas? http://ebay.com, search “retro”
The mood is set, the lights are low, a Les Baxter arrangement is lilting out of the hi-fi, a pitcher of cold Martinis sits on the Tiki Bar, and you look sharp as a tack in your white tux or black evening gown. The first guests have just rung the doorbell. The time has arrived. Sip your Martini, take a deep breath, and get ready to have gas, baby!
I’m gone…catch you cats on the flip side…
Posted on December 28th, 2009 5 comments
What better way to ring in the New Year than with the greatest New Year’s Eve movie to ever hit the silver screen,
Ocean’s 11, the first (and quintessential) Rat-Pack flick.
The characters in this movie define cocktail-era cool better than anyone…and they should, as Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr, Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop practically invented the essence of mid-century coolness, and pretty much play themselves in this liquor-soaked tale.
Enter Danny Ocean, the cocky, live-for-the-moment cat who gets a crazy idea in his head to get his old army buddies together to knock-over five Vegas Strip casinos for fun and profit. Using his charm, he talks his (otherwise mostly straight-up) pals into embarking on this rather ballsy scheme. They make the plan over billards and drinks, and make ready to pull it off on New Year’s Eve at the stroke of midnight. I won’t give any more away, in case you ain’t seen it for yourself as of yet.
Here’s some Trivia (More here at IMDB):
This flick combines the best the cocktail era has to offer: On-location shots of Vegas, plus cool cars, lots of booze, broads, and songs by Martin and Davis. (But funny enough, not Sinatra)
It is rumored that when Peter Lawford brought the idea to Sinatra, Ole Blue Eyes said, “Forget the movie, let’s pull the job!”
Shirley McClaine ad-libbed her entire cameo. Her payment was a new car.
Vegas ‘law’ at the time mandated African Americans could not stay in the major hotels. When they tried to make Sammy Davis Jr. stay at a “colored only” motel, Frank stepped in and strong-armed the casino into letting him stay there. This pretty much led to the end of segregation in Vegas Hotels.
Dean Martin’s movie version of “Ain’t That a Kick in The Head” , featuring Red Norvo on vibes, was much different (but just as cool) as the swingin’ big band version released on vinyl.
PS: For those of you who are thinking of the remake with George Clooney and Brad Pitt…Hey, I think Clooney is just great…but he ain’t no Sinatra. See the original.
Posted on December 24th, 2009 1 comment
Mele Kalikimaka is the thing to say on a bright South Florida Christmas day Here’s wishing you the merriest of merriest from the land where palm trees sway, and coconuts are perfectly acceptable Christmas Tree balls. Whether you celebrate the holiday religiously, or as a reminder of how lucky we really are, may you keep the spirit of Christmas and the Moai and all things retro in your heart year ’round, and you New Year be filled with happiness, prosperity, and rum!
REALLY REALLY Last Minute Gift Ideas For People Who Love The Tiki & Retro
LifeNote: I take no responsibility for typographical errors in this post, as I have already started on the Egg Nog
I’m writing this post at 4:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve day. I’m doing it now because I know there are still some people who forgot tomorrow is Christmas, and they’re pulling their hair out wondering what to do. After all, the stores will be closed soon, and unless you get all your gifts at a Walgreen’s Pharmacy, you’re out of luck, duck.
Basically, either you’re just reading this for a few laughs, or you’re reading this because you seriously screwed up and need some tips, fast. Weeeel, hopefully this little post will do a little of both. So here’s a few ideas that will get you through tomorrow without making you look like a complete jerk…
1. Give the Gift of Music
You can buy a flash drive pretty much anywhere now. Pick up 500MB or higher capacity drive and fill it with MP3’s you buy from iTunes or Amazon. (Yeah, I said buy, ok Sony?) If it’s for a Tiki Lover, see the guide to Tiki Music here. If it’s for a Retro lover, and you’re no sure what kind of music they dig, get them the set list of jazz I’ve got listed here. If they dig this music, they’ll appreciate these cuts. If they don’t dig it, they damned well should and this is your chance to expose them to the riffs of the truly cool.
The four greatest words ever listed on a website store are “Temporarily Out Of Stock”. This is the perfect out for you if you forget to order gifts before the big day. Just download a picture of the gift you have in mind, and make a simple little card with the photo in it that says “This is the gift you’re getting this year. i ordered it early but it was Temporarily Out Of Stock. You should have it before next year!” Put a lot of clip are of holly and snowmen on the card so people know you are sincere. Or, you can look for stuff on Ebay or Etsy, buy what you like, and lie like hell that it got held up in shipping. People will believe that, right?
3. Buy a Fez
Tiki people (aka, Tikiphiles) LOVE Fezzes. It’s a Tiki thing, you wouldn’t understand…unless of course you’re into Tiki things. You may not understand it, but they will. The Fezmonger at Fez-o-rama makes Fezzes by hand, and makes them out of velvet, not cheap felt. And he makes custom ones, that can take weeks to create. So there you go…”I wanted to get you a Fez, but A) I didn’t know your fat head size, and B) I thought you might want a custom one”. So direct your Tikiphile friend to http://fez-o-rama.com/, let him pick one out, and foot the bill.
