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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

  • Voodoo Cooler – Your Weekend Tiki Bar Cocktail Recipe!

    Posted on March 9th, 2012 "Tiki Chris" Pinto 2 comments

    tropical-cocktail-artAs most of you mix-o-matic kats and shaker shakin’ kittens know, there’s a biz-zillion ways to combo rums, fruit juices and ice to make a groovy Tropical Cocktail. Some take time, skill and a bankroll to create, some are easy and cheap, and if done right, all are really good.

    The Voodoo Cooler

    is a drink that you can probably whip together with stuff you usually have laying around the bar, so you can have a tropical cocktail without taking a trip to the liquor store.

    1 oz dark or spiced rum (your choice)
    1 oz Midori
    2 oz coconut rum
    1/2 oz orange juice
    1/2 oz pineapple juicetropical-cocktail-2

    Shake everything up in a shaker with ice, and pour into the coolest looking Tiki mug you can find. Garnish with fresh orange and pineapple, a cherry, and an umbrella. This drink is a little sweeter than most, but it’s refreshing and has a real “islandy” taste.

    If you wanna go nutz…

    Put this all in a blender with ice and do a frozen job, then top with a jigger of 151. Woo hoo! Key West style, baby!

    -Tiki Chris reporting from the outdoor bar on the lanai, in sunny Fort Lauderdale, Florida

  • The King of Marvin Gardens, 1972 for Mod Movie Monday, Atlantic City Style

    Posted on January 31st, 2012 "Tiki Chris" Pinto 2 comments

    king-of-marvin-gardens-posterWe now return you to our regularly scheduled programs…

    Mod/Noir Movie Monday is back, after a brief detour due to the New Year, some crazy happenings, and too much booze (or not enough).

    This week we have a somewhat obscure doozy from the early 1970s, a time when movies were in that transitional period between Ocean’s 11 and Jaws, when a film maker could hire Jack Nicholson, Scattman Crothers, Ellen Burstyn and Bruce Dern on a shoestring budget, throw in a bunch of quirkiness, some natural breasts and a TON of location shots of Atlantic City before the casinos invaded…then have that movie become an iconic time capsule of the end of the “old Atlantic City” era, right down to the interior shots of the Marlborough-Blenheim Hotel, doomed to the wrecking ball seven years later.

    The King of Marvin Gardens, 1972

    The Blenheim, c. 1972. This was the main setting of The King of Marvin Gardens.
    The Blenheim, c. 1972. This was the main setting of The King of Marvin Gardens.

    is about a con man (Dern) who asks his brother (Nicholson) to help him start a resort in Hawaii. There’s not much about that storyline going on that’s worth paying any attention to. What you’re watching this flick  for is atmosphere, images, and lifestyles that are long, long gone and mostly forgotten.

    Most of the movie takes place in and around the Blenheim part of the historic Marlborough-Blenheim Hotel. Like most things historic in Atlantic City, someone (probably) got paid off to allow it to be imploded so a POS glass and steel casino could be built in its place (but that’s a rant for another post). Anyway, you’ll get a lot of eye-candy of old Atlantic City, including the boardwalk auctions, shots of the piers, the interior of the Atlantic City Boardwalk Convention Hall, interiors and exteriors of some of the great hotels, and even a few cool old cars. Overall, the skyline of Atlantic City in 1972 didn’t look too much different than it did in the 1920s or 1950s…so it’s a fun glimpse into the past.

    Atlantic City Skyline, 1972

    Atlantic City Skyline, 1972

    What? Is the movie any good? Well, that depends on your tastes, of course. If you like movies from this era at all, you’ll probably dig it a lot. Don’t look for a lot of action, suspense, or deep storyline…this move is about characters, and some intense acting  (the acting is very good). It’s basically a slice of life kind of thing, and the characters make it interesting to watch (remember, in this kind of movie the buildings, the boardwalk, the beach are as much characters as the people). It’s sometimes depressing, sometimes funny. You guys who read my posts know I don’t get all “in depth and analytical” about flicks, so if you want a “deep” convo about how groundbreaking or historically important the film is, check out this blog.

    I used to shop for trinkets at Irene's Gifts...THIS Irene's Gifts. In the late 1980s, they still had a lot of new-old stock souvenirs from the 60s & 70s.

    I used to shop for trinkets at Irene's Gifts...THIS Irene's Gifts. In the late 1980s, they still had a lot of new-old stock souvenirs from the 60s & 70s.

    Food and Booze: There’s a great scene where they’re eating in Captain Starn’s Seafood Restaurant, which was one of the world famous restaurants right on the boards in the Atlantic City Inlet. They’re entertaining potential investors….so I’d say a nice whole Maine lobster with black butter and Filet Mignon tips, rare would be appropriate. And might I suggest pairing with a 1972 vintage Baron Philippe de Rothschild Sauvignon Blanc…or, for that real old Atlantic City flavor, fried flounder and a Michelob!


    Atlantic City

    My Take: Although I was born in Philly, my family moved to and operated the Star Dust Motel on the Black Horse Pike in West Atlantic City from 1969 to 1973. Like everything kool and old, it was torn down in ’73 and is now an empty lot. I grew up 10 miles west of Atlantic City, but my family hardly ever went there…it was in pretty sad shape in the 1970s, and known more for gang violence and other crimes than as a fun tourist destination. We went to the boardwalk once when I was very young…I have vague memories of looking up at the Marlborough-Blenheim, seeing the rides (but not going on them) on Steel Pier, and driving by The Knife and Fork Inn. We went again when Resorts opened as the first Casino in the old Haddon Hall Hotel (one of the few survivors) in 1978, and I have a few memories of that.

    A scene from The King of Marvin Gardens, on the Boardwalk with the world famous Traymore Hotel in the background (imploded 1974).

