Okay, so this may seem like kind of an odd topic for me. What does a personal grocery shopping & delivery service have to do with retro fashion or vintage lifestyle? Well, I’ve always been passionate about self care in whatever form it takes, whether that’s treating yourself to a face mask, seeking professional mental health care, or doing some yoga. I wrote last week about having a Summer of Self Love, and for me, Instacart definitely fits in that category. The service just came to Milwaukee, and I jumped right on board. Now that I’ve ordered a few times, I feel ready to share my thoughts.
(If you’re saying to yourself “Hey Penny, the photos in this post are a million times better than your usual photos, what gives?”, first of all, rude, and second of all, yeah, they totally are. I went to Foundation with a coworker who brought her nice fancy camera and was gracious enough to let me use her photos for this post!)
Located inside an unassuming old house, Foundation is a tropical oasis in not-so-tropical Milwaukee. Though it doesn’t look like much from the outside, inside you’ll find a fabulous traditional tiki bar. It’s dark and intimate, lit with colorful pufferfish lights and bedecked in the finest Polynesian Pop style.
I will freely admit that I’m totally spoiled by the drinks at Foundation; this bar seriously cares about quality cocktails and crafts each drink specially using fresh ingredients like honey and real pomegranate. This means that drinks can take a while to make it to you, especially on a busy night, but who’s going to complain about hanging out a little longer in a tiki paradise? I would much rather wait for a truly delicious drink. Plus, these drinks pack a serious punch, so you won’t need too many to be having a grand ol’ time…
The staff has always been super friendly. The bartenders work cheerfully but efficiently when it’s busy, but are definitely more than happy to chat if you visit during a lull. I got to see a few photos from a pilgrimage trip to Mai Kai during one visit – these guys definitely take tiki seriously!
Foundation offers a few cocktails that come with collectible mugs, including a custom Rum Barrel (which I still have to add to my collection…I’m waiting for the right night to tackle it! I took home that Moai in the first image above during this trip…the mermaid mug already lives on my bar cart.).
I feel so incredibly lucky to have such an amazing tiki bar in my own backyard! Honestly, if I could choose to have any of the tiki bars I’ve visited in my own city, I would stick with Foundation every time.
The Verdict (Out of 4 possible tiki torches)
Food: N/A (Carry-ins are permitted.)
Everyone always seems to be saying that in order to sleep better we should stop staring at screens well into the evening. I always have the best intentions of shutting down my computer and going to read in bed before lights out, but usually the siren song of the internet is too tempting to resist. Until Smuggler’s Cove…
You may recall this book from my tiki temptations wishlist – I put it on my actual wishlist and received it as a birthday gift from my parents. Yay!
Smuggler’s Cove: Exotic Cocktails, Rum, and the Cult of Tiki is a tiki tome written by Martin Cate (with his wife Rebecca), the owner of the San Francisco tiki bar of the same name and an all around tiki enthusiast. His passion for tiki really comes through so strongly in every page of his book. There’s a lot of love in it, and that makes it all the more enjoyable to read.
I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect inside the book; I’d heard it described as a “tiki bible” and the “one tiki book you’ll ever need,” but I didn’t know how one book could stand up to such lofty descriptions. But, guys…I might have to agree.
First off, this book is substantial. It clocks in at just over 350 pages; it’s not quite a coffee table book, but it definitely is oversized. The cover is embossed, the pages are a really nice weight (and I’m a bit of a paper nerd, so you can trust me) – overall, it’s a beautifully made book and it feels really high quality. But nice paper can only get you so far…how’s the inside, you ask?
It’s awesome. Seriously. I already thought I was pretty hyped about tiki, but reading this book made me even more enthusiastic. Cate covers everything from the creation of the tiki bar/tiki aesthetic to tips on how to best host your own home tiki party. It includes the story of how Cate conceptualized and founded Smuggler’s Cove and comprehensive resource lists of everything the home tiki enthusiast needs. It really does cover a vast array of topics, but it never feels like you’re being rushed through them. The intro on the inside cover of the book invites you to “make yourself a Mai Tai, put your favorite exotica record on the hi-fi, and prepare to lose yourself in the fantastical world of tiki.” I made do without the Mai Tai (it was bedtime, after all), and a streaming exotica station on my phone had to do, but I really did feel like I was entering another world for an hour or so each night.