4. Buy 12 2-hour video tapes, and tape the TBS 24 Hours of A Christmas Story. Give out as gifts to people without cable.
6. Fast Food
Who can resist a bag of hamburgers? There’s bound to be at least a Wendy’s or something open, at least on Christmas eve day. Pick up $40 worth of Taco Bell for your friends and show them you care enough to send the very best.
7. Anything from the Tiki Farm.
Tiki Farm is the place to get all those kookie kool Tiki mugs, bowls, decanters etc. It’s all collectible, so even if your Tiki friends have the monkey mug, they’ll be thrilled to get another. Again, the magic words Temporarily Out Of Stock can go a long way on Christmas Day. http://www.tikifarm.com
8. Vintage-style Candy
If you have the pleasure of living near a Cracker Barrel, or some other fun joint that dishes vintage-style candy, you’re in. They’ll probably be open regular house on Christmas Eve, and since they’re touristy, they might even be open on Christmas. Fill up a sack with Bit-O-Honeys, BB Bats, Old-style wrapped Hershey Bars, ribbon candy and salt water taffy and you’ll be the hit of the Christmas Party.
9. If there’s still time…
Believe it or not, Target stores have an unusual amount of retro-styled stuff. The one in Hollywood, Florida has a whole section of 50’s style Christmas bar and kitchenware, including red and green Lucite cocktail shakers for $2.95. They have vintage-style Christmas ornaments too, and even some old-fashioned candy. If you make it there before they close, you might also check out the DVD section for old movies. Don’t worry if your buddies have the movie or not…they can always exchange it if they don’t crack the seal.
10, Here’s the Daddy of them all, reserved for that very special someone that you completely forgot about. This is above and beyond kids, and should only be reserved for the special-est of special friends:A TRIP TO THE ANTIQUE MALL. …or store, or strip, or whatever is in your neck of the woods. Make a big deal about it, because it’s going to cost you an arm, a leg, and a day. Again, download some photos from the mall/store/street website and throw together a little card that announces the big gift. Set a date and stick to it. If you don’t really want to do it, set a date (like a workday) that you know the recipient can’t do, then when they say the day is no good, tell them you’ll get together in the new year on a day that’s good for both of you. Weasel out of it accordingly.
Well, I hope this helps with the last minute gift ideas. If none of this works for you, find a supermarket that’s open and buy $30 worth of coconuts, pineapples and bananas. Put them in a big Santa sack and give them to your friends. If they don’t appreciate it, you can always clobber them with it.
Merry Christmas Eve from the Tiki Bar!
Here’s what we’re doing this fine Christmas Eve…
Here in the land of Palm Trees and Sunshine, it’s about 72° today with a nice breeze. We’ve got all the sliding glass doors open, and I’m typing this post on the lanai, next to the Tiki Bar. We’ve got the 1950’s Aluminum Christmas Tree up, the 1930’s train set is circling the track, and Welsh Rarebit is on the menu for tonight, whipped up in our vintage Turkish fondue pot.
I have a little tradition I do every Christmas eve. In 1980, I got a Yorx stereo Record Player/AM/FM/Tape Deck for Christmas. My parents gave it to me on Christmas Eve, and just in time for me to record several hours of vintage radio broadcasts of Christmas shows from the ’30s. ’40s and ’50s. (They were broadcast on WRDR, FM 105 out of Egg Harbor City, NJ, back when they were an oldies station…back when oldies meant pre-1960 non-rock) I recorded Amos and Andy, Jack Benny, Uncle Milty, George & Gracie, Fibber McGee & Molly and more (Funny, never noticed before how all those peoples’ names end in ‘y’). Anyway, I still have the tapes, and have listened to them every year on Christmas eve since 1980. This will be the 29th year. 29th year! We’ll listen to them starting around five, and give up around 8 or so. Then we’ll open a few gifts (leaving some for tomorrow), probably watch some Christmas movies, and eat fondue until we can’t move. We may even drive down to the beach for a little walk.
Posted on December 21st, 2009 2 comments
Ah, the Atomic Age, when spaceships were pie plates and anything with the word “Martian” in it would sell tickets.
I won’t even try to summarize any kind of plot with this flick. It’s something about Martians don’t have Christmas, but Martian kids can watch Earth Christmas shows on the tube, so they want a Santa, or a family with John Payne, or Zuzu’s petals, or a Red Ryder BB Gun or some jazz like that. I don’t know, I was on my third highball 15 minutes into this goop. BUT! There is an amazing version of this sci-fry reel…brought to you by those lovable robots at Mystery Science Theater 3000.
Yes, once again the gang at MST3K has turned a nonsense bunch of images into something very groovy. And of course, there are the cheap, early ’60s sci-fi sets, Martians with things on their heads, stock footage of rockets, and…uh…Santas. Plural.
You’re going to want to pair this fine movie with an equally fine beverage. I think Maddog 20-20 will do. With great writing like, “One false move and your little ho-ho-ho man will be destroyed,” you can’t go wrong.
Thank you to my friend Cat for turning me on to this krazy flick!