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Legendary jazz bar in the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok celebrates its 60th anniversary with a “drinks through the decades” menu
The Bamboo Bar's new drinks menu will feature all the top cocktail hits from the last 60 years.
Back in 1953 Madame Krull, the inimitable general manager of Bangkok’s Mandarin Oriental, felt the timing was ripe for a jazz bar on the premises. And so the Bamboo Bar, the first jazz club bar in the city was opened complete with stylish jungle motifs, seductive décor, and live music. Since then it’s been drawing in legendary jazz musicians and music lovers from across the world. Now it’s celebrating its anniversary by launching a “drinks through the decades” menu featuring a heady selection of glamorous cocktails that have been served at the venue over the past six decades.
Some of the menu highlights include the Oriental's Mai Tai made with Grand Marnier, orange and pineapple juice, and grenadine syrup; the Thaijito made with Maekhong whisky, fresh lemongrass and ginger; and the Thai Noon made with vodka, lemongrass and coconut.
For the anniversary, the Bamboo Bar has also resurrected the venue’s signature necktie, a bright custom tie that was a requirement of Madame Krull for all male guests. While the ties are not mandatory this time around those who do want to honor the memory of Krull and relive a little history can purchase a limited edition replica at the hotel’s gift shop.
Cal State Fullerton celebrates its 60 years with Concert Under the Stars
Sixty years of Cal State Fullerton will be feted with 60 years of music at “Concert Under the Stars” on Sept. 23 on campus.
The event honors the university’s Diamond Jubilee with musicians and singers from the School of Music, including choirs and the jazz band students specializing in musical theater, dance and technical theater and art students assisting with video and imagery.
Erin McNally is among CSUF alumni performing Sept. 23 at the Diamond Jubilee Concert Under the Stars at Cal State Fullerton. (Photo courtesy of Cal State Fullerton)
“Concert Under the Stars is a great opportunity for students to engage with our alumni,” said Dale Merrill, dean of the College of the Arts. “This year, we’re highlighting events that have taken place at Cal State Fullerton, and across our country, through music and imagery.”
The College of the Arts Jazz Ensemble, led by Bill Cunliffe and Charles Tumlinson, professors of music, will kick off the concert with classics and modern tunes. College of the Arts alumni Tim Alexander, Erin McNally, Lauren Nearhoff, Ryan Nearhoff, Chris Chatman and Melanie Taylor will perform such hits as “Another Day of Sun,” “With a Little Help From My Friends” and “Don’t Stop the Music.”
Tim Alexander is among Cal State Fullerton graduates who will perform at CSUF’s Concert Under the Stars on Sept. 23. (Photo courtesy of Cal State Fullerton)
The evening will conclude with a fireworks display sponsored by the Anaheim Ducks.
The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. gates open at 5 p.m. Free lawn seating is available. Reservations can be made online. Proceeds from the sale of tickets for those who reserve seats at tables go toward scholarships and student programs.
By staging this year’s production on the campus’s athletics fields, north of Titan Gym, more students can participate, Merrill adds.
Guests are can bring a picnic or purchase meals from food trucks on site. No outside alcoholic beverages are permitted.
Free general parking is located in Lots A and G. Parking for those with disabilities is available in Lot A and the State College Parking Structure. A map is available online.
L.A. COUNTY TIKI BARS
Long Beach's Bamboo Club, which opened in March 2019, may be the newest tiki bar in L.A. County but it has alredy made an impression. Situated in the space formerly occupied by the Tidal Bay Beach Bar, the Bamboo Club was designed by Ben Bassham (aka Bamboo Ben), the third-generation tiki builder responsible for Zombie Village in San Francisco. Together with executive chef Melissa Ortiz, the owners have crafted a full dinner menu with sustainability in mind. Classic tiki drinks like the Painkiller tend to be big and strong, so soak them up with a poke bowl or that staple of Hawaiian cuisine, a loco moco. Their version of the dish, called the Coco Moco Loco, involves a beef patty served over garlic rice and topped with an over-easy egg. As a bonus, you can sip and nosh while listening to live punk and rockabilly acts.
3522 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach 562-343-2534.
The 50 best bars in Singapore
From swanky wine bars to innovative cocktail joints, these top 50 bars prove why Singapore has the best drinking scene in Asia. Bottoms up!
November 2020: We might not be able to drink past 10.30pm nowadays, but that doesn&rsquot mean that happy hour has to stop. Let us raise a (virtual) toast to the tenacious bars around town &ndash both seasoned and new entrants.
Welcome to the Time Out DRINK List, our handpicked &lsquobest of&rsquo Singapore&rsquos drinking scene. These are the most buzzing bars in this city right now: the most inventive and most memorable watering holes, all ranked by expert local editors. Drinking in Singapore is expensive so we did all the hard work for you &ndash scouring the city every night in search of amazing drinks.
Whether you sip or quaff, these are the city's top bars for a boozy night out. We've got joints stocked with quality vino, speakeasies hidden behind unmarked doors, dens devoted to whisky, craft beer breweries and much more in our roundup. We guarantee you won't be able to stop at one drink &ndash just make sure you have a safe ride home.
