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Tiki Central / Locating Tiki

Aku Aku Orlando , Orlando, FL (restaurant)

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Name:Aku Aku Orlando
Type:restaurant
Street:
City:Orlando
State:FL
Zip:
country:USA
Phone:
Status:operational

Description:
Anyone been here yet? It just opened recently.

G
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the pics look good...ill have to try it out!

I stopped by this past weekend. The owners did a really good job. Although the place is very small they did a nice job maximizing the space. It is the real deal too...tons of great artwork, classic 40's-era tropical drinks served in ceramic mugs, exotica music and the theme is spot on! The location is prime as it is off the beaten path of downtown Orlando next to Lake Eola Park. I will be frequenting this spot almost every night I go out on the town. It is great that Florida has a new tiki place (and that it is only a few blocks from my house is even better)! I'll try to post pictures this weekend. I'm having a birthday get together there on Saturday night!

H

http://www.akuakutiki.com/

Looks like a trip north to Orlando is in my future.

howlinowl

1
1of42 posted on Wed, Mar 26, 2014 8:58 PM

This place is great! Went when they first opened, they've been adding more decor and drinks since then.

Shared a volcano bowl with some friends, was tasty:

T

We visted Aku Aku for the 1st time last night. A VERY nice surprise for a small space concerning d├ęcor & vibe. Its was early in the evening & not very crowded. The bartender on duty JOE was very welcoming & quality of drinks was great. If you want a little Tiki spice in your life try their TigerF drink. Mentioned Brad Parker who had been there recently for his mug reveal & Joe brought over three of his mugs to show us and left them on our table during the visit. Aku will definitely be a repeat for us.

P

a tiki I sold to them....

My experience with this bar hasn't been as pleasant as some describe above. I've been there twice and both times the drinks were terrible. WAY too sweet and just poorly made. I'm no Don Beach, but I feel like the drinks are really lacking. This happens at a lot of bars, but the consistencies in the drinks are very hit and miss, mostly miss. I was with a group of friends both times I went there. Me and another person order a Zombie and mine was super sweet and his was really strong and not in a good way. I'm one for a stiff drink, but this was not enjoyable. However the decor and vibe of the place is fantastic. It has the feel of a legit Tiki bar, but the drinks are not. I live right outside Orlando and I'm in no way trying to bash them. I would love for them to work out the kinks and put out good drinks, but since the 2nd time I went I haven't been back.

Maybe that's the reason for the positive comments above. I guess I need to go back and give them a 3rd chance.

The drinks are going to be really variable until they get away from the free-pour mentality. You just can't make a balanced tiki drink without carefully measuring all the ingredients. At least they err on the side of more booze than less! I usually stick with their version of a dark and stormy.

Great follow-up, TikiHardBop! I didn't think of that, but instead, was wondering if the bar staff was new and inexperienced. But maybe the bulk of their bartending experience is from the common free-pour places where 99.99% of US bartenders come from. A tiki bar needs bartenders with a craft understanding, a craft mentality, and the desire and time and support to consistently do it right. Tiki bartenders need pride in craftsmanship. Maybe we'll run into Todd there and get a chance to ask for his take? Great place though, atmosphere wise, as was said earlier. I need to go back -- I hear another Tiger F****r calling my name!

When I went and asked for a Navy Grog (not on the menu), the bartender said he had no idea what that was.

On 2015-02-18 04:19, Tiki_Koro wrote:
When I went and asked for a Navy Grog (not on the menu), the bartender said he had no idea what that was.

Tiki_Koro
Member
Joined: Feb 18, 2015
Posts: 1

Tiki_Koro - uhh, is that really what you want your FIRST post here on Tiki Central to be - a snarky remark about a bartender at a real tiki bar where they work very hard to do a lot of things right and which continues to work very hard to fly in the face of all the crappy drivel you can get at all the other non-tiki bars? Really?

So, as butthurt and disgusted as you seem to have been with his total and complete incompetence, I know you at least helped him out by providing the recipe? And, soon thereafter, I am expecting that you did engage him in some conversation about the many other things which he does know how to make, and for which others enjoy going to that bar? And then you also asked him about some of their local specialty drinks which they are proud to serve, and then you even explored their other "secret" drinks which are not on the menu?

Sheesh... It's soooo easy to talk trash. I'm guessing you are either a shill for another bar (therefore the trash talk) or you made a pass at one of the bartenders and then got seriously laughed at, and rejected. There must be a bigger story here unless you're just seriously ignorant.

It's early in the morning, so please pardon the sarcasm. But I definitely want to point out that I think this is a crappy first post for a new TC member who hasn't yet introduced him/herself on the Introductions thread. Looks to me like an intentional effort to tarnish the Aku Aku which many others find a lot of good things to say about. Sure, they use single-ply toilet paper in the restroom, but my mommy taught me a long time ago to double-up in those dangerous situations, so I'm ok with it.

Sorry for not following your unwritten protocol for posting on this forum. I didn't know I had to prove anything before offering a comment. If these forums are unfriendly to new members, then I'll stay off them and continue to merely observe.

