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Happy Hour Hug: Jason Alexander of Tacoma Cabana

The bar owner shares his thoughts on Zombies, Gwar, rum and more ...

Tacoma Cabana co-owner and head bartender Jason Alexander.

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The Tacoma Cabana, nestled in Tacoma's hip lower Pacific Avenue, offers a waggish combination of strategic lighting, dangling blowfish, bamboo, Hawaiian textiles and dances with Polynesian decor, from tropical tackiness to authentic Hawaiian artifacts - including a bar rigged to resemble a hut, and sports a 600-pound stuffed marlin mounted to the wall and Gilligan's Island re-runs. Owners Robyn Murphy and Jason Alexander are about hospitality. Murphy leads the kitchen, offering "vacation fusion" dishes from Hawaii, Caribbean, South Pacific, Thai and the Philippines, including huge sweet-sour meatballs and a bacon-wrapped pineapple rumaki that bursts with flavor. Alexander, armed with recipes from Trader Vic's and Don the Beachcomber and his trusty fez, pours scratch tropical craft concoctions incorporating his own ideas, infusions and syrups. With the Cabana's one-year anniversary a month away, I nestled up to the bar.

WEEKLY VOLCANO: What drink best expresses your personality?

JASON ALEXANDER: I think the drink that best expresses my personality is the Mai Tai because it is misunderstood and underappreciated. I don't think I'm really any of those things; I just feel that I identify with the Mai Tai because it is the underdog.

VOLCANO: Describe your first experience with mixing drinks.

ALEXANDER: My first experience with mixing drinks was trial by fire. Definitely jump right in and sink or swim. I really had no clue what I was doing, but I was determined to make it happen.

VOLCANO: What drink do you wish you had invented?

ALEXANDER: I really wish I had invented the 1934 Zombie. That drink sets the standard. It is beyond brilliant.

VOLCANO: What was the last great drink you had?

ALEXANDER: Every drink I have is the last great drink because you never know if it is going to be your last. Right now it is a 22-ounce Longboard Lager from Kona Brewing. Enjoy all drinks.

VOLCANO: When you hear the following, what immediately comes to mind?

Maui: "I've never been there."

Marines: "Discipline. Personal discipline in your day-to-day life. Understand common sense, take care of your responsibilities and do what is asked of you. Be accountable for yourself."

Zombie: "Not of the walking dead, but rather tropical paradises where you can drool on yourself at the beach without a care in the world."

GWAR: "Don't take life too seriously. Sometimes you have to decompress through simulated cannibalistic blood orgies."

VOLCANO: Who makes the best rum?

ALEXANDER: There are so many good rum distillers out there that it is hard to say who is best. I enjoy a lot of different rums for very different reasons and at very different times. I'd have five different answers on five different days."

VOLCANO: Favorite place for a drink in the South Sound?

ALEXANDER: "My home. I don't have to order or make small talk. I can just zone out and be a zombie."

VOLCANO: Hopes for the future of the Tacoma Cabana?

ALEXANDER: The future of Cabana is to continue to grow and evolve it as time goes by. You don't ever wanna stay stagnant. I still have a lot of learning and growing so hopefully we can evolve together. I look forward to the process."

Happy Hour: Wahine Wednesday featuring $3 off all the specialty drinks for the ladies. 

TACOMA CABANA, 6 p.m. to midnight, Tuesday-Saturday, 728 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, 253.222.4184

PREVIOUSLY: Bryan Carroll, bartender at STINK Tank

LINK: South Sound Happy Hour App

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