The Polynesian Craze Returns
The Tiki subculture of the 21st century is a revival of the Polynesian craze of the 1950's and 1960's: lounge music and fashion, exotic drinks, swaying palm trees, exotic women and south pacific island dreams. When you say "drinks with the little umbrella," you are talking from the roots of Tiki.
The Mystique of Island Life
The Polynesian pop culture of the 1950's through the beginning of the 1970's really began much earlier. Early explorations and tales of beautiful women, who had a penchant for free love, were some of the earliest stirrings of civilized culture's imaginations. In reality, Captain Cook was mistaken for a God when he arrived in Hawaii during a celebration; thus he was given the royal treatment. The Island people were a sharing and generous sort, but probably feared more for their welfare. Melville's writings and Gaugin's paintings of Tahiti and the South Pacific led further to the mystique of island life.
Trader Vic's and Tiki Culture in 1936
In 1932, Victor Bergeron opened his first restaurant, Hinky Dink's in Oakland, California. He served his version of a mix of "Chinese, Japanese, or Tahitian dishes", and tropical cocktails. About Rum he said, "I was peddling rum long before the present liquor shortage because I like rum. I like the drinks it makes and everything about it." The place quickly became popular, with help of the writings of Lucious Beebe. He changed his name and the establishment's to Trader Vic's in 1936. He had a peg leg and though he had lost it from Polio as a child, the stories and a legend began.
Don the Beachcomber
Prohibition ended in 1933, but America was still in the throes of the Depression. Rum was by far the least expensive of spirits to stock. One enterprising new Hollywood proprietor, Ernest Beaumont-Gantt opened Don the Beachcomber in 1934. He was from New Orleans and had been to Jamaica with his father. He mixed potent Rum cocktails in his tropically decorated bar. This was such an escape from everyday life that it rose quickly in popularity.
The Island ways gained popularity after WWII with the soldiers returning from the South Pacific. James Mitchner romanticized the appeal even more with his South Pacific novels. The play and eventual movie, South Pacific, along with Rogers & Hammerstein's "Bali Hai" just fed more fuel to the Tiki mystique.
Kon-Tiki and Thor Heyerdahl
Then in 1947, archeologist and explorer Thor Heyerdahl made his famous expedition on a balsa wood raft, the Kon-Tiki, from Callio, Peru. It took him 101 days and 4300 miles to reach Polynesia. This proved his theory that it was possible that exiled Peruvians could have drifted and inhabited the islands. Though not a hit in his native Norway, the Americans loved the story and the ensuing documentary won an Oscar in 1951.
Tiki / Exotica Music
It sets the mood for your island getaway