Don the Beachcomber

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Don the Beachcomber was the original “tiki bar” that started a craze that continues today. Opened in 1933 by Ernest Beaumont-Gantt in Hollywood, California, the initial bar was called Don’s Beachcomber. It was an instant success and became the preferred watering hole for many movie stars, such as Charlie Chaplin and Marlene Dietrich.

The following year, Gantt opened the larger Don the Beachcomber restaurant across the street. It served Cantonese food and the list of tropical drinks multiplied. Of the many cocktails first concocted at Don the Beachcomber, probably the most famous was the Zombie. The lethal drink was served to thousands of people at the 1939 New York World's Fair.

Gantt eventually had his name legally changed to Donn Beach. Other Don the Beachcomber locations opened around the country, and hundreds if not thousands of imitators sprung up, the most famous being Trader Vic’s. The original Don the Beachcomber has since closed. Current locations include one at the Royal Kona Resort (where there is also a Don's Mai Tai Bar) in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii; another at the Royal Lahaina Resort on Maui, Hawaii; and one in Huntington Beach, California, which opened in 2009.

A Few Don the Beachcomber Cocktail Recipes

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