In olden times, heroes walked the earth. These pioneers helped map the digital horizon, measuring the bandheight as they defended Pandora’s Letterbox against the forces of the L33t H4x0rz. Though their exploits are well-documented in the early annals of the vodcast, precious few tangible relics remain. Glasses signifying membership in the Royal League of Bunnies are found from time to time, purple and green Charooba mugs are spoken of in hushed whispers and some say they have actually seen RobotBox shooters and the Drinkbot decanter, but those claims are suspect, at best. So, in the spirit of the ones who came before, won’t you join me now as we stand and make Tiki Bar TV’s “Love in the South Pacific”.
In the beginning there was silence, but that made folks uncomfortable so they invented words. Words worked well for many things, but there were still lulls that needed filling. Thus music was born, to fill the in-between spots in our lives and to use as an excuse to avoid sharing words with others, especially those who did not appreciate our choice of tunes or the beat of our drummer. Music, like love, was all around, but it was ephemeral and fleeting. You could listen to someone play or sing, but there was no way to record it anywhere but in your memory. Some say these days were better, these people are wrong about many other things as well. The insatiable desire of the people for canned music led to the invention of the music box, some capable of playing most of a melody. Advancements in technology made the barrel organ possible which inspired Alexander Bain to cross a piano with hole filled paper roll in 1847 creating the player piano. Of course, it would take another forty years for the instrument to reach its true potential, just in time for Scoot Joplin to revolutionize the American dance scene. Folks downriver could now hear the notes Mr. Joplin was playing, but they still lacked lyrics. Then in 1877, Thomas Edison transcended the time-space continuum by recording voices and music on wax cylinders that could be played back at any time. Finally, the people had what they needed, smooth tunes to swoon to on a Saturday night.
Technology decided this was a good place to work, so soon those wax cylinders became wax discs and the phonograph was born. The phonograph begat the Victrola and vinyl discs. And lo, these discs were large and ran at 78 rpm, which was too fast, so they were slowed to 33, except for their smaller cousins which were more fleet of foot and could achieve 45. The Victrola begat magnetic tape and the reel to reel came to be. In those days, the reel to reel was too large for transit and the 8-track emerged. And lo, the 8-track spake, “CLONK” in the midst of FreeBird and this was not good, so the lord created the cassette, which begat the cassingle and the many generations thereof. And in those days there was a time when the music was found to be too rich and warm, thus the digital revolution did remove scratches and tape hiss and soul as the compact disc was born in all of its austere, perfectly reproduced clarity. Seeing this the people were angry and they spake in unison, “this music is too clean and clear and takes many binders to carry!” Thus the mp3 was born and music ceased to be a physical thing, but once again existed in the aether. But man, being fickle, wanted this music to travel with him once more so that his beach parties may enjoy Exotica and portable music reached its pinnacle with the ascension of the iPod. Tens of thousands of songs packed into a mechanical sculpture the size of a deck of cards, accessible only by the turns of the great wheel and the button press.
With so much space for sounds, people turned from music and asked “Can ye not talk directly to our minds?” And verily we spake, “Yea!” And with that simple exchange the podcast was born and people began to cry out from all over, in a babel of confusion. They told stories and gave of their opinions in a free open forum with no regard to quality, consistency or truth. At this time visionaries were born, who saw that the media was changing and in their wisdom, they created the video podcast. A medium with no real format, dropped into an internet that was not yet accustomed to homemade videos, at least not ones you could share in mixed company. One of these earliest of adopters was Doctor Tiki, Johny Johny and Lala “Beatrice” Fastwater, who brought Tiki Bar TV to the airwaves in 2005 and were cast among the stars when Apple added video to the iPod and featured them at the product launch. These great men and woman of the vodcast frontier, revolutionized not-TV with their 5 minute dives into the problems of modern man and woman which can almost always be solved by drinking. They applied this philosophy for years, before literally jumping the shark. They ceased to create new material in 2009, when it was discovered that solving your problems with drinking can have a downside for some people. The creators went on to have lucrative careers in real television where they were actually paid for their efforts, as opposed to the early days of non-TV where it actually cost money to be stars.
