Make & Drink Lapu Lapu

There are a number of historical recipes for the Lapu Lapu / Chief Lapu Lapu cocktail, described in a recent video from Derek on the Make & Drink channel on YouTube. Besides going into the history of the cocktail and its notable presence as the featured cocktail at The Royal Hawaiian in Laguna Beach, Derek came up with his own Lapu Lapu recipe that we are trying tonight.

Make & Drink Lapu Lapu
½ oz Lemon Juice
½ oz lime Juice
2 oz Orange Juice
1 oz Passion Fruit syrup
¼ oz Rich Simple Syrup
1½ oz Light Rum
1 oz Pot Still Rum
1 oz Club Soda
¾ oz 151 Rum
Flash blend all ingredients except 151 rum for five seconds, then pour over crushed ice in a large snifter. Float ½ oz of 151 rum. Garnish with mint and a passionfruit shell with 151 rum, set on fire.

I took a few liberties here, notably on the garnish side since I had no mint and decided to use a lighted lantern pick. I used Liber Passionfruit Syrup, a light rum blend of Trader Vic’s white and Hamilton White Stache, Hamilton Pot Still Black Jamaica rum, and Hamilton 151 Demerara rum.

This is a really juicy cocktail and the excellent tangy Passionfruit Syrup from Liber really shines in this. I’m not getting much of the Pot Still rum, and if I was going to do this over I’d probably go 2 oz Pot Still and 1 oz Light rum. Or maybe just incorporate all the rum and not leave the 151 as a float, since a little of that famed Overproof Demerara rum can really add some great flavors to a cocktail.

Nonetheless, this is a really great version of this cocktail. Do you have a favorite Lapu Lapu recipe? Leave it in the comments.

Fogcutter Friday

There’s been quite a bit of conversation happening lately in some of the blogs and YouTube channels that I watch around the classic Trader Vic’s cocktail The Fogcutter. This was one of Vic’s breakout cocktail hits in the 1940s, based on a reputation for being extremely potent and also for being served in the signature mug. The cocktail contains, rum, gin, brandy, and sherry, along with citrus juices and Trader Vic’s signature sweetener, orgeat.

We were a Trader Vic’s Emeryville last week and thought I’ve give the modern day Samoan Fogcutter a try. This version from the 1950s has slightly less booze than the original Fogcutter but still features plenty of the citrus that folks often feel makes the cocktail unbalanced. And with all that juice it sure looks like it would be too tart, but I’ll tell you I thought the balance was just fine, especially once that sherry float began to be incorporated into the drink.

Samoan Fog Cutter
2 oz Lemon Juice
1 oz Orange Juice
½ oz Orgeat
1½ oz Light Rum
½ oz Brandy
½ oz Gin
½ oz Cream Sherry, floated

Possible that the orange juice they’re using at Trader Vic’s leans sweet. Or perhaps they used a little more orgeat. I’ve made some Trader Vic’s cocktails at home and indeed did find them leaning tart, but that wasn’t the case for me at the restaurant last week.

The Multipass at The Kon-Tiki

This is one the “zero gravity” drinks on The Kon-Tiki‘s recent Sci-Fi themed cocktail menu. It has Watermelon, Hibiscus, Oolong, Honey, and Lime and is well garnished for $8. You can “choose your element” by adding a called spirit for just $6 more.

This is a wonderful drink just by itself but does work very well with a variety of rums and other spirits. Would go great with Tequila and Vodka, and I can attest it works for Rhum Agricole and Clairins too. The juicy flavors and the tang from the watermelon really work for me.

I like this for tasting rums from the Kon-Tiki’s large selection. I have the rum by itself and I try some of it neat, then pour into the Multipass to see how the rum works in a cocktail. It’s a great option when you’re doing the tiki thing in downtown Oakland.

Goodbye, Hamilton 86

Sent off this bottle of Hamilton 86 rum from Guyana in style with a modified Ancient Mariner cocktail. The Ancient Mariner is a Navy Grog riff from Jeff “Beachbum” Berry that appeared in the original Grog Log back in 1998. Modified by me due to the lack of grapefruit juice and a heavier pour of the Hamilton Demerara rum just so I could finish the bottle.

Ancient Mariner (modified)
½ oz Cara Cara Orange Juice
1 oz Lime Juice
¼ oz Simple Syrup
¼ oz St. Elizabeth Allspice Liqueur
1¾ oz Hamilton 86 rum from the Demerara River
¼ oz Wray & Nephew Overproof
Shake with ice, garnish with mint

The orange came through in this and so it didn’t quite have that classic Grog taste, but otherwise this was plenty good.

