2014 Tiki Gift Guide for the Holidays

Get a head start on your holiday shopping with this year’s round-up of some of the best tiki-related goodies from 2014, including books, bitters and more.

SanTiki Moai Masks by Bamboo Ben

1. SanTiki Moai Masks by Bamboo Ben

Bamboo Ben has created the escapist settings for many tiki bars, such as Frankie’s Tiki Room in Las Vegas and Tiki No in North Hollywood, to name a few. For Christmas, he’s gotten into the festive spirit by making SanTiki Moai masks ($25, plus shipping) and also some Shrunken Grinch Heads. I hear there will be some for sale at his booth at the International Tiki Market Place at Don the Beachcomber in Huntington Beach on December 6th, but you can also contact him via Facebook about ordering.

Krampus mugs by Munktiki

2. Krampus Mug by Munktiki

Now this is some Black Friday shopping I’m on board with! On November 28th, Munktiki will release the fourth and final glaze of this year’s Krampus mug. (Pictured is the red and black style sold earlier.) This terrifying creature from Bavarian folklore punishes naughty children during the Yuletide season. There are 25 of these super limited editions ($80) and they’ll be available for purchase on Munktiki’s web site at 6 p.m. PST.

Tiki Pop book by Sven Kirsten

3. Tiki Pop book by Sven Kirsten

As mentioned previously, this year author Sven Kirsten (The Book of Tiki/Tiki Modern) and Taschen published a new tome, Tiki Pop: America Imagines its own Polynesian Paradise ($40). It’s the companion book from the recent exhibition at the Musée du quai Branly in Paris. Make sure you have a sturdy coffee table to support this hefty edition filled with incredible images and fascinating history. Also of interest to tiki fans will be the book Kahiki Supper Club: A Polynesian Paradise in Columbus ($16) by David Meyers, Elise Meyers Walker, Jeff Chenault and Doug Motz. Many of us never got the chance to visit that Ohio oasis before it was bulldozed in 2000, so this is as close as we’ll get, alas.

Horror in Clay bitters

4. Horror Infused Better With Bitters Gift Set

Horror in Clay — who you may know from the Cthulhu mug Kickstarter success story — has followed up with a few neat new products this year, including the Innsmouth Fogcutter Tiki Mug ($40) and Horror Infused: Fiendishly Tropical Bitters ($13.13). Made in partnership with Bittercube Bitters (the gentlemen also responsible for the Torpedo Room in Minneapolis), these are small-batch cocktail bitters “tentacle-crafted with care” featuring flavors of molasses, grapefruit, allspice, cinnamon and vanilla. They even come in a gift set ($20) with stickers, swizzles and coins.

Gene Rains - Far Away Lands

5. Far Away Lands: The Exotic Music of Gene Rains CD

When you need a respite from carols, mix things up with some Gene Rains, the vibraphonist considered one of the “Big Three” of exotica music in the 1950s-60s along with Martin Denny and Arthur Lyman. His music had never been available on CD until this past July when Real Gone Music released “Far Away Lands: The Exotic Music of Gene Rains” ($15), which includes songs from his three albums. (Check out episode 68 of DigiTiki’s Quiet Village Podcast to hear some of the interesting stories behind the making of this compilation.) Featured on the cover art is the lovely MeduSirena the Fire-Eating Mermaid (in her human form) from the Wreck Bar in Fort Lauderdale.

Related Posts:
2013 Tiki Gift Guide (Beachbum Berry’s Book, Kon-Tiki DVD & More)
2012 Tiki Gift Guide (Enchanted Tiki Room Ornaments, DVD of Tiki & More)

Say “Aloha” to the Chicago-based band Tiki Cowboys

Tiki Cowboys
Until recently, the only connection I knew of between “tiki” and “cowboys” was a famous little tune called “Hawaiian Cowboy.” (I remember it from “The Muppet Show,” but according to legend it was composed off the cuff by Solomon K. Bright in 1936.) In further researching these seemingly unrelated subjects, I also discovered that Hawaii’s history of cattle wrangling actually goes back before the heyday of the Wild West in America. Anyway, this is all a roundabout way of introducing Eric “Baron” Behrenfeld’s band: the Tiki Cowboys.

