Cocktails at The Sinking Ship

We’d had great experiences with the cocktails at Tiki-Ko in the past, so had high expectations for the ones at their newish downstairs sister-bar, The Sinking Ship. The cocktails were great, and the attention to detail from bartenders @bell_uh_sorry_hoe, @_spongibob, and another bartender who’s name I didn’t catch was outstanding.

My Mai Tai was totally “out of this world,” using Denizen Merchant’s Reserve for the rum. I followed up with a Navy Grog that was nearly as good, and I appreciated the additional honey upon request.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Mai Tai started with the “Mary Ann” cocktail, which is Tiki Ko’s version of the Tradewinds. I’ve had this before and it’s still really great. She followed it up with the top-notch El Duderino, with rum, vodka, coffee liqueur, and coconut cream.

We wanted to stay longer but were driving so we did two “virgin sacrifices,” Julie liked The Chai-Lite, with a non-alcoholic cane spirit and chai tea concentrate. While I had the tart but still tasty Peachy Keene featuring peach nectar. Both of these were quite wonderful.

Virgin Sacrifices

As far as I can tell the cocktail program at The Sinking Ship is the same as upstairs at Tiki-Ko, which in my mind is sort of a bummer but not really an issue. With 18 cocktails including some made for tiki newbies (Pina Colada and Blue Hawaii) but also some for savvy craft cocktail fans (Three Dots and a Dash, 151 Swizzle), there’s enough choice but doesn’t lead to analysis paralysis. I only wish they’d have a few more original recipes to try, but there ain’t nothing wrong with what’s being offered. The back bar offers some additional spirts choices, but a vast rum collection isn’t really a focus. There are some beer choices and a monthly rotation of slushy cocktails, so there’s something for everyone.

With fabulous decor, great music, impressive service and also some great cocktails, The Sinking Ship ranks amongst the best tiki bars I’ve visited. Totally worth making a trip to Bakersfield to check it out – along with Tiki-Ko upstairs of course. We’ve heard the nearby Padre Hotel is a good option that’s walking distance away. Be sure to check current hours before visiting, as there are some days where either Tiki-Ko or The Sinking Ship are open. Or go on a weekend when both are open.

The Sinking Ship at Tiki-Ko

We finally made it down to Bakersfield to see the basement addition/expansion/sister bar to longtime local heroes at Tiki-Ko.

The Sinking Ship features an immersive nautical and trader design with different sections and booths. Really amazing work from @tikidiablo and @_spongibob. The ceiling is a map and there are so many elements to look at, including masks, crates, nautical equipment, and displays of artifacts.

A notable element is how you order drinks at the bar, complete with a roped off line, though there a few seats at the bar, too. The chairs feel like vintage pieces even though we know they’re new. The music was top notch, including exotica, surf, and Hawaiian. It all feels organic and well-put together, without feeling like it is a movie set.

The entrance is just a couple doors down from Tiki-Ko and leads you down a staircase with inspired decor. So while the staff and menu are the same, this truly is a separate space.

We’ll discuss the drinks in tomorrow’s post, but suffice to say that The Sinking Ship is one of the finest spaces in any tiki bar anywhere.

Coconut Joe’s

A Bakersfield institution for decades, we stopped by here for dinner after arriving in town. Definitely a beach bar and not a tiki bar, despite the large number of tikis (sourced from Oceanic Arts, we’ve been told). More of a Jimmy Buffet place (including his songs playing).

As a family restaurant this place was pretty good. I enjoyed my lobster/crab roll and battered shrimp. Booze is beer and canned cocktails/seltzers.

The impressive outrigger is a focal piece at the rear of the restaurant.

Star Trek Thursdays at The Kon-Tiki Room

The outpost location next Palmetto has been doing things a little differently than the original Kon-Tiki across town. One of these is their Star Trek Thursdays, with episodes shown on a screen (without audio) and some drink specials. Not classic tiki by any means, but “The Room” has been stretching the boundaries with music already, so … sure, why not?

I wanted to check Star Trek night out and visited last Thursday with some drink specials featuring Copalli rum from Belize. I had a pour of their Barrel Rested Rum, and it had some nice flavors including some pleasant spice notes.

The drink specials are pretty good for these Star Trek nights, alongside the rest of The Kon-Tiki Room’s excellent cocktail menu.

Tonight’s Star Trek Thursday pays tribute to the recently passed Nichelle Nichols, Lt. Uhura from Star Trek: The Original Series. I’m sure they’ll pick some of the best episodes with Nichols, a true icon.

The Surfrajettes Live in San Jose

Had a great time at The Surfrajettes show at The Ritz in San Jose last night. The show opened with Frankie and Pool Boys who put on a credible and energetic set.

