Kool Kat of the Week: Hele mei hoohiwahiwa means “Come celebrate” with Calu Cordeiro at the Rockabilly Luau and Mai Tai Tahitian Tuesdays at Dark Horse Tavern

Tiki Cocktail Goddess Calu Cordeira. Photo courtesy of Calu Cordeira.

By Torchy Taboo
Contributing Writer

From Tiki-inspired dance to tattoo arts, this week’s Kool Kat Calu Cordeiro is a well-established and highly sought-after talent in Atlanta’s retro-style nightlife. We talked to her about many things Tiki including the upcoming Rockabilly Luau on Saturday Aug. 4 at the Holiday Inn Northlake (check out our full preview here). To those unfamiliar with Polynesian pop culture, it may seem like more glibly appropriated ethnic flavor – patio torches and grocery store Mai Tai mix. But to a true-blue Tiki lover like Calu, it’s a smoldering yet soul-soothing treat for all the senses. We share a deep adoration for the beauty of these cultures popularized in mainland America in the mid-20th century, so I asked about some of the ways she works to bring to Atlanta the instant vacation that Tiki events offer so easily.

Aloha! Tell our ALTRetro readers, when did you first become a Tiki-phile? What drew you to the genre?

I have always loved all things Tiki. I guess it comes from my mum and step-dad. Trader Vic’s was their fave restaurant. My first Trader Vic’s experience was in London at around 7ish. I was hooked.

I was lucky enough to have cocktails with your mother on one of her visits. It’s clear where you inherited your beauty and charm. You’ve been actively nurturing the Poly-pop scene from behind the bar here in Atlanta for a while; give us the scoop on your current Mai Tai Tahitian Tuesdays?

Mai Tai Tiki nights are something I invented for myself to make my bartending week more pleasurable [and] bring a li’l bit of the beach to ATL bars. I have been doing this for over 10 years and will take it with me wherever I go. It now resides at the Dark Horse Tavern in the Virginia Highlands – Mai Tai Tahitan Tuesdays, 9 p.m.-Drunk.

Photo courtesy of Calu Cordeira.

I’m looking forward to your cocktails pool side this weekend. What are you looking forward to most about the Rockabilly Luau.

I am so excited to bring my drinks to the Rockabilly Luau. I just love making people drunk with my luscious libations. Well, that certainly works out nicely, ha, ha, ha.

You and I have been talking about setting up a cocktail class with the famous Tiki mixologist and author Beachbum Berry in Oct. Are you still game?

I would be honored to take any class pointers from Beachbum Berry, so yes!

I first met the Beach Bum at the world famous Mai-Kai [in Fort Lauderdale, FL], during the Hukilau, the East coast’s big annual Tiki festival. Are you up for a Tiki field trip to South Florida for next years festival and afternoons sipping Mutinies & Rum Barrels in the Molokai Bar

The Hukilau!.Next year! It’s OOOOn!

You have some gorgeous skin art.

I started getting tattooed at 23 – and just from there went full force.

When did you decide to get on the other side of the machine?

I’m kind of at a stopping point [getting tattooed] except for fun things here and there and getting existing stuff finished, so now I like tattooing others. It’s just another medium of art for me.

What other talents have you that we haven’t seen yet? Are there Tiki mugs and carvings I don’t know about?

I love to paint, carve, sculpt, glue, sew, whatever. I love a challenge .

So what should we look for next from you?

My new love is hot yoga and at some point want to get certified for that – Hottikiyoga – watch out, ha,ha.

So as happy-hour called to us, she on her side of the bar and I on mine, I said Mahalo and settled back with a lovely rum concoction and let that little vacation in a glass wash in like the tide.  Hope to see you all by the pool!

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