The first Tiki Night in Mobile actually hit downtown in 2013. The Haberdasher’s head bartender (now beverage director/GM) Roy Clark, a man you might call “tiki-obsessed,” threw a party at the bar. It was only for an evening, but he knew he was onto something.
A short year later we had the “Haberdasher Tiki Week” in 2014. We missed out on 2015 as The Hab was in the midst of relocation, but 2016 held a triumphant return in the new digs. But 2017 is where it all changed, and LoDa celebrated the very first Mobile Tiki Week featuring four bars.
This is where our story technically begins. The following year “Trader Roy” and his team upped the participation to a total of five bars, but this year’s week-long party is slated for an unprecedented seven locations, all beginning Monday, Aug. 12, and ending Saturday, Aug. 16.
So what is behind the success and growth of Mobile Tiki Week? First off, “Trader Roy” has a laser focus on this week, and has done his research. It’s not just honing his skills at The Haberdasher, though that should be enough. Roy has attended the bartender-focused Tiki by the Sea conference in Wildwood, New Jersey.
It’s invitation only, and an honor just to go. There was also the Tiki by the Sea Alumni Conference in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He’s even slung cocktails in that same city amongst some of the biggest names in the tiki biz as a member of the bar team at the Hukilau, which some might say is the “World’s Most Authentic Tiki Party,” and I’m sure few would disagree.
So what should one expect when they hear the word “tiki”? You have to prepare yourself for rum. I never knew rum well enough to even have a favorite. Roy gave me a five-minute education last year on really great brands, and I can tell you I grew up with some really crappy rum. That must have been what turned me into a bourbon drinker. Yes, rum should be celebrated when you get the opportunity to have the good stuff.
Fruit. Lots of fruit is another ingredient to the tiki lifestyle. It isn’t just an umbrella in a daiquiri kind of thing. In the tiki world, fruit and its fanfare are just as important as the spirits. As garnishments, they appeal to the eyes, as ingredients they appeal to the tongue.
Most importantly, tiki means fun. The drinks look fun, they taste fun and someone is probably going to be wearing a grass skirt at some point. You can’t grab one of these drinks and hunker down in the corner of the bar and cry in your cup about your ex-girlfriend. This isn’t scotch. This is positivity until you drop. You can’t tell a sad story with one of these in your hand, so strap yourself to a barstool and have a good time!
Along with The Haberdasher, this year’s participants are veterans OK Bicycle Shop and The Sidecar Lounge at The Noble South. New for 2019, we have POST Crafted Cocktails and Wine Bar, Squid Ink Eclectic Eats and Drinks, Roosters Latin American Food, Southern National and Gulf Coast Pedal Tours. Each of these bars will have original cocktails for the week, and those with kitchens will be serving tiki-themed foods. All of them will be donating a portion of the profits from these “rhum rhapsodies” to the Dauphin Island Sea Lab’s Discovery Hall program for children.
Schedule of events
Monday, August 12
Pick up a “passport” from any of the participating venues and begin your journey. You’ll be getting it stamped later so the following week you can remember what you drank during this one. This may be a time to try Gulf Coast Pedal Tours as they stop at participating bars. You’ll also be given tropical attire to add that special touch to the experience. They will be running all week long.
Tuesday, August 13
“Tiki Trivia” begins at 7 p.m. at OK Bicycle Shop.
At 8 p.m., The Haberdasher will be home for Stone Brewing Company’s “Tiki Escape Tap Takeover” with tiki-inspired beers such as Tropic of Thunder Lager, Scorpion Bowl IPA, Tangerine Express IPA and more.
Wednesday, August 14
Have your passport handy and don your best tropical attire for the “Mai Tai Mile” pub crawl. Start wherever you wish, but see how many venues you can hit in one evening. It officially begins at 6:30 p.m., so I’d start at either one end of Dauphin or the other. Don’t forget to get stamped.
That same evening The Haberdasher will have a Rumbar tasting featuring Laura from Rumbar and Worthy Park Jamaican Rum Distillery.
Thursday, August 15
“Tiki Takedown” at POST starts at 7 p.m. Featuring tiki tunes and tacos, you’ll want to drop by.
“Bourbon in Tiki with Old Forester” is another The Haberdasher event at 8 p.m. This is when two American cultures, bourbon and tiki, collide with fantastic results. Tropical whisky drinks are the evening’s agenda with Old Forester Brand Ambassador for Alabama, Joseph Jones, as guest bartender.
Also at 8 p.m., OK Bicycle Shop will have Camelia Bay Burlesque doing tiki burlesque in the courtyard.
Saturday, August 16
The whole party closes with one more party. The Sixth Annual Haberdasher Luau and Pig Roast is what it’s all about. Enjoy the Pan-Asian, Polynesian and Caribbean fare all week long, but on Saturday you must save room for the pig.
Don’t forget the other participating bars and restaurants. The Sidecar Lounge may be the place for a Mai Tai, but they’ll have other drinks with fresh fruits and nuts. Go by Southern National to see Beverage Director Will Jones (he may also answer to Tim) for his own brand of tiki. Squid Ink will be paying homage to the tiki masters in an eclectic way. Roosters will be serving classic Mai Tais to go with their coconut shrimp tacos, tuna poke, teriyaki burgers and rum-ham grilled cheese.
Be safe. Be nice. Be fun. Be tiki!
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