Tiki-Ti: The Story of an L.A. Icon

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Tiki-Ti | Photo by Adrian Eustaquio

It's easy to miss Tiki-Ti, the tropical hut located on a busy stretch of Sunset Boulevard at the border of Los Feliz and Silver Lake. You'll notice the people milling about outside - there's usually a wait, but once you're inside the tiny 12-seat bar it’s one of the most fun and unique neighborhood bars you’ll ever experience. Covered in signed placards from friends and legends, draped in glowing pufferfish and tiki lamps, and filled with art from masters in the tiki scene, it’s always a party at the Tiki-Ti.

Opened by legendary bartender Ray Buhen on April 28, 1961, Tiki-Ti occupies a former violin repair shop owned by Ray's father-in-law. Ray originally wanted to open a bartending school, but was convinced by his wife, Jerry to open a bar instead.

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Ray and Mike Buhen | Photo by Jim Staub, courtesy of Tiki-Ti

Ray Buhen was one of the "Four Boys” of the original Don the Beachcomber, which gave birth to the global tiki movement when it opened in Hollywood at the end of Prohibition. The Four Boys were four Filipinos who worked endlessly behind the scenes creating secret syrups, squeezing fresh juices, and carving ice to make drinks that would become tiki staples, like the Zombie and Missionary’s Downfall.

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Mike Buhen Sr. at Tiki-Ti | Photo by Tom Stratton

“There are still a lot of people who think tropical drinks started in Hawaii, and I tell them, no – they started right here in Hollywood,” says Mike Buhen Sr, Ray’s son and the current owner who runs the landmark tiki bar with his son, Mike Buhen Jr.

The anonymous Four Boys were instrumental in creating the foundation of today's tiki cocktails. But Ray didn’t want to stay in the background, and after leaving Don the Beachcomber he built a following at other famous Polynesian hotspots like the Seven Seas in Hollywood and The Luau in Beverly Hills before he opened Tiki-Ti.

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Tiki-Ti | Photo by Johnny Barajas

“My mom and my dad opened this place in 1961, from 11am to 2am seven days a week,” says Mike Sr. Back then, the clientele was mostly employees of the nearby Allied Artists movie studio, who would come by on their lunch break to pound a few beers. When the studio folded in 1965, Ray stopped serving beer and only served the exotic cocktails that would make him famous. To this day, there is no beer for sale at Tiki-Ti, except for “the last beer.” If you look over the cluttered shelves of mugs, toys, and various tropical objects, you may see a bottle of beer with a sign proclaiming, “The Last Beer.” It is one lone beer (with an ever escalating price) to be sold to someone desperate enough - or in on the joke - to want it.

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Mike Buhen Jr at Tiki-Ti | Photo by Tom Stratton

The Tiki-Ti menu features more than 90 drinks, including rum classics like the Mai Tai, Navy Grog, Nui Nui and Shark's Tooth. Order the Blood & Sand (choice of bourbon, scotch or tequila) and be prepared to watch a tiny wind-up bull charge along the bar top while patrons shout “Toro! Toro!”

Generations of celebrities have been regulars at Tiki-Ti, including Marlon Brando, Burt Reynolds, beloved "California's Gold" host Huell Howser, and Nicolas Cage, who once finished a cocktail ordered by a couple of regulars that was so potent even Mike Sr said it's "like drinking gasoline."

Tiki-Ti flourished even when tiki bars fell out of fashion. “We made it through the '80s because there weren’t a whole lot of options when it came to tiki,” recalls Mike Buhen Jr. “Some were seeking tiki, others were just looking for a good drink.”

“People used to come here and get loaded before they went to the discos,” laughed Mike Sr. Ray bartended until he was 88, and passed away in September 1999. "The Mikes" can be found behind the bar to this day, and the first non-family member was hired just over a year ago. Long time patrons help out by bussing tables and managing the lines.

