Mondo Tiki! – Tiki Farm’s 15th Anniversary Exhibition

Tiki Farm sign

Tiki Farm is the king of modern tiki mug manufacturing. For 15 years, founder Holden Westland and his team have collaborated with super-talented artists to create more than 2,000 designs. La Luz de Jesus gallery in Los Angeles is hosting an exhibition of mugs along with art from Tom Laura aka “BigToe,” Scott “Flounder” Scheidly, Doug Horne and Ken Ruzic. There’s also a retro-futuristic solo show, “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow,” from Michelle Bickford.

Mug cases by Bamboo Ben

While the 10th anniversary exhibition rounded up examples of practically every mug Tiki Farm ever produced, this time around the display features 500 of the “most important and coveted selections.” Bamboo Ben customized the eight cases of shelves with bamboo and thatch A-frames.

Bahooka mug and others by The Pizz

Most of the mugs are arranged chronologically, but one of the sections groups together designs by The Pizz, Tiki Farm’s late art director. Seeing so many of my favorites here, like the Bahooka Ruffus mug, for instance, brings home how big a part he played at the company. (Holden penned a beautiful tribute to his friend in the latest issue of Tiki Magazine & More.)

Clifton's owl mug

I’m pretty content with my collection, but this exhibit is full of temptations. This stately mug (by The Pizz) for the recently re-opened Clifton’s Cafeteria caught my eye. It kind of reminds me of the Maltese Falcon … except it’s an owl. I actually ended up visiting that downtown LA landmark the same weekend, but unfortunately they’re out of stock of this style — I hope they get more soon!

Tiki Farm 15th anniversary mugs

Each of the featured artists also designed new mugs in honor of Tiki Farm’s 15th anniversary, including Ken Ruzic’s Poko Ono Pineapple Mug, BigToe’s Bobomb (the iconic Tiki Bob transformed into a hand grenade complete with a pin) and the Rub for Rum Easter Island Tiki Decanter ($75) by Michelle Bickford.

Doug Horne tiki mugs

In the middle is Doug Horne’s Tiki Farm Temple Mug (with holders on the back for Tiki Farm’s anniversary swizzle sticks) and on the right is Flounder’s Nari Rani Marquesan Mug. There were limited edition glazes ($50 each) released at the event — a few are still available on Soap Plant’s website — and Tiki Farm just made the other versions (priced around $20) available for order.

Close-up of "Too Much Information" painting by Ken Ruzic

The artists even incorporated their mug designs into the paintings, as you can see in this close-up look at Ken Ruzic’s “Too Much Information.” I love the whimsical style and incredible details, especially paired with this carved frame by Derek Weaver.

Mondo Tiki catalog

Tiki Farm also made a 40-page booklet ($5) listing all the designs created since 2000, plus some photos and little anecdotes about the process. We also get a sneak peek at some mugs that are in development. There’s some exciting stuff in the works, like a 60th anniversary mug for Oceanic Arts, two new designs for Tiki-Ti, a mug for Tiki Tolteca in New Orleans and a rum barrel/bulldog for Idle Hour in North Hollywood.

Art by Scott Scheidly

Mondo Tiki! is on view until November 29th at La Luz de Jesus. On Saturday, November 28th, Holden, BigToe and Ken will do a “docent tour” from 2 p.m.-4 p.m. to discuss the mugs and art and take questions. You can also see all the art (like Flounder’s gorgeous “Sea Goddess” pictured here) on the website for the gallery.

Tiki Bar Tour of Germany, Part 2: Die Blume von Hawaii – Nuremberg

Die Blume von Hawaii logo

Nuremberg in Germany has two tiki bars that are both worth visiting — and it’s not that difficult to go to both in the same night if you are short on time. (The tricky part would be avoiding a hangover the next day.) Kon-Tiki Cocktail Bar & Restaurant is an expansive establishment with faux-tropical décor and a few decades under its belt, while Die Blume von Hawaii is a compact newcomer with mid-century modern style and topnotch tiki drinks.

Die Blume von Hawaii exterior

Die Blume von Hawaii opened in March 2014 and it’s essentially a one-man show from Zack Koma Stingl, a Nuremberg local who honed his skills at Bar Europa. The black façade is so subtle that I thought we’d gotten lost until I saw the logo on the frosted glass and realized we were standing right in front of the door.

Zack of Die Blume von Hawaii

Zack gets the stamp of approval from renowned mixologist/author Jeff “Beachbum” Berry (Latitude 29, New Orleans). He’s quoted on the back of the menu: “My good friend Zack Koma Stingl is the living embodiment of the tiki spirit. If you don’t believe me, ask to see his tattoos.” (Indeed, one of them is the Trader Vic’s logo Abelam mask.) It was great fun to talk tiki with Zack, and also to meet his little furry friend Paul, aka Emperor Palpatine.

