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Mai Kai Vibes

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I recently enjoyed a visit to Jim Walter's private wine cellar in Florida... his collection is about to be auctioned by Christies in New York.

I believe this is the date:


The wine merchant who's job it is to assess and commend the collection for auction said it was the highlight of his career... a true find... trophies everywhere... worth a lot of money ...(relative - but let's just say over a million).

What does this have to do with TIKI?

Well, I was able to lift some of the bottles off of their 30-40 year resting places and there were truly some incredible chateaus and vintages... BUT... many had a label on them that read something interesting.

One 1959 vintage of La Tour read:

This fine wine selected and purchased for the Mai Kai, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida by blahblahblah.

Another 1960 Margeaux read:

Bottled exclusively for the Mai Kai.

I mean - what the hell is happening when TIKI follows me into the basement of a venerable, yet deceased, wine collector who had wealth untold? Why must it torture me? Is there a mystery here that needs sleuthing? Is there a wine here that needs drinking? I'm going to the Mai Kai with one of those bottles that I'll surely be able to purloin, and I'll just see where it leads me from here.

And where are the 45 year old rums? THAT'S what I'm talkin' about.

I just PM'ed you with some important info.


Kiliki and I just spent the weekend in Lauderdale and spent a lot of time with the Mai Kai family. They had just had a charity event Friday with a wine tasting. There are all wine connoseurs. Dave Levy, son of Bob Thornton gave up rum for wine to watch his waist. Kulani, daughter, does not like rum. They are real collectors and wine was served at almost every meal and occasion. I am not surprised by your find.


There are over 50 bottles with the Mai Kai label.
Here is the shot of the representatives.

The others I mentioned had already been put away into the Christie's truck.

Oh yeah, Arrrrrrrrr! This wine be the drippins 'o them loathsome Frenchies. This be booty from our last raid on their fancy... parfumed cellars in Martinique.

Here's a close-up of the label:

Next stop - NYC.

[ Edited by: pablus 2006-05-29 13:15 ]

[ Edited by: pablus 2006-05-29 13:16 ]


Tiki Dreams Do Come True.

After receiving some contact info regarding the Mai Kai management, I promptly called and arranged for them to purchase several of the bottles of these vintage wines with their "personalized" labels from the individual who owned them.

My buddy and I will be heading there this Thursday with a case of 57s and 59s, including a Rothschild that they're not even aware of yet. Shhhh, it's a surprise.

Coming through the door of this... this... temple of tiki, with gifts in hand of a vintage nature and premier quality is feeling just about right.

After my 3rd mystery bowl it will feel even better. Wahines be warned.

I'll try to get some pictures - but for some reason, though I've logged thousands of hours behind pro video cameras, I've yet to be able to take a freakin' digital still that rates above "crappy." I had to get a professional photog to take 35mm shots of the Lagoon Lounge, which I hope to post this week so that my legitimacy factor will increase. :wink:

Anyway, I'll raise my first drink to Tiki Central, the place that helps your tiki dreams come true.

Mahalo BK!


The gardens are a bit different right now. They dramatically cut back the growth. I allows you to see more tikis, but isn't as lush as it was a few months ago.

Beleive it or not, when we were there just a few weeks ago, they had a new tiki in the gardens. They just don't stop!

pablus posted on Fri, Oct 3, 2003 2:36 PM

"The Conclusion of Mai Kai Vibes"

Just driving by the place with the Martin Denny CD playing in the truck had me spinning. It looked like a 3 acre island in the middle of an ocean of asphalt. So inviting. So Tiki.

Thus began my jaunt to the happy conclusion of this tale set in Polynesian splendor with me seated behind a tropical libation.

We walked in and were seated at the table in the back of the Molkai Bar looking at the 15' waterfall. The manager walked up and immediately treated us like relatives.

A view of the case of wines that we had brought with us brought a big smile to his face and the fact that his vacation started within 15 hours made him even more relaxed... enough to share dinner with us as we opened a bottle of 1959 St. Emillion. It was wonderful - but after my "sip" I let them skip merrily through the movement of the vine's flavors while I greedily slogged through the remaining drink menu items.

Group Hug Time.
Kern loves you.

He spoke very highly of the Hukilau, as did everyone there... and to a person they all looked forward to your return.

He mentioned several by name and asked me to pass on his affections and Alohas.

