Taking A Liquid Vacation With P Moss And Toasting His Book
I had a few moments with the master, and it was like sitting down with Tommy Lasorda talking baseball or discussing trop/rock music with Jimmy Buffett.
The subject was tiki bars and the drinks in tiki bars, and I was in the company of P Moss – or just simply Moss – who owns Frankie’s Tiki Room in Las Vegas. He’s now published a book featuring recipes exclusively from that bar, as well as a few standard Polynesian classics. The book is called “Liquid Vacation, 77 Refreshing Tropical Drinks.”
Moss knows tiki bars, tiki drinks, tiki culture and tiki bar history the way Nick Saban knows college football defenses. He even talks of a tiki community. He believes that when it comes to tiki bar drinks, what matters is the quality of the ingredients: the rum, the juices and the syrups. And of course, they must contain a lot of that rum.
I was a bit embarrassed when I had to admit to Moss that I have never been to Frankie’s Tiki Room in Las Vegas. I had been talking with great interest in tiki bars and then he initially gave me a kind of “well if you claim to like tiki bars then how could you have never been to Frankie’s!?,” kind of expression. I did, however, recover a measure of respect when I informed him that I have an actual tiki bar in my Manhattan Beach apartment. Naturally, I invited him over to have a look (and drinks) at it.
His book contains a total of 77 recipes with vivid color pictures of each drink. It’s quite a beautiful book and what I like best are the little cartoon skulls next to the name of each drink, which indicates their potency. Most have a “buzz rating,” of three skulls, but several have four (Mai Tai, Navy Grog, Coco The Nut, Drunk Monk, Mutiny and Scurvy just to point out a few and don’t you just love the names of tiki bar drinks almost as much as the drinks themselves!?).
Only a few drinks are awarded the maximum five skulls: the Bender Ender (three kinds of rum including 160-proof Stroh), Fink Bomb (more 160-proof rum), Five-O Fireball (three kinds of rum, including 151), Nakalele Knockout, Ninth Island (three kinds of rum, vodka, gin and triple sec, WHOA!), the Surfadelic Smashup, Wai’anae Wipeout and the Zombie.
The latter reminds me of an episode from the original M*A*S*H when Hawkeye and Trapper are in a tiki bar in Toyko on a weekend pass. “I’ll have a Zombie,” Hawkeye tells the bartender. “And keep bringing them until I turn into one.”
After flipping through a few pages of Moss’ book, I wanted to tuck it under my arm and run to the nearest tiki bar. Since I’m not in Las Vegas but instead in the South Bay Beach Cities of Los Angeles, the closest such place is the Purple Orchid in El Segundo. For now it will have to do, until I can get to Frankie’s Tiki Room.
The colorful coffee table –- or better yet, tiki table book – book cost 30 bucks and is on Amazon.com, as well as those good ‘ol walk-in bookstores (which, frankly, I prefer). Or just walk into Frankie’s in Vegas, buy it and start ordering off what is the ultimate tiki bar drink menu.
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