Die Blume von Hawaii interior

The space is on the small side, with five seats at the bar and some stools along the side wall, plus a few clusters of bamboo tables, peacock chairs and red vinyl chairs in the middle. When we visited on a Wednesday, there were a couple groups of young people partying like it was Saturday night. (We stuck around until after they left so I could snap a photo of the room.)

Die Blume von Hawaii bar

Behind the bar are segmented shelves backlit in red, blue and green. Among the liquor bottles you’ll spot some tiki mugs and vintage finds, like a Marwal hibiscus girl bust. Direct your gaze still higher and you’ll notice a line of exotica albums up on the wall.

Die Blume von Hawaii posters

Other decorations include a Moai perched on a ledge to the left of the bar, plus atomic-style light fixtures, bamboo and a poster from the 1953 film “Die Blume von Hawaii,” an adapatation of the 1931 German operetta very loosely inspired by Queen Lili’uokalani.

Atomic clock at Die Blume von Hawaii

Zack is also a DJ and he put together a fun, eclectic mix that suits the neo-tiki setting. Annette Funicello’s “Pineapple Princess” chimes in along with German 50s/60s tunes and interesting covers of the James Bond theme and “Hooray for Hollywood.”

Die Blume von Hawaii menu

There are around 30 drinks on the menu, which Zack updates three or four times a year. Black flowers label his 11 original creations, which are listed alongside tiki classics (Zombie 1950, Missionary’s Downfall) and a few favorites from Beachbum Berry (Blackbeard’s Ghost, Beachbum’s Own). Meanwhile, skulls (ranging from one to five) warn of the particularly potent potables. The deadliest of all appears to be The Undertaker, served in a glass skull complete with fiery garnishes (see last photo). Most of the cocktail names happen to be in English, but the descriptions and ingredients are in German — thankfully, rum is still “rum,” so what else do you really need?

Die Blume von Hawaii and Voodoo Old Fashioned

The bar’s signature drink, Die Blume von Hawaii (9€), won a German rum recipe competition that had Beachbum Berry on the judging panel. I’m normally not a fan of drinks mixed with ginger beer, since it can overshadow the other flavors, but this was perfectly balanced and absolutely delicious. Mr. Hockey opted for the Old Fashioned Voo Doo (9,50€), combining soursop with rum, milk and apricot brandy, topped with nutmeg and grated coconut.

Mai Ta

We asked Zack for a recommendation and he suggested the Aranui (10€), his riff on the Mai Tai but with coconut rum. This was also fabulous. (Purists need not worry as he also offers Trader Vic’s original Mai Tai.)

Die Blume von Hawaii tiki drinks
Nuremberg is only a one-hour train trip from Munich, so you’re missing out if you’re traveling in Bavaria and don’t make it to Die Blume von Hawaii for some of the best tiki drinks in Europe. The bar is open Tuesday through Saturday from 6 p.m.

Die Blume von Hawaii
Rosental 15
90403 Nürnberg, Germany
+49 1514 2324806

Tiki Bar Tour of Germany, Part 1: Kon Tiki – Nuremberg

Kon Tiki sign

Within the medieval wall encircling the old town of Nuremberg, Germany, there is not just one but two tiki bars: Kon Tiki and Die Blume von Hawaii. They’re quite different from each other, but each is wonderful in its own way. Conveniently, they also happen to be within walking distance of each other. We decided to start our evening at Kon Tiki, since it’s also a restaurant.

Kon Tiki entrance

Kon Tiki — no relation to Stephen Crane’s now-defunct chain of restaurants that were in Sheraton hotels in North America — opened in 1978 in three historic fishermen’s houses along the river Pegnitz. The name Kon Tiki references Norwegian ethnologist Thor Heyerdahl’s sail from South America to Polynesia on the Kon-Tiki raft to prove that ancestral migration was possible. (His book about the journey was a bestseller and his documentary film won an Academy Award.) Kon-Tiki derived from Con-Tici, one of the names of the Incan sun god. Heyerdahl theorized that the stone carvings of it may have influenced the look of the Moai on Easter Island. (The menu here includes a little background on these topics along with a tribute to Don the Beachcomber, the first tiki bar entrepreneur and inventor of many famous tiki drinks. However, those sections are in German.)

Bar at entrance to Kon-Tiki

After entering through the glass door framed with Maori-esque designs, you’ll find the Sea Bar on the left. Fish netting and a fake shark and marlin emphasize this section’s theme, while the ceiling is laden with Orchids of Hawaii lamps, mini disco balls and a large outrigger.

