Philly Rum Weekend With Duke's Surf Bar Tiki Pop-Up, Aug 16-18
Ready to get tropical? If you haven’t yet taken a vacation this summer, here's your chance, and you don’t even have to travel. On Friday there’s an 80s dance party at Rum Bar, and on Saturday the Rittenhouse drinkery hosts a pineapple social. But things get started on Thursday, August 16, when Rum Bar transforms into Duke’s Surf Bar for one evening. Katie Loeb of Han Dynasty (and author of cocktail book Shake, Stir, Pour) will be collaborating with proprietor Adam Kanter on this one-night-only endeavor, which will give Philly its first taste of a true tiki bar in years.
What is it that makes a tiki bar a “true” tiki bar? We chatted with Kanter, who is a renowned rum expert, to find out. First, recipes for cocktails are never given out. Loeb and Kanter have come up with a secret list of 20 tiki drinks — island-style concoctions that feature plenty of fruit and lots of rum — and we won’t know what they are until that Thursday evening at Duke’s.
What we do know is the cocktails are divided into categories of sweet, sour, spicy and strong, and have names like Shrunken Head, Papa Doble, Lava Flip and Pearl Diver's Punch. The drinks are inspired by the two originators of the tiki bar, "Trader Vic" Bergeron (who claims to have invented the Mai Thai) and his longtime competitor, Donn Beach (aka Don the Beachcomber).
Second, the environment has to be right. Ideally, you should feel like you’ve escaped to another world when you enter a tiki bar — one where the kitsch and neon of plastic flamingos and cut-out palm trees is totally normal. It’s relaxing to not have to care about high style, just sip your rum and go with the flow.
Was there ever a true tiki bar in Philadelphia? Thanks to some diligent research, Kanter discovered that Pub Tiki once existed at 1718 Walnut Street, but closed down some 35 years ago.as befits the secretive style, very little info remains about the place, but “they had a waterfall, secret recipes, faux Polynesian decor... the whole nine!” Kanter tells us excitedly.
Kanter has been looking to do tiki for a little while now, and since 2009 has had a page on the Rum Bar menu devoted to tiki drinks, but hasn’t felt confident enough until now. “Study tiki recipes all you want, there is a certain style and flare still required,” he notes. When he approached Loeb with the idea for the pop-up, “She stopped me at aloha,” he says.
Duke’s Surf Bar could become more than just a one-night event, if Kanter can find investors who will put up the capital. He already has a perfect location for Duke’s, off of Moravian on 20th Street. The spot is just behind Shake Shack, which serves only beer and wine, so it would be a perfect complement to the area. Anyone interested in helping make this happen?
After Duke’s, come out to Rum Bar at 9 PM on Friday, August 17, in your best shoulder pads, biker shorts and tube socks for the 80s Dance Party. Go back in time with an all-80s drink menu (cosmo, anyone?) and rock to the tunes of DJ Natev. There’s no cover, drinks are pay as you go.
The tropical weekend continues on Saturday, August 18, with the Pineapple Social. In celebration of the 54th birthday of the pina colada, Rum Bar is serving craft coladas in actual hollowed pineapples (graciously provided by Chairman’s Reserve rum, from St. Lucia Distillers). Choose from original, quattroberry or banana spiced for your fruit-filled rum sip, and make Rum Bar into your own private island.
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