Posts Tagged ‘LUPEC Boston’s Tiki Bash’

by Fancy Brandy

If you’re at all familiar with Tiki & lounge music and culture in Boston, you’ve probably heard of Brother Cleve. We asked him a couple questions so you could get to know your host behind the laptop at this Saturday’s event…

What is your favorite cocktail? My favorite tropical drink is the Jet Pilot

If you were a LUPEC member (or DUdePEC, for the gents), what would your namesake cocktail be? I think I’d like to just be Old Mr. Boston, cuz I ain’t gettin’ any younger!

Favorite bar? Probably the one in my living room, as I have all the necessary/hard-to-find ingredients and my huge collection of Tiki mugs!That said, my friends at Drink will make you a Mai Tai or a Zombie with the original recipes.

Favorite place to sip a mai tai? Locally, the back room at the South Pacific in Newton; the decor hasn’t changed since 1957. Beyond Boston, the Mai Kai in Ft Lauderdale and Tiki Ti in Los Angeles have the best tropical cocktails, the way Donn Beach and Trader Vic created ’em.

What do you like most about tiki? The lure of the tropics, the retreat to an ersatz Disneyland world comprised of perfect calm.

960601_bluebeardIf you were putting together a playlist to your tiki party, what would you put on it? I have made that playlist, and it includes around 150 songs, from the godfathers of Exotica [Les Baxter, Martin Denny] and the cool concept albums of the late 50’s/early 60’s [“Jun’gala”, “White Lotus”, “Tropical Fantasy”, “Surfer’s Paradise”…], Elvis hits from films like “Blue Hawaii” & “Paradise Hawaiian Style”, surf music, and modern day practitioners like Combustible Edison, which I was a member of, and Waitiki, whose last 2 albums I produced.

How have you been involved in Boston’s tiki history? How have you seen it change? The sad change has been the closure of the fantastic Polynesian restaurants from the era’s heyday of the 50’s/60’s : Bob Lee’s Islander, Aku Aku, South Seas, Diamond Head, Trader Vic’s, Kon Tiki Ports; these were fantasy island outposts in the midst of our urban grit. Fortunately, a few places like the Kowloon and South Pacific have survived. As for my own involvement, I’ve worked/presented many a Tiki event over the last dozen years, here and all over the world, along with shows in the lounge and burlesque worlds.

What is your the crown jewel of the tropical tunes? Les Baxter’s “Quiet Village” is the ultimate exotica song, in any of its myriad versions; my personal fave, if I had to name just one, would be Alex Stordahl’s recording of “The Moon Of Manakoora”.

Don’t miss Brother Cleve at the LUPEC Boston Tiki Bash this Saturday! Click HERE for more info and HERE to buy your tickets today!


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by Fancy Brandy

Every year LUPEC events get amazing support from the community in the form of food & drink donations, raffle items, volunteers, local media and of course our fabulous performers. We thought we’d take a minute to get some inside info on the talented folks you’ll see up on the stage this Saturday. Stay tuned for their thoughts on tiki & hula culture! First up: Uke Springsteen!

Favorite cocktail: A whiskey cocktail called a Gingered Gentleman. It’s Maker’s and some crazy ginger concoction made by the folks at the Red Fez in Providence.

If you were in LUPEC (or DUdePEC, for the gents), what would your namesake cocktail be? Tanqueray and Wine.

Favorite bar? Either Highland Kitchen or Razzy’s, because they have been in stumbling distance of where I live for a few years and served me well. (Favorite place to sip a mai thai: The Hong Kong.)



What first drew you to the ukulele? I got a ukulele for my birthday a few years ago,and I didn’t know how to play it. Some friends were having a Bruce Springsteen party and I already knew the songs from years of loving them, so I figured it was a good way to learn how to play that instrument. Imagine if I had been given a tuba, and my friends were having a John Mellencamp party? Tuba Mellencamp just doesn’t have the same ring, does it?

Who inspires you? The Boss!

What do you like most about tiki? Hmmm. I guess floral shirts. But maybe I don’t fully understand tiki. [We’ll take you under our wing, don’t worry!]

What would you put on your tiki party playlist? Probably not Bruce Springsteen music, but maybe Don Ho, the Dixie Cups, Desmond Dekker, the Folkes Brothers.

How do you pack so much punch with that tiny little guitar? I plug it in and step on distortion pedals, and my digital audio accompanist, the D.A. helps out quite a bit.

