Sangria Margarita

I’m in love and I don’t care who knows!

Mrs Mai Tai and I traveled Route 66 from Oklahoma City to Albuquerque (see: @kevincrossman for photos) and landed just before dinner. We are staying at the @elvadoabq Hotel, a historic Route 66 property recent restored.

We walked over to Old Town but it is hot here. Thankfully we found the Church Street Cafe Mexican restaurant and stopped to cool off.

The Pacifico was great but the Sangria Margarita (frozen!!) was truly amazing. Mrs Mai Tai is already sick of me singing the praises of this amazing cocktail. So tasty and the mix of Sangria and traditional lime Margarita is truly transcendent.

Max’s South Seas Hideaway Bars and More

In part one I said that Max’s South Seas Hideaway is America’s grandest tiki bar – that’s currently open. With the Mai Kai being closed, Max’s is the winner hands down. And if the Mai Tai was still open, it’d be easy to favorably compare Max’s overall considering the much higher quality cocktails and somewhat lower prices.

Max’s is a very large establishment. There are two levels with unique decor in each area. On the lower level there’s even a second bar with it’s own lovely decor (this bar wasn’t operating on our visit, but otherwise the place seemed around 2/3 full). I really liked the upstairs decor, including an aquarium and the bar shaped like a boat. Downstairs has a fountain feature that’s not currently operating but there is a large wall of tiki mugs and other artifacts galore. Eye candy everywhere you can see.

The crew at Max’s was super friendly, from the hostess to the waiter to the food runners to the bussers. The service at the table was super fast and friendly, dishes were cleared quickly, and our waiter Tyler treated us very well when we asked about merch options and such.

The patrons all seemed to be having a great time and hey we even saw “tiki people” at the tiki bar. Such a contrast from our visit at Three Dots and a Dash in Chicago.

I can’t recommend visiting Max’s more enthusiastically. Totally worth driving 3000 miles for. We hope to return again!

Max’s South Seas Hideaway Food and Drink

Few tiki bars do both decor and food/drinks excellently, but Max’s South Seas Hideaway is one such example. We loved our dinner, including some Crab Rangoon that were full of cream and crab. So very tasty. I saw sushi on the menu and had some wonderful California Rolls. Meanwhile, Mrs. Mai Tai had the Spicy Salmon Roll that was on special during our visit. We finished with a wonderful Matcha tea cheesecake and chocolate coconut Gelato. Everything was heavenly.

Cocktails were similarly excellent. Mrs. Mai Tai had the blue Juan Ho Royale with Tequila, Marooned with the Movie Star cocktail that featured ginger beer and fresh ginger (Ginger… get it?), and the banana-forward Astrochimp. Julie loved these, and made a new friend with the monkey that came with the Astrochimp. My sampling of these resulted in a similarly impressive conclusion.

Meanwhile, I found the Pearl Diver to be quite excellent, with a rich taste that I savored. I had the standard issue Mai Tai and found it to be fair, but nothing special. As is often my plan of attack I ordered a second Mai Tai with Appleton 12 and extra Orgeat, and this one was better but still not amazing. Bummer.

Overall, the food and drink offerings at Max’s were outstanding. Prices are commensurate with the quality offered.

Max’s South Seas Hideaway (part one)

Everything they say is true. Max’s South Seas Hideaway is by far the grandest tiki bar currently in operation in North America.

Saturday night in Grand Rapids was a perfect time for a visit. We arrived right on time for our reservation and were seated immediately in a cozy booth. The artwork here is incredible. There were 24 pieces just in our one booth! There is a series of large Shag prints in the staircase and hallway leading to the restrooms. And a wall of tikis carved by Gecko. Simply breathtaking.

I also want to highlight the music, which was a mix of classic exotica paired with upbeat songs such a “Pineapple Princess” but still were thematic and period appropriate. Best music mix in any tiki bar I’ve been to. But please drop The Monkees song.

As I understand it the downstairs design was led by Bamboo Ben and upstairs by Notch. Each is unique but both are amazing.