Drank somewhere on this list and loved it? Share it with the hashtag #TimeOutDrinkList. You can also find out more about how Time Out makes recommendations and reviews bars here.
Bangkok’s River of Kings
When Somerset Maugham staggered from the Bangkok train station one steaming day in 1923, he knew exactly where to head: the Chao Phraya — the River of Kings — whose fresh breezes and open skies were even then a relief from the intensity of the Thai capital. Feeling the onset of malaria, Maugham checked into the Oriental Hotel, where verandas overlooked the busy waterfront. As his temperature climbed to 105 degrees, the writer, soaked in sweat and addled by hallucinations, overheard the Oriental’s owner telling his doctor that it would be bad for business if the author should die on the premises.
Maugham’s verdict on Bangkok would make a brutal TripAdvisor review today. In his travel memoir “The Gentleman in the Parlor,” he reviled the city’s “dense traffic,” its “ceaseless din,” its “insipid” cuisine and “sordid” houses. The Thais, he declared petulantly, are “not a comely race.”
But once he recovered, Maugham experienced a rush of euphoria at the waterside setting. He watched the parade of barges, sampans and tramp steamers pass by with “a thrill of emotion,” and conceded that the wats, the gilded and glittering temple complexes rising along the river, made him “laugh out loud with delight to think that anything so fantastic could exist on this sombre earth.”
I had a taste of Maugham’s extreme reactions as I sat in Bangkok’s nefarious traffic trying to get to the river on the first morning of a recent trip, although I was addled by nothing more dangerous than jet lag from the epic 21-hour flight from New York.
Laden with literary reference, the Oriental — now the Mandarin Oriental, although nobody calls it that — is still the obvious introduction to the Chao Phraya, which has in recent years returned to its status as an escape from the city’s urban chaos. The colonial-era edifice where Maugham stayed is now called the Author’s Wing. Although overshadowed by a 1970s addition, its exterior looks much as it did when it opened in 1887 and astonished the city with its luxurious imported carpets, Parisian wallpaper and electrified chandeliers. And the setting has not lost its soothing effect.
I pulled up a chair feet away from the “liver-coloured water swirling by,” as another famous guest, Noël Coward, put it. A parade of ferries, barges and steamboats still battles the surging currents, while islands of vegetation float past, washed downriver from the jungles of the northern provinces. It was a step back into a leisurely past, worlds away from the explosive neon energy of the central city.
It’s no secret that, despite recent political disorder, Bangkok has emerged as the unofficial capital of Southeast Asia. Everyone from Swedish aid workers to Vietnamese I.T. specialists prefers to live there and commute around the region to less dynamic cities.
The most alluring consequence for travelers has been the revival of the Chao Phraya, which was once the heart and soul of Bangkok. It was by its shores that the sumptuous royal district was built in the 18th century and, although Thailand is one of the few Asian countries never to be colonized, where European powers erected their legations and warehouses in the 19th.
It was along the river that Bangkok’s first road was built (an elephant track that became known as the New Road) and where a raucous Chinatown sprang up. The river was then so alluring that Bangkok was affectionately called “the Venice of the East,” a serene warren of canals, floating markets and stilt houses.
But after World War II, the focus of Bangkok moved north and east. The river districts fell into decay, their waters polluted. Travelers mostly stayed away and visited the waterfront as part of a day trip to the famous wats. It is only over the last two or three years that the river has been rediscovered by bohemian Thais and intrepid expats, creating a mix of decay and contemporary chic that evokes an Eastern New Orleans.
“The Chao Phraya is a lifeline of history, culture and spirituality,” said David Robinson, director of Bangkok River Partners, founded in 2013 to help coordinate the revival. “It’s changing but keeping its traditions. There are roast duck and congee shops there that are 100 years old.” The novelist Lawrence Osborne, who moved here from New York three years ago, agreed: “The modern city was thrown up over the last 40 years in gimcrack style. It looks like it might collapse any moment. You don’t feel that at all by the river — there’s a real sense of continuity.”
The parallels to New York’s adventures in urban renewal are not lost on Thai preservationists. Last year, Bangkok River Partners invited Joshua David, the co-founder of the High Line, to speak at a conference. He became fascinated by the Chao Phraya. “The river allows you to experience Bangkok in a completely different way,” said Mr. David, now president of the World Monument Fund. “An amazing variety of watercraft is still used by local communities and will take you to places you would never imagine existed.”
To me, the river also made Bangkok seem manageable. Over years of travel in Asia, I had somehow failed to venture outside its airport, in part because I was daunted by the prospect of navigating a megalopolis of over 8.5 million people that can seem like an alternate set from “Blade Runner.” But the idea of exploring by water made Bangkok more human-scale. I decided to spend my time entirely on the river to reimagine its golden age.
My inspiration would be less the jaundiced Maugham than Jozef Konrad Korzeniowski, a Polish sailor soon to be renowned as the author Joseph Conrad, who found himself in 1888 frequenting the Oriental Hotel saloon for a little over two weeks, chatting with the barflies, as was his wont, “of wrecks, of short rations, and of heroism.”