Who are your ukelele & musical heroes? The highway’s jammed with broken heroes on a last chance power drive, so basically if the highway is jammed with heroes, I guess that means there’s too many to mention

When the chips are down, what keeps Uke rockin’? “I believe in the hope and I pray that some day It may raise me above these BADLANDS!!!”

Don’t miss Uke Springsteen at the LUPEC Boston Tiki Bash this Saturday! Click HERE for more into and HERE to buy your tickets today!

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by Fancy Brandy

Joining us again this year are Thru the Keyhole Burlesque ladies Sparkles McTitsy & Tallulah Starlight!

l_b2491cc257f577257299fe741c7e57f7Favorite cocktail: We like our cocktails showy & accessorized, martinis, mai tais & mint juleps.

If you were a LUPEC (or DUdePEC, for the gents), what would your namesake cocktail be? The Tipsy McTitsy & the Tallulah Stardust.

Favorite bar: Sparkles prefers a night on the town at Local 121 in Providence, while Tallulah often finds herself sipping cocktails at home on her tiki patio after the kiddies go to bed.

Favorite place to sip a Mai Tai? Kowloon, preferably by the volcano, in the boat!

What first drew you to burlesque? The glitter & glamour of course! But we were also excited by the oddball talent, wackiness & off-color humor found in the modern burlesque community.

Where do you draw your inspiration from? We are inspired by classic burlesque queens to John Water’s & everything in between. Our musical selections vary from the B-52’s, Laurence Welk, Martin Denny to Goldfrapp. We’ve danced as lobsters, chicken, marshmallow fluff, mermaids & gorillas. I would say no subject is safe from our shimmy!

What would you put on your Tiki party playlist? Our old friends Waitiki; there is nothing like a watermelon sacrifice to put you in the sipping mood.

Have you ever done Tiki-inspired burlesque before? Yes! It is one of our favorite themes!

How did you prepare? Many hours of research involving Martin Denny, scorpion bowls & coconut bras, plus help from our tiki-mentor Br. Cleve. (Speaking of….)

Don’t miss Sparkles McTitsy & Tallulah Starlight at the LUPEC Boston Tiki Bash this Saturday! Click HERE for more info and HERE to buy your tickets today!

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*LUPEC Boston’s latest ruminations, in case you missed ‘em in this week’s Dig.

by Pink Lady

Our Tiki Bash is just a few short weeks away, and LUPEC Boston has assembled a class-act event. With hula instruction, burlesque dancers, ukulele-sensation Uke Springsteen reinterpreting “the Boss” on his tiny, tiny guitar, plus cocktail historian/Boston music legend Brother Cleve spinning records, this is an event you won’t want to miss.

It wouldn’t be a LUPEC party if cocktails weren’t the main attraction. In the next few columns, we’ll offer a taste of what’s in store on November 14th to whet your appetite and introduce you to hallmarks of the tiki drinks that inspired the party, considered so delicious in their heyday, they begot a craze that outlasted every cocktail fad before and since.

First, we should note that “tiki cocktail” is a “retro” term. Inventors of these fine concoctions referred to them as “exotic drinks” or “faux tropics” (“faux” because they were invented far from the real tropics, in the continental US). Modern drinkers may feel silly about the umbrellas and the skull-shaped glassware, but for many decades, “exotics” were the height of cocktail chic. Their popularity among the Hollywood set at Don the Beachcomber’s was inspiration enough for Victor Bergeron to rip the moose heads off the walls at his Northwest-themed eatery, Hinky Dinks, transforming it from “lodge” to tropical paradise and himself into “Trader Vic.”

The Fog Cutter, one of two drinks we’ll serve at the LUPEC Boston Tiki Bash, is commonly credited to Trader Vic, though Ted “Dr. Cocktail” Haigh casts doubt upon these origins in Vintage Spirits & Forgotten Cocktails. Haigh traces the drink via expert barman Tony Ramos, an original bartender at Don the Beachcomber’s in Los Angeles, who recalls the Fog Cutter as the signature drink from Edna Earl’s Fog Cutter bar in LA. Regardless of who invented it, this potent combination of three unlikely bedfellows—rum, brandy and gin—plus fresh juice, orgeat and sherry—is a memorable beverage. Provided you don’t tipple too many, of course.

If you’ve never heard of or tried orgeat, you’re in for a treat. Originally a health tonic popular among Romans, the early formula for orgeat was simply boiling water, barley and honey for several hours, then straining it (the word derives from the Latin “hordeata” meaning “made with barley”). In its modern incarnation, orgeat is a typically sweet, milky-looking almond syrup (who knows where the barley went?) made by boiling almonds and sugar and adding a little orange flower water or rosewater at the end.

