Diagnosing the Tiki Psyche

by Smoke Monkey on June 7, 2016


Essentially the entire escapist legacy of tiki can be traced back to his original vision and innovations. “You can almost think of Don the Beachcomber as Tolkein,” says Al Sotack, bartender at Death & Co. and Pouring Ribbons and a pop culture obsessive. “There were influences before him but he’s the one who really pulled the whole imaginary world out of his head and created a genre.”

But Don’s greatest contribution to making tiki a world of its own was perhaps his penchant for storytelling. “Bar is theatre,” says Berry. “You’re not going for a drink, you’re going for an experience. One way to deliver that was through stories.” His anecdotes and tall tales, both about the establishment and the drinks he served, reinforced the idea that a tiki bar was a place where fantastic, otherworldly things could happen.

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