La nueva atracción permanente en Universal Studios Hollywood es nada más ni nada menos que The Walking Dead, la cual está basada en la serie de televisión que ha roto récords en los Estados Unidos. The Walking Dead narra la historia de sobrevivientes en un mundo posterior al apocalipsis gobernado por hordas de criaturas terroríficas. Es el programa No. 1 para los adultos de 18-49 años durante los últimos cuatro años.

“Después de seis años de estar trabajando en The Walking Dead, hemos visto una gran oportunidad para llevar la serie fuera del estudio de grabación y convertirla en una atracción en Universal Studios Hollywood en la que los visitantes puedan verse cara a cara con los caminantes,” dijo Greg Nicotero, productor ejecutivo y director de The Walking Dead.

“Es muy emocionante el poder hacer la atracción lo más auténtica posible, al 100%," continuó Nicotero. 'Tenemos la oportunidad de utilizar los moldes que fueron creados específicamente para el programa y transformarlos como partes de la atracción. Hemos creado caminantes en animatronics para que los visitantes los puedan ver… esto no se hacho nunca antes – es realmente lo último en tecnología aplicada a la atracción”

Universal Studios Hollywood ha colaborado AMC con The Walking Dead durante años en una atracción especial creada para el laberinto de Halloween Horror Nights. Esta aventura totalmente nueva y diferente toma lo mejor de la experiencia temporal y ofrece la oportunidad de que la puedan vivir los 365 días del año como una atracción permanente en el parque temático.

Para asegurar la autenticidad de la atracción, los Estudios Universal de Hollywood trabajaron en conjunto con el equipo creativo de The Walking Dead, incluyendo a Greg Nicotero y su estudio de efectos especiales KNB Efx basado en Los Ángeles,  para desarrollar las prótesis, utilizar los moldes originales y aplicar las técnicas de pintura en detalle para los caminantes de la atracción. El involucrar al equipo creativo no solo añade una conexión emocional para que los fanáticos vivan la experiencia, sino que es una de las características clave de la atracción para distinguir a los personajes como una representación viva del programa.

Con lo mejor de los efectos especiales, lo último en tecnología, sofisticados animatronics, un escenario especialmente adaptado y detallado e incluso con accesorios originales de la serie, la atracción The Walking Dead ofrece un escenario de realismo sin paralelo que lleva a los visitantes conocer el mundo del programa más visto en la historia de la televisión por cable.

La atracción esté localizada en una estructura totalmente nueva localizada en un complejo de ampliación cerca de la entrada principal del parque temático, Debido a la intensidad y realismo, la atracción no es recomendable para menores de 13 años.

Los últimos cinco años han sido realmente especiales para los Estudios Universal de Hollywood, en los que se ha llevado a cabo una formidable renovación sin precedentes que ha modificado cerca del 75% de sus instalaciones para mejorar la experiencia de los visitantes a un parque temático totalmente renovado. La introducción de la atracción de The Walking Dead forma parte de esta ambiciosa transformación con una inversión sin paralelo.

Universal Studios Hollywood ha realizado un video que nos da una primera mirada a la atracción con los comentarios de Nicotero en el estudio de efectos especiales KNB Efxen el que se realizan los caminantes tanto para el programa como para la atracción.

Para más información visiten www.UniversalStudiosHollywood.com.

No te pierdas las actividades para toda la familia en Los Ángeles


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Toast to Ray with Mike Buhen Sr. at Tiki-Ti | Photo by Tom Stratton

Tiki-Ti's signature drink is the Ray’s Mistake, which was accidentally created in 1968 when Ray was making a drink for a customer and realized he had mixed up the syrups. He was about to dump the concoction, but the customer wanted to try it anyway, and liked it enough that it became a menu item. The drink is on special every Wednesday until the toast to Ray at 9pm, when Mike Sr. rings a bell, raises a glass, and everyone in the packed joint salutes the "Master Ninja," as Ray is affectionately known.

4427 Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90027
(323) 669-9382

Cash only. For hours, check the Tiki-Ti calendar.