Tiki culture began at the end of Prohibition in 1933 with the opening of Don’s Beachcomber, a Polynesian-themed bar and restaurant in Hollywood, California. The restaurant's name was later changed to Don The Beachcomber and proprietor Ernest Raymond Beaumont-Gantt, who had been a bootlegger in New Orleans and Texas, legally changed his name to Donn Beach.
People flocked to Don the Beachcomber which was decorated with flaming torches, rattan furniture and brightly colored fabrics and which served exotic rum drinks – the most famous of which was called The Zombie. It was so strong, some customers were limited to two.
Soon, other bar owners were opening exotically-decorated bars and restaurants and serving extravagantly named alcoholic drinks. In 1936, Trader Vic’s opened in Oakland, California.
Tiki culture was further influenced by World War II and the first-hand exposure of thousands of American servicemen serving in the Pacific. Then came films like South Pacific.
In time, its appeal lessened but interest in potent cocktails served in fake tropical paradises has never quite gone away.
This striking menu has all the Tiki signs and symbols that fans love – flowers, masks and armaments.
We haven’t been able to find the location of this Tiki pub but believe it is from the early 1950s. We will update if we find out more.
Courtesy The George Lang Collection The Culinary Institute of America.
Each order includes a print of the interior menu.