Opened in May of 2010 - and recognized by Esquire Magazine as one of the best bars in America - PKNY is a New York City tiki bar that, in the words of co-owner Richard Boccato, “incorporates the traditions of the venerable old establishments but with a proper Lower East Side attitude.”
Inspired by its creators previous experience at Prohibition-era craft cocktail establishments like Milk and Honey and Little Branch, Boccato says they wanted to “take everything we had learned over the years and apply it, without just pouring bottles randomly into a pitcher and pressing a button on a blender. We wanted to make things very calculated, but at the same time - fun.”
To come up with the drink menu and make sure they were doing it right, the PKNY crew visited tiki bars in London, Hawaii and St. Lucia, and made multiple visits to the Mai-Kai. Time well spent. “What people like to order is what people around the world call the Painkiller; we call it the PK, respectfully. Our Mai Tai is quite formidable. Our Scorpion Bowls are to be enjoyed by one-and-all. The pantheon of tiki cocktails that we have incorporated into our vocabulary is pretty substantial,” says Boccato.
Boccato and company made appearances and a massive amount of drinks at the 2012 iteration of the Hukilau, and have solidified their place as purveyors of authentic tiki cocktails, something they don’t take lightly.
“You need to do your homework,” says Boccato. “This tiki thing is evolving and we hope that we can contribute as much as we can in a positive aspect.”
This footage is filmed as part of Common Machine's upcoming documentary, Plastic Paradise: A Swingin’ Trip Through America’s Polynesian Obsession, which tells the story of tiki culture’s original rise and fall in the mid-20th century, and its recent rediscovery by a new generation of Polynesian Popsters.
Filmed in Los Angeles and Fort Lauderdale — much of it on location at the world-famous Mai Kai during Hukilau 2011 — Plastic Paradise features interviews with Sven Kirsten, Beachbum Berry, Tiki Kiliki, Otto von Stroheim, Swanky, King Kukulele, Shag, Tiki Bob, Marina the Fire Eating Mermaid, and many more. Artist and designer extraordinaire Kevin Kidney is the film’s art director.
The doc will hit the film festival circuit later this year before airing on PBS in 2013.