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Bars where Pete has had a drink

Thursday, May 21, 2020

#2696 - Tiki-Ti, Los Angeles, CA - 1/29/2015

The Tiki-Ti, Los Angeles, CA
TL:DR - A must visit in LA, confirm they are open and get there early (e.g. 4:00 Thursday), bring cash, order a Ray's Mistake, then an Uga Booga, then a Blood and Sand, and eventually an Uber home.

An immigrant from the Philippines, Ray Buhen established the Tiki-Ti in 1961 in a former violin repair shop owned by his father-in-law, where his son and grandsons run the bar to this day. Buhen had been part of the very founding of tiki culture in the U.S., one of the original bartenders at the seminal Don The Beachcomber's in Hollywood. Buhen had arrived in the U.S. in the last few years of prohibition, worked as a hotel bellhop and elevator man, then trained as a bartender before joining the new Don the Beachcomber's in 1934.

The Tiki-Ti, Los Angeles, CA
Part of a substantial group of Filipino bartenders who created much of the "tiki" menu and culture, Buhen would go on to work at several more Hollywood grog shops, including The Dresden Room, the Seven Seas, Palms in the Jungle, China Trader, Sugie's Tropics, Ching Hau, The Luau, and the Clark Gable funded Christian’s Hut. (The drink making was interrupted by a stint in the Long Beach shipyards during WWII.) And as this was Hollywood and thereabouts, Buhen's customers included Charlie Chaplin, John Wayne, Howard Hughes, Burt Reynolds, Jack Palance, Marlon Brando, Jack Palance, and Tyrone Power (the inspiration for the "Blood and Sand").

Ray worked the bar until he was 88, and passed away shortly after, in 1999. Since then his son Mike and grandson Mike Jr., have run the place, taking a moment every Wednesday to ring a bell five times, whereupon the entire bar makes a toast to the revered founder. Further details on Ray's life may be seen on the bar's web site here.

Virtually everyone agrees that Tiki-Ti is "a classic," but a classic what exactly, is a bit more complicated. Most critically, the huge cocktail selection, 96 choices at last check, and full of secret recipes that Ray took with him from Don the Beachcomber's as well as inventing along the way (and no beer and wine available), is top notch. The house favorite is "Ray's Mistake," a white rum, gin,  passionfruit, pineapple juice, bitters, falernum, and dark rum float concoction of some sort that resulted from an error in constructing an Anting Anting in 1968, and the rest is history. (The recipe is officially a secret but googling reveals any number of attempts to reconstruct it.) The most fun drinks to order, on the other hand, are those that inspire the assembled regulars to chant throughout the preparation. These are the aforementioned "Blood and Sand" (to chants of "Toro, toro, toro!"), perhaps served in a new custom mug designed by Doug Horne, and the Uga Booga, accompanied by chants of the drink's name.

Ray Buhen working at the Dresden Room, late 1960s
(photo via Tiki-Ti Facebook page)
The size and decor are as much those of a cozy dive bar as the more famous tiki establishments, and while purists may not have chosen the pop music over exotica, or the kitschy bric-a-brac over a more deliberately fashioned polynesian decor, it remains one of the most beloved tiki bars in the country. Given its tiny size (12 bar stools and about 30 people max), customers may face lines if they go on a popular day, and/or during popular hours (again, try being there at opening time, currently 4pm, at midweek). The bar is closed Sundays through Tuesdays, which repeatedly frustrated this eager would-be patron, as those seemed to be the only days I had available in LA. But I finally made it in 2015, and am much looking forward to future and longer visits.

Mug designed for Tiki-Ti by Doug Horne,
inspired by the "Blood and Sand" cocktail
(photo from the Tiki-Ti Facebook page)

4427 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027 - (323) 669-9381
Est. Apr 28, 1961
Web site: - facebook
Recommended Articles: critiki - theworld
Additional Articles ranked: instagramlaistbbctikiwithray - losangelesconservancy - thirstyinlaworldsbestbars - punchwikipediayelp - tripadvisor - wanderingchopsticks - bonapetit - roadtrippers - thrillist - timeout - drinkableglobe 

Sunday, May 17, 2020

#2786 - Pastime Tavern, Lacrosse, WA - 6/12/2015

Butch's Pastime Tavern, Lacrosse, WA
Lacrosse, Washington lies a 3.5 mile drive off of Highway 26 in southeast Washington, between Hooper and Dusty, north of Jerita and Sheck, and just a 40-mile drive from Palouse Falls. The population in the 2010 census was 310 -- 95.8% white, 0.3% black, 0.3% Asian, and 0.6% Native American (you can probably do the math).

