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  • Taco Tuesday…is it really from 1989? Or 1949?

    Posted on March 20th, 2018 "Tiki Chris" Pinto No comments

    biggest taco ADOn a random thought, and today being Tuesday, I decided to Google the origin of “Taco Tuesday”. I assumed I’d find a few dozen guesses on social media and question/answer sites, with things like “Taco Tuesday was invented by my friend Phil one Tuesday night when we were drunk and went to Taco Bell”.

    Surprisingly, I found out that “Taco Tuesday” is actually a registered trademark, owned by the chain Taco John’s. They came up with it in the 80s, supposedly, and trademarked it in 1989.

    But this doesn’t ring true to me. I remember “Taco Tuesday” being “a thing” when I was a kid…in the 70s and 80s, in South Jersey. So I did a little more digging. What did I find? That in 1979, 10 years earlier, a restaurant in bar in Somers Point, NJ (near Atlantic City, and a place I’d been to more than a few times) trademarked “Taco Tuesday”. Yep. Taco John’s didn’t make it up after all.

    But let’s think about this for a minute…if Gregory’s actually trademarked the term in 1979, wouldn’t that probably mean they’d been using it for a while? I mean, they opened in 1946. And you don’t just come up with a promo like that and say, “Hey! This is going to catch on…I’m spending the dough to trademark it right now” the minute you come up with it…especially when I know for a fact they didn’t enforce that trademark too hard in the 80s, as Taco Tuesday was everywhere.Gregory's Bar in Somers Point, NJ

    My thinking is that in the history of Tacos and Tuesdays and bars, it seems unlikely that those two, wonderfully alliterate words would not have been put together until 1979. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that some form of Taco Tuesday was being enjoyed as far back as the 1950s…maybe even earlier.

    Why not? They had tacos in the 30s. They had Tuesdays in the 30s. And they had tequila in the 30s. Pretty much all you need, right?

    Tiki Chris’ Sorta South West Drunken Chicken Taco Recipe

    So here’s what we do at the Pirate’s Cove Tiki Bar on Taco Tuesdays. I’m not even going to pretend this is in any way Mexican. Call it more of a South West kind of thing. With Tequila.

    Start with fresh, boneless chicken breast and a very sharp knife. It’s easier to slice if the chicken is partially frozen…just enough to stiffen the meat but not destroy it. On an angle, slice/shave pieces off the breast about ¼” thick. Slice into strips and small chunks.

    Heat oil on high in a big pan. Add garlic powder, cumin, ground pepper and salt to the oil and stir lightly. When the oil is real hot, carefully add the chicken, more of the spices, and stir. Then add about ¼ cup tequila. Turn it down a little. You’re going to have to stand there and keep watching and stirring as necessary, as the tequila cooks down. Don’t let it burn.

    As the chicken is cooking in the tequila, add more garlic powder and cumin. Keep stirring. When it’s cooked down, turn down the heat and add the taco seasoning.

    Note: It’s easiest to use pre-made taco seasoning, or you can make your own. Because I’m too lazy to go into all the detail of what’s in mine, just use your own or get a packet of Old El Paso. Oh, ok fine…I use garlic, paprika, cumin, oregano, chili powder, chipotle powder, salt and ground pepper.

    Add a little water with it, a few teaspoons at first, and stir. Then add some more tequila until it looks like taco meat should look. Let that cook on low for a while…at least 15 minutes…stir it a lot and add more tequila as necessary. You have to let it cook long enough for the tequila to infuse.

    Your final result should be chicken in an almost paste-like base. You don’t want this to be too watery.

    Heat your soft or hard tacos and pile them up with the chicken, lettuce, tomato, onion, chives, pico de gallo, sour cream, or whatever floats your boat. Serve with refried beans, cheesy Mexican rice and fried Mexi-Corn. Yum!

    -Tiki Chris reporting from the kitchen at Pirate’s Cove Tiki Lounge, Fort Lauderdale, FL

  • Remembering Buddy Greco, The King of Lounge

    Posted on January 11th, 2017 "Tiki Chris" Pinto No comments

    RIP Buddy Greco, August 14, 1926 – January 10, 2017

    The first time I ever heard Buddy Greco was on the radio. It was in the early 1980s, and I used to listen to a “nostalgia” station, WRDR, FM 105 out of Egg Harbor City in New Jersey. After the commercial break, his trademark intro to “The Lady Is A Tramp” swung out in glorious stereo, and I was hooked.

    A few days later I heard what was to become my favorite Greco tune, “Around the World”.

    Sinatra, Steve and Edie, Sammy Davis Jr, Martin, Prima…all pioneers of the swingin’ style that would eventually be associated with Vegas lounge & showroom acts. But Buddy Greco took it to the next level, and held it there just at the brink of being overdone. Whenever someone today spoofs or tosses fun at the lounge acts of mid-century Vegas, it’s not really Sinatra they’re imitating…it’s Greco, and they can’t come close to his stylistic perfection.

    Even his ballads were well swung.

    Buddy was also and accomplished jazz/lounge pianist, who would have been as at home in smokey bar as a concert hall. Here’s Misty:

    And though his music spanned 80 years and several genres including county and pop, what I think we’ll miss most about my fellow Philadelphian is his vibrant, energetic, original swinging vocals and on-stage attitude that makes him, in my book, the all time King of Lounge.

    Later, Buddy. Catch you on the flip side.

