To understand Polynesian pop in America, you can read Tales of the South Pacific by James Michener, published on the heels of his return stateside after serving in the Navy during World War II. Or you can pick up a copy of Martin and Rebecca Cate’s ode to tiki. The couple owns Smuggler’s Cove, a San Francisco rum destination since 2009. Their new cocktail book is a compelling read, covering the cycles of American interest in Polynesian kitsch, from Don the Beachcomber to the present day spate of new tiki bars across the country. It’s also a treasure trove of drink recipes. While many of their recipes are riffs on the old rhyme about making rum punch—“One of sour, two of sweet, three of strong and four of weak”-—they show that the foundational principle of tiki drinks can be used to expand the tiki canon far beyond the Mai Tai.
Smuggler’s Cove: Exotic Cocktails, Rum, and the Cult of Tiki, by Martin Cate with Rebecca Cate, Ten Speed Press; $30