Such an immersive destination!

Three Dots and a Dash

A middle-aged couple walks into a supposed tiki bar.

That’s it, there’s no punchline. We were excited to visit Three Dots and a Dash in downtown Chicago, which was a block from our hotel. We had a pretty good experience there in 2015 when things were slow and we sat at the bar talking to the bartenders. It was a different experience last night, since our reservation was 8:30 on a Friday night.

Very clubby feel. Very. Clubby.

Lots of thumbing music, louder than I prefer, and the interior has much more red/purple club lighting than our last visit, giving this a total nightclub feel. Everyone seemed to be having a great time, but Mrs. Mai Tai and I were at least two decades older than the average patron.

Thankfully, the cocktails at Three Dots and a Dash were pretty good. We sampled five and they were all good to great, and prices were not out of line at all. We notice that all the cocktails had elaborate garnishes, so that each cocktail at a least four separate items as part of the garnish, or a dry ice special effect. Service was very good as well, with the waitress refiling our water and helping us with some mug purchases.

Mai Tai – quite good, with a healthy amount rum from Jamaica, Martinique and Fiji.

Saturn – served in the sea urchin mug, this was well balanced and easy to drink. Not too tart of spicy.

Three Dots and a Dash – just as good as you’d expect given the place is named after this Don the Beachcomber classic. A very nice agricole finish and plenty of juices and spices to savor. We really liked the mug.

Neptune’s Trident – a Corn ‘n Oil riff featuring Foursquare Sagacity rum, along with Glenlivet 15 year old Scotch, plus some spices. This was just as good as the great spirits should lead you to believe. The Barbados rum and Scotch blended well.

Navy Grog – I went off-menu and ask if they could make one. Sure enough, it came our very well with lots of rum and allspice liqueur.

The cocktail menu isn’t large here, perhaps to avoid intimidating the tiki newbies. The Bamboo Room was open for regular seating and not the rum-focused experience that it was originally set up for. But, the very large rum list is right there on the menu, so it is noticeable and a key focus of the venue. There are a large number of tables and booths set up outside as well. As we left there was a really long line to get into the place, so Three Dots seems to be doing great business.

Great Daiquiri at Miller’s Pub

Mrs Mai Tai and I spent the morning at the @fieldmuseum and at the @artinstitutechi (to see the Obama portraits), and landed at Miller’s Pub for lunch.

The menu included a Daiquiri with Parce Colombian rum, so I ordered one to numb the pain in my feet. Hoping for a good cocktail.

One thing I like in the Daiquiris I make at home is having little bits of ice in the drink. I know double straining is common, and I understand the reasons why, but I like it with those little chips. That’s the way it was served at Miller’s. It was a very good cocktail.

National Mai Tai Day at Foundation

So lucky to have spend MaI Tai Day at Foundation in Milwaukee, one of America’s best tiki bars.

Mai Tai and Lonely Virgin

The decor and atmosphere were impeccable. Outside, this looks like any building on the block. Inside, it is an immersive tiki bar that compares favorably to any of the highest quality. Music was classic Hawaiian and very mellow, so perfect for background music while you s your party enjoy conversations and cocktails. I really liked the music here. So many little nooks for conversations, including some cozy booths. Seating at the bar still isn’t available but there is a front room and a back room and their seating areas feel separate and unique.

Cocktails were pretty good, especially for the price. Mrs Mai Tai had the Lonely Virgin, one of the sweet cocktails on the menu. I thought this was pretty good, especially if you like pineapple forward.

Foundation’s Mai Tai is fine for $10, featuring El Dorado 5 and Coruba. I followed this with an Appleton 12 Mai Tai “heavier on the Orgeat” and that one was far better and truly wonderful. Such a great way to celebrate Mai Tai day.

We arrived around 6:30 on Wednesday and the crowd was fairly light. By the time we left at 8:15 the bar was mostly full with a bunch of younger people enjoying the cocktails and company. We even witnessed a first date. Good luck to them!