It was pleasant enough for lunch on the lanai, an Aloha Bowl and a Samoan Fogcutter. Both were quite excellent. I did some walking around admiring the tikis at Trader Vic’s.
The trip to Trader Vic’s was because I wanted to get a bottle of the Royal Amber rum, which comes in a 1 Liter bottle (compare to an older 750ml bottle of Trader Vic’s Dark rum). I’m going to do some taste tests with this, though the initial reaction is that this Puerto Rican rum has a bit of a navy style flavor. More on the Royal Amber rum later.
We’re having Spirit Week at my company, Juniper Networks. So I submitted this for a Happy Hour event on Friday.
For those looking for something to prepare for Happy Hour on Friday, here’s an original cocktail with a uniquely Juniper theme. The yellow passion fruit syrup and the blue curacao liqueur should give you something close to Juniper Green, without the use of food coloring. The name is a play on words for a famous Gin-based cocktail, the Aviation.
This uses ingredients you can find in many mainstream liquor warehouse stores (e.g. BevMo). Of course the spirit (for Spirit Week!) has to be a juniper-forward Gin.
Innovation Cocktail by Kevin Crossman 1 ounce Passion fruit Syrup (or, passion fruit puree, such as Finest Call) ½ ounce Orgeat (or Almond Syrup, such as Toriani) ½ ounce Blue Curacao Liqueur 2 ounces London Dry Gin (I used Beefeater)
Shake with ice cubes and strain into a coupe glass or wine glass.
Because all the cool people are tweaking their rum formulas and changing the labels… Mount Gay is on the trend too. I am not a fan of their smoky Black Barrel expression, but I do have the XO aged expression so I thought I’d give the new XO blend a try. Instead of it being a “Reserve Cask Rum” (pictured, right) it is now a “Triple Cask Blend.” Noteworthy the presence of Mount Gay Master Blender Trudiann Branker on the label.
The new XO is slightly bolder and heavier than the predecessor, but is not radically different. This is a very good aged Barbados rum, suitable for sipping but also for cocktails when a premium spirit is called for (ahem, 1944 Mai Tai). Slightly more of the baked fig taste at least to me. Casks are from American Whiskey, Bourbon, and Cognac barrels.
If you’re looking to go a bit upscale in the Aged Barbarbadian Rum category, but the prices of Foursquare Exceptional Casks scare you off, consider Mount Gay XO. It’s widely available and in the ~$40-50 price range.
We’ve got a heat-wave in the Bay Area, which mean that Mrs. Mai Tai didn’t want to turn on the over for dinner. Then she looked interested in the new Shrimp Sandwich at The Kon Tiki. So you know what’s next.
Great takeout from Kon-Tiki tonight. The Kon-Tiki Burger traveled exceptionally well tonight, as did the fries. Man, that Kon-Tiki burger is sooo good. The Shrimp Sandwich was spicy and good according to Mrs. Mai Tai. We saved her Uma Uma in freezer for tomorrow.
And the Mai Tai… very good to close out the weekend. I put mine in one of the fine Kon-Tiki glasses, still for sale.
Only bummer was no cool artwork on the bag, but resident bag artiste Tony Martinez needs a day off from time to time.
Wish I could do takeout more from these guys, but even with no freeway traffic it’s hard to travel 30 mins in each direction (same for Forbidden Island and Trader Vic’s). I’m still contributing to the staff Go Fund Me, though.
I took another run at a Mai Tai made with the newly available (once-in-a-lifetime) Trader Vic’s Mai Tai Concentrate. This “industrial strength” syrup is used in place of the Orgeat and Curacao and is used in the Trader Vic’s restaurants for certain cocktails.
The bottle calls for ¾ oz of the Concentrate, but I thought it needed more. This time, I used a full ounce and it’s much better. There are more bright orange notes in this version.
Making Mai Tais from scratch will always be the best option, but this mix is pretty good and saves you one step when preparing the cocktail and potentially substantial cost vs. buying the Orgeat and Curacao separately.
This recipe comes from Bay Area Tikiphile Rodney Stanton, who shared it during Thursday’s “South SF Bay Ohana” online meetup (hit me up on Facebook to get access to the group). The hero ingredient is the BG Reynolds Circus Peanut Syrup, and it’s delicious here when paired with the banana notes from the liqueur and the overrproof Jamaican rum.
A Clown Got Us into This 1½ oz Lime Juice 1½ oz Kuleana Rum Works Nanea ½ oz Overproof Jamaican Rum ½ oz Creme de Banana ¾ oz BG Reynolds Circus Peanut Syrup ⅛ oz Grenadine 2 Dashes Orange Bitters
The Nanea is from the Hawaiian brand Kuleana, but is actually a blend of lightly aged rums from the Caribbean. I don’t have the Nanea, or any rums from Central America, so I used Plantation 3 Star as a substitute. For the Overproof Jamaican I used Rum-Bar Overproof. I used Tempus Fugit for the banana liqueur.
We swung by 65th and San Pablo Ave in Oakland on our way to Trader Vic’s the other day to go check out what’s happening. And like the past few years, there isn’t much. But starting in 1934, this was the home of the original Trader Vic’s location and where the Mai Tai was created in 1944.
Two palm trees used to flank the entrance, but sadly only one remains. The last time I visited in October 2017 one of the trees was still standing, though without fronds. It seems to have been cut down in the meantime. Someone is still maintaining the grounds here, though, as there aren’t tall weeds growing anymore and the graffiti is painted over.
The lot is still for sale. If you’ve got $500,000-750,000 burning a whole in your pocket you might still be able to buy it.
The Best Value for Bay Area To-Go Tiki is: Forbidden Island
Forbidden Island opened up on Thursday for take-out bites and cocktails, so we sampled this on Sunday. The portions were quite good and even after a 30 minute trip home everything stayed in good shape (waffle fries travel better than thin tiny ones). The coconut shrimp in particular were quite good at home.
And the cocktails. Delicious and plenty boozy. Mrs. Mai Tai had the coconut-forward Monkey Pod, whereas I went with the Demerara Dry Float. That cocktail even came with a tiny bottle of rum to float on top! Definitely two servings worth per cocktail.
I was real happy with the ordering experience with Forbidden Island. It’s done on the website, and you do have to get your order in before 2 pm on the day of. But other than that, it was a dream and everything came out perfect – nothing missing or wrong with the order. Go out there and give these guys your support.