I've come to realize in recent years that I love most any place that makes me feel like I am in a completely different time or place the moment I walk in. This is why I love retro/vintage places and why I love my parties overly decorated. I am fascinated with transformations, with that feeling of out of the ordinary.
So this past weekend, some friends and I visited a little bar called Hala Kahiki. I warned my friends, this place had the potential to be absolutely amazing or absolutely awful. I was certain there could be no middle ground. And I was completely right.
Within ten minutes, my friend Emily had declared that Hala Kahiki would be the place for her 31st birthday party, come December.
When I researched this place, I found that someone had aptly described it as looking like the place where the Brady Bunch went on vacation in Hawaii. I also saw it listed as number 7 on the Top Ten Tiki Bars in America List so there's that too.
And let me tell you friends, this place did not disappoint. Aside from the slightly musty smell upon entrance (but really could it be a 1960s Tiki Bar without that??), Hala Kahiki is the place for fruity drinks. Among the five of us and our numerous drinks, there was not a bad drink to be had.
Overwhelmed by the pages upon pages of drinks, I decided to start with the waitress-recommended Zombie. Thought tasty, I was looking for something a bit more fruity and sweet.
After the Zombie, I stumbled upon the martini list and made the discovery of a lifetime: Key Lime Martinis. Honestly, a gift from the tiki gods. That's crumbled graham cracker you see up there. That drink in and of itself will bring me back. I can feel it in my bones.
As for the actual place, Hala Kahiki does not lack in the decor department. It's covered from floor to ceiling in tiki goodness. Cheesy, for sure, but isn't that to be expected? And the crowd? Quite eclectic, ranging from just-turned-21s straight through to grandmas.
So if you happen to be in Chicago and you're looking for some laughs and some strong, fruity drinks, well then, Hala Kahiki, my friends.
And if you're not in Chicago, what's your Hala Kahiki?