Posted on December 31st, 2011 No comments
It seems like just yesterday I was writing a Happy New Year post here under the swaying palms. 2011 went by pretty fast…maybe not fast enough for some of us kats! But it’s over now, just a few hours left as I write this post. This is definitely one of those years that needs to end with a big BANG and you can bet your bottom buck we’ll be doing just that.
Swingin’ in the New Year should be fun and full of music, dancing and booze. Just remember to play it safe, kids. You know I’m always hawking drinks on this page, as cocktails are part of what make living the Tiki good life so good. Drink up, enjoy ’em all ’til you’re as happy as a clam…just remember to do it right, and don’t do anything stupid like trying to drive, or ask your boss for a raise, or operate a steam-shovel while loaded!
Here’s a couple of my favorite New Year’s cocktails. One is full of wonderful booze, the other is the world’s greatest non-alcoholic cocktail for any aged partyer.
The Frozen Banana Banshee
I’ve featured this krazy cocktail a few times already here at Tiki Lounge Talk, but I can’t get enough of it. I had my first Banana Banshee at a New Year’s Eve Party in 1977. It was all the rage in the mid 70s in Philly, and it just seemed to fit perfectly with the disco music and white polyester suits. Later I found out it was a much older recipe, having a good run in the 1940s and 50s but without the ice cream. Either way, anything with bananas in it is OK with me for the TIKI BAR!
Ok, I wasn’t old enough to drink in 1977, but it was my Uncle’s house, at his swingin’ basement bar, and he made one with less alcohol in it just for me. I’m old enough to enjoy the full hit of booze now, so here it is:
2 oz Creme de Banana
2 oz Dark Creme de Cacao
4 oz Meyers Dark Rum
2 oz Coconut Milk
1 Large Banana
5 Scoops Vanilla Ice Cream
1 Cup Ice
Throw all ingredients in a blender and blend on high, in 5 second bursts, until the ice is crushed and the drink is thick and drinkable (don’t liquefy it trying to make it smooth). Garnish with a pineapple wedge, a cherry and if available, chopped fresh coconut. Don’t forget the umbrella. Makes about two tall servings.
The Original Shirley Temple Cocktial
Like everything else in the world, good old fashioned drink recipes get changed and updated until they are unrecognizable. I’ve seen some kookie variations on this non-booze drink, but the original is still the best…for any age.
Fill a highball glass half-way with ice cubes, and add the ginger ale until almost full. Add about two tablespoons of grenadine, drop in a couple of cherries and stir. If you don’t have grenadine the cherry juice is just as good, maybe better. Everyone has their own taste when it comes to how much cherry flavor to add, so start with the two tablespoons and add a teaspoon at a time until you dig it. That’s it!
New Year’s in South Florida
While the rest of the country is enjoying the freezing cold, bundled up in heavy coats and scarfs as they swing down to their NYE party, we in SoFla will probably be wearing Aloha shirts and short skirts as the temperature today is already in the high 70s. This means there will be a lot of outdoor fun, including fireworks, concerts on the beach, booze cruises, and lots of bar hopping in Fort Lauderdale and Miami. There’s nothing quite like toasting the new year in 70° weather, on the beach, under a palm tree.
This year the little lady and I will be celebrating with some friends at a good old fashioned house party, one of our favorite ways of swingin’ in the New Year. One thing we haven’t done, which is on the list, is celebrating New Year’s Eve in Key West. I have a feeling that Duval Street would be more fun than barrel of monkeys at the turn of the year!
Happy New Year from Tiki Chris, and the whole Tiki Lounge bunch – Colleen, our pooch Cookie, the cats, the birds, the ’53 Chevy and lizards that live on the lanai.
Here are some last minute ideas for an Atomic New Year’s Eve Party!
Posted on June 7th, 2009 No comments
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 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
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.
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 April 19th, 2009 1 comment
We had a little party last night and it was a big hit! Everyone had a great time, enjoying the jazz music, chocolate fondue fountain, and exotic cocktails.
Two drinks were featured at out little Tiki Bar last night: Tahitian Rum Punch, and Frozen Banana Banshees. No one was expecting such tropical and exotic concoctions; Both enjoyed rave reviews. As these cocktails are really from another time (The rum punch enjoyed its heyday in the 30’s through the 50’s, the Banshees are a 70’s delight) their ‘retro value’ rates high. Below are the recipes and a few suggestions on serving:
Mack’s Tahitian Rum Punch
A variation of an old recipe, I am lucky enough to live in Florida where I have a coconut palm in my front yard. I was able to extract the coconut water from two ripe coconuts that I pulled from the tree yesterday!
1 Cup Meyers Dark Rum
1 Cup Vat 19 Light Rum
(Optional: add one cup Captain Morgan’s for a stronger, spicier punch)
1 Cup Fresh Coconut Water (not milk)
2 Cups Orange Juice
1 Cup Pineapple Juice
1 1/2 Liter Ginger Aile
2 oz Rose’s Lime Juice
1 oz Grenadine
(Optional: 20 Drops Red Food Coloring for Effect)
Canned or Fresh Pineapple Rings
Mix all ingredients together with ice in a large punchbowl. Float some cherries, pineapple rings and orange slices on top. If you have a Tiki or Volcano Fountain, use the food coloring to give the punch a robust red color. Serve in coconut shells, Tiki glasses or plastic punch cups with Hawaiian Floral prints (all available at Party City, http://partycity.com). Garnish with pineapple, orange and a cherry on a plastic sword and a little paper umbrella. It’s not Tahitian Rum Punch without the umbrella!
