Trader Pup invited me to pour the lime juice into my highball cocktail.
The drink was up lit and garnished with butterflies, so there was already a sense of mystique. I used a swizzle to stir, and, like magic, the drink’s color dramatically changed from blue to purple. The Butterfly Tai, Trader Pup’s original creation, which he proudly calls the gayest cocktail ever, is an tiki drink made with pea flower (clitoria ternatea) infused rum. After seeing bartenders use this for other craft cocktails, Terry experimented first by using pea flower curacao, but then realized that infusing his own white rum would provide the most dramatic color change. The result dramatically changes a chrysalis Mai Tai into a drink with wings – the Butterfly Tai.
This was only one of several dramatic experiences I had at the UNPOC Lounge.
Terry and his husband Mike have instilled levity and taboo in the UNPOC Lounge. When they warned me not to pick up a small totem, I had to. I was thus sufficiently punished with a severe lighting and thunder storm for my transgression. When I looked too long into the porthole longing for stable land, I sunk into the depths and was greeted by MeduSirena peering back at me. When I saw a curious lever, I pulled it, and the air-raid alarms went off. When I picked up the radio headphones, I was treated to Sven’s shocking presentation and quite edited lesson on how tiki size does matter.
After all that, I needed a second cocktail to calm down.
UNPOC – the name of Terry and Mike’s home bar – is an acronym from sailor’s terminology that means “unable to navigate probably on course.” In sailing days, when the weather made it difficult to use the stars for navigation, sailors were UNPOC. Terry figures that when you have a few drinks here, you’ll probably feel like one of those sailors. Quick to retort, Mike has a different name for the room. He calls it the MERITH Room – the most expensive room in the house.
Terry gets his penchant for tiki drama quite honestly from his parents. When his mom and dad were a young couple in the early 60s, they visited Sam’s Seafood (which later became Don the Beachcombers in Huntington Beach) in the first month of the establishment going all-out tiki. After a few drinks, his mom decided that she had to have one of the tikis that were in the landscaping. So, his dad, dressed in a dinner suit and skinny tie, was determined to make it happen. It was pouring raining. It was muddy. He tromped through the garden, aiming to please his bride. Struggling with the weight of the fresh-carved, dense palm wood tiki, he fell into the mud as the tiki toppled it off of its base, but still somehow managed to wrangle it into their Nash Metropolitan convertible. All that, and the fait accompli was not yet over. The getaway car wouldn’t start. So they push-started the convertible down the Pacific Coast Highway in the pouring rain with the tiki sticking up out the back seat. The deed was done.
It was a such a unusual moment that a commemorative coffee mug was made by their friends. That tiki sat in the back yard of Terry’s home as he was growing up and became the kid’s waterfall. Many years later, Terry confessed his parents transgression to Don the Beachcomber’s managers when he was doing events there. They just laughed, and the commemorative mug went into their display case until they sadly closed. Now, that mug is back in Terry’s collection – and he didn’t have to steal it.
Oh, and by the way, that huge erupting pineapple upside down cake that was featured on Charles Phoenix’s Alohaland? That’s Terry’s creation. But that’s a sticky story for another sweet day.