A Top 10 Tiki Tour

A passionate connoisseur’s choice of the greatest survivors

 

What happens when a love of tribal art, mid-twentieth-century pop culture, and good rum drinks all come crashing together? I had never asked that question before, but it was answered for me anyway in 1991, when I discovered my first vintage tiki bar. This, I thought, was truly the place for me. It seamlessly incorporated three favorite recreational pursuits—and in an amusing way. Read more »

Make The King Of Tiki Drinks At Home.

The mai tai is the quintessential tiki drink. The classic Trader Vic’s version, upon which this recipe is based, is complex, sophisticated, and a far cry from the overly sweet, cherry-red pre-mix variants that lesser establishments fob off on their customers. Read more »

Tiki

How sex, rum, World War II, and the brand-new state of Hawaii ignited a fad that has never quite ended.

In December 1931 a somewhat adrift 24-year-old washed up in Southern California, looking for something to do. A native of New Orleans, he was named Ernest Raymond Beaumont Gantt. Curious by nature and something of a protobeatnik by choice, he had spent the previous months vagabonding on the cheap through some of the globe’s more humid locales: Jamaica, Australia, Papua New Guinea, the Marquesas Islands, and Tahiti. By the time he got to Los Angeles, his money had run out.Read more »

The Taste Of Time

All across America there are restaurants that serve up the spirit and conviviality of eras long past

Mr. Henry Erkins had a flash of inspiration in 1908. He could see every detail of it in his mind. Nevertheless he resisted the temptation to say too much at his first press conference, in case someone stole the idea and opened their own five-thousand-seat waiterless restaurant with ancient Assyrian decorations. Read more »

Agents Of Change

You’ve probably never heard of them, but these ten people changed your life. Each of them is a big reason why your world today is so different from anyone’s world in 1954

For want of nails, kingdoms are won and lost. We all know that. The shoe slips, the horse stumbles, the army dissolves in retreat. But who designed the nails? Who hammered the nails? Who invented the nail-making machinery? Who figured out how to market the nails in neat plastic blister packs hung from standardized wire racks in hardware stores? • The house of history, that clever balloon frame of statistics and biographies in which we shelter our sense of tradition, of progress, of values gained and lost, is nailed together with anonymity.Read more »

“Everybody Likes Italian Food”

A restaurant critic who’s a food historian and the fortunate recipient of an Italian grandmother’s cooking follows the course of America’s favorite ethnic fare in its rise from spaghetti and a red checked tablecloth to carpaccio and fine bone china

Should the Smithsonian Institution ever wish to display an example of a prototypical Italian-American restaurant, it could do no better than to move Mario’s, lock, stock, and baròlo, from the Bronx to Washington, D.C. Read more »

Fast Food

It began with a few people trying to get hamburgers from grill to customer quicker and cheaper. Now it’s changed the way Americans live. And whether you like it or hate it, once you get on the road you’ll eat it.

When I was ten, my brother was accepted into a college in Kansas. My parents decided to drive him out from New Jersey, using the opportunity to show both of us the countryside as we went. The year was 1963. Read more »

Lets Eat Chinese Tonight

Americans have been doing just that since the days of the California gold rush—and we’re still not full

A photograph taken in New York’s Chinatown in 1933 seems to sum up the special place of Chinese restaurants in American culture. The windows of a storefront are hung with Chinese characters, but there is also a large vertical sign, edged in neon, that proudly proclaims CHOP SUEY. REAL CHINESE CUISINE. Although chop suey is no more Chinese than succotash, it is this mix of the exotic and the familiar that has made the Chinese restaurant a ubiquitous national fixture. Read more »

Delmonico’s

The restaurant that changed the way we dine—

When Charles Dickens first came to the United States in 1842, he did not like our clothes, our speech, or our manners. But he reserved perhaps his deepest scorn for our dining habits.Read more »