Go tiki

One party girl’s tips for getting lei’d back

Everybody knows that summer’s the time to kick back with a tall, cold, fruity drink and relax with friends. Nervous Nellies know that throwing a party is a sure way to get their knickers in a twist. What they need is some advice from an easy and breezy entertainment maven like our gal Ginger, the big kahuna of all things tiki, who here shares her pointers for the perfect summer fête.

SN&R: I’m kind of uptight, but I want to have fun at my own party. How can I throw the perfect summer bash?

Ginger: If you want to throw a way awesome party, there’s only one way to go: tiki.

Tiki? You mean Hawaiian-themed?

Fer sure! Think tropical. Think umbrellas in pink and blue drinks. Think ukulele music and gentle island breezes.

Photo By Larry Dalton

Gentle island breezes? In the Central Valley, in summer? You’ve got to be kidding me.

You really are uptight. Look, do you want to have an outrageous party or what? Set up a fan and don’t worry so much. It’s all about the atmosphere.

But how do I create the atmosphere!?

That’s easy. Like I said: drink umbrellas! And other stuff. Get grass skirts for your table, tiki torches, everything. I was out at Party America the other day, and they have a whole tiki aisle where you could totally max out on stuff for an excellent party! There’s a jumbo inflatable monkey, an inflatable palm-tree cooler for drinks, strings of lights shaped like flip-flops, and cups shaped like girls in bikinis. Awesome! Who wouldn’t be totally stoked about that?

Well, goodness me. I mean, an inflatable palm-tree cooler and plastic bikini-girl cups sound, well, more tacky than tiki. Got any other ideas?

Dude, I don’t know if I can help you if you’re going to be like that. Chill! Tiki is a little tacky. That’s the idea. But they have classier stuff, too. Check out the fern-leaf leis or the pink and orange hibiscus platters and matching paper plates and umbrellas. They’re way cute, and you could totally get matching hibiscus-glitter faux tattoos. But the key is the tiki torches. Get a ton of those—they’re super cheap—and set them up all over the yard. Oh, and if you want new lawn furniture, or something cool to wear, the most awesome place to shop is Sitting in Paradise.

Photo By Larry Dalton

Say, I live right by there! I’ve never been in!

You are missing out! It is so awesome. It’s like the cool, upscale tiki-shopping alternative, and the owner is fab. They have Hawaiian shirts, shell jewelry, board shorts, flip-flops, CDs of Hawaiian music and something else you totally need for your party: recipe books.

Recipe books?

Oh, yeah. Dude, you want drinks, right? Oh, and some food. But drinks are key. And don’t think you can get away with a cooler of Miller Genuine Draft and a case of Two-Buck Chuck, or even rum-and-Cokes for everyone. You need real cocktails, made with as many flavors of rum as you can fit in each one. That, or blue Curaçao, or coconut cream. Oh, and put a maraschino cherry or a slice of pineapple in everything.

That sounds kind of complicated.

Listen to you. Not really. I mean, it is a little bit, but you can make it easier on yourself by being laid-back about it. Make up a bunch of pitcher drinks rather than shaking each individual cocktail. Check out The Great Tiki Drink Book for ideas. Or, call up a bar, like, you know, Head Hunters, and ask for its recipes for cool tiki drinks.

Photo By Larry Dalton

Seriously? Will they really give them to me?

They might! Monica Lucas, the former manager at Hukilau Island Grill, shared some of their way-cool recipes, like the Horny Monkey: One ounce vodka; one-half ounce Myers dark rum; and one-quarter ounce banana liqueur, pineapple juice and coconut cream, served on the rocks. Or the Island Girl martini: equal parts coconut-, mango- and pineapple-flavored rum, plus cranberry and pineapple juices, served straight up. You could totally make that one into a killer punch. As of very recently, the Hukilau is defunct—major bummer—so it’s up to you to carry on the tradition.

What about food? Do I have to roast a whole pig or make poi?

No way. Take it easy and buy everything but just disguise it a little. You can get awesome barbecue ribs from practically any Chinese restaurant. Spring rolls, satay with peanut sauce and sushi rolls would all be good things to buy from restaurants. Serve regular guacamole, with an orchid stuck in it (actually, stick orchids in everything), with spiced taro chips and jicama sticks instead of tortilla chips. Pineapple chunks are a no-brainer. You can put them on a platter with other fruit, like watermelon, and a little bowl of mixed sea salt, cayenne pepper and red pepper flakes for dipping. Platters of shrimp are great, too—make a spicy cocktail sauce with lime juice, sriracha chili sauce, ketchup and cilantro. Also, don’t forget Trader Joe’s (after all, they all wear Hawaiian shirts). Their black-pepper cashews rock, and they sell tons of other prepared food.

Golly, Ginger, thanks! That all sounds pretty easy. Anything else I need to know to have a perfect party?

Make sure I’m there. And, seriously, chill already. Aloha.

Photo By Larry Dalton

Party America
2100 Arden Way, Suite 105
(916) 564-5613

Sitting in Paradise
3223 Folsom Boulevard
(916) 455-2222

Head Hunters
1930 K Street
(916) 492-2922

Trader Joe’s
5000 Folsom Boulevard
(916) 456-1853