Imagine: could there possibly be a Tiki bar (of all things) with spooky overtones? YES! There is! And it’s in Chicago! Three Dots and a Dash, a Tiki bar with skulls lined up all around the room, and to-die-for killer tropical drinks with headbanger names. When I read about it, I almost died laughing. Alfred Hitchcock and Rod Serling would no doubt make something very unsettling of this. I’m all for it!
Am I really surprised that an outfit like Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises is behind this? No, probably not. The venerable Chicago restaurant company has tried edgy things before, but never a Tiki bar. That in itself would be bizarre enough without the ghoulish overtones. OF COURSE they serve Zombies – how could it be otherwise? Except theirs have the peel of half a lime cut into a skull shape adorning every such cocktail. Ha! I love it!! And it’s also served in a quantity clearly meant to be shared with a group (I admire your fortitude but decry your folly if you try to down this alone). But the drink that really intrigues me is the Painkiller 3 (apparently Painkillers 1 and 2 were insufficient to do the job). Mwahahahahaha! It’s got Jamaican rum, Bajan rum, coconut liqueur, passion fruit juice, pineapple juice, and cream. Whoa.
Then there’s something called Blood of the Kapu Tiki, which contains: amber rum, Curaçao, absinthe, lime juice, grapefruit juice, grenadine and Angostura bitters. Yikes. Not to be outdone for Halloween are the Headhunter, the Shrunken Skull, Blackbeard’s Ghost, and Pegleg Punch, which all must be Halloween specials because I don’t see them on the regular menu. The Sidewinder’s Fang has Demerara rum, Jamaican rum, Curaçao, passion fruit and lime juices, whereas the Polynesian Paralysis features bourbon, Curaçao and orgeat (almond) syrup plus lemon and pineapple juices. The bar’s namesake drink is actually a cocktail created by none other than Don the Beachcomber (aka Donn Beach) to celebrate the end of World War II: three dots and a dash is Morse code for the letter V, as in V for victory. In fact, manager Paul McGee recreates a whole slew of classic tropical drinks from authentic recipes.
There’s nothing here that’s going to taste like Hawaiian Punch, and it ain’t for kids. Ergo the Jet Pilot, a drink not unlike rocket fuel with three different rums, falernum, and a bunch of other stuff guaranteed to light your fire; it was created in 1958 by mixologist Stephen Crane at the Luau Restaurant in Beverly Hills, no doubt to celebrate the nearby jet aircraft plants. For the slightly more timid (or more prudent, perhaps), there’s always Bunny’s Banana Daiquiri, which isn’t exactly tame but not as overpowering as the aforementioned. Good luck with all that, and don’t light any matches around those drinks. A short list of Polynesian and Asian influenced dishes rounds out the menu, because you really can’t drink this stuff without eating something appropriate.
Never mind that LEYE has 46 different restaurants, several with more than one location: these guys went for cheesy ghoulish kitsch here, with just the right amount of each element, judging by the photos on the website. I can’t wait to see this place in person. Damn. There’s just enough grimness in the decor to remind you that the South Pacific has headhunters in paradise, too, not just pig roasts and hula girls. Three Dots and a Dash is at 435 N. Clark St. in Chicago. Call 312-610-4220 for reservations or to arrange a private party. Yowza!
Until next time,