Loco for Tiki! Lynn Calvo’s ‘Tiki with a Twist’

Tiki with a Twist
Photo: nui7711/123RF

There’s a place where the warm breezes blow, where the tang of pineapple and fresh herbs swirls in the air and the sound of waves lapping at the shore, the distant cry of gulls, are all you hear. What’s the name of this magical spot? Lynn’s Hula Hut, and you can find it during the summer months in the Montauk Marine Basin parking lot.

Lynn Calvo, the owner of the Hula Hut, pours fruity Polynesian-inspired cocktails made from fresh ingredients she picks up at local farmers markets. Each of her unique recipes conjures visions of pristine white sand, aquamarine water and…a coconut tiki mug?

In Calvo’s new book Tiki with a Twist: 75 Fresh, Cool, and Wild Tropical Cocktails—a collaboration with James Beard award-winning cookbook author and television produce James O. Fraioli—she explains, “[Tiki mugs] are a must-have when serving classic tiki cocktails…Often depicting traditional Polynesian carvings and gods, the iconic tiki mug appeared in all sorts of styles from basic coconuts and pineapples to headhunters, spirits, skulls, hula girls, and rum barrels.”

This passion for all things tiki began when Calvo was very young. Her grandfather, James A. Michener, was the author of the book that inspired the musical South Pacific. Writes Calvo, “When I was a child, my Grandpa Angelo, a World War II veteran, proudly displayed the hula girl tattoo emblazoned on the inside of his right forearm. ‘Make her dance!’ I often cried. He flexed, and away she went.”

After traveling the world, Calvo returned to Montauk where she’d spent every summer with her family since she was little. She bought a long-bed truck and started her “Have tiki, will travel,” business: a mobile tiki bar she used to cater parties and events all over the Hamptons. Lynn’s Hula Hut was the natural next step, a stationary tiki bar with a lounge area where customers can enjoy delicious beverages and live music, right next to the water.

Tiki with a Twist is Calvo’s way of sharing her love of tiki with a wider audience. “There’s a huge resurgence,” she says. “Especially in Europe. Countries like Germany, Italy and Greece. People love tiki in part, I think, because it’s a reminiscent of a more innocent time. The 1950s, after the war.”

Whether you’re a tiki aficionado or a recent initiate, Tiki with a Twist makes it easy to recreate Calvo’s recipes. The opening sections, with helpful titles such as “Tools of the Trade,” “Ingredients & Garnishes” and “Infusions,” outline everything you need to get started. Of course, you could use plain old sour mix from a bottle, but why would you when “Lynn’s Lemonade” is easy to make (water, agave nectar, lemons) and so much tastier?

Another great “infusion” (as Calvo refers to them) is “Coco Loco.” Made using pineapple, premium silver tequila and coconut rum, it’s great “chilled and served straight up in a martini glass or on the rocks,” or in the “Coco Loco Cocktail.”

In Tiki with a Twist, Calvo provides an introduction to each of her recipes. Some are personal stories while others, like the introduction for the classic Mai Tai, offer historical context. One of Calvo’s favorite cocktails is the Coco Loco. She writes, “One afternoon at the Hula Hut, my friend Dianne asked me to create a cocktail with tequila and coconut, her two favorite ingredients—and mine!…I decided to keep it simple. Just a tiny bit of pineapple juice and lime is all it took. Dianne absolutely flipped over this one” and so will you!

Lynn Calvo and Lynn’s Hula Hut will be at the first-ever ClambakeMTK at Gurney’s Montauk, the oceanfront food and drink fest hosted by Marc Murphy and Eden Grinshpan premieres on Saturday, July 30. For more information and tickets visit DansTaste.com.


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