Ever been to the Tonga Hut in North Hollywood? It’s the perfect tiki-bar-meets-dive-bar. The bartenders are always amazing. There’s a guy who sells tacos out of a tent in the parking lot out back.
But the absolute best thing about the Tonga Hut is the Grog Log. Here’s the story behind it. There’s this classic recipe book of tiki drinks called “Beachbum Berry’s Grog Log” (I highly recommend buying it – both for the recipes and the amazing historical sidebars). Based on this book, the Tonga Hut selected its own list of 78 classic tiki drinks, and issued to its patrons a challenge: anyone can start their own Grog Log, and whoever can finish all 78 drinks within one year gets to put up a plaque. Forever memorialized in the San Fernando Valley.
Obviously, I have my own Grog Log – which, to give you a visual, is just a sheet of paper, with my name on it, where the bartenders check off the drink when you order it. It’s kept in a plastic sheet protector, in a plastic file bin, on the bartop. Check it out, in all its glory (right).
But the one thing that’s been bugging me about the Grog Log – it only lists the name of the drink. Not what’s in it, or how boozy it is, or whether it will come to me on fire, or other meaningful questions in my decision analysis. While it’s fun to roll the dice – suuuuuure – I decided to create a Tableau data viz to help me explore the unknown.
So, I purchased the Beachbum Berry book, and turned this beautiful Grog Log into beautiful DATA!! Note that the viz works a little better on a desktop because of its size and its interactivity – but mobile can get the job done if that’s what ya got.
I like this explorer view for deciding whether or not I want any individual drink. But it doesn’t necessarily help in the decision-making process when faced with a list of potential options.
So I made a second data viz, with some Q&A features to help my fellow Grog Loggers narrow down their choices. My favorite feature is the Patrick Baker Button. This is a special shoutout to my buddy, who not only is the person who ushered in the Grog Log to our circle of friends, and not only is the person farthest along in his Grog Log, but who is also the birthday boy!!! He turns some indeterminate age today, and the Patrick Baker Button is my gift. (People like getting data for gifts, right? That’s a thing?)
One thing to note: You can see from these vizzes, roughly, the proportion of each ingredient. Sure, you can get out a ruler and measure the diameters of each circle to get the ratios. But out of respect for the Beachbum Berry author, I didn’t publish the value of the actual amounts. And I didn’t include any info on how the drink is prepared (e.g., whether it’s blended, what kind of glass to serve in, and so on), partly to respect his hard research but also party because that seemed really time-consuming and I have a full-time job, people. So for real, buy this tiki book. And buy yourself a volcano bowl. And throw your friends a party because, at some point, you won’t be able to afford going out because you’ve spent all your money at the Tonga Hut. Oh, and invite me!
Enjoy loggin’ them grogs, dataheads.
P.S. Grog Loggers who beat the challenge get to hang a plaque “of your own making.” If I ever make it there, I’m about 90% sure I’ll label it as “Bob Loblaw’s Grog Log.” Any other suggestions? Or someone willing to talk me out of it?