Though Sacramento’s landmark Polynesian restaurant Coral Reef is long gone (but dearly remembered), as is Trader Dick’s inside John Ascuaga’s Nugget, the rum-soaked siren song of Bali Hai has not stopped calling.
For one thing, the iconic Trader Vic’s went from a tiny bar in Oakland that opened in 1937 to its current status as a global chain, speaking loudly of our continuing love for crab Rangoon and mai tais. The nearest one is in Emeryville.
For another, consider how the tiki culture endures in “Smuggler’s Cove,” with hundreds of color photos and cocktail recipes, spiced with fascinating text that dwells in detail on “one of the most alluring – and often misunderstood – movements in American cultural history” (Ten Speed Press, $30, 352 pages). Authors Martin and Rebecca Cate run Smuggler’s Cove bar, named among America’s Best Bars by Esquire and Playboy magazines, as well as Forbidden Island Tiki Lounge, both in San Francisco.
In the book’s pages live legends such as tiki culture-founder Don the Beachcomber, Trader Vic Bergeron and Trader Sam, along with everything you always wanted to know about the rums of the world. There’s even a how-to for stocking your own tiki bar and learning tiki techniques, such as juicing and shaking. How to serve an exotic drink in a whole pineapple? Practice.