I’ll put my home Mai Tai up against anyone, and I think my Ultimate Navy Grog is damn near perfect. But I bow to the master, Donn Beach, when it comes to the Zombie.
After trying several Zombies I made a 1934 Zombie with heavier Grenadine and 3 plus ounces of the Ultimate Mai Tai rum blend (Appleton 12, Smith & Cross, Xaymaca, OFTD). This should have been right up my alley but it wasn’t. I love this rum blend, but it doesn’t make the Zombie better. That Puerto Rican rum and the specific Demerara Overproof called for in the original recipe do make the difference.
Had a great time on Halloween. We had a little parade on our street and Mrs Mai Tai made goodie bags for the kids on the street and also dressed up in her T-Rex costume. Later I watched American Werewolf in London and then Zombieland: Double Tap. I like my horror to be mostly comedy, I guess.
The original is the best. That’s the conclusion at Ultimate Mai Tai Headquarters after trying out three other Zombies this month and then trying the 1934 recipe.
The subtle Cinnamon flavor and heavier rums make this a much more palatable cocktail. It’s like Jeff “Beachbum” Berry says, it’s really a magnified Planters Punch with a blend of rums and other kinds of sweeteners and spices.
1934 Zombie ¾ oz Lime juice ½ oz Don’s Mix ½ oz Falernum ¼ oz Grenadine 1½ oz Jamaican rum 1½ oz Puerto Rican rum 1 oz Demerara 151 proof rum 2 dashes absinthe 1 dash Angostura bitters 6 oz crushed ice Flash blend for 5 seconds Don’s Mix: 2 parts White Grapefruit juice and 1 part Cinnamon Syrup.
Glassware and coasters from last year’s Kickstarter by Will Penny.
Continuing our theme for the week, I made the 1950 and 1956 Zombie cocktails. We can thank @official_beachbumberry for unearthing these old recipes, and if you haven’t memorized the Zombie chapter from The Bum’s seminal book Sippin’ Safari then you need to order that book right away (get the 10th anniversary edition). These lovely Beachbum Berry Zombie glasses make pairing these two cocktails a delight.
1950 Zombie 1 oz Lime juice 1 oz Lemon juice 1 oz Pineapple juice 1 oz Passion Fruit Syrup 1 oz White Puerto Rican rum 1 oz Gold Puerto Rican rum 1 oz Demerara 151 proof rum 1 tsp brown sugar 1 Dash Angostura bitters Shake with ice
1956 Zombie ¾ oz Lime juice ½ oz Grapefruit juice 1½ oz Unsweetened Pineapple juice ¼ oz Falernum ¾ oz Maraschino Liqueur (only used ⅓ oz) ¼ tsp Grenadine 1¼ oz Gold Puerto Rican rum 1 oz Dark Jamaican rum 1 oz Lemon Hart 151 Demerara rum ⅛ tsp Pernod/Absinthe 2 dashes Angostura Bitters 6 oz (¾ cup) crushed ice Flash blend
You can see which rums and ingredients I used. Overall I thought that the 1956 Zombie tasted too much like the Maraschino Liqueur, even after I used only half the listed amount. I might drop it down to a teaspoon next time.
The 1950 Zombie was better received both by me and also by Mrs. Mai Tai, as we both felt it was easier to drink. But neither of us felt like either cocktail was something we’d go out of our way to order at a bar.
Mrs Mai Tai was a good sport indulging me for Saturday’s four-Mai Tai day in Tahoe-Reno, but the weekend was capped with some fine cocktails on the way home at Sacramento’s Jungle Bird tiki bar.
Our cocktails were on point, starting with a great Saturn. Jungle Bird serves this with crushed ice, which is a good option for this cocktail. I also had their Mai Tai, which is good and only $10 even with the very good Denizen Merchant’s Reserve Rum. Mrs Mai Tai had her favorite, the Lava Flow, which always looks pretty at the Jungle Bird. The cocktails here are quite good and the staff does a great job working with the guests (me: “heavier orgeat”). So nice to have the cocktails freshly prepared too.
