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  • Tiki Bar’s Top 20 Christmas Movies & Shows, for Mod Movie Monday

    Posted on December 13th, 2010 "Tiki Chris" Pinto 8 comments

    Christmas Tiki Stocking stuffed with Tropical FruitMele Kalikimaka!

    With Christmas around the corner I thought it would be fun to post Colleen and my favorite Christmas movies and TV shows. I know many of you kats and kittens drop by to find new (old) flicks to favor, but I think today’s post will be more about remembering all of our favorites that we’ve loved for years. So pour yourself a bourbon egg nog, log on to Netflix and get ready for…

    Tiki Lounge Talk’s Top Twenty Christmas Shows!

    rudolph-new-year20. Rudolph’s Shiny New Year, 1976: Not exactly a Christmas show, but close enough. Our old Friend Rudolf The Red-Nosed Reindeer finds himself trying to save the Baby New Year. Long story short, it’s more of that great old stop-animation stuff that we loved as kids. Computer generated imagery just doesn’t have the same old-fashioned, homey Christmas feel that these shows did. And the toys were real!

    year-without-santa19. The Year Without A Santa Claus, 1974: Another stop-animation goody from the same guys who gave us Rudolph’s Shiny New Year and Santa Claus it coming to town, Jules Bass and Arthur Rankin, Jr. Santa (Mickey Rooney) catches a cold, and believes nobody cares if he comes to town anyway. This is the one with Heat Miser and Snow Miser. Classic, wonderful show, except for a whiny version of “Blue Christmas” from a little girl. Oh, and every time it dips below 40 here in South Florida, which isn’t often, we joke, “It’s gonna snow in South Town!” You’ll have to watch the show to get it.

    2003_elf_00318. Elf, 2003: Not an oldy but definitly a goody, this Christmas flick is about a man (Will Ferrel) who was orphaned and adopted by Santa’s elves and brought up at the North Pole. Sometime in his 30’s or 40’s he decides to find his real father, James Cann, in New York City. Hilarity ensues. Add in cute-as-a-button Zooey Deschanel and Bob Newhart, and this goofy comedy can’t miss. Plus it’s packed with the koolest Christmas music by Ella, Frank, Les Baxter, etc. etc.

    scrooge-mcduck17. Mickey’s Christmas Carol, 1983: Scrooge McDuck. Need I say more?

    16. White Christmas, 1954: Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye and Rosemary Clooney team up in this post-WWII musical. Bing & Danny play ex-GI’s who form a song & dance team (yeah, that happened a lot after WWII, right?) They go to play a B&B in Vermont, find it’s owned by their old commander who’s not doing so well financially, so they help him get the place hopping again while falling for a couple of dames in the outfit. Of course, Bing sings White Christmas.

    homealone15. Home Alone, 1990: It’s hard to call this one “new” as it is officially 20 years old now. Krazy, huh? The first really good Christmas movie to come along in years (1989’s Christmas Vacation gets an Honorable Mention), this movie re-defined what Christmas was all about, while sending us the same, time-honored message: There’s no place like home for the holidays, even if you bludgeon would-be burglars with gallons of paint and a clothes iron.

    silent_night_deadly_night14. Silent Night, Deadly Night, 1984: “You’ve made it through Halloween, now try to survive Christmas” was the tagline for this early 80’s-style slasher film. Forget the plot, it’s SANTA murdering half-naked women. Put this one on after the kiddie’s hit the hay.
    13. A Christmas Carol, 1951 with Alistair Sim: There are about 400 version of this movie, dating back to the 1890’s when Scrooge was drawn on a notepad and flipped through. This particular one is the one my family watched every year, and so it’s my favorite “live action” version. (Rich Little’s version was funny as hell, but is impossible to find.)

    the_santa_clause12. The Santa Clause, 1994: Another one that’s hard to call “new”, this very original movie was both funny and heartwarming. Tim Allen makes a great Santa, and the way he gets the job is a fantastic example of originality and creativity to make this flick lots of fun. The second one was pretty good too. Don’t really remember the third one. Might not have even seen it. Sequels, you know…FROSTY THE SNOWMAN

    11. Frosty The Snowman, 1969: One of the few cartoons that made it big in the era of stop-animation, Frosty lives on as one of the favorites among favorites. With Jimmy Durante narrating and Jackie Vernon as the voice of Frosty, no one will ever forget (or forgive) that bad magician, Professor Hinkle. (Bizzy, bizzy bizzy!!!) and what he did to Frosty. Whew! Santa comes by to save the day!

