Robert Molina, the guy behind the Latin-focused bar and grill that is Roxanne’s in Cal Heights, is a restless man. He introduced the craft cocktail scene to Long Beach by way of Roxanne’s and, eventually growing a bit bored, created Long Beach’s first contemporary speakeasy, which operates in the back of Roxanne’s, through a secret telephone booth entry.
So it makes sense that he is, yet again, bored and wants to introduce not just Long Beach but the entire region to his newest endeavor: L.A.’s first portable tiki bar that, when not at an event elsewhere, will have a home in the back lot of Roxanne’s.
Just how is Molina accomplishing this goal? Taking a cue from North Long Beach’s lauded SteelCraft eat-and-drink hub, made almost entirely of shipping containers, Molina is taking his own container and using his own shipping company to move the makeshift tiki bar into action.
“It’s tiki with a Latin twist — so that means taking the Polynesian roots of the tiki cocktail and infusing as much as we can from Peru downward,” Molina says. “So we’re trying to blend the rich history of Mesoamerica — the myths, the deities, the art — into this bar."
The result? Marie’s Tek-Tec. (Roxanne’s is named after his first daughter using her middle name; Marie's is the same deal, for his second daughter).
To achieve full tiki status a la Latin America, Molina has brought on Josh Daclan, from Honolulu’s famed Royal Hawaiian, and Kalvin Portillo, from Gin & Luck.
“We’re trying to take people on a trip through layers,” Portillo says. “Mixing agave spirits with sugar cane spirits creates fruity drinks with a kick.”
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Daclan and Portillo are using fruits common to Central America — think nance, dragonfruit, guava, cashew fruit — and applying them to drinks paired with overproof rums, mezcals and tequilas. All in a space that Molina can carry around thanks to his M-Line Carrier trucking company.
Expected to be completed in two months, Marie’s Tek-Tec will unfold into a tiki paradise. The shipping container has a retractable roof, fold-out dance floor, art by tiki legend Doug Horne and hand carvings by none other than the legendary Tiki Diablo. With all of this, Molina hopes to achieve a full submersion into a tropical world.
“I want to give people an escape, a place to enjoy the paradises that came out of the tiki bars,” Molina says. “And I want them to be able to experience it wherever they want to have it.”