In the Texas Monthly Recommends series, Texas Monthly writers, editors, photographers, and producers offer up their favorite recent culture discoveries from the great state of Texas.

South Austin’s new, meticulously stylish Tiki Tatsu-Ya, the latest bar/restaurant concept from the owner of Ramen Tatsu-Ya and Kemuri Tatsu-Ya, is just the place for folks who enjoy a potent, well-mixed tiki drink but who also find themselves thinking, “Wish this had more drama.” Located just behind the South Lamar outpost of Ramen Tatsu-Ya, Tiki boasts two bars and, it is said, hundreds of types of rum. But the fanciful, immersive experience is the real draw. Step through the heavy wooden doors and you’ll swear you’re at a tropical resort—or at least a pretty convincing imitation of one.

If you’re with others, go in on a shareable drink. The Aku Aku, a two-person libation, is a refreshing blend of mint, pineapple, lime, rum, and brandy, and it’s served inside a hollowed-out pineapple, which is itself perched atop a mountain of dry ice, to sexy effect. The effects get only sexier the bigger the shareable drink: a group of four to six can opt for the Skeleton Cruise, which comes inside a wooden boat (it’s also packed with dry ice) and, upon delivery to your table, kicks off bar-wide light and sound effects. The individual options, all tiki classics, run the gamut from milder fare to spice-forward concoctions; the Painkiller, with rum, coconut cream, pineapple, and tangerine, was delightfully sweet and beautifully presented, while the Pearl Diver was a piquant, floral combo of tangerine, lime, and rum. The snacks are solid too: the crispy, rectangular taro tots, served with fermented coconut ranch dip, provide a savory contrast to the cocktails. As you sip, take in the two-story waterfall and the “sunrise” streaming in through the blinds, and let the experience—and booze—wash over you like a wave.

—Sarah Rutledge, associate editor

Watch Jonathan Majors host Saturday Night Live

Jonathan Majors’ debut as an SNL host was not without its hiccups. The Dallas-raised actor’s main struggle was that he paused a bit when reading the cue cards. But the momentary stumbles seemed born of a desire to inject as much energy into each line as he possibly could, which made even the clunkier sketches endearing as heck. Majors really gave his all physically, and it paid off, as in “March of the Suitors,” when he crab-walked into the room and hung his head to let Ego Nwodim tell him off. But my favorite sketch of the night, the one I have watched multiple times and am recommending to you now, was “Broadway Benefit.” The premise is profoundly silly: two parents take their young daughter to an R-rated musical revue—basically just an excuse to allow Bowen Yang and Cecily Strong to harmonize the phrase “Everybody today is doing drugs.” Majors comes in as a dopey dance legend, and he fits right in. He sings, wiggles his hips, and flashes his jazz hands, and it’s all pretty impressive. It’s exactly the energy I wish every host would bring to SNL. And I can’t get the song out of my head.

—Emily McCullar, associate editor

Get the perfect holiday gift for the children on your list 

The 1619 Project: Born on the Water, by Nikole-Hannah Jones and Renée Watson, and illustrated by Houston-born Nikkolas Smith, is a beautiful and poignant companion book to The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story. Written as a series of gorgeously illustrated poems, the book tells the story of a young African American girl who’s asked to compile her family tree for a school project and feels frustrated when she can trace back only three generations. Her grandmother gathers the family to tell of the rich, full, free lives her ancestors led in the kingdom of Ndongo, in West Central Africa, before their terrible journey four hundred years ago on the first ship to bring enslaved Africans to America, a full year before the Mayflower. The sweeping story also touches on abolitionists and prominent Black figures in history, the civil rights era, and the Black Lives Matter movement—all in an approachable way that will resonate with younger readers.

Self-proclaimed “ARTivist” Smith—who is well-known for his powerful painted images of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, told Essence magazine of his illustrations for Born on the Water: “The choice of everything, from the vibrant color palette to the scarification pattern motifs and varied cultural details, such as festive wear, religious rituals, [and] traditions, comes from a desire to connect to my Central West African roots and reflect the fullness of their lives.” 

—Amy Weaver Dorning, assistant editor