    scrooge-muppet-christmas-carol10. The Muppet Christmas Carol, 1992: Coming years after the success of the Muppet Show, this welcomed Muppet movie starred Micheal Caine as Scrooge, in a damned good performance too, considering his co-stars were a frog, a pig, a bear, and a whatever. Puns galore. Muppets. Music. Rats. Who could ask for anything more?


    astair-santa-claus-is-comin9. Santa Claus is Coming To Town, 1970: Hard to believe this Rankin/Bass stop-animation favorite came out 40 years ago. I mean, it was new the first time I saw it! (I was two). Fred Astair, Mickey Rooney and Keenan Wynn lead the starring voices for this story of Santa’s life, from when he was an orphan to when he started bringing toys to children. When I was a kid, I looked at it as a biography…which it is. Don’t let anyone tell you any differently. santa-comin-youngListen for the voice of the Burgermeister – his name is Paul Frees, and he’s done voices on almost every cartoon and stop-ani show EVER made.

    rudolph-hermie8. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, 1964: As far as original, old stop-animation goes, this one is the tops. I mean, come on, it’s Rudolph! The Island of Misfit Toys, great music, an elf who wants to be a dentist, 1940’s cars and a Bumble. If you’ve never seen it, well, you’re a dork.rudolph-santa

    nightmare-christmas-jack17. The Nightmare Before Christmas, 1993: Everyone knows that Tim Burton is bat-ass crazy. His dark, twisted mind gave us a glimpse of his warped version of Christmas with Edward Scissorhands, and he took the money from that to make his real movie, The Nightmare Before Christmas. It’s just this: You take Halloween, and you take Christmas, and you collide them at 180 miles per hour with some LSD and a fog machine. Then you film it in the most expensive, most time-consuming and hardest to shoot stop animation ever, invented just for this movie.

    nightmare-christmas-jack2A giant, skinny skeleton, Jack Skellington, accidentally discovers Chrismastown after taking a long walk away from Halloweentown. He falls in love with the colors, the lights, the pies, the toys, so different from his gray and orange home. He decides to give Santa a night off, and take his place with some horrific toys and a sleigh built from a coffin (the skeleton reindeers are creepy). It’s an opera-style musical, but the music is boss. Especially The Boogieman’s Song, where he sings and dances á la Cab Calloway.

    christmas-story-leg-lamp6. A Christmas Story, 1983: If there’s still anyone out there who hasn’t seen this flick, as it’s been broadcast 24 hours on Christmas Day for around the last 15 years, I think I’d faint in my egg nog. “You’ll shoot your eye out” is probably one of the most quoted (and imitated) lines in pop culture. That, referring to the Red Ryder BB gun (I got one!) and that crazy leg lamp (I got one’a those, too) make this movie one of the most popular Christmas movies of all time. christmas-story-ralphie-bunny“Messy Marvin” did a great job as the clueless kid who didn’t care about anything in the world except getting that BB gun. We’ve all been there – with me, it was getting a slot car track when I was a kid (then later in life it was about getting this blonde stripper I knew and bottle of Johnny Blue, but that’s another story). And of course, this is where you learn what Chinese Turkey is.

    wonderful-life-ending5. It’s a Wonderful Life, 1946: Jimmy Stewart almost didn’t make this movie. He had been overseas during the war, and thought it was too soon after he came back to make a movie. Lionel Barrymore talked him into it, and Stewart later said it was his favorite movie he ever made. Another “There’s no place like home for the holidays, no matter how screwed up things are” movie, it didn’t do so well at the box office first time around (even though it was nominated for five Oscars). It wasn’t until later TV and video releases that the film was realized as one of the top 100 films (American Film Institute) and given the honor of the #1 Inspirational Film of all time by the AFI. wonderful-life-potterThis was always one of my favorites from when I was a little kid. After all, don’t we all want to believe there’s an angle looking out for us? Or maybe an angel?

