Listening to Sergio Mendez “Brasil 66″ inspired me, you are right of course, it doesn’t take much, to find a decent Tiki Bar in New York City. For some reason all that’s left of the great ones are in places like Munich, Hamburg and SF’s Tonga Room, home of the floating barge in the indoor tropical rainstorm at the Fairmont Hotel. Germany seems to be where the last of the legendary Trader Vic’s survive and trust me, they are still very Fab! We sadly lost ours here when that awful vixon Ivana Trump tossed ‘em while shredding the Plaza.
We actually spent 18 hours in Trader Vic’s on the ground floor of the Bayerischer hof ( try saying that after a Zombie punchbowl) in Munich with an inebriated Englishman who was such a good and generous fellow that, upon our leaving, wrote us a check for One Million Pounds Sterling! I still have it, not having the heart to deposit and see if it would cash out. Blow fish, carved wood Tiki statues tastefully antiqued with a blowtorch, flaming skull mugs overflowing with Sailor’s Grog, punch me matey, for I have died and am in Heaven.
My favorite bars, in no particular order: The Subway Inn across from Bloomingdale’s- OK, not as much fun now that the mentally challanged guy who strongly resembled Elmer Fudd is gone. He would serve us for hours and hand us a bill that would total out to $1.19. Always true gentlemen, we would leave him a double sawbuck tip though. He was delighted. Next comes McSorley’s, but only good if New York Magazine or Time Out has not “discovered” it in the last few months sending droves of NYU kids in. Two beers for every order served with the waiter’s thumb in the glass. Perfect.
The Monkey Bar in Midtown is, of course, ruined now that the evil Graydon Carter and his crowd of has been celebs and wanna be’s have taken over. Chumley’s, I think, is still underwater with a stream discovered running underneath and right through the old Communist speakeasy.
So, for a Singapore Sling it’s off to Otto’s Shrunken Head in the East Village. I think it is on 14th street and Ave A, where Barmacy was, the bar in an old pharmacy store. The window display held great promise with welcoming Christmas lights, old menus, tiki mugs and coconuts made into interesting faces, although some with alarmed expressions. A Mai Tai in a tall glass, hold the umbrella, and easy on the sugar, Sugar. And there it was. Just like I like.
Although the best thing about Otto’s is the name of the establishment, the second best thing is the signature ceramic Tiki Mug. Tall, green and handsome with a shrunken head motive. But honestly, it might be better to pour the drink down a storm drain as it’s made from a bottle or packette mix and bloody awful. The patrons glare at you, the hostess is openly hostile and the waitress hated us. Perfect.
Now off to my very favorite in the entire world, although not strictly a Tiki themed bar, Vazcek’s (sp) or The Horseshoe Bar somewhere around Ave B and 6th. Where we once stumbled out to find ourselves right in the middle of the famous Tompkins Square riot! What a fun night. Here the lighting is great, many beers are available on tap, and, if served by the owner’s son, a pint of Guinness has a neat four leaf clover shaken into the foam
Bemelmens’s at the Carlyle Hotel is wonderful too. My art dealer would take me there, they would be preparing her favorite vodka gimlet cocktail before shoe leather hit carpet. Wonderful drawings of old time funny suff around New York. Make sure someone takes you though, it is not cheap.
That’s all for now. There are many other great bars in NYC but I seem to have drifted away from my central theme built around the Polynesian South Seas and I have forgotten them.