Happy Hour To Go: Hula’s Modern Tiki

Leah LeMoineApril 3, 2020
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Over the past couple of quarantined weeks, I’ve written about making your own happy hour spread at home and I’ve rounded up some great takeout happy hour options so you can #supportlocal while you #stayhome. Now, I suppose I’ll start making my own way through said takeout options. (Though if you have questions or suggestions on DIY happy hours at home, I’m all ears! Email me at leah.lemoine@phoenixmag.com.) 

I should have taken this week’s Happy Hour To Go blog as an opportunity to try a new restaurant. I haven’t encountered one of those in a while, after all, which is extra strange for someone in “lifestyle” media. In the old days (read: three weeks ago), I could have filled my week with media dinners and VIP previews of new restaurants. I could have gone weeks without ever eating dinner at home! But things have changed. And instead of novelty, I just really felt like being comforted by an old friend. Luckily, one of my old friendsHula’s Modern Tiki, recently opened a new location at High Street10minute drive from my house in North Phoenix.  

So yesterday, as four o’clock plodded toward five, I called in what some (ahem, my partnermight call a financially irresponsible takeout order from Hula’s: crispy coconut shrimp rolls ($8), two orders of pork-stuffed potstickers ($8 per order), spicy edamame ($7), a full rack of Bali Hali barbecue ribs complete with sweet potato fries and slaw ($20), 32 ounces of Hula’s Mai Tai cocktail mix ($40) and 32 ounces of Hula’s Painkiller cocktail mix ($40). Oh, and a set of Mai Tai glasses (four for $25) to make my backyard feel a little more like Hula’s. Oh, and all of this was for three people – my fella, Matt; my mom, who has been living with us for a few months and is therefore part of our quarantine; and me. Our two dogs got nibbles of the sweet potato fries, too, so let’s factor them into the cost per person so I feel better. (Side note: Now is not the time to be a pinchpenny with tipping. Restaurant staff are struggling, and tips mean more than ever before. Even if you normally wouldn’t tip for takeout, please do so now.) 

I asked Matt to make a stop at Sonic on our way home so we could buy a bag of the “good ice” that Hula’s PR rep and tiki aficionado Dawson Fearnow told me years ago you could buy there. How fitting! I thought. Dawson and I had to postpone our own happy hour date thanks to this pandemic, and I so look forward to clinking glasses with him in person when this is over. I thought of him as I scooped Sonic ice into my new Mai Tai glasses and poured premixed Mai Tais and Painkillers, dusting the latter with the ground nutmeg Hula’s bartenders thoughtfully provide with to-go cocktails for the complete experience at home. 

We set up our at-home happy hour spread on our patio table and feasted on familiar favorites. It all hit the spot in that special way things do when they taste exactly as you remembered them. We had a wonderful evening enjoying the beautiful weather and each other’s company and mostly not talking about the world’s problems. Tiki drinks make me feel happy and like I’m on vacation more than any other cocktails, and my mom had never had one before! She sipped her first Painkiller as Matt and I got tipsy, not worried about designating a driver to get home safely. We regaled her with impressions of each other under the influence. “You are BEAUTIFUL and I LOVE you!” Matt exclaimed as he cupped my face in his hands, doing a spot-on imitation of drunk me. “I’m DRUNK!” I retorted, acting silly and then feigning a tummy ache, which is what happens to Matt when he drinks thanks to an enzyme deficiency in his liver (a reason he rarely indulges). We all laughed and lost ourselves in the silliness, feeling lighter than we had in weeks. 

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