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

Tiki Holiday Gift Guide 2013

My long-suffering boyfriend can attest that people who like tiki can be picky and notoriously hard to shop for, so here’s some last-minute gift ideas for the tiki fanatic in your life!


1. “I’m Dreaming of a Tiki Christmas” sign

While browsing Etsy, I stumbled upon these cute wooden signs painted by DiamondDustDesigns. She has several holiday designs but my favorite is this “I’m Dreaming of a Tiki Christmas” sign ($13) with a clever reindeer tiki.


2. Beachbum Berry’s Potions of the Caribbean: 500 Years of Tropical Drinks and the People Behind Them Book

Jeff Berry‘s previous books Beachbum Berry Remixed and Sippin’ Safari present recipes for vintage cocktails — and the history behind them — in a highly entertaining and enlightening fashion. I have not doubt the same can be said for his latest, Beachbum Berry’s Potions of the Caribbean: 500 Years of Tropical Drinks and the People Behind Them ($35).


3. Trader Vic’s London 50th Anniversary Shirt

Trader Vic’s London has released a limited edition t-shirt ($30) in honor of their 50th anniversary. I love the tapa print juxtaposed with the architectural icons of Big Ben, Tower Bridge and “The Gherkin.”

Kon-Tiki © Nordisk Film
Kon-Tiki © Nordisk Film

4. “Kon-Tiki” DVD/Blu-ray

In case you missed “Kon-Tiki” in the theaters earlier this year, the DVD/Blu-ray is now available for this thrilling retelling of Thor Heyerdahl’s raft voyage from Peru to Polynesia. You can watch the English version on Netflix Instant, but you’ll have to get the DVD/Blu-ray for the original Norwegian (with English subtitles) version.


5. Liquid Vacation: 77 Refreshing Tropical Drinks from Frankie’s Tiki Room in Las Vegas

Frankie’s Tiki Room in Las Vegas is one of my favorite tiki bars, so I was very excited when they published a book over the summer: Liquid Vacation: 77 Refreshing Tropical Drinks from Frankie’s Tiki Room in Las Vegas ($25). Each of the recipes for these original creations is accompanied by vibrant photography and fun illustrations.

Related Posts:
Last Year’s Tiki Holiday Gift Guide
5 Fascinating Facts About the “Kon-Tiki” Film”
Festive Fun: Watch “Frosty the Cheeseball Man” Melt Away!

5 Fascinating Facts About the “Kon-Tiki” Film

Kon-Tiki © Hanway Films/Nordisk Film Distribusjon
Image © Hanway Films/Nordisk Film Distribusjon

For months I’d been looking forward to a movie about a man named Thor — and I’m not talking about “The Avengers.” Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl became world-famous in 1947 after he and a five-man crew constructed a primitive raft called Kon-Tiki and floated it all the way from Peru to Polynesia. This was not simply a thrill-seeking stunt, but a demonstration of his theory that the ancient Polynesians could have migrated via ocean currents from South America. His subsequent bestselling book, The Kon-Tiki Expedition by Raft Across the South Sea, and documentary helped to spark an interest in Polynesia, contributing to the mid-century craze for tiki bars.

Directors Espen Sandberg and Joachim Rønning © Nordisk Film
Directors Espen Sandberg and Joachim Rønning © Nordisk Film

Fast forward several decades and now there is a new “Kon-Tiki” film, a dramatic adaptation directed by Espen Sandberg and Joachim Rønning. Released in 2012, it’s the most expensive film Norway has ever made, though the $16 million budget is still less than 10 percent of the cost for a film like “Life of Pi.” I jumped at the chance to see “Kon-Tiki” when my boyfriend was invited to a screening, followed by a Q&A with the directors, screenwriter Petter Skavlan and actor Jakob Oftebro. They shared some fascinating stories about the production, and I’ve selected five of my favorite facts about this beautiful, intense and exciting film.

Pål Sverre Valheim Hagen in Kon-Tiki © Nordisk Film
Pål Sverre Valheim Hagen as Thor Heyerdahl in Kon-Tiki © Nordisk Film

1) Writer Petter Skavlan had experience in sailing across oceans, which he said helped him capture the dynamic of people at sea for an extended time. It also gained him some cred with Thor Heyerdahl, with whom he worked on developing the story. The adventurer passed away in 2002, but he had signed off on the 21-page outline for the film.

Anders Baasmo Christiansen and Pål Sverre Valheim Hagen in Kon-Tiki © Nordisk Film
Pål Sverre Valheim Hagen and Anders Baasmo Christiansen in Kon-Tiki © Nordisk

2) It is common movie magic for cities to stand in for others, but I thought it was funny that hardly any of the sites where the real events took place were used as filming locations. Rather, 1940s New York was a set in Bulgaria, Peru was actually Malta, and even some of the Norway scenes were instead shot in Sweden.

Anders Baasmo Christiansen, Gustaf Skarsgård, Pål Sverre Valheim Hagen, Jakob Oftebro, Odd Magnus Williamson and Tobias Santelmann in Kon-Tiki © Nordisk Film
Kon-Tiki © Nordisk Film

3) We viewed the original version with Norwegian dialogue, but during filming they also did identical takes in English so the movie could have a wider release internationally. The Weinstein Company acquired the rights to distribute the film in the U.S. (and a few other countries), and the English language version opens in America on April 26, 2013.

Kon-Tiki © Nordisk Film
Kon-Tiki © Nordisk Film

4) In 2006, Heyerdahl’s grandson Olav was part of a crew that retraced the Kon-Tiki expedition on a newly constructed, similar raft called Tangaroa. And it was this very vessel that was used to re-create the Kon-Tiki in the film — fascinating to think that the raft you see actually made that same voyage. (Some day I hope to visit the original Kon-Tiki at The Kon-Tiki Museum in Oslo.)

Jakob Oftebro and Tobias Santelmann in Kon-Tiki © Nordisk Film
Jakob Oftebro and Tobias Santelmann in Kon-Tiki © Nordisk Film

5) Joking that it’s a bit hard to tame sharks and crabs, they said the only real animal that appeared in the movie was the parrot. The others were part of the 500 or so special effect shots, which were so well done that you can’t even tell they’re CG animated.

Kon-Tiki © Hanway Films/Nordisk Film Distribusjon
Kon-Tiki © Hanway Films/Nordisk Film Distribusjon

“Kon-Tiki” is nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards, which is fitting as Thor Heyerdahl’s 1950 documentary “Kon-Tiki” won for Best Documentary — the only Oscar awarded to a Norwegian film thus far. I think you know who I’ll be rooting for this Sunday!

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“DVD of Tiki” Screening at the Egyptian Theatre
“South Pacific” Musical at the Ahmanson Theater