At the beginning of the 2000s Tiki made a revival in London and at the forefront of that resurgence was Jules Gualdoni. After managing Trailer Happiness on Portobello Road for two years he moved on to set up and run Mahiki in Dover Street. From there the group expanded over the following five years to open Kanaloa, Brompton Club, Punch Bowl and Whisky Mist. Jules also co-created a rum brand called Mahiki Rum made at Foursquare distillery in Barbados.
Living the tropical lifestyle in grey London couldn't hold Jules for long however and six years ago he moved to Barbados to work at the Cliff Restaurant on the west coast of the Island. From there he has moved on to open the Cliff Beach Club and by night he is known as Mr Jules. His days are spent surfing, paddle boarding, being on the beach with his children Valentino and Bellini and his wife, Jilly.
On August 9th and 10th Jules will be visiting London and taking over Tiki Bordel, a summer Tiki-themed pop-up in Shoreditch.
Q&A with Papa Jules:
Do you remember your first experience with Tiki?
Jilly, my wife, was a DJ at South London Pacific where I used to go some Thursday evenings - to check her out. If my memory served me correctly, South London Pacific and Trader Vic's were the only places in London you could experience Tiki.
How do you define Tiki, both in culture and drinks?
Polynesian Pop, escapism, rum, tropic and sun, Don the Beachcomber, Trader Vic's, Hawaii, faux decor. Did I mention rum?
Why do you love the culture of Tiki?
In UK, Tiki was a way for me to escape from rainy London. In the Caribbean, the Tiki Culture is not as developed as the big city, we don't really need to escape as we are already in it, palm trees, beach bar, Pina Colada, Mai Tai...
Are there any modern Tiki drinks you love?
More and more I like long, refreshing, less sweet drinks, using fresh herbs. For me Garden Punch is a drink I always bring around in parties. It's rum marinated with cucumber, marjoram and summer fruit topped up with ginger ale and apple juice and dashed with elderflower. At the Cliff Beach Club we have a lot of staff buying our rum punch by the gallon for the weekend - in Barbados people tend to drink sweet drinks.
What are the stand out classic Tiki drinks to you?
Mai-Tai from Trader Vic's is known worldwide and the one I sell the most at The Cliff.
What are your favourite Tiki bars worldwide?
Every Saturday Roger, Barney and myself do a two hours "downwinder", paddle boarding and catching waves from A (Carrib) to B (Barbados Yacht Club) with the wind pushing us toward the yacht club.
The first bar we stop is a Tiki bar on the beach simply called "Tiki Bar". It is a great friendly beach bar which we stop at for 10 minutes and talk about the waves we charged (I always charge the biggest one with great style) and drink one Red Stripe. Actually - you can't have their rum punch, it is too strong and you can't finish the downwinder.