The Essence of Tiki


Tiki is a feast for all our senses. The taste of a well-crafted cocktail. The sight of a meticulously decorated bar. The feel of carved statues. The sounds of exotica in the air...


But what about the essences - to be more specific, the smells of Tiki? Our olfactory receptor is very large and is the strongest of the senses. Especially in evolutionary speaking, it's the oldest sense we have in finding food and fostering relationships with our environment.


Our olfactory sense gives us important interconnections with memory and it signals social and emotional affiliations. The smell of freshly chopped parsley can remind someone of their grandmother, and so many other happy memories follow..


Before I thought about sense of smell, I didn't pay much attention to it. It seemed easy to light a fruity summertime "boat drink" type of candle and call it a day. That was if I was going to put any effort into it at all. I had never really thought, or paid attention to it. Then I realized lighting a candle was the lazy equivalent of relying on canned cocktails.


It was my first visit to Hale Pele that it hit my nose. What was that aroma that awoke my senses? I immediately thought of burnt lime and cinnamon. That fiery combination of citrus and spice triggered memories, both real and imaginary, of a secluded oasis. The immersion of aroma was so seductive, I never wanted to leave!


Since then, I've explored the use of scents with the same enthusiasm as I've done with crafting my olfactory home bar experience. My Preferred combinations is dusky sandalwood, crisp bergamot and spicy cinnamon. It's an exotic blend that helps cue my mind and memory that I've just entered the lost oasis of my dreams. Some say "the nose smells what the eyes see."


The type of scents chosen can depend on the space you are living and working in. Since my tiny Tiki bar is located in a closet under the stairs, it's best to use diffusers and oils. Candles have proved to work better outdoors. In my space, the oils give off just enough scent to transport me to a different exotic world. Try experimenting with oils or candles strategically placed around your bar until you find a pleasant balance. This underrated and often-overlooked detail can add to the overall sense of escapism.


And just as every bar is an expression of its creators, take time to enjoy experimenting with which aromas bring out Tiki for you!


"The Essenes of Tiki" originally printed in Exotica Moderne Issue, Issue 9, 2020