    grinch-smirk4. How The Grinch Stole Christmas (original cartoon), 1966: The “new” Grinch live-action movie with Jim Carey was slick, over-the-top, extreme, and therefore dullsville compared to the understated excellence of the original cartoon. With Boris Karloff narrating, this made-for-TV special by master cartoonist Chuck Jones took the book to an incredible level while keeping the look and feel of Dr. Seuss intact. grinch-whosThe Grinch’s theme song is so absolutely perfect, the toys are so absolutely annoying, and Cindy-Loo Who is so absolutely cute that it all fits in perfectly with the absolutely abysmal Grinch. He even admits to being 53, which makes him a crotchety old man! He’s basically yelling at the Whos to get off his lawn. Perfection. (Note: Dr. House stole his look from the Grinch)

    mirical-34th-street-santa-n3. Miracle on 34th Street (Original Movie), 1947: Again, the “new” version of this movie is an over-the-top catastrophe. Stay far away from it lest your eyes melt in your head. But the original is pure magic. John Payne, Maureen O’Hara, Edmund Gwenn as Santa a little girl named Natalie Wood make this Christmas special a very special one indeed. An up-and-coming lawyer falls into a situation where he has to (wants to) prove in a court of law that not only does Santa Claus exist, but that he works at Macy’s. Natalie Wood is a little girl who’s taught not to believe in such silly things. Santa is determined to help everyone, even if it means he could be locked up for Christmas Eve. You’ll never guess how it ends! Well, ok, maybe you will. Still, it’s a fantastic movie.

    magoo-christmas-coins2. Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol, 1962: Credited as the FIRST Christmas Cartoon to start the trend of running cartoons on network TV every Christmas, Magoo’s Christmas Carol may not be as popular today as it was nearly 50 years ago, but it’s still considered one of the top by pretty much anyone who watches Christmas shows. Jim Backus of course voices Magoo as Scrooge, and the story is of course filled with Magoo-esque jokes like, (Ghost of Christmas Present) “Scrooge, have you ever seen the likes of me?” (Magoo) “I’m not sure I see you now!” magoo_christmas_futureThe Dickens’ tale is paraphrased down to about an hour (less commercial breaks) but keeps the original story mostly intact while giving it a sort of live-theater feel. The cartoon itself is pure early ’60s animation, kind of Bullwinkle-like in its art direction, and very clever. The music is great (ever had Razzleberry jelly?) and it’s loads of fun to watch. This is one my family and I would watch every year on TV, and on video tape (I still have the tape from 1980 when we taped it off HBO) later. It was my Mother’s favorite Christmas show ever, so it holds a special place in my heart.

    And of course, the number one Christmas show at the Pirate’s Cove Tiki Bar and at homes around the world…

    charlie-brown-christmasA Charlie Brown Christmas, 1965: Seriously, nothing taught me more about the true meaning of Christmas than this show. When I was a kid, there were no DVDs, no video tapes, no computers. So you got the TV guide, found the date when CBS was showing it, and stayed home that night to make sure you caught it or you’d be out of luck until next year. And it was worth the wait. That incredible musical score by jazz pianist Vince Guaraldi, the homey, home-made feel of the art and the edits, and the acting by actual kids…it was like watching Peanuts Christmas cards unfolding on the screen. charlie-brown-tree“A great, big, shiny aluminum Christmas tree”. “Of all the Charlie Browns in the world, you’re the Charlie Browniest”. Snoopy dancing to Schroeder’s jazz piano. Absolute perfection.

    Well kids, that’s our Christmas show wrap-up for 2010. Sure, there are dozens more, from Bob Hope Christmas specials to Saturday Night Live skits, but I had to limit it to the top 20. Hell, I started with 10! If you haven’t seen any of these flicks, I’m pretty sure they’re all available on DVD or for rental, and some may actually be on TV soon. So keep a lookout, have plenty of nog on tap, and Merry Christmas!
    Here’s some video clips, on the house…

    -Tiki Chris reporting from under the great, big shiny aluminum Christmas Tree at Tiki Lounge Talk, the Tiki & retro lovers blog for vintage-style fun.

  • Living Retro: The Schwinn Riverside 7-Speed Cruiser Bike

    Posted on April 20th, 2010 "Tiki Chris" Pinto 10 comments

    Knock me your lobes, hip kats and swingin’ kittens…’cuz I’m droppin’ you a line on a keen new set of wheels – The Schwinn Riverside 7-Speed Beach Cruiser!