I've been lurking on this forum for years now and only just signed up to post because, yes, I had a disappointing time at Aku Aku, and I seem to be the only one willing to notice the emporer is wearing no clothes, at least the night I visited a month ago. The full story goes like this: I went on a Tuesday and ordered a Fu Manchu, the drink of the night. It was very tasty, not at all similar to the recipe in Beachbum Remixed, but a solid drink on its own merits. Then, I decided to test the bartender on his tiki knowledge by ordering a very standard drink. The bartender said, "Navy Gron? No, we don't do that. Here's the menu of what we make." So, I ordered a Mai Tai and was given pretty much Myer's dark on the rocks. No, I didn't have a conversation with the bartender because he and the other bartender were too busy geeking out over some new products they had just received - fennel crystals and an edible flower that tastes like cucumber. That's a snapshot of my experience. I'll be pleasantly surprised to return and have a totally different experience, but probably not anytime soon.

Remember when Tiki Central was all about the Tiki?
I kind of miss those days......

On 2015-02-19 05:01, Tiki_Koro wrote:
Sorry for not following your unwritten protocol for posting on this forum. I didn't know I had to prove anything before offering a comment. If these forums are unfriendly to new members, then I'll stay off them and continue to merely observe.

I've been lurking on this forum for years now and only just signed up to post because, yes, I had a disappointing time at Aku Aku,...

I think this is a good opportunity to touch on tiki cocktail experiences in general at the bars we visit. We should expect that we will meet a range of bartenders and will experience a range of bar owners and what they put forth as their vision of a bar experience. Who nails it by approaching 100%? Not many. My point is that Aku Aku is not unusual in the world of bars - their staff changes, their product list is adjusted, and they engage in creativity because each is a unique expression of their ownership, capitalization, passion, and vision. There are rough experiences to be had even at the Mai-Kai where you can order a classic drink and receive less than you expected. My expectation is that as a "lurker for many years" you would have shown some of this insight and knowledge and taken it into account before you made your single-sentence post.

The Aku Aku is a bar which is part of a larger trend which we here on Tiki Central hold dear and which we are trying to support and encourage. This is all very important to us, and it's why many of us are here. We have the hope and belief that Aku Aku will continue to grow and expand and improve. That's why I called you out, I wanted you to know that when I visit Aku Aku I don't expect perfection and I do so fully knowing what I should expect. I hope you can come to that point as well. This type of approach will open up many new bars and experiences to you in a more realistic and positive manner. Some bars will definitely be found to be duds, but in my experience that is definitely not so with the Aku Aku. It has many merits which are worth defending. And unlike a number of other "tiki" places, it has a passionate, creative, committed and experienced ownership team which take the time to attend tiki events and to get actively involved in those events. They continue to demonstrate a desire to improve their products and experience.

So welcome to posting on Tiki Central, and please get to know us and the subject matter better. I'm done with this negative stuff, hope you can understand why I felt strongly about responding, and I do hope I can meet you at a tiki event someday and share a drink with you. Thanks to your post, I am planning a visit to Aku Aku with a tiki bartender friend in the next few weeks (I'm 2 hours north) and if you live near there and want to try it again, I would welcome a PM from you so we can arrange to meet there. I would buy you a drink and I know it would be a good time.

T

Atomic Tiki Punk wrote:
Remember when Tiki Central was all about the Tiki?
I kind of miss those days......

I'll drink to that at my 2nd visit to Aku Aku shortly and if their is a bad tiki drink in the neighborhood who you going to call TIKIBUSTERS???

I don't believe my comments warrant such bullying. I wasn't being snarky; I was offering my opinion based on my experience. Not sure where all the insinuation and accusation came from. No, I'm not as experienced with Internet forums as others, nor do I intend to be. You won't hear from me again. The sandbox is all yours.

[ Edited by: Tiki_Koro 2015-02-19 07:26 ]

K

On 2015-02-18 05:08, AceExplorer wrote:
Tiki_Koro - uhh, is that really what you want your FIRST post here on Tiki Central to be - a snarky remark about a bartender at a real tiki bar where they work very hard to do a lot of things right and which continues to work very hard to fly in the face of all the crappy drivel you can get at all the other non-tiki bars?

A little harsh on the guy, no? We all know - and as was stated - that people lurk on the forums for years. Just because one doesn't register doesn't mean one is green to everything tiki. Even if one WAS a total newbie, I'd expect there'd at least be a little more ohana mentality around the site. The number of posts doesn't grant immunity for anything, nor should the lack of posts.

On 2015-02-13 11:45, enhill73 wrote:
My experience with this bar hasn't been as pleasant as some describe above. I've been there twice and both times the drinks were terrible. WAY too sweet and just poorly made. I'm no Don Beach, but I feel like the drinks are really lacking.

So apparently this guy, with his total 2 posts, is allowed to give state his/her disappointment and TikiHardBop follows with a similar critique. Their assholes aren't being torn in this thread. The way you're going off on Tiki_Koro makes me think you're trying to compensate for something.