He sent me a copy of his 2009 debut EP “A Taste of Tiki,” on which Baron was a one-man band, supplying vocals, ukulele and percussion. Of the four original songs, the first track “Tiki Lady” is my favorite. It’s upbeat and fun and has some suggestive lyrics (ooh la la!). “My Little Song” takes on the country music trope that goes something like “my dog died, my wife left and she took my truck.” “Slap, Clap & Tickle” is a syncopated instrumental while “Feel So Good” brings in some elements of surf music.

Their logo tiki, a cowboy hat-wearing carving with its tongue hanging out, appears on swag like stickers and even a coconut-scented car air freshener. (Available on the Tiki Cowboys web site if you’re so inclined.)

Sharp eyes might recognize the setting in that first photo as the Tiki Terrace in Des Plaines, which is where Baron and the other musicians that make up the Tiki Cowboys perform live every third Thursday from 6 p.m.-8:30 p.m. Later this year we should also be able to look for a full-length album with more of their “Beach Blues and Tiki-Twang” sound.

For more information, check out the Tiki Cowboys Facebook page.

Tiki Luau Night at the Egyptian Theatre: The Mighty Uke

Tiki Luau Night at the Egyptian Theatre

Every summer for the past five years, the American Cinematheque has hosted a Tiki Luau Night at the Egyptian Theatre with an alfresco dinner followed by a tiki-themed film. (Tickets are available for each part separately, but I’d definitely recommend going to both.)

Fun fact courtesy of Wikipedia: The Egyptian Theatre is the older sister of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, and was the site of the first Hollywood premiere in 1922.

Courtyard of the Egyptian Theatre

The food was dished out buffet-style in the theater, while the courtyard lent itself for seating, the luau performances, and some shopping opportunities from folks like Eric October.


Our plates were piled with Thai noodle salad with peanut dressing, cabbage/mandarin orange salad, somewhat stale Hawaiian roll, a big hunk of sweet glazed pulled pork, very tasty chicken pineapple sausage, and a big white chocolate macadamia nut cookie. Did I mention we each also got two glasses of rum punch?

King Kukulele and the Friki Tikis

The evening’s house band, King Kukulele and the Friki Tikis were great, and the Polynesian Paradise Dancers accompanied a few tunes. We especially enjoyed hearing “Hi’ilawe”—made us feel like we were in The Enchanted Tiki Room.

The Mighty Uke poster

A series of short clips from some of the films they’ve shown in the past preceded the main event: a screening of “The Mighty Uke” followed by a Q&A with director Tony Coleman, who flew in from Canada for the occasion.

Jake Shimabukuro - Photo by Ryota Mori, 2007

To be honest, I initially wasn’t all that jazzed about watching a documentary about ukuleles. But all that changed as soon as the film started with a recording of a live concert of virtuoso musician Jake Shimabukuro. He’s ridiculous!

Ukulele Lady

“The Mighty Uke” follows the ukulele’s origins in Portugal and Hawaii to its popularity in America in the 1920s to its subsequent decline as the guitar became the stringed instrument of choice for many.

Marilyn Monroe playing ukulele in Some Like it Hot

Now that I think about it, I shouldn’t have been so quick to write off the subject matter, especially considering “Some Like it Hot” is one of my favorite movies, and the most memorable moment from seeing Paul McCartney at the Hollywood Bowl was when he brought out a ukulele to play “Something” as a tribute to George Harrison.

James Hill and Anne Davison - Photo from www.mightyukemovie.com

Anyway, along the way we were introduced to musicians like James Hill, who composes classical-style concerti featuring the ukulele, music educators who make the case for replacing elementary schools’ recorders with ukes, and lots of folks who just love to jam. (A bunch of cinema-goers even brought their ukes to do so after the movie!)

Uni & Her Ukelele - Photo from www.myspace.com/uniherukelele

Also making the much maligned instrument look cool was Uni & Her Ukelele, she struck me as an awesome mix of equal parts Lady Gaga and Rainbow Brite. I bet you that after watching “The Mighty Uke” you’ll be tempted to get a ukulele too. (Personally, I’d love this one.)