    Now this rig isn’t your ordinary coaster. It’s got the kickin’ retro styling of the famous 1950s Schwinn cruisers with a mod-setup 7-speed gear box and a bunch more goodies, can you dig it?

    This is bike is in the groove with old-school fenders, rear rack, deco decals and paint job…but it gets hip to new tech with linear caliper brakes, aluminum wheels, padded grips, a spring-action seat and of course that rockin’ & rollin’ 7-gear tranny! With all that going on this cruiser is stellar, Daddy-O!

    I’d been spending a lot of time riding my old man’s original late 40s-early 50s Roadmaster Luxury Liner around. That bike is the boss, but it weighs about 400 pounds. You don’t just pedal it, you drive it. And that takes a lot of wind out of this kat, so I decided to go with something that had a few more gears than just one. I wanted to get a bike that looked like the old style jobs, and after a few years of waiting and watching finally found this Schwinn Riverside at the local K-Mart.

    My old man's ’53 Roadmaster Luxury Liner

    My old man's ’53 Roadmaster Luxury Liner

    Apparently they only sell them at K & Sears, so if you want one you’ll have to trudge over to your nearest store – or order one online, for an extra delivery charge. (Ain’t that crazy? They charge you to deliver it – and it gets delivered to the nearest store, not your house. Kookie.)

    The only thing missing off this bike is a real, retro-matic kool-o-rama tank with a built-in horn, like the Roadmaster. Who knows, maybe some kat will fabricate one and sell it on Ebay…they’re already selling kits to add a gas engine to this baby!

    -Tiki Chris for Tiki Lounge Talk, the Tiki Culture Blog for people who are hip to this swingin’ scene.

  • Vintage CC & Ginger at the Tiki Bar

    Posted on December 4th, 2009 "Tiki Chris" Pinto 4 comments

    tiki-time-coasterIt’s a December Friday night in the sub-tropics of South Florida. While most of the country is getting frosty with the start of winter, here it’s 72° with a light, cool breeze. The wife is out of town on biz, and I’ve got the Tiki Bar to myself.

    So I’m doing an old fashioned MAN’S Night. Yeah, swingers, just like in the ’50s…I’m grilling a giant ole T-bone on the grill, am working on some hobbies in the garage, and have just poured myself a cocktail at the Tiki Bar on the lanai. There’s Miles Davis roadmaster-badgeplaying in the background, and the party lights are on. It’s like I’m in the movie Picnic, except Kim Novack ain’t here.

    If you put your mind to it, you can live like it’s the atomic age. Here’s my kicks tonight:

    The Project:

    Like all collectors of vintage finery, I have a few things that need a little TLC. Case in point: My father’s 1953 Roadmaster Luxury Liner Bicycle. There’s a whole story that goes along with this bike, which I will roll out in a future post. The short version is he had it in the ’50s, gave it to a cousin in Philly in the early ’60s, managed to get it back in the ’70s and restored it. Then it got stolen around 1980…and by some krazy miracle we got it back two weeks later. In the mid-’80s to restored it

    My old man's ’53 Roadmaster Luxury Liner

    My old man's ’53 Roadmaster Luxury Liner

    myself, and have used it since. A few years ago one of the tires blew out, and it’s been sitting in the garage since. Well, it’s time for a new restoration, and yesterday I fixed the tires and took her for a spin. With that knee-action front suspension, she sure takes the bumps nice. Tonight I’m re-doing the seat with original-style leather. Sure is easier than working on the ’53 Chevy!

    The Dinner:

    1.3 lb T-Bone steak on the charcoal grill, with baked potatoes, chopped spinach and grilled buttered onions on the side. I’ll eat out on the lanai by the pool tonight, under the light of the Tiki Torches. I think I’ll put on some Martin Denny while I dine.

    cc-and-ginger-on-the-barThe Cocktail:

    I have a few bottles of liquor from the 1950’s and ’60s, given to me by some very generous kats. Tonight I’m imbibing a 1966 Canadian Club and Ginger Ale on the rocks. I first heard of a CC & Ginger in a Mike Hammer novel…he orders a few through the story, mostly at neighborhood watering holes in Manhattan. I haven’t seen a tap room that looks like it belongs in a Micky Spillane novel in about 20 years…I’m willing to bet dimes to donuts very few still exist, none in the Sunshine State…so I have to make due on my own. Just looking at the bottle makes me feel like I’ve gone back in time 50 years, so I’m in the groove.