Ancient Mariner by Jeff “Beachbum” Berry
½ oz White Grapefruit Juice
¾ oz Lime Juice
½ oz Simple Syru
¼ oz Pimento Dram (Allspice Liqueur)
1 oz Demerara Rum
1 oz Dark Jamaican Rum
Shake with ice, garnish with mint and lime wedge

New Cocktail Recipe: (Dirty) Shirley Manson

Mrs. Mai Tai often orders a Shirley Temple in lieu of a cocktail but sometimes you want this kind of drink with alcohol included. This alcoholic “Dirty” Shirley Temple riff is named after Garbage and Angelfish singer Shirley Manson, a native of Scotland. So, naturally the featured spirit in this cocktail is Scotch Whisky. Given the difficulty of balancing the high cherry content in a boozy highball you might understand why I worked on this on and off for over a year until I finally got it where I wanted it.

Noteworthy is the use of Ginger Ale rather than 7-Up or Sprite; true Shirley Temple aficionados will agree this is the correct soda mixer. The use of Maraschino Cherry Juice is potentially controversial but is the key ingredient to provide the flavor notes that’ll remind you of your favorite childhood version of this drink. I tried Luxardo cherry juice while prototyping but it was too thick and didn’t lighten the already heavy flavors from Cherry Heering liqueur.

(Dirty) Shirley Manson
½ oz Maraschino Cherry Juice
½ oz Cherry Heering Liqueur
½ oz Cointreau
1½ oz Scotch Whisky 
1 dash Cherry Bitters (optional)
3 oz Ginger Ale\
Fill glass with crushed ice or small cubes. Build in Collins glass and stir lightly. Garnish with three cherries on a pick.

I went around with some different styles of Scotch and am not officially designating a specific brand or type. If you like it peaty, then choose a beloved Islay brand. Although the peaty flavor isn’t my favorite I do feel like a little bit of it in the cocktail will provide authenticity and a good counterbalance to the sweet cherry notes. 

When I make this at home I use 1 oz The Glenlivet 12 year and ½ oz of Johnnie Walker Black Label, providing just the right amount of that smoky Scotch flavor along with the Speyside Scotch’s predominantly floral notes.


Atahi A Kai Mug by Reesenik for Trader Vic’s

Fun time at Trader Vic’s last night for a little informal discussion with Matt Reese (Reesenik) and Chris Shima who recently designed mugs for Trader Vic’s. There was a little panel discussion with the artists and you could purchase a mug. Trader Vic’s has been partnering with artists for a few years now and while some of the previous products were hand-crafted, limited edition, and expensive, these were more affordable but still very nice for the price/scale of production. The Kia’i mug from Shima is in the Trader Vic’s online store and I’d expect the Reesenik mug to be there any day.

I was really interested in this unusual design of Atahi A Kai mug that’s so easy to hold in the hand and is so thin it’s only about 15 oz, which means you can fill with a normal drink and not have five times more ice than you normally would. I picked one up and you can see Matt posing with his work.

We also got to see a sneak preview of the movie Cabali & the Tiki Mug Obsession with the director Josh Dragotta and the subject of the movie Doug “Fini” Finical (co-owner of the new Cabali tiki bar in Tuscon). This documentary includes interviews with numerous mug makers and tiki bar owners and is on track for a release later in 2024.

A Great Mai Tai and Two Terrible Ones

Had dinner and some drinks last night in San Jose before The Surfrajettes show at Dr. Funk in Downtown San Jose. Our last visit gave us hope they’d maybe fixed the quality control issues we’d seen in the visits prior and had confirmed by so many others.

I started out with a Mai Tai, made once again with Appleton 12 and Smith & Cross rums plus Dr. Funk’s house-made orgeat that’s delicious. I saw that the orgeat and demerara syrup were squeezed directly into the shaker but the lime and rum measured with a jigger. And it turned out great, I really loved it.

A buddy showed up and ordered a Mai Tai but the flavors weren’t anywhere the same based on his tasting and mine via a “straw sample” of the cocktail. It tasted flat like maybe they used fewer ingredients or not enough of some.

Then he ordered a second Mai Tai that was even worse and legit terrible. Nothing was measured in a jigger and the shake was half-hearted. A truly awful Mai Tai.

It really bums me out that Dr. Funk cannot figure this out, since the space remains immersive and their excellent rum selection means that I can try some new-to-me rums. I tried the Black Tot Master Blender’s Reserve 2023 and it was absolutely delicious and very similar to the old British Royal Navy rum from the 1950s and 1960s that I’ve been able to try.

If Dr. Funk wants to be considered a craft cocktail bar, they need to measure the ingredients with jiggers.

If they want to be considered a world-class tiki bar the bartenders need to know where the overproof 151 Demerara rum is without having to spend a long time looking for it (no, I’m not kidding).

If Dr. Funk just wants to be a party bar just tell us that so that we can reset our expectations. San Jose doesn’t need another party tiki bar like Tiki Pete. They need a tiki bar where a great Mai Tai is expected – and not the exception.