Secret Recipe Navy Grog

Last Navy Grog Experiment

After publishing my “definitive” Ultimate Mai Tai HQ Navy Grog recipe on Saturday, I received a note with another Navy Grog recipe from a tiki VIP. Like, very V.I.P.

I was pleased to see the recipe was similar to mine (which perhaps prompted the message), though it used different rums. I was sworn to secrecy, so I won’t be spilling the beans, but let’s just say that I was humbled by the peek behind the curtain.

So, this is the secret benefactor Navy Grog. And I must say it was pretty damn good. Like, really really good. Anyone would be lucky to get this served to them in a tiki bar that might or might not be near you.

Personally, I liked mine a little bit better, mostly because the rums are handpicked and tuned to my palette. Though, since I used a total of five different rums (all mid to top shelf) it wouldn’t be easy to use them in a commercial bar.

Playing around with the Navy Grog this week has been fun. Now off to the next tiki cocktail challenge.


Trader Vic’s Take-Out

Support Trader Vic’s

You can also support Trader Vic’s by buying from their Online Store. They have a great selection of classic tiki mugs as well as some great new ones such as the signature mug from the San Jose Airport Trader Vic’s. Plus pins, apparel, swag, and bartender gear. Check out the online store:

Search for the Ultimate Navy Grog: Part 2

After trying the historical Navy Grog recipes from Don the Beachcomber and Trader Vic, I tried a modern riff that included elements of both recipes (see: Search for the Ultimate Navy Grog: Part 1). This combo recipe was even better, but still wasn’t quite the heavy cocktails I was looking for in a Navy Grog. So, I set sail to make my own.

The historical recipes lean on a mix of rums, including some lighter ones. But I felt that the rum should be darker and heavier, so I turned to an old standby: my house Mai Tai Rum blend. This is a mix of rums largely from Jamaica and this blend has a higher ABV ratio as well.  I combined this rum with Lemon Hart, a mainstream Demerara rum. I also decided to go for the full three ounces of rum in the cocktail.

As a reminder, the Ultimate Mai Tai Rum mix is equal parts:

  • Appleton Estate Rare Blend Aged 12 Years (“Appleton 12”)
  • Smith & Cross Traditional Jamaica Rum
  • Plantation OFTD
  • Plantation Xaymaca

I really liked the soda in the modern riff, so I wanted to keep that in the recipe. But I also wanted a higher amount of honey and other sweeteners to balance the higher amount of rum. I decided to use an equal ratio of Pimento Dram and Vanilla Syrup, a combo historically known as Don’s Spices #2 from the Nui Nui.

Ultimate Mai Tai Navy Grog

¾ oz Lime Juice
¾ oz Grapefruit Juice
1 oz Honey mix
½ oz Pimento Dram (Hamilton)
½ oz Vanilla Syrup (BG Reynolds)
1 ½ oz Ultimate Mai Tai Rum
1 ½ oz Demerara Rum (Lemon Hart)
Shake with crushed ice. After pouring into glass, top with 2 oz of Soda.

I really liked this, and it definitely reminded me of the great Navy Grogs I had at the Kon-Tiki in Oakland. If you like your Navy Grogs thick and heavy, I think you’ll love this recipe.

Glassware and tiki mug by B-Rex

Further Adventures:

New Website Feature: Tiki Travels – Florida

Today is the 5th Birthday of Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto at Walt Disney World, though sadly there won’t be any on-site celebrations. Nonetheless, Trader Sam’s is one of Florida’s notable tiki bars, and arguably the most fun.

To celebrate, we’re launching a new Tiki Travels page covering the tiki bars of Florida. These range from the prototypical “Florida Tiki Bar” all the way to the famed Mai-Kai Restaurant, arguably the best tiki bar in the world.

View the page: Tiki Travels: Florida

Search for the Ultimate Navy Grog: Part 1

I opened a bottle of Grapefruit juice, so seems like a good time to experiment to come up with a house Navy Grog recipe. I asked for feedback and got some great suggestions from some tikiphiles.

I started off by making the traditional Don the Beachcomber and Trader Vic’s recipes. These are largely similar, with Don’s using Honey and soda, with the Trader Vic’s using Pimento Dram.

Navy Grog – Don the Beachcomber
¾ oz Lime Juice
¾ oz Grapefruit Juice
¾ oz Soda Water
1 oz Honey mix (1:1)
1 oz Light Rum (Bacardi 8)
1 oz Dark Jamaican Rum (Appleton Reserve)
1 oz Demerara Rum (Lemon-Hart)

Navy Grog – Trader Vic’s, adapted by Smuggler’s Cove
¾ oz Lime Juice
¾ oz Grapefruit Juice
¼ oz Demerara syrup
¼ oz Pimento Dram (Hamilton)
1 oz Light Rum (Bacardi 8)
1 oz Dark Jamaican Rum (Appleton Reserve)
1 oz Demerara Rum (Lemon-Hart)

These tasted fine but felt a little thin and one-sided.

