With "Tikitober" just around the bend, we figured it was perfect timing to kick of a new guest blog series we call "Behind Bars," where we spend a little time with some of our favorite local bartenders.
For this first installment of Behind Bars, we were lucky enough to hang out with Ben Clemons from No. 308, who's been kicking ass with his Tiki Tuesday events all summer long. We asked him to share his thoughts on classic Tiki drinks and five of his favorite recipes.
I don't even know where to begin discussing my adoration for tiki drinks. The taste? Yep. The history? Yep. The beautiful colors, glassware and garnish? Yep. Yep. Yep. I think what first really attracted me to it all was, honestly, how unabashedly kitschy the whole culture around it is. See, in a world where everyone is rapidly taking more and more aspects of life so seriously (almost to an unheard of level of pretension and scrutiny), Tiki is just happy. It's relaxed. It's anything but serious. In that, I somehow find solace. It may always be 5 o'clock somewhere, but it's always sunny in a scorpion bowl.
I started Tiki Tuesday at the beginning of the summer for a few reasons. Tuesdays at the bar seemed, well, boring. I realized there weren't any weekly parties to compete with, no crazy happy hour specials at neighboring bars promising 3 free drinks and a sandwich with every purchase of a draft beer. Couple that with my growing desire to see Nashville drinking more rum and the decision was simple, Tiki Tuesday.
I dove head first straight down the rum rabbit hole. I sifted through blogs, books, articles and anything else I could find in print pertaining to the brighter side of cocktail culture. Unearthing original recipes became an adventure. Learning the various cultural ties they had with specific rums, bars and people reminded me just how remarkable and unique of a spirit rum is. Trader Vic, Beach Bum Berry, Mai Kai, The Soggy Dollar Bar, just some of the legendary pioneers in the great Tiki crusades.
One Tuesday, a few weeks into our tiki party, I noticed something fascinating. The night itself was almost a sociology experiment. See, normally a bar sees a wide range of spirits being consumed. Tequila drinkers talking with whiskey drinkers. You get the picture. This dichotomy can sometimes lend itself to awkward "vibes" in a controlled environment. Not at a tiki bar though. As I looked around the room and out in the patio I saw smiling faces, jovial conversations. People. Having. A. Good. Time. And THATS why I love tiki drinks.
Enough talking though, here's a few well known classics in their non bastardized by American culture form...