Sunday’s travels from Reno down to Sacramento was pleasant, and we visited Sacramento’s best antique mall – Midway Antique Mall. This places has some great midcentury displays and we always find great stuff there. I picked up a great vintage Aloha Shirt from Hawaii.
We stopped at The Jungle Bird for a cocktail and some food before the final trek home. The outside seating out front is nice and we really liked the updated back patio. Plenty of outdoor space for cocktails and tables of various sizes.
Our food at Jungle Bird was good, but as always seems a bit hit or miss. The Crab Rangoon and Coconut Shrimp were pretty good, but the Pork Belly Sliders were pretty tough. Mrs Mai Tai liked her Chicken Katsu.
Service during our visit was excellent, and we felt welcomed and safely accommodated. We’re looking forward to returning after Thanksgiving to see how the decorations and cocktails for Sippin Santa turn out.
Rum Sugar Lime was recommended and is a cocktail bar with a Rum emphasis. This bar is located in Reno’s burgeoning Midtown district, near other boutiques, bars, and restaurants. They have two tables outside but well-spaced tables inside and also offer cocktails to go. There are two spirits displays on the back bar, half of which is nothing but rum. Lots of great rum choices to be had (hello, Foursquare 2004). Though early on a Saturday evening, the clientele was fun but polite and looking for a relaxing time rather than a drunken party.
I started with the house Mai Tai, featuring Smith & Cross and Flor de Cana rums. It was a good but not excellent Mai Tai, a bit too sour for my preference. Meanwhile, Mrs. Mai Tai had the Saturn and it was divine. Service was prompt and attentive.
We didn’t stay long but did order two cocktails to go. Mrs Mai Tai had the Coco Lolota, a Batida variant with coconut milk, Chartreuse, and citrus – but didn’t really like it. Meanwhile, I went to the Ultimate Mai Tai playbook and asked for a Mai Tai made with Appleton 12 and “heavy orgeat.” This one was really excellent! The Appleton Rum shined in this version and the sweet and sour were better balanced. The RSL folks even packed up two kinds of ice for the ride back to the hotel.
This seems like a great place that we’d love to hang out at, if not for COVID concerns. While this isn’t a Tiki Bar, we think most Tiki fans would enjoy the tropical touches and organic brick and wood elements. The cocktails overall were excellent and there is a whole wall of additional rums to enjoy. We’ll be happy to return the next time we’re in town.
Following up from yesterday’s post about the Trader Vic’s Mai Tai at Gar Woods, I also wanted to try their “1944 Old Way” Mai Tai. Regular readers may recall that the term “Old Way Mai Tai” has different meanings, depending on who you ask and when you asked. In this case, it is a scratch Mai Tai (made with the Trader Vic’s Royal Amber rum) and topped with a float of Trader Vic’s 80 proof Dark Rum.
That particular Dark Rum isn’t my favorite but I scanned the spirits at the bar and spotted Pusser’s Rum. So, I asked for the 1944 made with Pusser’s instead. Well, it turns out there’s a no substitution policy for the Trader Vic’s Mai Tais (perhaps related to their licensing agreement) so the standard issue it was.
The second drama was that I didn’t use the gigantically wide straw that was provided (large enough to suck up small ice cubes) so I was sipping directly on the glass. Which meant that my first taste was nothing but the Dark Rum float. But, after a little stir with said straw, I am pleased to report that this was a really good 1944 Mai Tai.
Gar Woods has seating down on the pier and directly on the lake, so if you visiting in good weather and don’t mind a little sun, this could be a unique opportunity.
Worth noting that sister location Riva Grill in South Lake Tahoe also has a Trader Vic’s license, so give these restaurants a try the next time you’re in the area.
We had a great lunch on the lake at Gar Woods Grill and Pier. The lakeside dining includes indoor and patio dining. We loved the Lobster Deviled Eggs and I loved my Crab Sandwich.