Conrad had taken over command of an Australian ship, the Otago, but was stuck in Bangkok waiting for his crew to recover from tropical illnesses — an experience that is reworked in his novel “Lord Jim” and the shorter works “The Shadow-Line,” “Falk” and “The Secret Sharer.” Although he had his life savings of 32 pounds stolen by his Chinese steward (who thoughtfully brushed and folded his clothes before disappearing), Conrad still felt fondly toward Bangkok, and never forgot its “gorgeous and dilapidated” temples, or the city’s “vertical sunlight, tremendous, overpowering, almost palpable, which seemed to enter one’s breast with the breath of one’s nostrils and soak into one’s limbs through every pore of one’s skin.”
As Conrad would surely agree, if the river traffic was hypnotic to watch, it was more satisfying to join. The variety of watercraft churning between the bobbing jetties was bewildering, ranging from high-speed long tail boats to private vessels and public ferries. I found the ferries definitely the most exotic, if not always the most comfortable. In peak hours, crowds squeezed into the sweltering below-decks like sardines, with yellow-robed monks and dapper businessmen alike jostling for elbow room while harangued by boat workers with megaphones, who bellowed “Go down! Go down! Go down!”
There are no continuous walkways along the river, so I made surgical strikes from the piers on foot, ducking in and out of laneways to the lapping waves. All along the right bank stood poetic ruins. The splendid 1887 offices of the East Asiatic Company sat vacant and awaiting rescue, while the stately Old Customs House had become a fire station sprouting greenery from gaping cracks. Catholic cathedrals and European embassies staggered on in crumbling glory, while the iron pins used to moor steamers that Conrad may have used quietly rusted.
One crooked lane led to the river temple where albino elephants were cremated, another to the sacred slab upon which Thai royals could be executed. (It was forbidden for royal blood to be spilled, so a bag was placed over the victim’s head and he was cudgeled to death — a considerate gesture.)
And yet, around every corner, ventures of startling modernity were sprouting: boutique hotels, restaurants and bars, often housed in small antique buildings, alongside a pioneering art gallery called Speedy Grandma or a bespoke furniture store like P. Tendercool. A new “Creative District” is even being marked out by the city on both sides of the river to promote local talent.
Its marquee site is the Jam Factory, a renovated warehouse complex set around a grassy courtyard with a high-end restaurant called the Never Ending Summer, all designed to appeal to natives first, tourists second. “Our real ambition is to get Bangkokians back to the river,” said Mr. Robinson of River Partners. “Travelers will follow. People want authenticity.”
To get a sense of the potential for the grandiose historic structures, I headed a few minutes away to Sathorn Road on the back of a motorbike-taxi. A century ago, this was the Fifth Avenue of Bangkok, lined with the palatial mansions of Thai sea merchants. Today, a lonely vestige from 1896, the House on Sathorn, is dwarfed on three sides by glassy skyscrapers. Originally the residence of a rice baron, it survived the demolition blitz that has ravaged Bangkok since the 1960s because it housed the Russian Embassy. The landmark reopened last year after a multimillion-dollar renovation as a glamorous restaurant and event space and has become a symbol of a new spirit of preservation.
“It has been an epic journey,” said Christine McGinnis, then the director of the Bangkok office of the United States design company AvroKO, which has overseen the project since 2008. “If this house was a child, it would be speaking and in school by now.” Construction problems included dealing with the ghost of the first owner’s mistress, who regularly spooked workers by overturning paintings she didn’t like during the night. (“It’s Thailand there is always a story,” Ms. McGinnis said, laughing.)
Working with the city’s Fine Arts Department, the designers had to maintain the building’s historic integrity while making it commercially viable. Its Corinthian columns have elephant motifs carved into their wooden pediments the color scheme is drawn from the Royal Thai costume, but the tapestries and artworks are all by contemporary local artists.
Afterward, we strolled back to the nearby pier to catch ferries in different directions. “Everyone is getting back to the river,” Ms. McGinnis said. “Everyone is getting inspired.”
“There is definitely a new interest in preserving Thai history,” said Dan Fraser, a Canadian expat who qualifies as a walking atlas to forgotten Bangkok, as we plunged by foot along the dark waterfront of the Talat Noi (“small market”) neighborhood. Here, the streets were built only broad enough to allow two rickshaws to pass, while shoulder-width alleys snake to the docks. “Wealthy Thais are coming back from trips to Europe, looking around and asking, ‘What have we done? Why are there so many 7-Elevens,’ ” Mr. Fraser said. “For the first time, people are openly admitting that unchecked development has all but destroyed Bangkok.”
Even a year ago, the conventional wisdom was that the river is thriving by day but dead after dark. All that has changed — if you know where to look. At least that was what I had been assured by Mr. Fraser, who has one of the most colorful résumés in the Thai expat world. He first arrived 15 years ago to tutor the children of the royal family in English and tennis, and he later achieved minor celebrity status as the star of Thai-language TV shows exploring local culture and food “through the eyes of a foreigner.”
The riverfront at night is his ideal stamping ground. “This used to be the real core of the city,” he said, as we zigzagged from the old Portuguese district toward Chinatown. “But since the 1960s, people have wanted to get away from here. So development has bypassed this area altogether, which is perfect for me. It’s maintained its Old World charm.”