The Surfrajettes had a long headliner set including many of their past singles as well as tracks from their new album Roller Fink. The band is well-practiced and sounded great, mixing classic surf covers such as “Penetration” along with their spin on classic songs such as “She Loves You” and “Heart of Glass.” I like the covers but prefer their original tracks such as “Party Line” and “Couch Surfing.” 

I was impressed by Sam Maloney’s wild drumming and lead guitarist Nicole Damoff’s bluesy solos. Damoff also served as the M.C., engaging the audience in between songs with song introductions and such.

The Surfrajettes are playing a bunch of shows this week leading to Tiki Oasis, and have additional dates in Texas and in the midwest later in the month. Be sure to check them out if they’re coming to your town.

Presidio Brunch at Sessions

We did a family outing to see the new Presido Tunnel Tops park, and then to the nearby Walt Disney Family Museum. The Park is pretty impressive, running over the top of the highway 101. The plants and everything are brand new and I’m sure will fill out over the coming years, but this is still picturesque. Pro tip: arrive early to avoid the crowds. Even at 11:00 am on Sunday the place and the parking were quite full. Our family photo for the Christmas card with the Golden Gate Bridge didn’t really work, thanks to the heavy fog.

We went over to Sessions for brunch afterwards, part of the Lucasfilm campus. We’ve been here a few times, including the May the Fourth event with Smuggler’s Cove last year. The food is gourmet and the cocktails are outstanding, plus we get to visit the Yoda statue nearby. So it’s a treat and not an everyday visit, unless you have “Star Wars Money.” I really enjoyed my waffle, topped with strawberries and toasted granola.

The cocktail was Carnaval Caribe, made with El Dorado 12, Bacardi, Curacao, Cynar, Falernum, Pineapple Shrubb, and Lime. Really rich and flavorful.

Exotica Moderne Issue 16

The new issue of Exotica Moderne is now out, featuring several contributions from me.

  • Music review of the new mini-album from Vancouver surf band The Hang-Ten Hangmen
  • Cocktail recipe: London Dry Spin
  • Feature article: Why the 1944 Mai Tai Isn’t “the 1944 Mai Tai”

There’s lots of great material in the rest of the issue, as always, so be sure to order a copy before they’re gone.

Purchase Exotica Moderne 16 from House of Tabu


Black Tot Day 2022

This is the rum we crack open for a pour of at home on Black Tot Day, the day when the Royal Navy stopped issuing rum rations in 1970.

I love Navy Rum, including the original rum from the 1960s that I’ve been fortunate to try a couple times. I also have several delicious rums that follow the tradition, such as Pussers, Wood’s, and Skipper Rum. These rums are exclusively Demerara rum from Guyana, so aren’t the blend of rums that were poured into large vats in London before being issued to the ships. But they do have a lot of the same character.

But those aren’t as amazing and special as this one from Black Tot Rum. They have yearly limited releases such as this 50th Anniversary release from 2020 that is a blend of rums from Guyana, Barbados, Trinidad, and Jamaica. Plus .5% of original Navy Rum. Bottled at navy strength, obviously, at 54.5% ABV. I won’t be watering it down like they did on the ships.

Up spirits!

Turkey Rum

I’m not joking. And it isn’t bad at all. In fact it is pretty amazing.

Matchbook Distilling has a limited edition rum called Some Night in Autumn that is “Molasses mashed with dunder double pot distilled with a turkey hanging in the kettle.” A. Turkey. And that Turkey provides a fine finish to this rum. Definitely rich on the tongue with a fat finish that will make you think of Thanksgivings of your youth.

It wasn’t on my radar but as I understand it, there is a tradition for agave spirits to be redistilled with local fruits, nuts, and poultry called Pechuga. So, this rum borrows from that tradition.

Thank you Kon-Tiki for carrying this special rum. Another great expression from the Kon-Tiki’s excellent selection of fine rums and spirits.

Aperol Bird

We had some pineapple juice and so I did a Jungle Bird riff using Campari’s sweeter cousin, Aperol. I have been enjoying Aperol Spritzs this month and thought this might work in a cocktail that calls for the more bitter Campari. I’ve grown to appreciate the Jungle Bird as a cocktail, but regular readers know I lean sweet.

Aperol Bird
½ oz Lime Juice
4 oz Pineapple Juice
½ oz Simple Syrup
¾ oz Aperol
1 oz Hamilton Jamaican Pot Still Black Rum
½ oz Goslings Dark Rum
Shake with cubes.

This was okay. I’ve found that when the Hamilton is used by itself it can sometimes overpower a cocktail, hence cutting it with Goslings. As it turns out, it probably would have been better with all that Jamaican rum instead. The Aperol does give this a lighter and sweeter taste but it isn’t able to stand up to all that pineapple juice as well as Campari.