Here are some generalized quotes from he who holds the sacred trust:
(my personal asides in parentheses)

"The King" Kukulele. All Hail. He never stops.
AlnShelly. Wonderful people... they just kept on laughing.
Basement Kahuna. What an artist. The detail is amazing. (I got to cleave the gift-shop girl in twain with one of your clubs, BK! What fun.)
Swanky and Kiliki. It's so good to have them here because they really understand the history and the event is very well organized.
Brad Owens. How is his bar going? He kept cheering me all night - it made me feel like a celebrity. ( I said you had abandoned the bar and started hanging out with fashion designers.)
Bamboo Ben. That suit he had. I coudn't believe it - it was awesome.
Tristan & Bre-elle. They're just terrific.

More than likely there were many others, but rum probably erased some of his comments. Don't feel slighted. He did mention Otto and the more "famed" among the tribe.

JT - you made a true impression. He mentioned you several times. Oddly... one time was while standing next to the shrunken head.

It was a relaxed, 5 hour evening of conversation and laughter that passed so quickly that before we knew it - we were the only ones there... sitting alone with Kern and a few of the lovely wahines who kept the fresh drinks coming until past closing.

A more gracious host, I couldn't have imagined. A more wonderful urban setting there couldn't be. The gardens with their tikis and masks and water features and the polynesian decor of the interior were transcendent. It was a pause in space and time that nearly exhausted my efforts to resist. The sort of place that leaves one reaching for words. Pictures certainly could not portray the depth and "layers" of natural grasses, rocks, cloth and artwork.

What a fantastic conclusion to this story. Thanks to the people here at Tiki Central and the Hukilau, I was welcomed as a part of the tribe, even though I'm a groveling, non-Californian newcomer.

Yes, the wine was the catalyst. It was a spectacular collection we took him and surely you'll see some of the bottles in a glass case near the entrance one day. He bought it for nickels on the dollar because JJ, who also knows about Tiki Central and our passions here, was more interested in returning the bottles to their rightful home than making a profit.
(And, he fell in love with the lovely Thai girl behind the bar.)

Everyone kept saying "thank you" to each other throughout the night, the sure sign of a great transaction.

And so this thread ends with me saying "thank you" to you all for allowing me to stand in the shadows of T.C. and the Hukilau and capture a few very cool hours of partying with a knowledgable, affable and important host.

I still believe that I make a better Mai Tai. But that Zombie......oh. my. kai.

I averted the siren songs of the Mystery Bowl & the Polynesian Show until I could bring the Amber Love Goddess with me.
After reading the reviews of the place here and elsewhere, I knew I couldn't take it all in in one night anyway.

Another man converted! :)


Nearly ten years later, I have to say - here on the eve of my birthday - that TC continues to enrich my life. I've made lifelong friends and have learned to play the ukulele and have recorded a couple of records that were birthed from this website and have traveled to places described here to my delight and to the delight of countless others I brought with me.

I remember back in 2003, when the site was only one forum, posting something called Neubies R Us or something like that I couldn't find on the search. That night I spent the whole evening reading every single thread that was here. There's so much information here now and so many more carvers (my passion is the carving even though I will never wield a chisel) and so many great tiki bars and so many home bars and so much music and crafts and art that reflect not only the tiki culture but the polynesian culture as well. It's overwhelming how great this site is for those of us who enjoy the genre and the various satellites that spin around it. A truly remarkable body of work here. I wish I had more time to view all of the input here as I did back then.

The Mai Kai is now a second home to me. I walk in the back door and get to stay way past closing every time I visit. I've actually played it many times now and have enjoyed the back room insights that a true "insider" gets to see. All because of TC.

I just wanted to say Mahalo to all who contribute and question and argue and leave and come back and lurk. This is my favorite place on the internet as it has been for many years. I mean - last weekend I hung out with Flounder on the beach for a day. And I hate that guy.

Too many others to mention but other countries and people who I will never stop loving and opportunities I couldn't have imagined when I first visited Tiki Central. Mahalo again and especially to Hanford and the members of that Yahoo club that hooked us all up with what was going on in California, Ohio, Florida and everywhere else.


One more thing. Ron Pampero Anniversario is the best rum in the world. I've tried many and have yet to find a better one.

So perfect with a good cigar.

Hey - it's 12:11 - Happy Birthday to me.

Happy Birthday My Hero!!!


I still have some Pampero left from the time you told me to buya bottle in Tampa. i'll have a glass in your honor, Pablus ! Happy Birthday !

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