In Talat Noi, the alleys were dark and deserted, but concealed secret worlds. Behind one screen door lay a bar with a broad wooden porch opening directly onto the river and decorated with mismatched retro furniture as if for a backyard barbecue. On the edge of Chinatown, a carved portal marked Teens of Thailand turned out to be the entrance to a bar by that name, with a dozen rickety seats and erotic photographs hanging on distressed concrete walls.
“Bangkok had no gin bar!” said Niks Anuman-Rajadhon, the bar’s co-owner, who sported a black T-shirt and a pompadour Elvis would have envied, as he concocted a batch of martinis with fresh pomegranates. “Every city has to have one, so I thought, let’s do it! We got about 30 gins together — including Bangkok’s own Iron Balls — and started experimenting.”
Before long, the night began to feel like the premise for “The Hangover Part IV.” I had not the slightest idea where we were — “even if we’d used a ball of twine, I doubt we could retrace our steps,” Mr. Fraser said happily — when we heard the haunting strains of traditional Thai music coming from what seemed to be a dilapidated merchant’s mansion.
Shouldering open the door, we found an establishment called Tep Bar, whose interior was lined with century-old worn teak and crowded with arty Thais the ambience lay somewhere between a speakeasy and an opium den. The bar’s co-owner, Kong Lertkangwarnklai, was so excited that a pair of farang (foreign) explorers had arrived by accident that he insisted we sample an array of ya dong, ancient whiskey infused, he said, with 20 exotic herbs.
A half-dozen shot glasses materialized on a sumptuous golden tray adorned with mango pieces and pickled grapes. “Technically, ya dong is medicine,” Mr. Kong said, pushing the potent spirits forward. As I knocked the first glass back, I had a sudden vision of myself waking up in an alley with my memory of the night erased, perhaps with a tattoo across my forehead and a monkey on my shoulder.
Dressed in jeans and a white T-shirt and sporting the suggestion of a goatee, Mr. Kong seemed an unlikely cultural revolutionary. But he said that he had given up a successful career in advertising for this attempt to keep Thai history alive — which starts with the bar’s name, a nod toward the Thai title for the city, Krungthep, roughly, “City of Angels.”
“Everyone in Bangkok is trying to be someone else,” he said. “But what about our roots? Why are we throwing everything away?” At first, the retro impulse behind the bar, which Mr. Kong opened last year, felt like a quixotic gamble, he recalled. “Nobody believed in us. They thought the location, the concept, everything would fail! They didn’t think Thai people would come to such a place.” The bar was packed with a crowd that seemed spellbound by the music (enhanced, no doubt, by the ya dong).
Singapore shakes and stirs Asia's cocktail craze
SINGAPORE -- Asia has developed a keen thirst for inventive cocktails, and Singapore is leading the way with lavishly designed bars that would rival any in New York or London. In mid-May, the Lion City hosted thousands of enthusiasts at the Singapore cocktail festival, the region's most popular festival of libations, while celebrity bartenders and the hottest bars were feted at the Asia's 50 Best Bars awards, the Oscars of the regional cocktails scene.
"Asia is really in the forefront of the industry, in the world," said Jericson Co, a bartender and co-owner of Manila's The Curator, named the top bar in the Philippines and Number 37 on the 50 Best list, which was announced at Singapore's Capital Theatre on May 9.
"There are bars here you won't see anywhere else," he added. "There is just more experimentation. In Asia, there are no rules."
Singapore also hosted the 50 Best 50 event last year, and remains the epicenter of a booming Asian bar scene. Mixologists (specialist cocktail-makers) from around the globe joined distillers and an estimated 8,000 cocktail aficionados at the Singapore Cocktail Festival from May 10-18. Launched in 2015 as Singapore Cocktail Week, the festival has grown into Asia's biggest cocktail extravaganza, with 45 bars participating and hosting events.
"People here are really interested in everything, knowing more about the drinks, the flavors, and how bartenders create the cocktails," said Indra Kantono, an Indonesian who quit the private equity industry to launch a group of bars in Singapore. Among them is the popular Jigger & Pony, which gained ninth place on the 50 Best List.The classic Old Fashioned from Singapore's award-winning Jigger & Pony cocktail bar (Courtesy of Jigger & Pony)
Singapore bars have been major winners in the annual competition, which was launched in 2016 by the U.K. group William Reed Business Media, with the top prize in 2017 and 2018 going to Manhattan at Regent Singapore, a bar that evokes the old-fashioned elegance of New York. This year, the top honor went to Old Man, a Hemingway-inspired bar in Hong Kong. Manhattan came in second with Singapore claiming five of the Top 12 bars. In a more global triumph, Manhattan took third place in the most recent World's 50 Best Bars awards last October.
China led Asia's 50 Best Bars awards overall, with a dozen listings topped by Shanghai's Speak Low at number seven, and eight in Hong Kong. Bangkok had seven winners, led by Bamboo Bar -- an opulent jazz bar at the historic Mandarin Oriental Hotel -- at number eight.
