The Spare Room — the sleek, aptly named space inside the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel — does not immediately bring to mind the kitsch of tiki. But that doesn't mean the bar doesn't do tiki right.
The bar has hosted a monthly tiki night featuring guest bartenders from across the country for the past four years, celebrating the culture that flourished in Hollywood at the original Don the Beachcomber just a few blocks down the boulevard.
Spare Room owners Marc Rose and Med Abrous have been tiki fans for a long time, and their new beverage director, Yael Vengroff (previously at Harvard & Stone and a slew of NYC hot spots before that) helms this year's tiki series, running this time from May to September.
Says Vengroff of the 2015 series' guests: “All of them have some sort of tiki background or simply special skills that embody the spirit of tiki, whether it be garnishes or mixing styles.”
During their one-night-only stint, guest bartenders create four drinks, which can include adaptations of classics such as mai-tais and zombies or slightly lesser-known ones such as the Missionary’s Downfall. They also get to create completely original concoctions. Vengroff, in turn, offers a special menu of her own. DJs come in and play vintage island jams, and many patrons dress the part (think aloha shirts and floral hair accessories).
This year’s series kicked off May 13 with Captain Brian Miller (Tiki Mondays, NYC) and continues this Wednesday, June 3, with John Gertsen (ABV, San Franciso), Will Thompson (The Bon Vivants & Pour Decisions, Boston) and Scott Marshall (22 Square, Savannah).
The rest of the guest lineup is as follows:
July 1: Devon Tarby and Mary Bartlett (Proprietors LLC, L.A.)
August 5: Lynette Marrero (DrinksAt6 Consulting & Speed Rack, New York) and Mindy Kucan (Hale Pele, Portland)
September 2: Chris Bostick (Half Step, Austin) and Ryan Rouse (Grand Prize, Houston)