    Night Cap:

    When the steak settles and I’m too beat to play with the bike anymore, I’ll settle in with some time with the groove tube, then when I get bored of that I’ll pick out a few tunes on the tenor sax, which I’ve been neglecting the last few nights. Time to crank up the A Train and take a ride into Bluesville.

    So that’s my plan for this fine dark. The conversations will be one-sided, or maybe with the parrot or the cat. But that’s oke, I can dig a little time away from the little lady…as long as she’s back tomorrow 😉

    -Tiki Chris Pinto, AKA Mack, AKA Zoot

    The Roadmaster and my ’53 Chevy, both up in the air and needing repair...kind of like me...

    The Roadmaster and my ’53 Chevy, both up in the air and needing repair...kind of like me...

  • How to be a Hipster in 1958: Read COOL Magazine, Man!

    Posted on November 18th, 2009 "Tiki Chris" Pinto 3 comments

    cool-man-cool Don’t be a four-corner square, Jack. You want to know what all the Cool kids are doing? They’re hip to COOL Magazine, America’s Coolest Teenage Rag!

    COOL Magazine, March 1958 Issue
    COOL Magazine, 1958. Don’t be a turkey, click on the snapshots to peep them nice and big

    This copy my Mama bought new in 1958. It features a spread on George Burns’ son, Ronnie, plus Platter Party ideas, cool threads for tigresses, and a scribble on how to lay down a kickin’ kiss.

    But my fave part of this rag mag is the Hipster’s Dictionary. Man, any zotep zombie can be a real keen jelly bean if they read this magazine! Just memorize a few hip phrases like “let’s buzz around the barrel” (let us partake in the eating of food) or “Let’s take a treat on the main beat” (let us congregate where all the ‘in’ people are) and you’ll go from a moldy-minded miser to a zoolie hipster with the most in a flash, Jack! There are several pages from A to Z of hipster lingo, plus a few columns of phrases so you’ll be really in the know.

    Now, I want you kats and kittens to knock me your peepers for a few ticks, while I lay down this jazz. And when you get to a mugshot you dig, click on it, and it will blow up to actual size so you can read the feed without flippin’ your wig, dig?

    COOL Magazine: The Hipster’s Dictionary, Definition of Hip, Hep & Hipster

    Hipster's Dictionary, definition of Hip, Hep & Hipster

    There are a lot of kats who zonk out over hip, hep, hep cat and hipster. Well, here’s the definitions straight from the source, the Cool Mag Hipster’s tome from 1958:

    “HEP: An archaic word meaning “in the know”, replaced by “Hip”.

    HEP CATS: Cats & Kittens who read this this publication*

    HIP: Up to date, cool. A person who knows what’s going on. Replaces the word “Hep”.

    HEP CAT: Hip Cat and Hep Cat not used very often. Replaced by the word “Hipster”.

    HIPSTER: A cool cat or kitten who knows what’s going on.”

    *They meant COOL Magazine. I mean Tiki Lounge Talk, dig?

    So, essentially, you’d be a real Hep Cat for reading COOL magazine, and that would automatically make you hip, but a Hipster would never be called Hep because he’d be too hip for hep, are you hip to this jazz? Groovy. So what that means is that even in 1958, swing-era Hep Cats were still considered cool Jives. And since jive changes with the ages, we kool bachelor-pad-type hot-roddin’ Tiki bar-boozin’ Swingers can feel free to lay down our riffs with hip, hep, or whatever the hell we want without flippin’ anyone’s wig, dig? Fantabulous!

    COOL Magazine…How to Plan a Successful Platter Party

    Cool Magazine...How to have a Platter Party

    Now, I know all you kids out there really want to have a cool party like the one in the photo, with your beer-guzzling teenage brother (on the left) and funny-looking nine-year-old cousin who whines a lot. Well, our prayers have been answered. Angela, the swingin’ tigress Special Interests Editor at COOL Magazine, has laid down a scribble with all you need to know. She hits on such important subjects as having hot spaghetti with your pizza, giving little prizes like dented hubcaps, and making sure you have plenty of groovy records of Rock ’n’ Roll, Bop & Lindy to dance to. She is also very sure to pepper the article with lots of jive terms from the Hipster’s Dictionary. Imagine that!

