Steve and Eydie in La-La-Land present...


: : It slowly builds like lava oozing from a volcano into a full-blown eruption. : :

: : First one voice, in a low chant: “Toro, Toro, Toro...” : :

: : Then, another two or three voices join the growing chorus — “TORO-TORO-TORO-TORRRRRO-TORRRRRROOOO!” — until the whole place seems to be filled with this one word, pounding the ears like a war-drum beat. Fists wave in the air with the first and last digits extended, transforming each hand into a tiny bull’s head. : :

: : Then, with a quick nod of acknowledgement and a visual sweep of the room, mixologist Michael Buhen says in a low tone: “A lot of matadors in the house tonight.” : :

: : We have just witnessed the creation of the exotic drink “Blood and Sand” at the legendary Los Angeles Tiki bar, the tiny but beautiful Tiki-Ti on Sunset Boulevard. : :

: : This past August, Shauntelle and I were in Los Angeles so I could attend a radio conference (and she could sip drinks by the Hilton’s pool and idly watch the jets stream past overhead). While we were only in town for three and a half days (and I was in seminars for 16 hours of those days), we managed to pack a lot of La La Land into our trip. : :

: : In addition to the Tiki-Ti visit, we dined once again at the 1961 LAX “Theme Building” (now the home of “Encounters Restaurant,” with interiors by Disney Imagineering), at the original 1949 Bob’s Big Boy in Burbank, and at our first fully-intact “Googie” style restaurant, Pann’s (1958 by Armet and Davis [who also designed the Kon Tiki in Montreal and elsewhere – Ed.], 6710 LaTijera Boulevard, We also visited a neighbourhood of Eichler homes for the first time, Balboa Highlands (a.k.a. Granada Hills), where we spent the evening with new friends Lee Benedict and Andre Carthen in their home discussing the finer points of Modernist architecture over too much wine. : :

: : But back to the Tiki-Ti. : :

: : Starting life as a tiny violin shop owned by bartender Ray Buhen’s father-in-law, the building housing the Tiki-Ti was transformed into the rum-soaked watering hole it is today in 1961, after Ray grew tired of others gaining from his mix-master skills. : :

: : Ray had cut his teeth in the late 1930s at Don The Beachcomber’s before working at the Seven Seas and the Luau but, after 20+ years of mixing for others — and with the exotica craze still in full swing — he finally decided to strike out on his own. His plan was to start a bartending school, but he was quickly talked into the idea of opening up his own bar by his wife and father-in-law. : :

: : While Ray is no longer with us, his legacy remains, as the Tiki-Ti is still a family owned business and is very much just as he left it. : :

: : [Now Shauntelle picks up the narrative (since Dave and Shauntelle are the Steve and Eydie of journalism) – Ed.] : :

: : After being asked for ID at the door [I can picture this happening to Shauntelle but to Dave… come on now! – Ed.], we get inside and realize that Tiki-Ti is a small place, but with a lot going on. It’s narrow, with maybe 10 tables (including booths) along one wall, the bar along the other, and plenty of good Tiki bar decor. : :

: : As it was already crowded when we arrived at around 9:30pm, securing two seats at the bar was tough, but we were determined to imbibe a couple of Mai Tais and take in a little action. After perusing the extensive drink menu (with 85 drinks to choose from!), I decided on the Chief Lapu Lapu and Dave chose a Space Pilot. The drinks arrive and are very tasty and very potent… : :

: : After a few sips, my head was already buzzing and I was enjoying the show of bartender Mike (Michael’s son, and Ray’s grandson) mixing exotic cocktail offerings at lightening speed. There was also a lot to look at behind the bar, like an incredible collection of Tiki mugs and a small waterfall in the corner. : :

: : After finishing round one, we decided that maybe it would be a good idea if we had only one more drink between us, as we were both feeling a bit fuzzy (and would soon have to navigate the streets of L.A. to find our way back to our hotel). So we ordered a Mai Tai (in the take-home Tiki mug for an extra $10). As with our earlier drinks, the Mai Tai was exceptional. : :

: : If you’re looking for a lounge-y place to hang, you may find the overall atmosphere at Tiki Ti to be a little raucous (and the cigarette smoke was a little unexpected — since Tiki-Ti is privately owned and family operated, smoking can be permitted). But the impressive drink menu and the expert and efficient bartending make it a not-to-be-missed stop on your Tiki travels. Bartender Mike was very friendly and talkative, telling us a little bit about his life — one dedicated to mixing the perfect drink and keeping his grandfather’s dream alive. : :

: : Tiki-Ti is located at 4427 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles and can be visited on the web at, an extensive site where you’ll find helpful hints for the uninitiated, Tiki-Ti “rules” and history, photos, a calendar listing when the bar open, and plenty of other information. : :


4427 Sunset Boulevard

Los Angeles, CA

Dave “Steve” LeBlanc & Shauntelle “Eydie” Duguay ©2005


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Ray Buhen - Generation 1
Ray Buhen - Generation 1
Generation 2
Generation 2
Generation 3
Generation 3
Busy bar at Tiki-Ti
Busy bar at Tiki-Ti
Shauntelle imbibes
Shauntelle imbibes