Back in the Saddle

Aloha from The Tiki Texan!  First of all, I wish to apologize for the extended absence.  Long story short, my father had a sudden illness and passed away in May 2019, and I took some time to deal with that loss.  Then, that time turned into a little more time to enjoy the self-pity party.  I’m never one to turn down a party.  Even the not so good kind.

But a friend, Cris H., invited me to Las Vegas to see Aerosmith in their Residency at the Park MGM Hotel.  Nothing like hearing Steven Tyler telling you it’s time to get Back in the Saddle Again to get you motivated!  So, saddle up your horses, we’re moving out… and on.

While in Las Vegas, we made the short trek off the strip to visit a classic tiki icon, The Golden Tiki.

The Tiki Texan, about to enter the hallowed halls of The Golden Tiki

From the moment we walked in the door, manager DeAqua Morgan rolled out the red carpet for us.  We were taken back to the VIP section, and were coached through the extensive menu by the awesome staff.


A personal tour through the menu

After we ordered, DeAqua personally gave us a guided tour of the bar.

This mermaid has really large… fins

This place has everything.  Part curio museum, part pirate den, part mermaid lair, part amusement park ride, all classic tiki.  They even have a collection of shrunken heads!

Owner Branden Powers and his wife are among the trophies

Almost every attraction is interactive in some way.  Fire bursts from rum barrels, or you can hear the knocking of someone locked inside, begging to be let out.  Even the urinal in the men’s room insults you as you use the facilities!

What’s the difference in an old joke and what you are holding?  Not everyone laughs at an old joke.

While we were there, we had the pleasure of meeting Chief Mixologist Adam Rains, and Michael Davidson, CEO of Black Infusions.

Black Infusions produces naturally-infused artisinal spirits that are free of artificial sugars, flavors, and colors, reserving the authentic colors and tastes from a single source of flavor: dried fruit.

I can’t wait to try the concoctions these two came up with.  Hopefully on our next visit.

Michael Davidson, CEO of Black Infusions, The Tiki Texan, and Chief Mixologist Adam Rains

I mentioned earlier that this place has everything.  And they do.  They even have authentic Dole Whip!

The Tiki Texan samples his first bite of Dole Whip

Another thing they have, in abundance is… well… phalluses.  Phalluses everywhere.  Everywhere.  In the portholes, on the door handles, and on almost every tiki statue in the place. Even in the shrunken head trophy case!

It is sad when Ron Jeremy’s shrunken phallus is way bigger than your own normal one

There is one particular tiki idol, back near the Dole Whip machine, which is said to bring particularly good luck if stroked.

Giving the full reach-under did not improve my performance on the slot machines

If you have ever been to any tiki bar with me, you know that I can be very picky about what I like and what I don’t like about the bar, and this joint has everything I would want to craft into my own tiki bar, should I ever open one.  I had NO complaints whatsoever.

Wait.  Yes I did.  One.  One thing did not fit.  During our stay, it occurred to me that we were not hearing Martin Denny, Robert Drasnin, and the lords of Exotica that I would demand at my tiki bar.  Instead, I was listening to Kenny Loggins sing ‘Vahevala’ and ‘Brandy’ by Looking Glass.

Not being shy about expressing my opinions on such matters, I went up to the DJ and told him I was curious about the choice of Yacht Rock over Exotica.  He kind of looked puzzled for a moment, and said “Well, sir, you ARE here on ‘Yacht Rock Sunday’.  It’s an advertised event.”

I heard him finish in his mind with … ‘you dumbass’.  But he didn’t say it.

And that sealed the deal for me.  This place may be the perfect tiki bar.  Aloha until I see you again, DeAqua, Adam, and all my friends at the Golden Tiki.

And I *will* see you again!



The Transformation…

OF The Tiki Texan…

INTO The Tiki Texan!

I have been a corporate IT guy for over 30 years.  Tiki is my fairly recent passion and hobby, but I ‘earned my rice’ (Thank you, Mark S.!) by designing document management systems and keeping Accounts Payable systems up and running.  Sound exciting to you? It is exciting at 2 AM when the global system is down and people in Jakarta and Chennai can’t log into the system, and the operations desk calls you to bring it back up.  Exciting.  But not in a good way.  Not in a healthy way.

I have heard those who served in the military under combat conditions describe their experience much in the same way I would describe my experience working in the IT field:  Endless hours of excruciating boredom, randomly interspersed with moments of sheer terror.

While my life was never on the line, my job, my family’s security, my hopes for the future very much were.

I think therein lies my mistake.