I'm particularly partial to bars named the "Pastime" -- there aren't so many left these days, but so far I've identified 65 towns in Washington that have had a Pastime at one time or another, and about another 100 elsewhere in the U.S. I wish I knew a lot more history behind Butch's Pastime in Lacrosse. I was told that Butch Thomas has owned in for the last 40 years, although it seems to be owned by Blain and Lana Thomas now, and that it's almost 100 years old, having had some ten different names over the years and 3 to 4 remodels within memory.

You won't stumble across Lacrosse and Butch's by accident, but if you drive down South Main you're eyes will likely be caught by the faded western scenes painted on the exterior walls (and which continue inside). If you're thirsty the Pastime has a selection of popular beers and an old school pub menu of burgers, fried food, etc. Then you can add it to your list of remaining Washington State "Pastime" stops, with whatever others you may have dropped into in Castle Rock, Blaine, Oroville, Ritzville, Selah or Wishram.

(Token image from

210 S Main St, Lacrosse, WA 99143 - (509) 549-3608
Previous bars in this location: Unknown
Reviews: tripadvisor 

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

#3591 - Sip 'n Dip Lounge, Great Falls, MT - 8/19/2018

Fifty years ago Great Falls was the largest city in Montana and included the swanky O'Haire Motor Inn, which included a tiki bar with windows into the swimming pool, inspired by the Chicago Playboy club, and a young Pat Spoonheim playing piano in the bar. Today, Great Falls has slipped to the 3rd largest city in the state, the local economy has struggled for many years, and the O'Haire is a fairly pedestrian motel. And yet the old Sip and Dip Lounge inside, still featuring keyboards by Piano Pat -- now well into her 80s and semi-legendary -- is now known nation-wide and was once cited by GQ Magazine as one of the ten best bars in the world and the "#1 bar...worth flying for."

What has made the Sip and Dip probably the city's most famous attraction -- over the local symphony that has hosted guests like Yo-Yo Ma and Itzhak Perlman, the local minor league baseball teams that have included players like Pedro Martínez and Raúl Mondesí, and the shortest river in the world -- are the mermaids that have regularly graced the pool since 1995. A story I read in the bar itself said it started when a housekeeper put a sheet around her legs in 1994, but the more prominent histories (e.g. Wikipedia) only mention that it was started by general manager Sandra Johnson-Thares on New Years Eve 1995 as her idea to inject a "fun factor."

The 75-room motel and tiki bar were constructed by Edgar O'Haire in 1962 and the lounge has maintained most of the same tiki theme and decor ever since. Piano Pat was sadly not available during our visit in the Fall of 2018, but we did make sure to visit during mermaid hours (the pool is open to guests outside of the mermaid hours, and we were informed that not all of them wear a swimsuit despite (or perhaps because of?) the bar room view.

The menu features pretty standard contemporary pub food, there is a good beer selection, and the cocktails tend to be more toward the beach party end than craft cocktails. But the history, Piano Pat, and just the existence of one of the tiny handful of mermaid bars in the middle of Montana should make this a bucket list sort of stop for just about anyone.


Mermaid hours (if you go, check online for current times):
Monday: 6:00pm - 9:00pm
Tuesday - Thursday: 6:00pm - 10:00pm
Friday - Saturday: 6:00pm to 12:00pm
Mermaid Brunch: 10:00am - 2:00pm, 1st and 3rd Sunday

17 7th St S, Great Falls, MT 59401 - (406) 454-2141
Est. 1962 - Building constructed: 1962
Web site: - facebook
Articles ranked: critiki - atlas obscura video - wikipedia - national trust for historic preservation - ixploredelishorbitz - yelp - tripadvisor - headhuntersflyshop 

Sunday, May 10, 2020

#3993 - Linger Longer Tavern, Albany, OR - 3/8/2020

The Linger Longer Tavern, Albany, OR
Albany, Oregon, with a population of around 50,000 citizens, lies at the confluence of the Calapooia and Willamette rivers, about 10 miles due south of Salem and 60 miles sound of Portland. The Linger Longer has operated here on Main Street since 1930 and is said to have been a bar since shortly after the close of federal prohibition in 1933. The building,  constructed in 1905 and one of the oldest in the city, was dragged across the street and a block north up Main Street to its current location in 1921. This street was one of two that battled for the position of the heart of downtown since the mid 19th century, a feud exacerbated by two founding families on separate sides of support in during the civil war. Eventually Main Street, championed by the pro-southern family, conceded defeat to the First Street.

