I don't remember much from my years as a religion major. It was a long time ago, the mid-90s, and anyway I was way too stoned to retain more than a few fuzzy memories of the classes I actually went to. But I do remember a couple of things. One of them is that Polynesian mythology is full of nubile goddesses with awesome magical powers. Not only could they seduce and defeat any god with a twist of their hips, they could produce lightning bolts by shaking their coconut-shell bras, make fish jump into the boats of fishermen, and sail their wooden boats all the way to the moon.
I'm pretty sure I saw all three of those things happen the other week at the opening party for Tiki Bar, Moscow's first Hawaiian themed bar and restaurant. In any case there was no shortage of nubile goddesses, and I definitely remember a boat. The boat looked a lot like the one from Gilligan's Island and was built into the wall to look like it crashed during a storm. Two nubile goddesses danced around a huge wooden steering wheel while some factory-issue Russian band played crap rock with lots of sax solos. When the DJ finally came on, at least ten other nubile goddesses started dancing on the bar. This made it hard to order a mai tai, but I wasn't complaining. Nobody could have heard me anyway.
Unfortunately I was also too drunk to be able to remember much about the food. I think I got some nachos heaped with guacamole and olives. Whatever I had it was not particularly tiki, but it was good and I still had some money left in my wallet the next day.
Not that food matters at a tiki bar. More important are the following questions: Is the rum drink menu long and exotic? Are the drinks stiff? Are they served in tiki mugs?
Tiki Bar says: yes, yes, and yes. I stuck to mai tais, but my company that night swears they also had rum drinks that are likely new to Moscow, like the famous Somoan's Grog, made from dark Jamaican rum, passion fruit syrup, anosturga bitters, unsweetened pineapple juice, lemon juice and mint. I'm still pissed at myself for not being more adventurous, but when you get a good mai tai groove going, you kind of want to stick with it. The next time I go to Tiki Bar, and there will be a next time, I'm going to see if they make an Evil Bastard, a beast of a tiki drink involving Whaler's vanilla, Bacardi 151, lemonade, orange juice, passion fruit and almond syrups.
They may give you cavities and hangovers, but fruity rum drinks are a lot of fun. So are tiki bars filled with nubile goddesses and fake palm trees. Since tiki bar culture never existed here, I wonder whether Moscovites will approach Tiki Bar as Americans did during the first wave of tikimania, which was genuine, or the second wave, which was all kitsch appeal.
Not that it matters. I had a blast at the opening, even if I can't remember much of it. I know because the next morning the savage tiki godesses were mighty pissed, directing lightning bolts at my head with their comely coconut-shell covered boobs.
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