Orgeat appears in many tiki cocktails, including two of Trader Vic’s most famous concoctions, the Mai Tai and the Fog Cutter. You’ll have a chance to sample both at the LUPEC Boston Tiki Bash. Or, try one at home today, proceeding with caution, as this drink is potent. As Trader Vic said, “Fog Cutter? Hell, after two of these, you won’t even see the stuff.”


2 oz light Puerto Rican rum
1 oz brandy
0.5 oz gin
2 oz fresh lemon juice
1 oz orange juice
0.5 oz orgeat
0.5 oz sweet sherry

Shake all ingredients except sherry with ice cubes. Pour into 14-ounce glass. Add more ice cubes. Float 0.5 ounces of sherry on top. Serve with straws.


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*LUPEC Boston’s latest ruminations, in case you missed ‘em in this week’s Dig.

by Pink Lady

Regular readers of our column or blog are well aware of LUPEC’s mission to “breed, raise and release endangered cocktails into the wild,” spreading great stories, lore and cocktail history whenever we can. But another main initiative of this group is to give back to our community. Fabulous as we may be, most members of our little club will never be in a position to donate a wing to a local hospital or community center. Instead, we fundraise in the best way we know how: by throwing dress-up cocktail parties. We’ve raised over $20,000 for local women’s charities this way since our group’s inception in 2007.

Our first event was a 1920s-themed speakeasy held on a clandestine riverboat permanently docked in the Boston Harbor, and it benefited Jane Done Inc., the Massachusetts Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence. Last year, we threw a 1940s-themed USO-style variety show with swing dancing, burlesque and live comedy to benefit women at the New England Shelter for Homeless Veterans. This year, we’re planning a tiki bash of epic proportions.

On November 14th, we will transform the Villa Victoria Center for the Arts into a 1950s-themed tiki party featuring retro libations and canapés provided by Toro, Green Street, the Franklin Café and more. Island Creek Oysters will be on-hand shucking delicious “Duxbury pearls” and the Boston Derby Dames will skate around with sweets provided by Taza Chocolate. Through the Keyhole Burlesque, ukulele master Uke Springsteen, DJ Brother Cleve and other live acts will entertain. Tickets, a wallet-friendly $35 in advance/$45 at the door, are on sale now.

Why tiki in November? Why not? With exotic décor and whimsical cocktails, a night at Trader Vic’s or Don the Beachcomber’s offered un-ironic escapism in its heyday, a flavor-packed counterpoint in the era of vodkatinis and The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit. As tiki expert Jeff “Beach Bum” Berry told the Washington Post earlier this year, “A tiki bar was where the mid-century Organization Man went to escape his white-collar job, his big mortgage and the threat of nuclear annihilation.”

With a long cold winter on the horizon, we Bostonians could use a little escapism, too.




0.5 oz fresh lemon juice

0.5 oz unsweetened pineapple juice

0.5 oz Applejack

0.5 oz triple sec

1 oz light Puerto Rican rum

Shake well with plenty of ice cubes. Strain into a cocktail glass.



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*LUPEC Boston’s latest ruminations, in case you missed ‘em in this week’s Dig.

by Pink Lady

Our big fall fundraiser, the LUPEC Boston Tiki Bash, is just a few weeks away, and LUPEC’s thinking Tiki! Last week we discussed the Mai Tai, that simple and delicious blend of dark rum, orgeat, lime, and curacao that was a cornerstone of the Tiki craze. Did Donn Beach invent this drink, or Trader Vic? Who knows. This week, we turn our attention to a considerably more complex concoction, the Zombie. We’re certain Donn Beach invented this one – and took the original recipe with him to the grave.

As the story goes, Donn Beach (née Ernest Beaumont-Gantt) invented the Zombie in the 1930s for an aviophobic friend taking a tipple at Don the Beachcomber’s before a flight to San Francisco…or was it a friend trying to overcome a hangover before an important business meeting? In any case, the guest had three of these high-test concoctions before (presumably) stumbling off for his flight/meeting/what have you. He returned a few days later to report: the drinks made him feel like the living dead for days thereafter. And the Zombie was born.

The Zombie became a signature cocktail at the Hurricane Bar at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York City and enjoyed great popularity there. The drink went on to become a staple of Tiki joints that sprang up across the US, such as Trader Vic’s and, of course, Don the Beachcomber’s, where a 2-drink maximum policy was instituted.

