I’ve heard a few people say recently that they think the tiki craze is over, and I think I know what they mean. Tiki was heralded as the ‘next big thing’ much as tequila was before that, and while it has grown in popularity, and become more mainstream it has never really exploded in the way that was predicted. That’s not entirely surprising as it’s a niche style of drinking, but to say it’s dead seems a bit of an exaggeration to me.
Tiki, as I’ve written before, is a style of drinks inspired by Polynesia and tropical island culture and is predominantly based around rum, with plenty of exotic fruits, juices, syrups and liqueurs thrown in for good measure. It was originally popularised in the 1940s America when these enticing flavours from far-flung shores were a welcome bit of escapism after the gloom of WWII.
A few years ago there was a definite resurgence of interest in this style of drinking, with Tiki bars and nightclubs popping up on a regular basis. Of course many were quick to jump on the bandwagon to exclaim that Tiki would be the next big thing. Even if that promised explosion has somewhat failed to deliver, Tiki has still managed to establish a firm place within our global drinking culture. In almost every major city you will find at least one or two bars dedicated to tiki drinks, and on many cocktail menus you’ll find not only the classic Mai Tai or Zombie, but other modern tiki inspired cocktails. So to say that tiki is dead, to me at least, seems too strong a statement. Perhaps it would be fairer to say that tiki has found its place within modern cocktail culture, and has indeed added to it. Tiki isn’t dead, it’s alive and well, but in a limited way, and for that reason I say tiki is here to stay.
I was due to post a blog today about a wonderful brand that is working to support the bar industry by running an exchange programme designed to help bartenders from different countries share ideas and experience other cultures. Unfortunately I woke up and read about a different brand owner who has done the opposite and has actually sued a bar! So my apologies to St Germain, my words about your fantastic exchange programme are going to have to wait a few days while I get this off my chest!
The back-story goes something like this… A tiki bar opens in New York and decides to draw inspiration from a classic tiki drink, the ‘Painkiller’ and in fact decides to name itself after this exotic libation. In its first year of doing business, this bar gains a fantastic reputation and business is going well for the team there. Unfortunately though, the Painkiller cocktail is one of the very few that has been trademarked by a brand, in this case Pusser’s rum, and the brand decides to sue the bar claiming irreparable harm to its brand, unfair competition and unfair business practices.
I hope you have been making the best of the recent burst of good weather we have had? At B&T HQ in rural Hampshire we have been doing our best to step away from the computers and get out in the back garden with friends. Obviously that means barbecues and cocktails and for us it meant going that one step further and hosting a tiki party. We pushed the boat out on this one, but actually it is pretty easy to do. Invite a load of mates, tell them to wear grass skirts or hawaiian shirts, get some rum and fresh fruit in, fire up the bbq and pray for good weather.
Now as we're not the sort of people to do things by halves we did all the above as well as setting about building a bar for the patio, a roasting pit for cooking a whole pig and bringing out the fire pit for later in the evening. With 50 of our closest friends heading over and the weather forecast looking good it seemed the right moment to bring out the punch bowl and the pitchers and to start preparing big batches of drinks.