When Lisa introduced the Funky Flamingo as her “girlie tiki bar,” I was curious.
Women building home tiki bars is less common than men. At least in my experience, it is. Of the seventy eight home bars I have visited, only 13 (16%) of those bars have been created primarily by women. So when Lisa identified her space as uniquely girlie, I had to know more.
Lisa’s definition of “girlie” has something to do with embracing the random, the spontaneous, or the extemporaneous, all with a couple of shots of rum. Unlike the tiki men in her life, Lisa doesn’t get hung up on making things perfectly plumb or suspiciously square. If the lauhala on the walls is a little off-kilter, Lisa appreciates the character it adds. If the collection of ephemera on the walls is a bit haphazard, it feels right at home.
“I love the guys, don’t get me wrong, but everything is in straight lines. What’s up with that?” Lisa exclaimed.
Lisa’s husband, Mark, is also not immune to this manly approach. Lisa decided one day that she was ready to hang matting on the walls. Mark was at work. Lisa called him and said, “I ordered some lauhala.” Mark’s response was a hesitant “ok.” Lisa knew this meant that she needed to hang the matting before Mark got home, so she immediately set to work, and the mats went up in a few hours flat. Lisa’s hunch was spot on. When Mark got home, his comment was “I’m not sure I like this.” The reason? The matting wasn’t plumb. Lisa was ready with her perfectly reasoned response: “If you were on an island in the South Pacific, do you think it would matter if this were not perfectly straight?” Lisa turned to me and finished telling her story: “I just put it up and was good with it. I don’t think Tiki bars are supposed to be perfect.”
The Funky Flamingo is indeed a bit funky and full of flamingoes. The iconic birds have nested throughout her space. Lisa believes that nothing is more kitsch than pink flamingoes, so she has amassed a cool collection of vintage ceramic, old Florida-style flamingoes. The bar even has a flamingo neon sign. She still hopes to find the perfect flamingo signature mug, but she’s had little luck. She recently found one that positions the straw at the flamingo’s butt, but the thought of bird poop and tiki elixirs wasn’t a good mix. Look around the Funky Flamingo, and you see black velvets and other works of art by the Boozy Doodler, Dawn Frasier, Primativa, and other artists. There’s a good-sized collection of mugs, but still room for more. Along with her tikis and flamingoes, you’ll find an occasional gremlin, Star Wars cantina figurine, and Magnum PI glass displayed in obvious spots, adding the funk she loves.
Lisa is also not shy of rum. In fact, if you get a chance to visit, ask for the rum tour. When the red light goes on, it’s time for a tour. Lisa pulls out her folded National Geographic map of the Caribbean islands, points to the island of Guyana (her favorite island for rum), and declares, “Let’s start here.” How does the tour work? You drink your way across the islands, sipping a rum from each island as you go. Most times, her guests don’t make it past Martinique. It’s ok. Sometimes the rum tour moves from sipping to smelling the rums from the islands you haven’t yet visited. As long as you’re still standing, you can keep moving on.
After Lisa’s explanations and some generous sips of rum, my “girlie” curiosity was satisfied. To be clear, if you’re somehow inclined to think that girlie tiki bars serve sweet fruity spritzers, think again. Drinking rum in this “girlie tiki bar” is not for the faint of heart. Lisa can prove it. Just don’t try to straighten the lauhala on the walls after you get a little tipsy from visiting so many islands.