Today the Linger Longer Tavern is classic, older, quieter type of neighborhood dive bar, brimming with historical artifacts and adhering to old school tavern standards -- e.g. no hard liquor and cash only. While the pool table tends to draw much of the action and attention, the centerpiece of the decor is the beautiful pre-prohibition Brunswick back bar, topped with old saddles. It is enlivened by local characters -- and also the occasional robbery or lottery fraud.

To my delight the bar not only has been around for many generations and features a beautiful antique back bar, but the owners actually gave a a great little printed history, which I have reproduced below. The bar appears to have had relatively few owners over the generations, and has primarily belonged to just two women over the last 60+ years. The tavern was said to be established by Russell Deere in 1933, and a 1941 city directory shows him as still the owner at least eight years later (although his name is spelled "Dear" therein). The obituary of Rita Miller (born "Kotthoff" and later "Case") claims that she purchased the bar from her father in the late 50s -- after building B-17s during WWII -- and the bar's history notes observer that she sold it to the current owner Ruth in 1979.

Ruth Tribur has turned management of the bar over to her son Bret Smith, but as of my visit still opened the business herself on Saturdays and Sundays (and celebrated the 40th anniversary of her ownership last November 1). Again, I am grateful for the staff there sharing their historical write-up which I quote below. As you will note the fully history of the back-bar is unknown, but there are a number stories floating around as to how it came to the Linger Longer. Each of these is quite possible, although it is unlikely that it was "three part set" with its remaining parts located in other bars in the area. For some reason these stories -- often involving the parts being actually sawed apart -- tend to be quite commonly associated with these bars, even when the existing piece is quite clearly a full unit exactly as pictured in the Brunswick-Balke-Collender (in the case of the Linger Longer, the "Mont Oro" model). But the Brunswick bars were manufactured primarily in Dubuque Iowa and in the years 1878 to 1912, so it certainly dates back around the 1880s, and as the Panama Canal was yet to be completed, west coast deliveries were often shipped around Cape Horn.

Quite frankly I would want to stop at the Linger Longer for the name alone, but it also makes a fine stop for anyone who would enjoy a cold beer amidst some local  history. And I wish every old bar I visited had compiled such helpful notes:

"The building you are in was constructed in 1905. It originally sat on the SE corner of Main Street and Old Salem Rd (one block to the south). The NW corner of the building would have been located above the new round-a-bout as you turn into Salem Ave. Around 1921 the whole structure was moved to its current location by Mr. Calvin, owner of Calvin's Drug Store. 
During the 1920's the are you are inhabiting was a clothing store. In 1930 it was converted into a cafe and became Linger Longer Lunch. After repeal of prohibition in December 1933 it was established as the Linger Longer Tavern by Russel and Hortense Deere. The tavern has had several owners througout the decades. The Case family owned it for 2 generations. The current owner, Ruth, purchased the tavern from Rita Case (her maiden name), and the building from Dr. Frances Keiser on Nov 1, 1979." 
"In the early 1950's, the back-bar, which was manufactured around 1880, and counter were moved to their current locations. The back-bar faced west and sat in front of the beam that dissects the ceiling. There was seating in the front area and a kitchen behind the back-bar. During the past 39 years that Ruth has owned the tavern, there have been numerous stories told about how the back-bar came to the Linger Longer Tavern. It has been said that it came around Cape Horn on a ship, or that it was stored in a barn then moved here, or that it came across the company on a train, or that it was taken off of a cruise ship, or that it is one part of a three part set and another part is located in (insert name of city here, as there have been dozens). You probably have figured out that we don't know how it came to be here. Many patrons used to play a game where they would try to toss coins over the top of the bar. Whoever made it over first, won, causing the other player to buy the next round. The coins that didn't make it over became the bartenders to keep as a tip. 
The bar is now managed by Ruth's son Bret. He is here Monday through Friday opening every day at 7 a.m. Ruth celebrated here 83rd birthday in January. She still enjoys opening on Saturdays and Sundays."

145 Main St SE, Albany, OR 97321 - (541) 926-2174
Est. Dec 1933 - Building constructed: 1905
Previous bars in this location: None known
Web site: facebook
Articles: democratheraldcorvallisadvocate - yelp - 2008 lottery ticket theft - 2002 robbery - yahoo