On 2015-02-18 11:40, AceExplorer wrote:
Don't give up, ETL, there are many good people here. With any open forum you're gonna get some trolls and weirdness.

Hm.

Edit: damn typos...


Follow me on Instagram
http://www.instagram.com/keithkocka

[ Edited by: kkocka 2015-02-19 08:00 ]

[ Edited by: kkocka 2015-02-19 08:02 ]

Keith, good points made, sorry about that to all, including Tiki_Koro especially. I know this got under my skin. We have been discussing tiki bar closures and other losses in other threads, and I have been focused on how easily we don't see the background stuff involved in running an actual for-profit bar. It is also easy to say "the drinks are lousy" and leave it at that - that's low-hanging fruit and for this bar it is a broad generalization.

Certainly not the outcome I intended. I don't think I would have responded the same way at all if I had not in the past come to understand some of the dynamics and the challenges behind this particular bar in the heart of Orlando. We have to be careful when someone commits the resources and puts up something like Aku Aku for us - it's not just a silly little single-dimensional place. Many would love to have Aku Aku, or even its shadow, within driving distance.

I appreciate the warm welcome and encouragement I've received from other members, and I will give this another chance. I will also make an introduction over at the Ohana forum.

AceExplorer, I can tell I touched a nerve, and I sincerely appreciate your impassioned defense of Aku Aku. I would hate to see it ever close, but it will not last long if my experience happens to be the norm. My attempt at brevity didn't work, so I will provide more context to why I think Aku falls short. First, the good. Aku has a great vibe. It's small (very important), well-decorated, plays great music, and serves their drinks in appropriate mugs, which is a lot to ask for in a town where most bars serve drinks in plastic. I had high hopes coming in, and the first drink did not disappoint. The Aku version of the Fu Manchu was a delicious ginger concoction that doesn't come close to the 1947 recipe in Remixed, and, personally, I don't mind that at all! While I won't knock the original until I've tried it, I'm pretty sure I would prefer the Aku version over just about any drink with creme de menthe.

Then I asked for a Navy Grog, and I did this, in part, with the intent of testing the bartenders. I also happen to love a good Navy Grog, especially The Ancient Mariner! From my experience, the hallmark of a great tiki bar is the staff's knowledge of tiki drink classics and their history. I wanted to see if the bartenders showed a personal interest in tiki culture, or if they were just trained to prepare the menu. I was hoping to be asked which style of Navy Grog, Donn Beach or Trader Vic. I would have been fine with a generic take with rum, grapefruit, and lime juices (like what I get at Tambu). And if the bartender said he had never heard of it and gave me the chance to talk about it, I would have enjoyed the conversation.

There was really only one wrong answer, and he gave it: "Navy Gron? We don't do that. Here's the menu." Besides the obvious ignorance of the word "grog" in a tiki bar, he displayed a terrible sense of hospitality. AceExplorer got one thing right, I am a bartender (see my forthcoming intro on the Ohana page), though not a competitor with Aku. If anyone at my bar asked for a drink I did not know, my first response is NEVER "here's the menu." I would have taken the opportunity to figure out what the guest wanted and how I can deliver as best I can. I ask guests all the time to describe a drink in question, and I would then either attempt their request or, if I'm lacking a key ingredient, I'd suggest something similar that I can prepare. This was a missed opportunity by a bartender who was simply uninterested in his guests and preferred to converse with his coworker. It only got worse when I looked at the menu, asked for a Mai Tai, and was served a drink that was heavily Myer's Dark forward. As was mentioned above by another post, the bartenders at Aku free-pour with great generosity, and the result is a lack of balance.

That was my experience in greater detail, and I would love nothing else than to know it was an anomaly, perhaps someone from the neighboring Stardust filling in for a sick bartender.

Just wanted to jump in here and try to lower the temperature a bit. TikiKoro, I'm sorry AceExplorer came off a little hot-headed there. Knowing AceExplorer like I do, I read his reply and understood what he was going for, but taken out of that context, it does come off a bit harsh. Trust me, he's one of the nicest people you will ever meet (well, there was that one incident at The Storm Shelter with the monkey, but we won't get into that).

As far as Aku Aku goes, let's just go with baby steps right now. I don't know if you've been to the other "tiki" bar downtown, the Waitiki. AkuAku is light years ahead of that place. And you have to give them some props to even try the tiki thing given the predominant customer base of downtown Orlando. Some of the AkuAku staff helped me out making cocktails at Hukilau last year and they are pretty knowledgeable. You just have to balance what you would like to do against what pays the bills. We have a place here in Brevard that is doing that same dance. Aku Aku has reached out to the local community and most the art around the place comes from local artists, which I think is really cool.

So let's take the good for what it is and look at everything else as an opportunity for growth!

T

AKU AKU 2nd Visit:

This time got meet ERIC the bartender that created the TIGERF drink, really unique after taste. Believe Monday that drink is $6.00 all night, they open at 4:00 PM. VERY friendly people who may not all be into Tiki, but are still outgoing. Easy to get to and a SAFE area in Downtown Orlando.

T

Aku Aku still operational in Orlando. Their TIGERF drink still great as per tonight!

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