Tokyo claimed six awards, led by High Five at number six, and Taipei had four winners, including Indulge Experimental Bistro at number three. Bars in Kuala Lumpur, Manila and Jakarta also featured in the Best 50, which is judged by a panel of more than 200 bartenders, consultants, drinks writers and cocktail specialists from across Asia.Bartenders and owners gather after the Asia's 50 Best Bars awards on May 9 in Singapore. (Photo by Ron Gluckman)
The awards highlighted a number of trends, including a growing number of speakeasy-style clubs -- throwbacks to the U.S. prohibition era, with hidden doorways and complex codes for entry. Discussions at the awards focused on hot issues such as gender equality, sustainability and local sourcing of ingredients. And there was an abundance of creative drinks in a city that is proudly promoting its stature as a global cocktail center.
"I think the scene here is more vibrant even than New York (which) has really gotten stagnant and predictable," said British bartender Andrew Loudon, who has spent a year at Singapore's Tippling Club (number 11 on the list). "The room for experimentation in Singapore is much greater."
Tippling, which moved from the Dempsey Hill district of art galleries and eateries to a trio of shop houses in the Tanjong Pagar area, is famed for its gastro-centric approach to cocktails, matched with fine dining in the restaurant and bar.
Tippling's cocktail menu changes regularly, and the latest revolves around fragrances that are custom-created for the establishment, Loudon said. A cocktail menu was devised to complement the fragrances, after months of experimentation. "We're always trying new things," said Loudon, who served three original cocktails created just for the festival. "People in Singapore really get it, and support this [experimentation]," he added.
Across Asian mixology, innovation is picking up, said Tatum Ancheta, who runs Drink Manila, an online publication about the beverage industry. "New bars open all the time. The cultural uniqueness of Asia shines through in the cocktails. Just like with food, they feature the unique flavors of the region," she said.
"Asia's probably the hungriest market in the world," added James Irvine, creative director at Four Pillars, an Australian distillery that has become one of the darlings of the gin world. He was carving ice and pouring gin specialties at Jigger & Pony while on a swing through Asia as a guest bartender in Tokyo, Hong Kong, China, Thailand and Vietnam. "People here are serious," he said. "They love cocktails, and want to learn."
Education is a large part of the cocktail revolution, which aims to shift public perception from pubs with beers, single spirits and wine to the bouquet of flavors and ingredients in the modern cocktail. "The best drinks are unique," said Mark Sansom, content editor at William Reed, the organizer of both Asia's 50 Best and the World's 50 Best bar rankings, as well as restaurant equivalents.
"The industry is moving in many of the same directions as top restaurants, with an emphasis not only on fantastic drinks, service and atmosphere, but also more attention to sustainability and local provenance in spirits and ingredients," Sansom said.
Gender equality was the focus of a panel featuring four women bartenders from top bars in Singapore, Bangkok and Hong Kong. Many recounted tales of discrimination, but Bonnie Kang, head craftsman at Singapore's Anti:dote, said the issue had faded. "That was a few years ago it's not much of a problem nowadays," she noted.
In April, Sophia Kang became head bartender at Manhattan. Formerly a cocktail waitress, she now oversees an all-male team of bartenders. "Everyone was supportive," Kang said, noting that she had faced more resistance from her Korean family members who viewed bars as places where women should not go. Their views changed when they saw Manhattan, which celebrates the 19th century with decor such as velvet armchairs and mahogany tables and a menu of historic New York libations.At Smalls regulars are fanatical about the intimate environment. (Courtesy of Smalls)
Such lounges look like throwbacks among a tide of modernity in the industry, said David Jacobson, founding partner of Smalls in Bangkok, which ranked at number 42 on the Best 50 list. Formerly a photographer of movie and recording stars, Jacobson opened Q Bar in Vietnam in the early 1990s, followed by another Q Bar in Bangkok before opening Smalls, in a remodeled shop house. Each room in the three-level Smalls is decorated with art and furniture that reflects his unique style, and he presides as host every evening.Keeping it spicy at The Woods
"I'm old school," Jacobson said with pride. "The trend in bars is mixology, but we'd rather not reinterpret the classics." Instead, Smalls seeks to offer the best alcohol in the world, including 150-year-old whiskeys. "Bars are about the drinks," he said, "but also the decor, the music, and especially the people." Smalls is well-known for its large following of regular customers who call it home.
In the modern bar world, however, even concepts of home are changing. This summer, Hong Kong's The Woods will become the world's first "nomadic bar," according to owner Victoria Chow. This is partly a response to high rents in Hong Kong, which are a constant threat to entrepreneurs. In response, she is planning a roaming future for the The Woods as a "pop up" bar in various locations.
"We are trying to break down the walls of traditional bars and business," Chow said. Call it "Amazon for the cocktail set." If it works, it will add further fizz to the thriving Asian bar scene.
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New Year’s World Traditions: Yellow Underwear, Smashed Plates, Hanging Onions — Plus Special Turn-Of-The-Decade Celebrations
Parties and fireworks are popular ways to celebrate the New Year throughout the world. But years ago in Seville Spain, we counted down the New Year — twelve, eleven, ten . with single grapes, to bring luck.