Their format included lots of classic tiki drinks but the best I can tell this drink did not actually exist outside the Tiki Bar TV universe. Since it is, allegedly, a Tiki Bar TV original it seems the obvious choice for my homage to this cherished relic of my middle adulthood. I recently acquired an actual TBTV Purple Charooba made by Tiki Farm so it seemed like a good time to give this one a go. Like many of the best tiki drinks, it has a bunch of ingredients. For the most part these are easy to acquire, I think the weirdest thing here is sloe gin. However, this one does call for a secret ingredient that you will have to find on your own. Sure it sounds easy, but don’t forget, this is the drink that took down Drinkbot, so proceed with caution.
Grab your tins and pop in 1 ounce of white rum, I chose Cruzan; 1 ounce of Southern Comfort, 1/2 an ounce of Banane du Bresil, 1/2 an ounce of Triple Sec, 1/2 an ounce of sloe gin, 1/2 an ounce of vodka, I chose Stolichnya; 4 ounces of orange juice, fresh squeezed, preferably, and 3 drops of Bittermen’s Elemakule Tiki Bitters. Here comes the tricky bit, you need to add love to make this one work. What does that mean? Well, as the bard said, “let it be, as you shall private determine among yourselves.” Just remember that love comes in many forms and some of those call for consent, so be decent. Toss in some ice and give your very full tins a hard, but loving, shake to the beat of “Don’t Know Much” by Linda Ronstadt & Aaron Neville, unless you can find the Reginald Hornstein version. When your tins are properly chilled and forming a frosty sheen, strain over ice into a suitable tiki mug and top with club soda. If your choice is a TBTV Purple Charooba, you will only want to put about half of your 8 ounces in there, or there won’t be room for ice and club soda. For most big tiki mugs though, this one is perfect. Pop in a reusable glass bamboo straw from Surfside Sips, garnish with whatever tropical looking flowers are blooming in the garden and pop it down beside the traditional Tiki Bar TV Tokin’ Monkey, as one does.
For all of the nostalgia, this is not a great tiki drink. It’s not bad, but it is not good either. To be fair, it is like a lot of the show. Perfect for when you are in the mood for something light and fun, but this drink lacks the depth and the complexity that often hide right below the surface in the show. When they filmed, they mostly ad-lbbed and that made for moments of genius and moments of…Love in the South Pacific. Tiki is like some other things, when it is good it is really good and when it is bad, well, it is still a lot of fun. All that said, this one is super approachable, so if you want to make something sweet and easy going down, with some flair and a bunch of bottles being tossed about, this might just fit the bill. Or you can use it as an object lesson of what happens when you toss a bunch of alcohols at the wall and garnish it with flowers.
It is alway fun to look back at the indiscretions of youth and the things you loved. I rewatched a bunch of episodes trying to find this particular mug, it’s in there several times, but I first noticed it in the background of the 2007 Holiday Special. Well, I mean it is there as an actual mug, his visage was the mascot long before it was immortalized in ceramic. The point is, it was fun watching this early “vodcast” again on a screen larger than my old Video iPod, seeing the ad-libs fall apart, the nods to production value constraints and the huge amount of legitimately brilliant things they were doing here, way before there were any real standards for this kind of stuff. Perhaps the most inspiring bit is that they weren’t sponsored, they did not have big licensing deals, it was just a group of friends making art for the pure joy of it and sharing that with the world. I love that. Creating for creation’s sake or just to show folks you can do it or to make them see just how clever you and your friends are. Whatever the motive, they made the world a better place with their wit and humor, setting the stage for the YouTubers and vloggers to come all while serving up some tasty tiki drinks. There is nothing in the world wrong with that. Stay safe, stay hydrated and stay sane, my friends.