Donn Beach was notoriously secretive about his cocktail recipes, creating special mixes for his bartenders that boasted numbers rather than names, keeping even the staff in the dark about his signature drinks. Imitations emerged in other Tiki joints, and Donn himself very likely noodled with the original recipe over time to accommodate new products or lack of available ingredients in certain markets. Countless recipes now exist, making it virtually impossible to pin down an original with which to craft a true artifact version for home consumption.

Tiki expert Jeff “Beachbum” Berry appears to have come the closest in excavating an original recipe through interviews with former staff from Don the Beachcomber’s. Poring over personal notes kept by these waiters and bartenders from their days behind the stick, several are published in his book, Sippin’ Safari. A variation via Dale DeGroff is below.

Adapted from The Essential Cocktail by Dale DeGroff

1.5 oz medium-bodied Jamaican rum
.5 oz 151-proof Demerara rum
.25 oz Velvet Falernum
.5 oz Donn’s Mix #1
1.5 oz fresh squeezed orange juice
.75 oz fresh squeezed lime juice
1 teaspoon grenadine
2 dashes Angostura bitters
6 drops Absinthe
Mint sprigs for garnish

Combine with crushed ice in a cocktail shaker and shake well. Pour into a chimney glass, topping with crushed ice to fill the glass. Garnish with mint.


2 parts fresh squeezed grapefruit juice

1 part Cinnamon Syrup (below)

Combine the grapefruit juice with syrup and shake well. Use immediately, or store covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.


5 cinnamon sticks, each about 2 inches long

20 oz. bottled or filtered water

1 quart sugar

Break the cinnamon sticks into pieces to create more surface area. Put the cinnamon, water, and sugar in a large saucepan over low heat. Stir until all the sugar is dissolved, and then reduce the heat to very low and simmer for 30 minutes. Let cool completely, then bottle; keep covered in refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Makes 2 cups.


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*LUPEC Boston’s latest ruminations, in case you missed ‘em in this week’s Dig.

by Pink Lady

Ever tried a Zombie or a Suffering Bastard, or any drink served in a scorpion bowl or skull mug? With out-there names and kitschy vessels, tiki drinks are apt to inspire a giggle among cocktail neophytes. In their original incarnation, these were balanced, palatable drinks built upon rum, fresh juices and flavorful syrups—legitimate cocktails that would make modern bar snobs swoon.

The tiki craze has roots that reach all the way back to Prohibition, when thirsty Americans took to the Caribbean seas (where rum flowed freely) for rum cruises. They developed a taste for exotic island cocktails, meaning the market was ripe by the time Ernest Beaumont-Gantt opened his “Don the Beachcomber” bar in Hollywood in 1934, just after repeal. Victor Bergeron soon followed suit, revamping his Oakland eatery into “Trader Vic’s,” complete with South Seas décor. Post-World War II, the tiki phenomenon blossomed into a true craze that lasted well into the 1950s.

If Ernest Beaumont-Gantt, aka “Don the Beachcomber” and Victor “Trader Vic” Bergeron were the emperors of American tiki, a cornerstone of their empire was the mai tai—a drink they both take credit for inventing. Trader Vic alleges he innovated the drink as a simple way to make use of a bottle of 17-year-old J. Wray Nephew rum from Jamaica in 1944. He served it to Ham and Carrie Guild, two friends visiting from Tahiti, and after one sip, Carrie pronounced it: “Mai tai—roa aé,” Tahitian for, “Out of this world—the best.” And the mai tai was born.

Don Beach’s last wife, Phoebe, purports to have written proof Don invented the drink, in the form of a letter from a journalist describing a 1972 incident where Victor confesses that Don was the drink’s true progenitor. Some say both accounts are false, and the drink originated somewhere in Tahiti. Debate rages on, even after the movement and its founders are long gone.

When properly made, a mai tai is a revelatory cocktail; it’s no wonder Americans clamored for this delightful beverage and its tiki cousins for decades. Start your own tiki craze at home with one of these as you get in the mood for the LUPEC fall fundraiser this November: It will be a tiki bash of epic proportions.


2 oz aged Jamaican rum

0.75 oz fresh lime juice

0.75 oz orange curaçao

1 tsp orgeat syrup

Shake well with ice and strain into an old-fashioned glass filled with ice. Garnish with a lime wheel, a mint sprig and, if possible, an exotic orchid



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