Each country has its own take on the celebration. Here, at the turn of the decade, are some of the most fascinating New Year’s Eve traditions:
People in Denmark throw old plates and glasses against the doors of family and friends to banish bad spirits. They also jump off chairs together at midnight to “leap” into January in hopes of good luck. In Finland, people cast molten tin into a water container, then interpret the shape: a heart or ring means a wedding a ship, travel and a pig, lots of food.
During Scotland’s celebration of Hogmanay, the first person who crosses a home’s threshold in the New Year should carry a gift for luck. At bonfire ceremonies, Scots parade while swinging giant fireballs on poles, symbols of the sun, to purify the coming year.
In the Philippines it’s about roundness: coins symbolize prosperity, many eat 12 round fruits (usually grapes) at midnight, and wear polka dots for luck.
In Brazil, Bolivia, and Venezuela, it’s considered lucky to wear colored underwear on New Year’s Eve. Red brings love yellow, money. In Colombia, some carry empty suitcases in hopes of travel. In Chile, some hold money or place coins at their door. In Ecuador, men may dress in wigs, heavy makeup and miniskirts. In Argentina, the celebration is during summer, as in many South American countries, so families go to the beach.
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in Greece, an onion hung on the front door symbolizes rebirth. On New Year’s Day, parents wake their children by tapping them on the head with the onion.
In Japan, New Year's Eve is used to prepare for and welcome Toshigami, the New Year's god. Buddhist temples ring their bells 108 times at midnight, representing the elements of mental states that lead people to act badly.
As the decade turns, I’ve found a sampling of extra-special getaways around the world. And everywhere, there will be over-the- top celebrations closer to home. In any case, here’s to a great 2020!
The Royal Mansour will host a grand Italian Masquerade. Adorned in reds and golds and dotted with candlesticks and Venetian masks, Royal Mansour welcomes a commedia dell’arte performance featuring Colombina, Pedrolino and other iconic characters from Italian comedies.
Festivities begin at the hotel’s Blue Patio, with live performances by local ensembles, followed by a festive dinner at Chef Maximilano Alajmo’s new Italian restaurant. Guests can prepare for the night with treatments and massage.
Golden Age Glamour
Belmond’s famed Eastern & Oriental Express train will host a three-night New Year’s Eve journey from December 29, 2019 – January 1, 2020. Following an evening departure from Singapore, the train’s first stop is Malaysia’s lively capital, Kuala Lumpur.
Guests can choose between visiting historical sites such as Independence Square and the Jamek Mosque – or stops at the Petronas Towers, tea at the Malaysian Petroleum Club and a shopping excursion through the Central Market.
On December 31, travelers will count down with a celebratory dinner on the train, complete with live Thai dance performances and a DJ, while enjoying the passing fireworks. The journey ends in Bangkok, in a new year, and new decade.
Overlook the Tokyo Skyline
Park Hyatt Tokyo hosts its fifth annual Countdown Lounge New Year’s Eve party at The Peak Lounge & Bar, a skylit bamboo garden in the sky. Partygoers can count down to 2020 while dancing and dining, with panoramic views of the city skyline from 41 floors up.
Dance on Copacabana Beach
Celebrate Reveillon, the second largest celebration after Carnival, at Belmond Copacabana Palace with front-row seats to Copacabana Beach fireworks. After dinner, there’s access to the terrace overlooking the beach, a live band, and an all-night pool party with an open bar.
Ball Drop from a Private Terrace
At The Chatwal’s famed Lambs Club led by Chef Geoffrey Zakarian, party-goers can choose between the Gala Dinner in the Main Dining Room with a champagne reception and four-course dinner or a cocktail soiree on the mezzanine level including a full premium open bar, passed canapes and a carving and raw bar station with music.
As the ball begins to drop, all guests are ushered out to 44th Street to watch the ball drop with Nat Sherman cigars and pashminas. Or watch from the private terrace of The Chatwal’s Producer Suite. It features a cozy fireplace and a spiral staircase leading up to the large roof deck with a view of Times Square.
Wine and Dine in Napa Valley
Blue Note Napa, the intimate 144-seat jazz club and restaurant, is hosting a special New Year’s Eve performance with jazz superstar Kenny G. Visitors can stay at Andaz Napa, less than a five-minute walk from Blue Note.
Hiding among many great eateries in Bandar Utama, 61 Monarchy is a speakeasy that’s popular among whiskey drinkers. Stepping into the bar, you will be greeted by a homey setting. The main bar area, with rattan chairs and wooden furniture, is decorated like a living room. The bar only serves whiskey and whiskey-based cocktails and may have the largest whiskey collection in Petaling Jaya.
Solid Wood Space Saving Bar and Stools | £220 from Argos
Made from FSC wood, the set includes the bar and 2 tall stools for perching. The best thing about this bar set, is that it folds up, so it can be easily stored away when you're done for the day.
VidaXL Bamboo Bar Counter Set | £370.29 from Amazon
The bar counter has a distinctive design with a roof, which will make it the focal point in your garden or on your terrace or patio. It also has two shelves at the back for storage and two foldaway chairs.
Mai-Kai Cocktail Guide
NEW: COCKTAILS TO GO FOR MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND!
