About the Book
In 1956 a few brash young men created the Mai-Kai by way of a coup at Don the Beachcomber’s and went on to eclipse the old guard restaurants. The Mai-Kai became the playground of celebrities and playboys, and the beautiful women working there used it as a jumping-off point for adventure and fame. Through first-hand stories, images, and ephemera, this book documents the history and enduring legacy of the pinnacle of the Mid-Century Tiki era. This is the story of how the Mai-Kai and its iconic elements came to exist, and the tales of the men and women who shaped it and went on to shape the world.
Hundreds of rare and unseen images
Tales from those who lived them
New insights into the father of Tiki
Adventures of the Mai-Kai maidens
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Latest Blog entries
Join Swanky for an afternoon of Mai-Kai history with ephemera, images, video, Mai-Kai veterans and stories free at The Hukilau! June 8th noon to 4PM at the Pier 66.
“The $100,000 drink” managed a bit of advertisement amazingness by having the Mai-Kai mentioned in the ads by Rums of Puerto Rico. Here are a few.
Pecha Kucha is a worldwide series of presentation all with the same format: 20 images which each displaying for 20 seconds. I decided to apply to do a presentation thinking it would be easy. I’ve done many presentations of various lengths. I was wrong. First, what was I going to present about? Cocktails? How I Read more about Swanky’s Tiki Pecha Kucha[…]
On Don the Beachcomber’s birthday, we are launching a Patreon campaign whereby you can help us in our efforts to document his life. Click here for all the details. Top supporters can get one of these limited edition Tiki Diablo bowls.
Matchbooks are probably the most economical way to get into collecting. Matchbooks are generally small, cheap and inexpensive to mail. I think this is all the matchbooks ever used by the Mai-Kai. The one vintage high end attribute they never used is the “feature” matchbook. A feature matchbook is one with printing on the matches. Read more about #TBT Mai-Kai The Matchbooks[…]
This short lived idea to reward the regulars and promote camaraderie was another crazy brain-child of the Mai-Kai managers and owners. This mini version of the drink menu was created by Leonce Picot before he had any idea what they would do with it. On a specific date, everyone received the cards. Each drink they Read more about #TBT 1958-59 The Okole Maluna Society[…]
A couple on their honeymoon in 1959 came to the Mai-Kai. They revisited a few years ago and gave the Mai-Kai this photo. Of note are the entrance doors. 2 big mahogany doors with “Mai-Kai” spelled out in bamboo on the left and the cannibal trio carvings on the right door. When they entered the Read more about #TBT 1959 Mai-Kai Entrance and Drink Menu[…]
During the west coast book tour, and actually during Tiki Oasis, I stepped away for an hour with Adrian “Polynesian Pop” Eustaquio to do an interview for his podcast. It was great fun to talk history in depth with an old friend. We discuss the Mai-Kai, Hukilau, Don the Beachcomber, and current Tiki trends. Give Read more about Inside the Desert Oasis Room Podcast[…]
Mariano Licudine didn’t get the coverage I wanted in the book. I just was too pressed for time. I hope the full story gets written. The Thorntons did something rare and amazing with Mariano, they put a spotlight on him. He wasn’t an anonymous staff member hidden in the kitchen as were most bartenders at Read more about Mariano Licudine – “The Houdini of the Liquids”[…]
It’s happening again… I’ll be touring the west coast starting August 5th in Tacoma and ending August 13th in Palm Springs. Celebrating a year after the release of the Mai-Kai book, I and my editor Mrs. Swanky will be visiting the west coast. First stop will be Seattle and in particular Tacoma Cabana. I’ll be Read more about West Coast Tour August 2017[…]