    A scene from The King of Marvin Gardens, on the Boardwalk with the world famous Traymore Hotel in the background (imploded 1972).

    I was only four years old when The Traymore was imploded, but remember hearing about it, remember my parents saying how sad it was. In 1988, I stood on the boardwalk and watch a crane take apart the last bits of the burned-out, crumbling Steel Pier. A few months my buddy Steve and I sneaked into the back of the house at Resorts, went up to the ballroom and watched the Steeplechase Pier burn to the ground (it was directly across the boardwalk…we could feel the heat inside Resorts).

    Ocean One Mall, as it looked when I was Tourism Director in 1989.

    Ocean One Mall, as it looked when I was Tourism Director in 1989.

    That same year I got a job working as “the balloon guy” for a display company that had 400 semi-permanent Mylar balloons decorating Resorts for its 10-year anniversary. Two years later I was working as a costumed character (kind of like Mr. Peanut) for The Shops one Ocean One, a mall built on the pilings of the original Million Dollar Pier, and eventually became Tourism & Marketing Director. I learned a lot about Atlantic City history while there, not realizing I was living it, and making it, every day. The owners went out of business in 1990, and it eventually closed in the early 00’s, was bought by Caesars, and turned into a high-end Vegas-like shopping mall connected to the casino.

    So much of old Atlantic City is gone now…all the hotels, except for The Dennis, that were in The King of Marvin Gardens are gone now, replaced by new casinos. Captain Starn’s in long gone. Marven Gardens (they spelled it wrong in the movie) is still there, in Margate, but is never shown in the movie. All of the piers are either gone, or have been completely rebuilt as modern structures except Central Pier, which still retains its original facade, although badly stuccoed and gaudily painted. The city is an insane mix of mega-modern casinos and decaying 100-year-old buildings, and will eventually become fully modern…so enjoy The King of Marvin Gardens, one of the only remaining glimpses of this great City’s past.

    Here’s a short clip from the beginning of the movie…

    -Tiki Chris Pinto reporting from the Warner Theater, on the Boardwalk in Atlantic City c. 1972 (metaphysically, of course).

  • Halloween Decorating Has Begun At The Tiki Lounge!

    Posted on September 19th, 2011 "Tiki Chris" Pinto 1 comment
    Yes, these are skeleton flamingos. Just like the pink ones.

    Yes, these are skeleton flamingos. Just like the pink ones.

    If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know how kookie I am for Halloween. Every year I abandon sanity and turn my humble, tropical-themed home into a house of horrors, complete with animatronic monsters, creepy crawlies, and a facade over my front entrance that creates the perfect atmosphere for a hauntingly good time.

    I’ve already started building props and organizing decor for this year’s shindig, and have in fact begun putting up decor in lesser-used rooms of Pirate’s Cove Tiki Bar (my abode). The goal this year, as it is every year, is to have everything done a few weeks before Halloween so I can actually enjoy the season…including going to haunted-house walk-throughs, and being able for OPP – other people’s parties.


    A hollographic image-changing photo, just like at the Haunted Mansion.

    This year’s theme is VAMPIRES. A cliché, I know, but vamps are so hot this year that I couldn’t resist. The real trick is decorating a goth Vampire’s lair with Tiki undertones…hmmm…

    This will be the official 25th anniversary of my kooky Monster Mash Bash, a party I started on a crisp October day in 1986 when a hot chick I knew came to me and said she wanted to have a Halloween party at her spooky house in the woods.

    A skeleton in my closet

    A skeleton in my closet

    Turned out the chick was nutz, so my friends and I had the party at my place. I was only 18, and funds were low so we did the whole party on a budge of 12 bucks. Cheap, market-brand soda, no-frills chips, homemade onion dip and popcorn served as the fare while we watched old black and white horror movies made fun of each others’ costumes. I was Dracula for that first party…and I suppose I will be again this year. favortie magazine (Yes, I made that myself) favortie magazine (Yes, I made that myself)

    Of course, every party is done with a retro style theme. I mean, what holiday is more “retro-ee” than Halloween? (and don’t say Christmas. Nobody does old-fashioned Christmases anymore. Not when there’s an iPad under the tree). The whole point of Halloween is to celebrate a centuries-old tradition, with witches and goblins and vampires and zombies and all those groovy monsters that all go way back. We watch classic horror films, bob for apples and eat candy just like your grandparents did. Even the decor…at least anything store-bought…still looks like it did 30, 50, 80 years ago.

    25 years ago the paper cut-out skeletons and pumpkins looked the same as they do now, the same as they did when I was a little kid. Hmmm 25 years. 25 years is a long stretch to do anything, especially a party. A third of the kittens showing up at the party won’t even be 25 years old! So I’m going to have to do something extra special for this year’s soiree. I dunno…maybe I’ll get some real monsters this year!

    -Tiki “Drac” Chris, reporting from the dungeon at Pirate’s Cove Tiki Bar

  • Too Hot To Tiki?

    Posted on August 31st, 2011 "Tiki Chris" Pinto 3 comments

    palm-tree-beach-largejpgJust a short musing…

    While the rest of the country is looking forward to cooler fall weather, we here in South Florida are smack dab in the middle of hottest time of year. Our “summer” lasts long after Halloween is over, and “fall” is just a concept in our minds. The end of August means hot, humid days and rainy evenings are promised for at least another month.

    Now don’t you cats & kitties get me wrong…I ain’t complaining. I love the heat and the screwy weather. It’s just that when it’s 85° at 9:00 o’clock at night, it’s not so nice to sit out on the lanai and drink booze at the outdoor Tiki bar. Unless of course you can jump in the pool.

    -Tiki Chris P.