There are two huge local tiki happenings this month and one tiki ambassador who has an integral role in both of them — bar owner, cocktail expert, and book author Martin Cate, whose Smuggler's Cove in San Francisco is the country's preeminent destination for rum and tiki drinks. His perpetually sold-out seminar on rum and drink-building is a highlight of San Diego's annual Tiki Oasis, a convention and celebration around the wondrous world of tiki; this year's monster-themed shebang kicks off tonight and runs through Sunday, August 21.
Cate is also one of the key creators behind the highly-anticipated False Idol, a new tiki temple in Little Italy developed in partnership with CH Projects (Ironside, Craft & Commerce). An ad in the back of the Tiki Oasis program optimistically lists the bar as open, but we're hearing that it will likely launch later in August.
Though the project has been shrouded in secrecy, Cate recently talked tiki with Eater and shared a few preview tidbits about False Idol (We also sleuthed out a few more).
1. Cate promises the bar will be a "fully immersive environment" that celebrates the talent of legendary artists who contributed to the design, including renowned tiki craftsmen Bosko and Notch.
2. Every square inch of the space is covered in custom themed carvings, more than at any of the other tiki-inspired bars that Cate's been a part of, which include Portland's Hale Pele and Lost Lake in Chicago.
3. There will be playful, interactive elements that should appeal to fans of Trader Sam's Enchanted Tiki Bar at the Disneyland Hotel.
4. Yes, there's False Idol tiki mug, specially designed by Bosko and Notch.
5. Cate collaborated with CH Projects' beverage director Anthony Schmidt, who launched Fairweather and won last year' Tiki Oasis Bartenders Battle, on exotic cocktails ranging from classic to contemporary tiki concoctions.
6. Expect to see some historic drinks pulled from San Diego's own tiki days of yore, which haven't been seen before on modern menus.
7. Those lucky enough to nab a ticket for Cate's Saturday afternoon seminar at Tiki Oasis will get a preview taste of at least one of the cocktails off the False Idol menu.
8. Cate says his favorite local tiki spot is the Shelter Island's Bali Hai, home of the World Famous Mai Tai, but he also frequents Turf Supper Club in Golden Hill.
9. No food will be served at False Idol, but it's tucked away inside CH Projects' Craft & Commerce restaurant, which is scheduled to reopen next week.
10. Although many speculated that False Idol would be located along the Kettner Boulevard side of the newly expanded Craft & Commerce, the tiki bar's entryway is actually hidden behind a door just beyond the restaurant's main entrance on Beech Street.