For too many years I thought that my family’s security and hopes for a successful future were all dependent on my job.  If I didn’t earn my rice, my family won’t eat.  My kids won’t go to school.  We won’t be able to live in the neighborhood in the house of our dreams.  In ways, I think our American culture teaches us this.  Our life-script spells this out in the director’s notes.

At some point, and I blame (or credit) turning 50 on this, but at some point you realize that the time you have left in this world is less than the time you have already spent in this world… and that is IF you successfully avoid a tragic accident or disease or another unexpected end, and manage to die of old age.  I realized that time is short, and time is precious, and that doing what I was doing was not fulfilling, and the stress involved was probably actually diminishing my life span.

As I turned 50, I also had this self-realization:  I spent the first 25 years of my life trying to please my parents.  I was valedictorian of my high school class.  I earned a BBA and MBA in Information Systems, instead of pursuing a music career, because my parents told me I would be more successful and earn a way better living.  I followed the life-script, and I got married young and started working, and started a family.

I spent the next 25 years of my life trying to please my kids.  I worked hard at a job I never really loved but for which I was well trained, working late hours on countless projects, rollouts, documentation, and support, all so we could live in that house in the good school district, so that the kids got the best education and went to the college of their choice, all, incidentally, out of state.  But I did, and they did and are, the youngest now finishing up her Sophomore year (in Dance, her art form of choice, which I always encouraged her to pursue, unlike her dad who gave up a music career for money).

First 25 years for my parents, the next 25 for my kids.

I decided that the next 25 years are mine.

So, after a particularly stressful week/month/year at work, and a weekend of soul searching and financial planning with my loving and supporting wife, we decided that we could handle a one-income lifestyle for a while and be O.K.  So the following Monday, I met with my supervisor and senior manager and handed them my two week notice.

Oddly, the first question from every one of my co-workers was “so who are you going to work for?”  Meaning, of course, at what company are you continuing to work as an IT guy.

I met a mixed bag of reactions when I told them I am retiring from IT, and am going to become The Tiki Texan.

Yes.  I am going to become The Tiki Texan.  For real.  I *know*, right?  Am I already The Tiki Texan?  Well, yes.  and no.  I am the personality of The Tiki Texan, but don’t really have the skill set or the experience to be The Tiki Texan.  I am an amateur mixologist, and a very well read Tikiphile, but I have never worked professionally behind a bar.  I have never ‘earned my rice’ as a bartender or a Tiki Lecture Host or a Corporate Event Host (well, actually, I have been paid for a corporate event once, but that was a music gig, and a story for another time).

My friend and fellow T.I.K.I. Knight founding member Leo W. introduced me to the concept of Nemawashi.  Without knowing the term, I have informally been conducting my own Nemawashi for the last two years.  It started with a phone call to a dear friend and fraternity brother, Chris R., who is a small business startup guru and marketing genius.  I told him I wanted to open a tiki bar.  He listened to my spiel, and then told me no, I don’t want to open a tiki bar.  I want to share my love of tiki, the tiki culture, and the delicious, exotic cocktails with the world.  Sheer brilliance, dude.  I love you like a brother.

The concept of The Tiki Texan was born.

The Tiki Texan is born

So, how do I become The Tiki Texan?  I do have a plan.

Step One:  Become a certified and experienced bartender.

In Texas, you must have a certification from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission to serve alcohol to the public.  I have enrolled in the Texas School of Bartenders to get hands-on behind-the-bar training and my TABC Certification.  After graduation, I intend to work part time at a local tiki establishment or hotel or restaurant where I can add tiki inspired cocktails to their menu.

My first hands-on training behind the bar


Step Two: Become a published author.

This concept was first proposed by my lovely bride Tami W., and then tactically fleshed out by Leslie B.  Published works lend credibility to a speaker’s curriculum vitae.  This will take two forms.  First, another long time friend and fellow T.I.K.I. Knight founding member Doug G. and I are going to co-author a book.  This book will feature tiki history and recipes, but with a unique twist for the genre which will separate it from the current tiki standards.  More on that later.

The other form will be to publish works as a contributing author to lifestyle magazines, my own tiki blog, other tiki and rum blogs, and other tiki event magazine and newspaper articles.

Step Three:  Get on, or create, a tiki lecture circuit.

I plan the main focus of The Tiki Texan to be hosting corporate events, or working with established bars and restaurants to host tiki nights, with me coming in to give a presentation on things tiki and then either presenting or teaching how to craft particular cocktails based on the subject matter of the presentation.  I have several different courses I can teach, and can customize the lecture based upon the event.  Subjects include the History of Tiki, the History of Rum, Spirits of the Caribbean (because not all things tiki are rum-based), and an Exotica Music 101.

