Tuesday, December 8th, 2020
Troubling Paradise: The Case of the First Tiki Bar
with Kerry Knerr
In 1934 the first tiki bar opened its doors at 1727 N McCadden Place, just two blocks north of Hollywood Boulevard. The Beachcomber Cafe, later and more famously known as Don the Beachcomber, became the iconic example of a uniquely American establishment: the tiki bar. While that bar is closely associated with its proprietor and namesake, Donn Beach, a close examination of the historical records shows that the restaurant was primarily run by Beach’s ex-wife, Sunny Sund, and the head bartender, Ray Buhen.
Through the interwoven stories of a tall-talking Texan, a Minnesotan ex-schoolmarm, and a Filipino immigrant bartender, the true story of the first tiki bar shows a much more complicated and cosmopolitan story of American dining culture.
Dr. Kerry Knerr is a cultural historian of cocktails and of U.S. empire. Her work focuses on the material relationship between popular and imperial cultures. She currently teaches at the University of Texas at Austin.
The program is free to members, although advance registration is required. Please RSVP through Eventbrite, and we will send you a link to join the Zoom meeting. Nonmembers and guests are invited for $10.
We invite you to make a refreshing mai tai, courtesy of Dr. Knerr’s favorite recipe, to enjoy as part of this event.