Don the Beachcomber and Trader Vic’s Navy Grogs

Next I turned to a recipe provided by a bartender from one of California’s most excellent tiki bars (who shall remain anonymous).

Modern Navy Grog 
¾ oz Lime Juice
¾ oz Grapefruit Juice
¾ oz Honey mix
¼ oz Pimento Dram (Hamilton)
1 oz Dark Jamaican Rum (Appleton Reserve)
1 oz Demerara Rum (Lemon-Hart)
“Top with Soda”

This recipe is a mix of the two historical recipes and for me tasted a lot better. They Honey balanced out the Pimento/Allspice very well, and I liked the soda floated on top.

But for me this was still not the heavy, rich Navy Grog that I was recently spoiled with at The Kon-Tiki from bartender Terry Six. So, I decided to improvise. That’s the story in the next post:

Quaran-Tai Order

Mai Tai in Pop Culture: “Mai Tais on the Moon” by Tikiyaki Orchestra

When you’re drinking a Mai Tai, the stuff in the glass is the most important part. But the place where you drink the Mai Tai is also key. Do you want to hear loud hair metal while drinking a Mai Tai? No, you want relaxing exotic music that helps transport you to a different place or at least to forget the cares of the world. We call this music Exotica.

The most prominent Exotica band currently performing and putting out new music is the Tikiyaki Orchestra. The group was formed by Jim Bacchi and to date they’ve issued several well regarded albums with tracks that are frequently played in tiki bars worldwide and also in places like Adventureland at Disneyland. Tikiyaki plays live as a seven-piece group at several tiki-related events each year. In the last couple years, a four-person combo has been producing surf-oriented recordings and playing live under the moniker Tikiyaki 5-0.

The first Tikiyaki Orchestra album featured a song called “Mai Tais on the Mood” and is representative of the group’s signature sound. It’s a mix of classic exotic percussion, vibraphone, slack key, and surf guitar. This was actually the first song Bacchi recorded as Tikiyaki Orchestra.

Wait, there’s more!

As I was preparing this post, we learned there is new Tikiyaki music being made available as of today! In fact, it has only been recently conceived and recorded.

Sketches with Guitar and Bongos is being issued under the moniker “Tikiyaki minus orchestra” because it’s a stripped-down arrangement featuring percussion and guitars. The songs are right in line with previous Tikiyaki recordings in that they’ll fit in just fine at the tiki bar. This is great stuff and maybe the first positive thing to come out of the COVID-19 social shutdown.

Head on over to the Tikiyaki Orchestra website or go to Bandcamp to purchase the album

Tonight we’ll raise a Mai Tai to Tikiyaki!

Jim Bacchi performing with Tikiyaki 5-0 at Tiki Kon 2018.

5 Minute Tiki Bar Visit

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I walked into a Tiki Bar today. It was only for less than five minutes, to pick up my dinner and cocktail to-go order. But 12 days is about as long as it’s been between tiki bar visits during the last couple years. Kind of maybe starting to regret not building the tiki bar at home right about now. But, Kon-Tiki is doing take out and now that includes cocktails. The menu is limited, but as long as their famous, amazing Kon-Tiki Burger is on the menu it doesn’t matter to me. Interestingly, the to-go version is slightly modified, including a little bit of lettuce and tomato. And the included fries are crinkle cut. But even after a drive home to Fremont the burger tasted A-MAZ-ING. Really really great. Everyone at home loved them. If you’re local, get on it! As for the to-go cocktails this was more of a mixed bag. The new pricing this week is $18 per cocktail, though it’s more than double the normal amount of liquid in a typical cocktail glass including all the ice. And as “bottled ready to go” Mai Tais go, this one was pretty good. A little lime-forward for my taste, but it was plenty boozy. I mean, plenty. boozy. I also had the Virigin’s Sacrifice. This was probably closer to what’s served in the restaurant, though the reason I ordered was because I have never ordered it there before and thought I’d give it a try. Tequila, Mezcal, lime, passionfruit, and pineapple gum, all great. The spicy chili, though – was too much for me. If you like things spicy, this is a great cocktail. Have heard great things about the Zombie and Ma Kua from other tikiphiles so this is definitely the place for cocktails in Oakland right now. So very nice to see the Kon-Tiki crew working to keep the ship sailing through this challenging time. Cheers to Matt, Christ, Tony, Jeanie, Manny, and everyone else working tonight. Miss you all but we’ll see you on the other side. Last note? Yes. Yes, there was Yacht Rock playing inside the Kon-Tiki. Some things never change. #tiki #tikibar #tikidrinks #tikiculture #tropicaldrinks #cocktails #craftcocktails #rum #rhum #maitai #1944maitai #oakland

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