Frozen Banana Banshees
I had my first Banana Banshee at a New Year’s Eve Party in 1977. Ok, I wasn’t old enough to drink, but it was my Uncle’s house, at his basement bar, and he made one with less alcohol in it just for me. I’m old enough to enjoy the full hit of booze now, so here it is:
2 oz Creme de Banana
2 oz Dark Creme de Cacao
4 oz Meyers Dark Rum
2 oz Coconut Milk
1 Large Banana
5 Scoops Vanilla Ice Cream
1 Cup Ice
Place all ingredients in a blender and blend on high, in 5 second bursts, until the ice is crushed and the drink is thick and drinkable (don’t liquefy it trying to make it smooth). Garnish with a cherry and if available, chopped fresh coconut. Makes about four short servings.
Posted on April 18th, 2009 No comments
It’s been a while since we’ve had a party, and we’re excited to have some friends over for an evening of jazz, chocolate fondue, and Tiki Lounge Conversations.
The hardest part about hosting a party is cleaning the house. We have a LOT of collectibles and furniture (What is the opposite of minimalist? Us). But we’ve cleaned and dusted from stem to stern. Out Tiki Bar is on the lanai, which is technically outside (although in Florida the line between inside your home and outside becomes very blurry, especially after the 3rd Mai Tai). So I had to dust off all the bottles, at least the ones that get the least amount of use, wipe everything down, and put everything in ‘party order’ (meaning vodka and tequila up front).
It’s 3pm, and everything is almost ready. The bar is set up. The house is clean. The party doesn’t start until 8:30, so we’ve got hours to rest before the guests arrive.
Tonight, the house will be lit low, the ceiling fan lights dimmed, red and blue mood lighting lit. A few apple-cinnamon scented candles will give a nice glow, but the atmosphere will be very intimate. The Tiki Bar will be lit in black light only; the Tiki masks and the bar itself are accented with ultraviolet paints, glowing green, magenta, yellow and blue. Behind the bar, rattan backdrops are painted with images of cocktails, palms, etc. in a very ’50s style, with the same UV paints. Five CDs of Jazz standards, mostly ’50s and ’60s recordings by Dexter Gordon, Stan Getz, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Sonny Stitt, Oscar Peterson and others, will create the background trac to tonight’s swaree. A chocolate fondue fountain, with strawberries, bananas and pound cake to dip will serve as the main treats. Tonight’s featured Cocktail is the Banana Banshee…dark rum, creme de banana, creme de cocao, vanilla ice cream and coconut milk. Now all we need are the guests <:-}
Posted on April 15th, 2009 No comments
It’s been too long, I can’t even remember the last time I got down to Key West. I only live 4 Hours away (Which is a lot closer than 99% of the rest of the world) and yet we hardly get down there anymore…mainly due to the economic situation these GOP morons have gotten us into. (Used to go down 8-9 times a year in 2000, 7-8 in 2001, 4-5 in 2003, you see the trend…)
I love Key West. There’s something about…no, lots of things about it…that draws me there. Maybe it’s the history, hundreds of years of pirates’ and wenches’ souls haunting it, or maybe it’s because it’s so incredibly different from everywhere else in the world. If you haven’t been there, there’s no way to know what it feels to walk down the narrow streets, seeing some of the oldest standing homes in Florida, knowing you’re on a sandbar a mile wide by about 4 miles long.
I don’t know if I could actually live there full time; once you get past the drinking, beach and boating, there’s not a whole lot to do there. But for an extended weekend, it’s perfect.
One of the things I love most about Cayo Hueso is the way everything indoor is outdoor, at least in the older sections of town. Trees grow up through living rooms. Houses and cafes open up entire walls onto wood decks or sandy patios, and it becomes unclear where the inside of the building ends and the lanai begins. Tropical plants and palm trees are everywhere. You can walk up to a bar that serves drinks inside a restaurant on one side, and on the beach on the other. It gets pretty hot down there, but nobody seems to mind. It’s not uncommon to have ceiling fans outside.
One of my (and my wife’s, she found it first) favorite restaurants, Mangia Mangia, ( http://www.mangia-mangia.com/ ) is down there. Italian food with a Key West twist. We always eat outside on the patio, under the palm trees. The bars on Duval Street are the best I’ve ever been too, even the touristy ones like Sloppy Joe’s. (Of course anyone who knows Key West will immediately start thinking of Captain Tony’s www.capttonyssaloon.com). We’ve done the touristy stuff too, like the Haunted Ghost Tours( http://www.hauntedtours.com , http://www.keywestghosts.com ), the Pirate Soul Museum (https://www.piratesoul.com) and the Mel Fisher Museum/Wreck of the Atocha ( http://www.melfisher.com ). But the best part is just being there, breathing the air, watching the strange people, hearing the sounds of the ocean, and applauding the sunset at Mallory Square.
I’ve got to get down there soon.