    COOL Magazine: Fashions for Spring & Summer, 1958


    Those of you who are into retro and vintage clothing will flip for this. Our friend Angela once again graces us with her far out knowledge of what hip kittens want. But this time she drops the jive and writes like she’s got a byline in Harper’s. In fact, the whole spread looks sorta out of place in this rag. You’d think COOL Magazine would have spread with dolls dressed in Capris and off-the-shoulder tops, or blue jeans and leather jackets. Or black sweaters and thigh-high boots. Or, I dunno, leopard leotards. Anyway, if you click on the image you can blow it up to read all about it. Can you say “early product placement”?

    COOL Magazine: Part of the spread on cover boy Ronnie Burns


    This kid actually got a 16-Page spread in this issue of COOL. Imagine one star getting that much print today, huh? Especially since he was an aspiring star, the son of George Burns and Gracie Allen. (If you don’t know who they are, well, you better Google ’em). Even with all this press he never really made stardom, but he gave us a great bunch of pix that show how a cool boy of the late 50’s should be. See him working on his Corvette sports car (I suspect that’s the first time he saw under a hood in his life), clean his gun, read on the patio, swim, play ping-pong with his shirt nicely tucked in, and go Christmas shopping with his mother…just like…eh…all the…um…cool kids…yeah. (Why ain’t he smoking?)

    record-jamboreeFun Advertisements in COOL Magazine

    This rag is riddled with ads, as you might guess. Of course Marketing was in its baby stages in the ’50s, so they still didn’t really have the whole “We cater to the teenage crowd” mindset just right, just yet. 20-towels-ad

    This allowed for fantastic placement of ads for things like “Record Jamboree”, featuring hit albums of Polkas, Honky Tonk Piano, and Ragtime…you know, the stuff hip teenagers love to listen to. Or maybe the ever-popular “20 Towels for 5¢ Each”; that’ll have the kids sending cash and stamps by the handful. Of course there are a few ads that make sense, like those for losing weight (even in the ’50s) and subscribing to one or more of the publisher’s mags. Then I came across two jewels, two ads that made my day. The first was an ad for the “Magic Art Reproducer”, the second for “40 Model Cars”. I flipped like a burger when I saw these, because, in my collection of junk, I have these little trinkets, on display in my home. I don’t have all 40 of the bouncy rubber cars, but I have the caddy that’s in the ad. It’s times like this – going through a 50+ year old magazine that my mother kept all her life and gave to me, then finding ads for stuff that was fun, cheap stuff then, but are hard to find collectibles now, and knowing I have some of that junk (some of those toy cars I’ve had since I was a kid, and they were old then) – it’s times like this that I just have to sit back and say, “Wow, baby. That is some far out, frantic jazz.”

    Ad for the Magic Art Reproducer, and the actual one I have at home.

    Cool Magainze Ad - Draw Any Person With Our Gizmo


    Ad for Rubber Toy Cars, and a shelf in my home with six of those cars.

    Cool Magazine Ad - 40 Toy Cars for a Buck


  • My Favorite 60’s Toys – The 1918 Model T Ford Bar Car

    Posted on November 9th, 2009 "Tiki Chris" Pinto 41 comments

    retro-fun-stuffThere’s no denying…the heyday of the cocktail reached its peak during the 1950’s to mid-1960’s in the United States, and hasn’t

    Bar Car 1918 Model T Ford Sedan. Top of the line tabletop bar in the 50's, 60's & 70's.
    Bar Car 1918 Model T Ford Sedan. Top of the line tabletop bar in the 50’s, 60’s & 70’s.

    been the

    same since. Oh sure, Sex in the City may have brought back the Cosmopolitan, and Mad Men may have reintroduced us to the Martini and the Old Fashioned, but the

    sophistication…the rituals…of cocktail life iarelong gone, except for us fortunate few.

    For a swingin’ bachelor or hip chick in the rat pack days, no pad was complete without a bar, or at least a decent set-up and a couple of cut-glass decanters of your favorite spirits.

    Bar Car 1918 Model T Ford Sedan with brushed bronze finish, spoked wheels & rubber tires.

    Bar Car 1918 Model T Ford Sedan with brushed bronze finish, spoked wheels & rubber tires.