The Mai-Kai is once again offering gallons and quarts of its most popular tropical drinks for takeout in advance of the holiday weekend. As a bonus, you can also purchase new merchandise before its posted in the online Trading Post.. The cocktail lineup is outstanding as usual: Barrel O’ Rum (gallon $80, quart $25), Mai Tai (gallon $120, quart $35), Jet Pilot (gallon $131.50, quart $35) and Black Magic (gallon $80, quart $25). You can also still grab a bottle of The Real McCoy 12-year-old Distillers Proof Mai-Kai Blend (750 ML $85.60). Call Pia Dahlquist at (954) 646-8975 by 5 p.m. on Wednesday, May 26, to place your order. Pick-up will be available Thursday, May 27, and Friday, May 28, between 3 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Special arrangements can also be made for other times. Follow The Mai-Kai on social media for news and updates.
JUMP BELOW: Check out our recent cocktail reviews and updates
Thousands of fans unite to show support for The Mai-Kai during closing
More than 10,000 have signed a petition and thousands are flooding social media channels as the historic restaurant plans events, take-home cocktails while potential partners/owners are sought.
The Mai-Kai’s official statement and announcement
Restaurant seeks potential partners and buyers to continue legacy.
* Press coverage: The Mai-Kai is for sale: What does that mean for its future?
RECENT MAI-KAI COVERAGE ON THE ATOMIC GROG
The Mai-Kai hosts first Tiki Marketplace featuring vendors, entertainers, cocktails, rum tasting and more
The historic restaurant may be closed for repairs, but a new event took advantage of the large parking lot for a safe and fun-filled day featuring the generous spirit of ‘ohana. A second marketplace is already in the works.
Cocktails and car show, Tiki marketplace announced
Despite its closure for renovations, The Mai-Kai is keeping busy with take-out cocktails, a parking lot car show, and its first Tiki marketplace.
The Mai-Kai celebrates 64th anniversary under the moon as challenges loom
Check out all the details on The Mai-Kai’s sold-out 64th anniversary party on Dec. 28.
Fundraisers, online sales aid The Mai-Kai during closure for refurbishment
The historic restaurant is closed for refurbishment, but it’s still possible to support the staff and management.
Merchandise: Online Trading Post, new eBay site
The Mai-Kai celebrates Hulaween 2020 with drive-in movie party after closing for renovations
The historic Polynesian restaurant transported revelers to a socially-distanced celebration like no other, including an appearance by Appleton Rum’s Joy Spence. FULL EVENT RECAP
News: Latest on the temporary closing
Photos: Hulaweeen Drive-In Movie scene, costumes
Tribute recipe: Blood Island Green Potion #2
The Mai-Kai re-releases signature rum, plus new glassware and spirits menu
Check out our tasting notes on The Real McCoy 12-year-old Distillers Proof Mai-Kai Blend, plus cocktail recipes, the new rum menu and the updated cocktail menu.
* New sipping rum menu introduced
* Cocktail menu reduced, experience remains
Bonus recipes: The Real McCoy Shark Bite and Special Reserve Daiquiri
Previous coverage: More on Bailey Pryor, The Real McCoy and the new Mai-Kai rum
Cocktail quarts join gallons as The Mai-Kai expands takeout menu
Check out the full coverage of how The Mai-Kai is handling the pandemic, from developing unique take-out offerings to reopening to the public under social distancing rules.
Follow our never-ending journey through the classic cocktail menu at The Mai-Kai in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., with exclusive tribute recipes, newly uncovered ancestor recipes for lost classics, plus new special features. Check back often and be sure to click on the reviews to add your own ratings and comments.
RECENT COCKTAIL UPDATES
The classic Demerara Float rises again … and again
Check out the updates to our review of The Mai-Kai’s Demerara Float, plus complete back-story of this classic.
Demerara Float featured on Spike’s Breezeway (video)
Mai-Kai cocktail review: The Black Magic emerges from the darkness as a true classic
Inspired by one of The Mai-Kai’s Gallons To Go, we’ve mixed up a new version of this classic Tiki cocktail.
The Atomic Grog on Spike’s Breezeway Cocktail Hour
Even landlubbers can appreciate a strong ration of Yeoman’s Grog
We’ve updated our Mai-Kai cocktail review to include more rich history of the ancestor cocktail, the Navy Grog, as well as a new contenporary recipe. See the full story
Navy Grog from Beachbum Berry’s Latitude 29
Mai-Kai cocktail review: Jet Pilot soars over its ancestors with flying colors
This latest and greatest version of The Mai-Kai’s Jet Pilot should be approached with caution. It’s big, bold and bad to the bone. See the full story
RECIPE: Tribute to The Mai-Kai’s Jet Pilot, version 5.0
The Atomic Grog serves the Jet Pilot on Tiki Trail Live
Mai-Kai cocktail review: Trade in Vic’s Mai Tai for this classic
We’ve updated our tribute recipe for this popular drink after a careful analysis of The Mai-Kai’s take-home cocktails. See the full story.
RECIPE: Tribute to The Mai-Kai’s Mai Tai, version 2.0
The Atomic Grog joins The Trader Brandon Transmissions
VIDEO, RECIPE: Watch the live interview, see Hurricane Hayward mix up the new Barrel O’ Rum tribute, see the recipe.