And the recipes. OH, the recipes! Each section closes with several recipes related to the overall topic. I loved that the book packed in enough recipes to really feel like you’re ready to start experimenting with exotic cocktails without sacrificing the other content. I felt like every page I turned, I was shocked by how much information was packed into this book. I even read most of the recipes, since the descriptions and notes contained useful historical information, great tips, or just fun facts. I did read this book straight through like a novel for the first reading, but I can tell that it’s going to be a well-worn reference for me, flipping back and forth to new recipes. I definitely will be spending most of my time in the back where the resources are! I feel such a renewed passion to start experimenting with more advanced cocktails at home. Maybe I’ll do a series for the blog – would you be interested in retro mixology posts?
Just in case all that wasn’t enough, the book is also filled with beautiful photos of both the tiki heyday and modern revivalists. I could pore over them for ages, especially the drinks! I know how hard food photography can be, so A++ on the gorgeous cocktail shots!
If you couldn’t tell from all the gushing, I loved this book. I would recommend it to any tiki enthusiast, and even to lots of non-tiki enthusiasts. I think reading this book could make someone love tiki. Not only is Cate’s enthusiasm infectious, it’s just so…open. Too often, we fall into the trap of being protective of the things we love. We feel ownership over them. It would be easy for Cate, who turned a passion for tiki into a home bar, then an award-winning tiki bar, to sit in an Ivory Tower (a Bamboo Tower?) and preach the gospel of tiki. Instead, reading this book feels a lot like meeting someone at a party who’s Really Excited about something and just can’t believe that you’re interested in it too, and they just want to tell you EVERYTHING because they really, really want you to love it as much as they do. I felt like I was being invited to join in the giant proverbial luau that is tiki, and folks, hand me my lei and my cocktail. I’m ready.
This can only be a partial review because, tragically, I didn’t actually end up inside Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar.
Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar combines two of my favorite things: tiki and Disney. It’s located behind the Disneyland Hotel. We decided to walk to Trader Sam’s from our hotel, and due to some misdirection on my part (I have zero sense of direction…if there is a right way to go, I will go the opposite way) we ended up walking allllllll the way around the entire perimeter of the Disney property to get there. Needless to say, we were both hungry and tired when we reached the bar, which was unsurprisingly crowded on a Saturday night when the area was filled with vintage enthusiasts. We waited in line to get into the bar for a while, but with a promise of at least another forty minutes until we could even get inside, we decided to give in and grab a seat on the patio instead.
The patio surrounding the bar is first-come, first-served for seating, and if you sit within the ropes, you’ll get table service. It’s still very much themed, lined with tiki torches and heat lamps, and we were seated right next to a wonderful live Hawaiian band. You can get all the same treats as inside out on the patio, so I ordered based on which mug I wanted (of course) and got the Krakatoa Punch. We also ordered chicken & lettuce wraps and the Hawaiian flatbread for dinner.
I know the punch is one of the drinks that causes some Enchanted Tiki Room magic to happen inside the bar, so I’m bummed to have missed that, but it makes quite the statement all on its own! The mug is great, highly detailed and unique, and the drink GLOWS. It definitely got a lot of attention when the waitress brought it out, and the couple across from us decided to order one of their own after seeing mine! It was tasty; not a super complexly flavored drink, but a decent mix of sweet/fruity flavor and rum. Potent but drinkable.
Unfortunately, I can’t give equal props to the food. It was very busy and my flatbread ended up getting lost in the shuffle; the staff was really great, per Disney standards, and took it off the bill for me, which I ended up being doubly grateful for because it was pretty mediocre. I also tried a bite of the chicken lettuce wraps, which I found really bland. It’s not bad food, but you can definitely find better in the park.
Like I mentioned above, the service was high quality as always; I especially appreciated that they brought me a new, clean mug in the box to take home with me. Made it a lot easier to transport it home on a plane when sometimes it feels like a struggle to get a still sticky tiki mug home from 15 minutes away! I will note that I got a bit of sticker shock when they brought the bill. There aren’t any prices for drinks or mugs listed in the menu, and while I knew it would be more than I was used to paying at home, I coughed at $23 for a drink + mug. It’s definitely a quality mug, and one I’ll cherish, so I don’t regret buying it at all…it would have been nice to have some forewarning, though!
We thought about stopping by Trader Sam’s for another chance to get inside over lunch after visiting the Expo, but as I said, I wasn’t impressed with the food there so I would have wanted to actually eat elsewhere (and I was hongry). I was a little worried about making it back for our Space Mountain FastPass, so we grabbed lunch in Downtown Disney instead. In retrospect, we definitely could have dropped by Trader Sam’s for a drink and still had plenty of time to get lunch and get to the ride, but as my mom always says, “If you do everything you want to the first time, you won’t have any reason to come back.” You won’t elude me next time, Trader Sam!
The Verdict (Out of 4 possible tiki torches)
Ambiance: (For the patio only!)