Tiki and Shabu Shabu Bar

To the right is the reception stand and a tall Ku tiki, then there’s the Shabu Shabu Bar with pufferfish lanterns and gourd drums turned into lights. I love the miniature model ships, coconuts, shells and starfish placed along the counter. Details like this really make this place special.

Crow's Nest

A few tables are ensconced in their own little nooks, like the Crow’s Nest, a bamboo hut festooned with faux orchids and foliage. When we first set eyes on it, my boyfriend said, “You should have reserved THAT!” (Next time, I suppose?) Making dinner reservations is indeed recommended, but we were there on a Tuesday and manager Harry Grötsch was kindly able to accommodate us without much trouble.

Bamboo and rattan at Kon-Tiki

I was impressed by how much bamboo and handmade tapa cloth there is throughout. A sign relates (in English) that the original owners were inspired by a sailing trip to the South Seas and purchased much of the décor at antique shops in Honolulu. In 2002, a fire destroyed part of the restaurant and a lot of things had to be replaced.

Paradise Island

As you make your way among the other tables in the dining area, you start to see the unusual multi-level layout unfold. A plank leads out to another enclave with a single booth — Paradise Island — and below it on both sides are secluded dining areas separated by a glassed-in tropical tableau and accessed via different stairways.

Kon Tiki menus

Deciding on a drink took some time as the menu lists more than 75 options, ranging from tiki staples (Mai Tai, Zombie) mostly priced around 9€ to classic cocktails (Manhattan, Negroni) to frozen margaritas and daiquiris.

Kon-Tiki Special

I wanted to try something unique to this spot so I went for the Kon Tiki Special (13.90€), described as “a rum-rich cocktail surprise (creamy or fruity to choose), served especially.” It arrived in a whole pineapple topped with a sparkler spewing flames! I ordered it “fruity” versus “creamy” (mixed with coconut cream) and thought the tart concoction was pleasant enough. (Die Blume von Hawaii has better cocktails, though, so take it easy if you plan to visit both in one night.)

"Teriyaki Sticks"

Browsing the appetizers, I was intrigued by the strange-sounding Pearl Harbour Toast (toast with turkey, banana, pineapple and kiwi, topped with cheese), but we played it safe with the popular Teriyaki Sticks. The thin slices of roast beef cooked quickly and were delicious dipped in the two sauces — teriyaki and spicy sweet and sour. At Trader Vic’s, we often get the Beef Cho Cho skewers served in a similar fashion, but I thought this dish had the slight advantage.

"Chicken Breast Kauai"

From the page of plates “The Chieftain Recommends Today,” my companion chose the Chicken Breast Kauai, topped with a fruity sauce that was sweet without being cloying. (Many dishes have references to Hawaii in the name, but don’t really have a culinary connection to the islands.)

"Shrimp Boat" fried shrimp with rice, veggies and pineapple

The Shrimp Boat (fried shrimp, more dipping sauces and sliced pineapple) was a nice change of pace from all the pork and potatoes we’d been eating in Germany. Other selections from the extensive menu include Asian stir-fry, Indian curry, steaks, ostrich, kangaroo and more seafood (mahi mahi, salmon, etc.). Most of the entrées come with white rice and vegetables, plus a salad bar buffet. A couple three- and four-course set menus are also available.

Polynesian World at Kon-Tiki

Harry told me there was still more of Kon Tiki left to discover, so I went down the short stairs on the right (where an arrow directed to the “Tiki Bar”) to a small landing called Polynesian World with a few bar-height tables against the walls. (From this level you could also access the sunken dining room on the right side of Paradise Island.)

Nautical room at Kon-Tiki

Then there were two more sets of stairs. One descends into a room completely decked out with nautical paraphernalia. Portholes punctuate the dark wood paneling and there is a ship’s wheel and all kinds of other maritime instruments.

Kon Tiki bar

If you take the stairs going up from the landing, you’ll encounter the second bar, the Kon Tiki Bar, also outfitted with an outrigger canoe. (There’s also a doorway out to a patio — this place just keeps going and going!) Kon Tiki opens every day at 6 p.m. and closes at 1 a.m. Sunday-Wednesday and 2 a.m. Thursday-Saturday. Happy hour is from 6 p.m.-7 p.m. with 25% off all cocktails, and from 11 p.m. all caipirinhas, juleps, coladas and low-alcoholic drinks are 30% off.

Kon Tiki Cocktail Bar – Restaurant
Untere Wörthstraße 10
90403 Nürnberg, Germany
+49 911 221139