Hurricane Hayward on Inside the Desert Oasis Room
Listen to the “Covid Chronicles” episode recorded live with Adrian Eustaquio as The Atomic Grog blogger made his way to The Mai-Kai to pick up Gallons to Go. Also available on iTunes, Spotify and Google Play.
The Rums of The Mai-Kai symposium on Inside the Desert Oasis Room
Mahalo to Adrian Eustaquio and Inside the Desert Oasis Room for documenting the June 9 presentation featuring Hurricane Hayward and Matt Pietrek of Cocktail Wonk live on stage at The Mai-Kai during the closing festivities of The Hukilau 2019.
Click here to listen now or subscribe on iTunes and other podcast platforms
The Atomic Grog presents new class and symposium at The Hukilau
Hurricane Hayward of The Atomic Grog took guests on an virtual journey to the Caribbean to learn about the key rums and styles that have dominated The Mai-Kai’s acclaimed cocktails for more than 60 years. He was joined by rum expert Stephen Remsberg for an Okole Maluna Cocktail Academy class at Pier Sixty-Six hotel on June 8, and by Cocktail Wonk writer Matt Pietrek for an on-stage symposium at The Mai-Kai Grand Finale on June 9.
See the event preview | Full recap coming soon!
Coming soon: Exclusive news on a new replacement for Kohala Bay rum at The Mai-Kai, plus more!
More on the rums of The Mai-Kai
* The history of the potent, funky flavors from Guyana and Jamaica
* Demerara rum – The Mai-Kai’s secret weapon
The Atomic Grog on Marooned: A Texas Tiki Podcast
Listen to Hurricane Hayward and Texas Tiki and cocktail podcaster David Phantomatic in the Samoa Room at The Mai-Kai as they discuss (what else) the historic tropical drinks and influence of South Florida’s Polynesian Palace. The podcast is also available on all major podcasting platforms: Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher.
The Mai-Kai Walking Tour on Marooned: A Texas Tiki Podcast
Join The Atomic Grog for a Mai-Kai history lesson with carver Will Anders and manager Kern Mattei. It’s a real Tiki museum audio walking tour.
Previous stories: New giant carved Tiki added to outdoor garden
‘King Kai’ leads procession of new Tikis into The Mai-Kai
Join The Grogalizer!
Our tribute recipes are being added to the essential database of Tiki cocktail reviews. Help boost our ratings. It’s quick and easy to sign up.
* Go to The Grogalizer now
THE OKOLE MALUNA SOCIETY
The Mai-Kai in Fort Lauderdale is widely recognized as having perhaps the best authentic tropical drinks in the world. The cocktail menu remains virtually unchanged since its opening in 1956 and most of the classic recipes date back to the original Tiki drinks invented by Don the Beachcomber in the 1930s and s.
In the early years, The Mai-Kai had a club called the Okole Maluna (pronounced Oh-koh-lay Mah-loo-nah) Society. Okole Maluna is a traditional Hawaiian toast that means “bottom’s up!” To become a member of the society, you had to sample every one of the drinks on the menu and have them checked off your membership card. Once you joined the club, you were given access to a special off-menu drink. See more on the society and the menu on Swanky’s Mai-Kai history site.
The society no longer exists, but we’re resurrecting it here on The Atomic Grog. We’ve sampled all the current drinks and have ranked them below on a scale of 1 to 5 stars. Following the rankings you’ll also find the drinks listed by category as they appear on the menu. For 52 weeks, from June 2011 until June 2012, we posted detailed reviews (with photos) of all the cocktails on the menu, plus a few off the menu, as well as some classics that are no longer offered. They’re all listed below with hyperlinks to the reviews and an archive of 99 recipes. In the ensuring years, we’ve continually posted updates and new recipes, keeping this guide fresh and up-to-date.
This online guide serves two useful purposes. It gives Mai-Kai patrons a richly detailed and authoritative tool to help choose a cocktail, and also offer feedback. There’s a poll to every drink that lets you rate them, in addition to leaving comments. It’s also an essential resource for home mixologists, giving Tiki drink aficionados exclusive access to a vast archive of recipes.
These include some authentic Mai-Kai recipes along with “tribute” drinks from The Atomic Grog and others in the Tiki community. But many of the true recipes remain a puzzle. You see, the aura of these mysterious drinks is created by the fact that they’re for the most part top-secret recipes (in the tradition of Don the Beachcomber) that have never been revealed. The cocktails are created in back bars, away from public view. We’ve also included many of the original Donn Beach recipes that inspired The Mai-Kai’s legendary mixologist, Mariano Licudine.
We’ll be continually enhancing this guide with new recipes, history, photos and behind-the-scene stories, so be sure to check the links at the top of the page. We hope to pay homage to The Mai-Kai, a one-of-a-kind mid-century marvel, and its amazing cocktails that top even those at the trendiest craft cocktail bar today.
THE ATOMIC GROG’S MAI-KAI DRINK RATINGS
(Click on hyperlinks for full reviews and recipes)
DOWNLOAD: Printable checklist of the ratings (PDF)