Sound fun?

I should be TABC certified and eligible to host your next tiki party, birthday party or corporate event by the end of February, just in time for the Spring and Summer season.  Consider booking The Tiki Texan for your next event.

Aloha, and Mahalo to my Ohana.

To Tiki Times!  To Tiki Adventures!





Kanaloa Grand Opening with Lemon Hart Rum

Welcome to Kanaloa

The Tiki Texan and the brothers of the T.I.K.I. Knights were invited to the grand opening of Kanaloa in Downtown Houston.

Carl Chargois, Tyler Barrera, and Max Vrahimis entertain the crowd

There was a pre-opening event presented by Carl Chargois of Favorite Brands and Max Vrahimis of Lemon Hart Rums.  Together with managing partner Tyler Barrera, the group discussed a bit about the history of tiki, the history and current status of Lemon Hart Rums, and the concept behind Kanaloa itself.

Tyler says “We felt like there was a definite need for a tiki oasis in downtown.  The Heights has Lei Low, but there was just no tiki vibe like it anywhere else.  And we felt that if you’re going to go tiki, you’d better go all in!”

They’ve spent the last several months completely gutting the old Market Square Bar & Grill, hired excellent custom designers to capture the tiki spirit, and have transformed the place into a perfect hidden tropical oasis.  The vibe rocks!

But it’s not the vibe that makes or breaks a tiki bar.  It’s what goes ON the rocks that counts.

Lemon Hart Rums

Lemon Hart was on hand to make sure the drinks lived up to the vibe.  Max Vrahimis came from Miami to present some of Lemon Hart’s finest selections.

Max Vrahimis describes the Lemon Hart going into our cocktail samples

Max says “Lemon Hart is one of the only rums called for by name in many of Trader Vic’s and Don the Beachcomber’s classic tiki drinks recipes.  Lemon Hart 151 is the legendary “Gold Standard” sought after and coveted by rum enthusiasts worldwide. Blended to exacting standards from select high proof Demerara rums and barrel aged in the tropics for 4 years, Lemon Hart remains the epitome of an exceptional rum.” #Rumalways

Tyler Barrera shows off some of the rum selection at Kanaloa

The doors officially opened at 4:00 PM.  The steady crowd kept Kanaloa filled all night.

Thirsty patrons on the maiden voyage
Chris Morris mixes up some aloha

The drinks were great.  The T.I.K.I. Knights got the privilege of ordering the very first tiki bowl served at Kanaloa to get the party started.

Their bowls are AMAZING!

T.I.K.I. Knights enjoy the first ever tiki bowl at Kanaloa, presented tableside by Chris Morris

If you’re hungry, Kanaloa has teamed up with OhMyGogi food truck to have yummy Korean – Mexican fusion foods, prepared on premise.

The OhMyGogi crew, ready to slay your munchies!  #ohmygogi

They even offer Beyond Beef selections, if you prefer to eat plant-based, like The Tiki Texan.  The Beyond Beef Street Tacos were crazy delicious!  Tyler plans to have food service even late night while the bar is open, so if you are downtown after the restaurants close, you know where to go for food and grog.  Navy Grog.

OhMyGogi crew serves up street tacos for the guests

All in all, much fun was had.  Kanaloa has it all, and is a solitary tropical island in downtown Houston.  The Tiki Texan feels like it will be around a very long time.  Help prove me right.

Stop by, say aloha to your work day, set sail with a tropical delight, and tell ’em The Tiki Texan sent ya!

Lemon Hart , synonymous with tiki

Lemon Hart at Kanaloa Houston

The Tiki Texan and representatives from the Tropics Inspired Knights of Inebriation (T.I.K.I. Knights) have been included in the pre-grand-opening Lemon Hart rum tasting event at Kanaloa.  Kanaloa officially opens it’s doors at 4:00 PM, Friday, September 14th, 2018.

We’ll have pictures and updates this weekend.

Please come out and celebrate with Kanaloa as they bring some aloha spirit to downtown Houston!  Tell them The Tiki Texan sent ya.  I would love to meet you, too.  I’ll be in official T.I.K.I. fez.

What’s New

We’re live!

Ohana 2018, in beautiful Lake George, NY, was a blast!  The Tiki Texan made many new friends and had many tasty beverages.  Thank you to all the sponsors of Ohana who made the event so special, and gave away so much swag that we barely made it home.

Come by and browse our summer recipes, and watch for interesting interviews, reviews and news about all things tiki.  Also watch for events hosted by The Tiki Texan in your area!