A Professor, a Reverend, and a Bartender walk into a hole.

I got pledge-pinned at the Forbidden Hole. There was no advance notice, no initiation. It just happened so fast. It was so taboo. I’m still thinking about it.

The sole purpose of my trip to Omaha was to meet Brad, the amazing manager and head bartender at his Laka Lono, one of the best tiki bars in the US. Little did I know my plan for that night would change after a few drinks. As we chatted and toured the bar, Brad learned more about the purpose of my trip and wanted Omaha to be represented in the home bar road trip mix. So, he immediately texted his friend Todd (aka Cool Breeze). Two hours later, I was on my way to visit a forbidden hole.

Let’s be real. When a place has the word forbidden in the title, you can’t not be curious. It’s a given. When someone forbids you to do something, you do it. Didn’t we all learn this in our Reverse Psychology 101 course back in the day? It was not a matter of free will. When Brad said Todd was welcoming me to a forbidden hole, I was compelled by the forces of human nature.

But, I digress. Todd and Steph are the proud owners of the Forbidden Hole, a cozy home bar in the basement of their residence in Omaha, Nebraska. The Hole is 8×10, packed with tiki, and accommodates at max four guests and one bartender. Todd is Professor Todd. He’s a member of the Rum Club at Laka Lono, approaching Captain status (he’s tasted close to 150 rums), teaches at the university level, and researches – wait for it – the impact of alcohol misuse on the lungs. Steph is Reverend Steph. She’s also a proud member of the Rum Club, now at Quartermaster level (she’s tasted 50 rums), Senior Pastor at an affirming Methodist church where none of the clergy are white straight men, a rescuer of orphan salt and pepper shakers, and an expert Rhubarb landscaper. Could the responsibilities of these important roles have led the Professor and the Reverend to transform a hole in their basement into place where the forbidden is welcome?

Seems so. There’s plenty of forbidden to go around. Taboo anyone? Todd has created a cocktail book with 666 recipes called The Essential Tiki Style Manual for the Hard Working Man (and woman). Appropriate to Todd’s profession, it’s printed and collated into a dissertation binder. For those of you that might not have religious conservative backgrounds, 666 is a bad number – devil bad. At the Forbidden Hole, it’s the magic number of elixirs. Don’t worry. If you get lost in reading this dissertation or get too close to the mark of the beast, there are patron saints to pray to for absolution and protection. Saint Vanna of White was a recent addition to the Hole’s saints, and Elvis’ visage adorn the walls to protect all that enter.

Rum is an organizing principle at the Hole. And, as soon as Brad joined us, the rum began to flow. First we tasted Nolichucky Jack, a white rum made from panela sugar by Lost State Distillery in Bristol Tennessee. Next, we sampled Reverend Steph’s rhubarb simple syrup using the Nolichucky Jack in a tasty Daiquiri. The rhubarb was fresh from the Victory Garden at the front of the house. Next, we sampled Maggie’s Farm Pineapple 50/50 Rum from the Distillery in Pittsburgh PA. Furthermore, when I asked Doctor Todd how he became interested in tiki, he explained that his set point on the Venn diagram was in the “rum lover” circle. Proof in point, the oldest item in the Forbidden Hole is a bottle of aged rum.

So, what happens when a Professor, a Reverend, and a Bartender walk into a Forbidden Hole? You drink rum. You do what’s taboo. You flirt with the mark of the beast. You pray to the saints. And, you probably end up debating the pros and cons of a dirty dump (you know, the bartending kind). It’s all part of getting pinned.

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