    Tiki Chris, reporting from the Hi Fi Lounge at Tiki Lounge Talk

  • A Few Words About David Bowie…

    Posted on January 11th, 2016 "Tiki Chris" Pinto No comments
    David Bowie, 1967

    David Bowie, 1967

    On the day of his passing, January 10, 2016, here’s a few words about David Bowie, may he rest in rock n roll heaven:

    Although not considered a part of the mid-century music that we love here at the Tiki Lounge, many people don’t realize that Bowie’s career began way back in 1962, when he played sax in a band he formed with his friends. He was truly part of the “new generation” of kids that dug rock n roll over swing and jazz, and of course went on to be one of the musicians who transformed the music landscape. For this reason, I believe he should be remembered as part of the history of mid-century culture.

    Although not my personal taste, I appreciate how Bowie’s music touched millions, including many of those who grew up on Tommy Dorsey and Bing Crosby, who expanded their musical tastes later in life (my Mother was one of those people…born in 1943, she became a huge fan of musicians like Bowie, Hendrix, etc.) And although not my taste, a few of his songs, to me, broke through and stood aside from his usual format, songs like Let’s Dance (borrowing the title from the 1930s/40s Make Believe Ballroom theme and Benny Goodman’s opening theme), and the jazz chord-infused Changes, where Bowie plays the alto sax solos.

    So today we say goodbye to a true musician and artist, a man who devoted his life to his craft and to making people sing and dance. Cheers to you, David Bowie…the music in heaven just got a little more exciting now that you’re there.

    -Tiki Chris

     

  • Mai Kai in Fort Lauderdale, FL is now an Historic Landmark

    Posted on February 25th, 2015 "Tiki Chris" Pinto 1 comment
    The Mai-Kai in Fort Lauderdale, FL

    The Mai-Kai in Fort Lauderdale, FL

    Congrats to Fort Lauderdale’s Mai Kai Restaurant and Polynesian Show for being granted National Historic Landmark status! (It’s about time!)

    The quintessential Tiki Bar/Lounge/Experience has been one of the world’s most elaborate (and famous) Tiki-themed establishments since 1956. It’s gone through a few changes over the years (The Molokai Lounge was created with the ship interior theme in the 1960s) but still retains much of its original architecture and decor, and all of its original charm.

    Tiki themed restaurants & lounges began sprouting up in the mid 1930s, and had their heyday from around the end of WW2 through the late 1960s (see our Tiki Culture page). But as society evolved out of the sophisticated cocktail culture of the American mid-century and into the torn blue jeans & acid rock culture of the late ’60s, Tiki Bars became less fashionable, less of an exotic escape and more as a kitschy joint for “the last generation”. Sales fell, and most of the grand and beautiful Tiki palaces fell too.

    My friends and me at The Hukilau 2011

    My friends and me at The Mai Kai, 2011

    The Mai Kai is one of only a handful of the original Tiki-themed restaurants to make it through the Disco era, the Mod ’80s, the bland ’90s and The Great Recession, along with multiple hurricanes and an insane buildup of furniture stores, strip clubs, strip malls and other restaurants along the strip of Federal Highway in Fort Lauderdale…a stretch of road that was completely vacant and considered “way out west” when the Mai Kai was built in ’56. It’s a testament to the family who has owned this family-owned business and to the newest proprietors that it has remained not only open, but successful, for nearly 60 years.

    And it’s about time that fantastic, fantasy palaces like this are finally being recognized for what they are: A great piece of American history.

    -Tiki Chris, reporting from the lanai at the Mai Kai

     

  • Remembering Mickey Rooney (Sept. 23, 1920 – April 6, 2014)

    Posted on April 7th, 2014 "Tiki Chris" Pinto No comments

    rooneyLet’s take a moment to remember one of  our favorite actors, Mickey Rooney (Sept. 23, 1920 – April 6, 2014)

    He was Santa in Santa Claus is Comin’ To Town (1970). He was only six when he acted in his first movie, “Not To Be Trusted” (1926). He had already become a star, making over three dozen Mickey McGuire shorts before his 15th birthday. Then came the Andy Hardy films, and his pairing with the lovely Judy Garland. He became the #1 box office draw in the US before age 20, and held that honor from 1939 to 1941.

    Born in Brooklyn, NY on September 23, 1920, Mickey hit the stage not long after his first birthday, appearing with his parents in vaudeville shows. From there he catapulted to stardom, winning a special Academy Award in 1939 for “bringing to the screen the spirit and personification of youth, and . . . setting a high standard of ability and achievement.”

    Most of us remember watching Mickey Rooney in reruns on Saturday afternoons. Some of us remember him from Dinsey’s “Pete’s Dragon” (1977), or from the dozens of TV show and movie appearances he made throughout the past 60 years, including The Golden Girls, Murder She Wrote, The Return of Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer, It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, and his own TV series “Mickey” (1964-65). More recent roles include Babe: Pig in the City (1998), The Muppets, and one of his best ever, in my opinion, as Gus in Night at the Museum (2006).

    According to Mickey Rooney’s IMDB page, he was still working, with three projects currently in filming or pre.production. That’s not bad for a 93 year-old.

    Mickeyrooney

    There aren’t many actors who can claim nine decades of work, and nearly eight of stardom. Mickey was a one of a kind, and we’re lucky to have had him in our lives for so long. A true part of American film history, Mickey Rooney will always be remembered as one of the top stars of the 20th and 21st centuries, and one of the last from the first golden era of film and television to remain with us.

    Break a leg Mickey!
    -Chris Pinto, for Tiki Lounge Talk