Over the past few years, I’ve made it my mission to visit a tiki bar whenever I can while traveling. I’ve reviewed the bars I’ve explored both near and far, but there are still so many to see! My personal tiki bucket list is made up of a mix of classics and updated takes from modern-day tiki fiends. Are your favorites on my to-do list?
You may recall that when I visited Disneyland, I only made it to the patio of Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar. I’ve been determined to set this to rights ever since, so on my recent trip to Disney World, there was no way I was leaving without a stop at Sam’s Florida hangout, Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto, located inside the Polynesian Village Resort.
I suspect that I’m the last person in the Midwest tiki scene to make it to Three Dots and a Dash. Opened in 2013, this downtown tiki lounge has gained quite the local reputation. I don’t make it down to Chicago that often, but since I was already going to be in town to see Dita Von Teese, I knew a long overdue visit to Three Dots and a Dash was in order. Luckily, the lovely Emily is a Chicago gal and was willing to come scope the place out with me.
Hey kittens! I’m super excited to share a post from the lovely Emily on my blog today! Her enthusiasm for her adorable outfits (and everyone else’s!) on Instagram always makes me smile. Enjoy her petite perspective on the Little Jun!
Hi! I’m Emily of Thoroughly Modern Emily, and today Penny Snark and I are doing a post exchange, because the best thing about blogging is making blogger friends and doing fun things together! She’s over on my blog sharing her tall-girl thoughts on the new tiki Little Jun from Pinup Girl Clothing, and I’m fangirling my little heart out over that same skirt right here.
Like Penny, I’m a fan of all things tiki, so when I saw that Pinup Girl Clothing was releasing the fabled OG tiki print in a new pastel colorway, I sort of lost my mind. When the mint tiki Little Jun skirt made its first appearance on Instagram, I was a goner! Since I’m only 5’2″, I’d been interested in trying out the Little Jun for quite some time, but none of the existing colors or prints really struck me as must-haves. The mint tiki Jun was the perfect storm of OMG I WILL ORDER THIS THE SECOND IT RELEASES. And order it I did!
First things first: this skirt is adorable! I’m a big fan of the now-discontinued Kinky Box skirt, and the Little Jun does a nice job of filling the pleated-skirt hole in my heart. Before ordering, I fretted a bit over what I’d wear it with, since pastels and I have only started getting along fairly recently, but now that it’s here, I am coming up with outfits left and right, and need to restrain myself from wearing it again this week!
The print is exactly like PUG’s original tiki print, except very slightly scaled up and in cool-tone pastels instead of yellow, orange, and green. As a huge fan of the original tiki print, I’m happy to have another skirt that’s different enough that 1) hopefully people won’t notice that I basically buy the exact same items in multiple prints/the same print in multiple items, and 2) I won’t feel guilty about having a closet that’s overflowing with duplicates.
I’d heard a number of people say that they sized down in the Little Jun, but in the interest of extra German-food-room (#Chicagolife!) I went with my usual size large and I’m quite happy with the fit. Measured down the side seam, this skirt is 24” long, which is perfect because I have short legs even compared to other short gals. The elastic panels at the back make this skirt incredibly comfortable to wear all day, and the curve of the waistband in the front makes it look great without a belt. (Again, this is all about comfort – belts look fabulous, but when you’ve got a beer-cheese belly, they aren’t always comfortable after 8+ hours of sitting at a desk!)
This skirt makes me feel confident and happy – the wide waistband defines my waist/gives me the illusion of a well-defined waist, and the box pleats give me hips that don’t quit. I may or may not have wiggled my hips with maximum sass when I showed my partner this skirt. (Hint: I did.)
The most important thing you need to know about this skirt, though, is that it has massive, forearm-swallowing pockets! Making my hands disappear into my pockets is the only magic trick I know.
For such a busy print, this skirt is actually quite versatile. It looks cute with a crisp white top, basic black, and pastel pink (my Voodoo Vixen top goes especially nicely), but it would also be fun with stripes, black polka dots, and pastel yellow. I’m planning to do a One Piece, Three Ways post featuring this skirt soon, but I have a feeling it’ll be hard to stick to just three outfits!
It was such a treat to do this post exchange with my fellow Midwestern pinup – thank you all for reading! I hope you’ll stop by sometime on my Instagram (I’m @emily.hallock), Facebook, Twitter, or over on my blog, and say hi!
(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.)
Sometimes you just gotta get away. This past weekend, my bestie and I piled into the car and headed south…to the tropical locale of River Grove, Illinois, home of Hala Kahiki!
Hala Kahiki has been in operation since 1964 and is considered one of the most well-preserved original tiki bars in the country. I was super excited to check out this tiki treasure, doubly so because they were hosting their second Lowbrow Aloha tiki art show!
I usually obsessively research any bar or restaurant I’m going to (seriously, if you ever invite me somewhere, I’ve probably studied the online menu at least once before we get there), but I wanted to leave some room for surprise at Hala Kahiki. And surprise there was! This place is huge! There’s even a lovely little secret patio with a fountain out back and a dedicated gift shop.
The decor was great; definitely what you hope for in a really authentic feeling tiki bar, lots of layers of knick knacks and natural textures. Watching all the brightly colored drinks go by in their decorative glassware, you really felt the tropical vibe.
The menu is just as big as the bar itself – it’s a full-length book with drinks helpfully divided into categories like “sweet,” “not so sweet,” “coconut-flavored,” “ice cream,” etc. There weren’t any prices printed on the drink menu, which I never like, but they were around $8, which is what I’d expect for a tiki cocktail. I got my trusty Singapore Sling!
One unique feature that I was super charmed by were the flights – you can select 5 different drinks from a list (which includes most of your traditional tiki favorites) and get a 5 oz. pour of each for $18. My friend and I each ordered our own full size drink and split the flight – these drinks were strong, we definitely both got a nice buzz going! My only downside on the drinks were that each of them came premixed from a bottle behind the bar; it improves the speed of service, of course, but I felt like the flavor wasn’t as complex as at other bars where they use fresh garnishes and craft each drink by hand. Still tasty!
None of the drinks on the menu come with a mug, but you’re able to purchase mugs in the gift shop; it does take a little bit of the “experience” factor out of it, but it is nice to have your mug in a nice safe box to take home. The mugs were on the pricier end ($15-18), but they’re custom Hala Kahiki mugs which automatically significantly increases the awesomeness factor. I picked out this cool rum barrel guy to come home with me.
Shoutout to the lovely One Curious Fox who was gracious enough to be my Instagram husband and take plenty of pictures of me throughout the trip. This tiki-fabulous dress is the second custom dress I ordered from Hearts and Found – click here to read my review of the first dress! Everything I said in that review holds true here; the dress is absolutely beautiful and fits great. A plus I didn’t even anticipate is that the tie in the front is actually a separate strip tied into a knot to cinch a wider piece of fabric, which let me loosen up the knot to (mostly) cover my rather industrially sized strapless bra. I felt pretty daring going out with a cutout, and I got so many compliments!
It’s great to know that a real jewel of original tiki is located just 90 minutes south of me! It’s a bit of a drive just for a drink, but I would definitely come back for another event like this one. I loved the opportunity to hang out with other tiki fiends and take it all in!
The Verdict (Out of 4 possible tiki torches)