The Coconut Club, L.A.’s only underground tiki supper club, had a few test runs earlier this year to great success, and a lot of flair. The event is back and taking over a rooftop terrace in Downtown’s historic core for three nights only in early September. The Coconut Club is a collaboration between chef Andy Windak, cocktailians Nathan Hazard and Elana Lepkowski, and emcee Darren Herczeg. I chatted with Andy and Nathan about how they met, the inspiration for The Coconut Club and some of their favorite dishes and drinks being served.
How did everyone involved first meet?
NH: “Andy and I actually met by sharing a cab in San Francisco—and ended up closing out the night with Scorpion bowls at the Tonga Room! Funny too, because I first met Elana on a “blind” happy hour date up at the Tonga Hut in North Hollywood. It was one of those cold meetings us food and beverage folks finally do after liking and commenting on each other’s social media channels for so long.”
What was your motivation for starting the supper club?
AW: “I thought, what if an amazing tiki bar…could also be an amazing restaurant? That idea stayed with me for the past several years and grew into the idea that is now The Coconut Club. Nathan was an obvious choice to work with and our friend Elana, author of stirandstrain.com, also shared our love of Tiki bars and joined the mix.”
NH: “Tiki drinks have always been the complicated divas of the cocktail world, so why has the accompanying cuisine always been an afterthought? Has no one attempted to match the complex culinary approach of a tropical tiki cocktail with food? I can say now that someone has.”
How does the role of emcee play out during the evening?
AW: “Darren was a new addition to introduce all the dishes and punch up the presentation. He also produced custom playlists for each course and really cool video art!”
What dish or drink from the upcoming dinners are you most excited about?
AW: “It’s certainly hard to pick a favorite course, but I might have to go with the shrimp cocktail. It’s Nathan’s fantastic take on a pisco sour, infused with coconut and lemongrass and then garnished with homemade coconut shrimp. We came up with this drink last time and this time around we are going to pair it with a satay entree and call it surf ’n’ turf! I’m also a big fan of the personal Pu Pu platters complete with tiny tiki torches. The magic of a table full of these little burning torches brings the idea of candlelight dinner to a whole new level.”
NH: “The signature Coconut Club cocktail is an overly-garnished prima donna served in a real coconut, which just seems like such an indulgent vessel. I almost feel like we should serve it with a hammer and fork. I think—and hope—that’s what the Coconut Club does for our guests; provides a complete and satisfying escape, that stays with them like a splendid vacation. That’s just what tiki bars and exotica were always meant to be.”
For fans of tiki, The Coconut Club will surely be a night of whimsy and indulgence. The food and drink are inspired by Tiki classics and Polynesian cuisine, all with a new California twist. Expect rum cocktails in coconuts, drinks with unexpected spirits like pisco and Campari, personal Pu Pu platters with tiny tiki torches and flaming rum-spiked chocolate volcano cakes.
There’s only one seating and 25 seats per night, so jump on it folks! Event details and tickets can be found here.
And if you want to bring a little tiki into your life and home bar, here is a recipe for Nathan Hazard and Elana Lepkowski‘s riff on a Ti’Punch, which is served during cocktail hour at The Coconut Club.