Gar Woods is notable in that they serve a Trader Vic’s Mai Tai, officially licensed and everything. Comes complete in a Trader Vic’s glass and is made as per the “Trader Vic’s Mai Tai” in the restaurants with the Mai Tai Concentrate and the Trader Vic’s Royal Amber Rum. Mrs Mai Tai had the Lemon Drop.
It was outstanding. The lakeshore views. The fine food and great cocktails. Really great.
I had short but fun visit saying hello to some of the Oakhana regulars at The Kon-Tiki last night. It was so cool, Neil even brought a little record player to play some vintage LPs. So nice to see some of the regulars, plus an active Wednesday night crowd at The Kon-Tiki. I also finally got to try one of 2020’s seminal cocktails, Best Fronds (tropical Negroni) and to check out the newly expanded outdoor patio.
There are now ten big outdoor booths, plus a few 2-top tables for “in person” dining and cocktailing at Kon-Tiki. Check the number on your table, include that with your online order, and then they bring out your drinks and food. Hopefully some roofing to come soon for rainy season.
It’s a pretty good setup and the drinks came out fast. I enjoyed the Best Fronds, with Pineapple Rum, Sweet Vermouth, Campari, and Mole Bitters. I’m not still not a Campari lover but I did like this. Definitely a nice change of pace from the usual tropical cocktail merriment. Good job Chris Day and nice to see Kon-Tiki crew.
Not My Presidente
This cocktail was part of this past weekend’s @bartenders4change celebration. Lots of great content going into the @thekontikioakland Instagram feed, plus some topical interviews. @samson_miller did a great job with the content and interviews, and I learned a lot. And credit to The Kon-Tiki for providing the platform.
This cocktail was still on the menu last night, and getting ready for the debate I’d be lying if the name of this cocktail didn’t strike a chord.
Not My Presidente: American Gin, Overproof Rum, Manzanilla Sherry, Hibiscus Grenadine, and Pufferfish Bitters. Definitely in the classic cocktail style, and boy was this plenty boozy. Just enough to forget my troubles for a few hours. And tasted fine after a day in my fridge.
The Kon-Tiki has a nice setup for online order, to-go orders, delivery, and now an opportunity for in-place outdoor consumption. I shall return.
I’m sure some of you reading this might be thinking, “1947 Zombie? Your year is incorrect.” Well, friends, it is correct and it is delicious.
Behold the Zombie recipe from Victor Bergeron’s 1947 Bartender’s Guide. Trader Vic didn’t have Don the Beachcomber’s secret recipe but his Zombie is no slouch. It is boozy but very easy to drink.
Zombie (Trader Vic’s) 1 oz Lemon Juice 1 oz Orange Juice ½ oz Grenadine 1 oz Orange Curacao (Cointreau) 1 oz Jamaican Rum (Plantation Xaymaca) 2 oz Puerto Rican Rum (Bacardi 4) ½ oz 151 Proof Demerara Rum (Hamilton 151) 1 dash Pernod Stir in mixing glass with large ice cube, then pour over shaved ice in a tall glass.
A few months ago I posed a question in a Facebook group to ask what were the seminal ingredients for a Zombie (in the same way that Orgeat is the seminal ingredient for a Mai Tai). I honestly did not get any sort of consensus answer, except for a mix of rums and maybe Cinnamon syrup. We also know that Grenadine is a key differentiator between the 1934 Zombie and a Jet Pilot.
All of which means that Trader Vic’s Zombie is probably not quite as spice-forward as those who love the 1934 Zombie are expecting. But it isn’t a terrible “guess” by Vic at what made the Don the Beachcomber Zombie world famous. The grenadine is there, along with Pernod/Herbsiant that often used in Don the Beachcomber cocktails. And, the rums are pretty much exactly as what Donn used in his various Zombie recipes.
Is it as good as a 1934 Zombie? Certainly not. But I’ll tell you that it is miles better than most Zombies I’ve had at good craft-oriented tiki bars.
Give it a try and let me know what you think. Happy Hulaween.
The glass is from last year’s kickstarter from Will Penny.