Raymond Realista “Ray” Buhen
Key bartender in the history of Tiki bars and drinks
Ray Buhen immigrated to Los Angeles for college and fell into bartending after an abortive attempt at medical school and just as Prohibition was lifted. In 1934, Buhen became one of the first bartenders at Don’s Beachcomber in Hollywood. Buhen only stayed three years before getting poached by one of the first of Don’s many immitators. Buhen spent the 1940s and 1950s as a journeyman bartender, working countless joints, often flogging the polynesian pop-styled drinks he’d mastered (he “had the recipes” and guarded them). Finally, in 1961, Buhen opened his own place, the tiny Tiki Ti, in Los Angeles. Buhen, his son Mike, and, today, his grandson Mike Jr. have been the only employees of the Tiki Ti.