On a recent daytrip south to San Diego, we made a pit stop at the California Surf Museum, located just blocks from the pier in Oceanside. Admission is a paltry $3 for adults ($1 students/kids free) and it’s well worth checking out if you’re in the area.
Through the end of the year, it’s featuring “WOW Women on Waves: A History of Women in Surfing,” a collection of photos, surfboards and swimwear. I especially loved seeing all the vintage bathing suits and how the styles changed over the decades.
The exhibit was full of fascinating information, but my favorite story (listed under the headline “Good Ride, Norma Jean”) told when Marilyn Monroe first came to Hollywood, she spent her days as a beach bunny and even allegedly dated surf entrepreneur Dave Rochlen.
As illustrations of the surfer girl’s influence on pop culture, they had a signed original edition of Gidget and a couple tiki mugs, which were labeled as “vases” for some reason.
The book “Tiki Road Trip” mentioned that their collection included a tiki that was “supposedly stolen back and forth between rival surf gangs in the 1950s,” but it was nowhere to be seen (except on this postcard). I inquired about it, and they said that it was in storage since it didn’t fit with the current exhibition.
California Surf Museum
312 Pier View Wy.
Oceanside, CA 92078
A cocktail craze has been going on around the country and I don’t think it’s by complete coincidence that there’s another tiki revival going on too.
GQ magazine just published a list of the 25 Best Cocktail Bars in America, and while the majority of them seem to be of the nouveau speakeasy type where you might find bartenders in jaunty vests, they also included the Tiki-Ti in Los Angeles at #11. (Only three selections were from Southern California—the others were Cole’s/Varnish and The Edison—so that’s significant in itself.)
Kevin Sintumuang writes: “The menu lists fifty-two rum drinks, most of them potent and delicious. The best include mysterious homemade syrups far better than the high-fructose nonsense that gave tiki drinks a bad name. There are also two beers available. Literally two cans—one cold, one warm. They cost $20 each.”
Kudos to the Tiki-Ti, a much more fitting honor than last year’s spot on Details magazine’s Best Dive Bars in America round-up.
Another shout-out goes to Smuggler’s Cove in San Francisco, which topped their auxiliary list of the Best Spirit-Specific Cocktail Bars for having “the country’s best rum selection.”
The carb-crazy restaurant Breadbar in Century City has been hosting a bunch of pop-up foodie events over the past year, including the “Hatchi Mix” series where mixologists concoct a one-night-only selection of eight cocktails priced at $8 each.
Each of these nights features a theme/liquor/bar, and in June it was “Rum Amok” with Joel Black from Caña Rum Bar in downtown LA. I wanted to try something not normally offered there, so I ordered the Blood & White Sand, which was made with white rum, pineapple, Cherry Heering, Carpano Antica Formula Sweet Vermouth and The Bitter Truth lemon bitters.
Also not part of the regular menu were four “mixo” pizzas, again $8 each. The mushroom, asparagus, caramelized onion and blue cheese pie made me swoon. My buddy got the kale, fennel and ricotta cheese one and it was also delicious. They really need to serve these all the time!
I knew my dining companion would be intrigued by the Bellini Le Fleur: Luksusowa vodka, lavender peach purée, and lemon verbena oil, topped with Champagne. A unique, less sweet version of the brunchtime staple.
Breadbar’s desserts sounded too tempting to resist, and the chocolate bread pudding and affogato (vanilla ice cream topped with espresso) were both wonderfully indulgent.
I found it amusing that when I asked for the Mai Tai, the server felt she had to warn me that this wouldn’t be your popular orange/pineapple juice affair. I told her I definitely wanted the real deal. Black’s recipe featured Neisson Eleve Sous Bois, Appleton 12 year aged Jamaican rum, lime, orgeat and curaçao. After such a promising preview, I’m excited to go try these cocktails in their natural habitat.