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Texas Tiki Week turns Austin into a tropical paradise

Arianna Auber
aauber@statesman.com
During last year’s Texas Tiki Week, the Tigress had rum-based tiki drinks like this one, Dancing on the Lanai, on the menu.

For the third year running, the rum will flow freely in Austin, complete with bartenders in bright Hawaiian shirts and cocktails with flaming garnishes and names like zombie punch and Singapore slings.

The local chapter of the U.S. Bartenders Guild has brought back Texas Tiki Week, seven days at the end of June celebrating what’s become known as tiki culture — a movement that started in the 1950s and ’60s when tropical-themed bars began appearing across the country. Hallmarks of the movement include exotic decor, extravagant and fruity rum drinks and, of course, those tropical shirts. Austin is just one of the cities where tiki drinks and related fun have seen a recent resurgence.

From Monday through June 30, many local bars, including Drink.Well, Peche, Pleasant Storage Room and Contigo, will feature tiki cocktails on their menus. (And if you miss out on these, Bar Congress will have their own throughout the summer on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.)

Some of Drink.Well’s plans for Texas Tiki Week include a night serving cocktails from “Potions of the Caribbean,” the latest book from tiki guru Beachbum Berry. That’s on Wednesday. The next day will be a rum flight night, and June 27 will be all about daiquiris. On June 29, look out for the Punch Bowl Social, which will feature a tiki punch to be sipped by the cup or in a larger vessel for a group to share.

Plus, Peche will have an Atlantico rum happy hour on Thursday with drinks such as the Ankle Roller, a mix of Atlantico’s private cask, cheery heering, lemon juice, macadamia orgeat and bitters.

More tiki-related activities planned:

  • Learn about all the important events and characters in tiki history, from Trader Vic to Smuggler’s Cove, during a lunch on Tuesday. It’s fittingly at Pleasant Storage Room, a newly opened cocktail bar next door to Peche that always has rum drinks, both classic and house creations, available. Note that this seminar is available to non-guild members with a $15 donation to the Austin chapter.
  • A special screening of the iconic Elvis Presley film “Blue Hawaii” will be paired with tiki-inspired cocktails from the Alamo Drafthouse’s beverage director, Bill Norris, on Thursday at the Slaughter Lane location. Leis optional.
  • Rhum agricole — made directly from sugarcane juice, rather than molasses like other types of rum — is the focus of a Thursday lunchtime seminar. It’ll be a fairly in-depth look at the cane and Caribbean sugar trade and other topics relating to rhum. Again, non-guild members can attend with a $15 donation to the Austin chapter.
  • What could be better than brunch at Drink.Well? A brunch at Drink.Well with island-inspired food and cocktail offerings, of course. Stop by between noon and 4 p.m. June 28 (no reservations required) for a meal that will transport you back to the days of Trader Vic.
  • Any surf rock fans out there? Red 7’s June 28 show with headliners the Ventures is for you. It’s especially a treat given that the band hasn’t taken the stage in Austin since the 1980s or been in the U.S. in two years. $18 in advance, $20 at the door.

For more information on these events, visit Texas Tiki Week’s website: texastikiweek.com/austin. And go to austin360.com/liquid for more details on some of the island cocktails you’ll find at participating bars.