Sunday, July 22, 2007
Port of Paradise
Shortly after I arrived home on Friday I went down the street to use the nearest ATM. While I was there, Eddie Deezen walked past. This was not a surprise. For me, seeing Eddie Deezen is almost akin to stating “The sun rose” or “My car started today”. And it’s not just this neighborhood—I’ve seen Eddie Deezen at points all around town. Once I was in a bar. There was a football game on the TV. Eddie Deezen was sitting at a nearby table, having a serious discussion with someone about the game and he sounded exactly like Eddie Deezen. What I’m saying, is that I saw Eddie Deezen and I knew I was home.
Just a little while later I went down the street to the Tiki-Ti, arriving shortly after they opened. As I walked in Mike, the owner, saw me and asked, “How was your trip?” Just one week before I had mentioned that I was going away and he remembered our discussion. I love the Tiki Ti.
It’s been there since 1961, has seen the Tiki craze rise, fall and slightly rise again and is one of the few remaining bastions of what was once a mainstay on the Southern California landscape. Even Trader Vic’s at the Beverly Hilton has been shunted out to a lounge area by the pool—and the last time I ever went to Trader Vic’s I was a little disappointed. The Tiki-Ti survives. The Tiki-Ti is essential.
The menu features over 80 drinks. If it’s your first time, I recommend the Ray’s Mistake, then you can move on from there. I usually stick with the rum-based drinks myself, but some contain gin, vodka and various mixtures. They’re very potent and very, very delicious. They are expensive, ranging from 8 to 15 dollars, but are more than worth it. If you ask for something like a gin and tonic they’ll make it, but why would you want to be boring? Beer and wine are not served. Smoking is permitted. And while 80 drinks may be on the menu, the bar can fit nowhere close to 80 people. It gets like the stateroom scene in A NIGHT AT THE OPERA in there pretty quickly. About a dozen stools, six or seven tables, that sort of thing. They officially open at 6, but the door is usually open a few minutes before that. And for that first hour or so on Friday the place still had a relaxed atmosphere and was the perfect welcome back to L.A.
I’ve never been much for going to bars by myself, but the Tiki-Ti has such a welcoming atmosphere that I always feel comfortable going there. A cool vibe is always in the air and it’s pretty easy to strike up conversations with people. And, once again, the drinks are amazing. If this is what Tiki is all about, sign me up. In a town where places are closed before their time way too often and too many bars are just plain no fun, the Tiki-Ti is an oasis, one of the many reasons I love this town. Here’s to many more Ray’s Mistakes, and nights at the Tiki-Ti, in the future.