    Those who had the lettuce and the elbow room to juice a full bar did so with the utmost hipness, from wild, hand-carved Tiki bars to crazy mirrored jobs hidden in a rotating wall, combined with the Hi-Fi, TV set, or even fireplace. Those kats who were livin’ lean, spreading out in a one-room studio flat or just scrapin’ for space took another route…enter the Portable Bar.

    These little babies took on many enigmatic forms, from fake tabletop TV sets to large, floor-stand globes (see upcoming posts). But one of my favorites was one of the simplest…the mini bar in the shape of a car.

    Bar Car Model T Ford Sedan, showing Bourbon medallion and shot glasses.

    Bar Car Model T Ford Sedan, showing Bourbon medallion and shot glasses.

    From what I’ve been able to glean over the last several years (including a many-year stretch on the fringes of the antiques and collectibles biz), these were popularized in the 1950’s, and had a decent run through the 70’s until the coolness ran out. (I blame the hippies, Nixon, and aggressive beer company advertising for the demise of home bar, by the way.)

    Man, were these bar cars nice. I’ve had several over the years, and can tell you they all have a few neato things in common: They all contain shot glasses, they all have at least one decanter for booze, and they are all music boxes. When you pick up the bottle, the music plays…anything from ‘How Dry I Am’ to holiday tunes like ‘Sleigh Ride’ or ‘The Anniversary Waltz’.

    tsedanfrontEvery one I’ve ever seen has been made of nicely detailed pressed metal, either painted steel or brushed aluminum or brass. The decanters are usually cut-glass (or a reasonable facsimile) and the inside is almost always covered in red velvet or something close to it.

    1950's Rolls Royce Bar Car. This was a very expensive model. Unfortunately this one was used as a toy. Were it in better condition and complete, it would be worth hundreds $$$.

    1950's Rolls Royce Bar Car. This was a very expensive model. Unfortunately this one was used as a toy. Were it in better condition and complete, it would be worth hundreds $$$.

    Depending on the original cost, nice details like spoked wheels and rubber tires, convertible top, and working lights adorned the cars. And a little tag denoting the contents…usually Bourbon or Scotch…was included to hang from the neck of the bottle.

    These little beauties were top-shelf items back in the day, and were built to be expensive-looking additions to a well-appointed home’s décor (although they were generally frowned upon in uptight society, and found themselves adorning swingin’ joints like you or I would have dug).

    Bar Car Tin Lizzie Roadster with original box. The headlights are shot glasses, giving it a sort of Mr. Magoo look.

    Bar Car Tin Lizzie Roadster with original box. The headlights are shot glasses, giving it a sort of Mr. Magoo look.

    Of course by the time I was old enough to enjoy them (for the car part, as it would be a couple of decades later when I’d start to imbibe) they were generally known as something you’d find in Grandpa’s house, or on the coffee table in your odd-ball uncle’s apartment uptown, you know, the uncle older than you dad who never got married and had black velvet paintings of naked women over his bed…The uncle who paid more for a record player 10 years before you born than you paid for your first car. HE’s the guy who had the bar car sitting at a place of honor in his bachelor pad, and drank a cocktail nightly from it, J&B on the rocks, or Johnny Black, or Canadian Club & Ginger because he was the hippest cat in the neighborhood and that’s just what he did. Well now your uncle is pushing 70; he’s got a condo in Boca and all his old stuff is in storage somewhere in Philly. Give him a call. That bar car can be yours, along with his original Modern Jazz Quintet records and that 1965 Grundig.

    Bar Car Tin Lizzie with the top down, showing the bottle.

    Bar Car Tin Lizzie with the top down, showing the bottle.

    Bar Car Tin Lizzie with Mr. Magoo shot-glass headlights. The crank winds the music box.

    Bar Car Tin Lizzie with Mr. Magoo shot-glass headlights. The crank winds the music box.

    Bar Car Tin Lizzie (Model T Ford). Note the steel wheels.

    Bar Car Tin Lizzie (Model T Ford). Note the steel wheels.

    Bar Car Model T Ford Coupe. This is a newer (70's) model with plastic fenders.

    Bar Car Model T Ford Coupe. This is a newer (70's) model with plastic fenders.

    Bar Car Model T Ford Coupe detail.

    Bar Car Model T Ford Coupe detail.

    Bar Car Model T Ford showing three shot glasses on the trunk.

    Bar Car Model T Ford showing three shot glasses on the trunk.

    The Real Model T Ford

    The Real Model T Ford