Positively Las Vegas


Golden Tiki celebrates the founder of tiki bar culture

Golden Tiki honors founder of tiki bar culture
Posted at 1:01 PM, Feb 15, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-24 22:18:52-05

UPDATE ON FEB. 24: In addition to celebrating Donn Beach's birthday, the Golden Tiki also unveiled the shrunken head of former Lt. Gov. of Nevada Lonnie Hammargren.

Hammargren, a retired neurosurgeon and collector of unusual Las Vegas artifacts, attended the festivities with his family.

"I just thought we were going out for a drink," Hammargren told his family, friends, and fans who gathered in his honor. "It was a total surprise to be included in the shrunken head collection, and it means the world to me."

PHOTOS: Golden Tiki shrinks Lonnie Hammargren's head, celebrates Donn Beach's birthday

The shrunken head was created by Smithsonian artist Terry Barr, and was sculpted over the course of four weeks. It's the 11th shrunken head on display at the Golden Tiki, and sits on display alongside the likes of Norm Clarke, Carrot Top, Robin Leach, Claire Sinclair, magician Murray Sawchuck, and Vinnie Paul of Pantera.


The Golden Tiki in Las Vegas is celebrating the birthday of Donn Beach, the founder of tiki bar culture, on February 22 from 9 p.m. to midnight.

"It's pretty simple, there really wouldn't be any tiki bars without Donn Beach," said Branden Powers, managing partner of The Golden Tiki. "So why wouldn't we throw him a birthday party? Every tiki bar should do it!"

Donn Beach was born as Earnest Raymond Beaumont Gantt in Texas on Feb. 22, 1907. After traveling the Caribbean and South Pacific, briefly working as a bootlegger, he opened his legendary bar called Don the Beachcomber in Hollywood in 1933.

Gantt legally changed his name to Donn Beach later in life and was instrumental in creating the International Marketplace in Waikiki. He also saw a string of Don the Beachcomber bars open across the U.S., though he didn't retain ownership. He passed away in 1989.

Golden Tiki is paying tribute to the tiki bar tycoon with guest bartenders from around the Las Vegas valley offering their original takes on Donn Beach classic cocktails. That includes Rebecca Hayden (formerly from Fleur), Wendy Hodges from Fusion Bar, Adam Rains from Flock & Fowl, Jessica Lee Westergom from The Black Sheep, and Anthony Demaria from Campari America. 

The celebration will also have a special performance by house band The Sharps, and guests are encouraged to wear Hawaiian shirts and tiki wear. Admission is free.