An open letter to Martin and Rebecca Cate, authors of Smuggler’s Cove: Exotic Cocktails, Rum, and the Cult of Tiki

smugcocoverMartin and Rebecca Cate have written the most comprehensive book about tiki style, rum, and the history of tiki drinks. I’ve begun making some of the drinks from the book and will post those on later dates, but for now, this open letter is my way of reviewing it, and thanking them for it.

Thank you so much for all the hours, energy, and heart you put into your new book.  I will wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who wants to know anything about tiki or tiki drinks, newbies and pros alike!  Here are a few things I especially appreciate about it:

  1. The rum categorization system:  Finally a system that makes sense!  Any chance any of the judging panels will be adopting the system?  I hope so.
  2. Finally having recipes for the Smuggler’s Cove drinks I’ve missed so much since leaving the neighborhood.  Although everybody knows the atmosphere of “The Cove” always makes things taste better, it’s good to know I can at least get really close now at home.  I don’t even mind that you kept the Rum Barrel recipe a secret, I respect that.
  3. The way you used the rum system in the drink recipes!  It’s a relief to not feel like I need to run out and get another bottle to make a certain drink when I already have something of the same category in my bar.  Admittedly, my collection is sorely lacking in a couple categories, but that can be remedied easily enough.
  4. Featuring your staff!  You have assembled a top-notch team of professionals at Smuggler’s Cove and I love that they each have their own amazing page in your book.  I don’t think most business owners truly appreciate how important their employees are to the customer experience and reinforcement of the “brand.”  The fact that this team has been with you so long in such a fluid industry (see what I did there?) speaks volumes for how much you respect them as employees and care for them as people.
  5. Your respect for the torch bearers who came before, and those who carry it still.  Your reverence for the Mai Kai, Tiki Ti, Oceanic Arts, and the other great tiki icons is evident in the experience you’ve created in San Francisco.  Rather than re-making the wheel, you’ve respectfully built upon the foundation they created and made something truly unique.

Now when someone asks me questions like “what do you mean that’s not really a tiki bar?” or “what makes it a tiki drink?” I have one great reference book that explains it all in a way that anyone can understand and makes it all look like so much fun!  I even took one of my copies (not the signed one) to the office so I’ll have visual references when someone asks me to explain what I was doing in Fort Lauderdale on my summer vacation.

Congratulations to you on this epic accomplishment!  I know you poured so much of your lives into this for quite some time while also running a very busy tiki bar and opening an equally grand gin palace nearby.  How you did it all without losing your minds is a testament to the strength of your partnership.  I wish all the success in the world to the two of you, your book, your bars, and your future endeavors.  Thank you again for putting your passion into the world so all of us can benefit from your knowledge, experience, and love for this thing we call tiki.


Get your own copy here

Visit Smuggler’s Cove and pay a visit to my Black Tassel Brigade plaque on the wall.