We checked out this Scottsdale restaurant and bar for dinner. It clearly comes from the modern tiki side of things, though with considerably more and better decor than Hula’s a few blocks away. The nicely appointed lounge would be fab at night.
During the later afternoon the patio was rocking with young people enjoying the drinks. We sat inside across the bar where a group of young men were getting psyched up to go outside and, uh, mingle.
Drinks here lean sugary and with flavored spirits. Mrs Mai Tai’s Almond Joy was a Chi-Chi with chocolate syrup. Yet, amazingly, the Mai Tai seemed to be prepared according the original 1944 recipe, albeit with aged Bacardi from Puerto Rico. And you know, the Drunk Munk Mai Tai was actually pretty good. I enjoyed the blend of lime and orange, and the rum was a wonderful accent.
There are some “premium” rums on the menu, though the top shelf held better options. The large Moai behind the bar was a cool focal point. There are several tikis inside and a nice retro vibe.
The food include some traditional favorite and plenty of seafood. I liked the chicken skewers and my California roll, and Julie’s Mahi was very good too. Service was prompt and friendly.
As we left, two attractive brand reps from White Claw were passing out swag and samples. Which seems to be the right place at the right time for them, and our cue to depart.
We’ve enjoyed Hula’s when we visited the city for Spring Training years ago, so Mrs Mai Tai and I made two trips this visit for an evening nightcap and lunch the next day.
We enjoy what Hula’s is doing. While their cocktails are hit or miss (especially the Island Mai Tai), Mrs Mai Tai does enjoy the Pink Bikini Martini and I do like some of the cocktails. Our evening visit included the option to sample some Patron Tequila cocktails, left over from the AZ Tiki Oasis happy hour from earlier that day. I actually really liked the Jalisco Bird which featured the Tequila and Campari and dialed back the Pineapple.
We enjoyed our lunch the next day. My chicken sandwich was really good but the Jerk Chicken that Mrs Mai Tai ordered was even better. I had the Blood Orange Martini but asked for a sub of Bacardi in place of the Vodka and this was quite refreshing for lunch on vacation. More, please.
Service was outstanding both times. I know the modern decor doesn’t scratch the itch of some tikiphiles but I think this style can work in certain locations such as the tourist-friendly Scottsdale Old Town. It competes favorably with the other party oriented venues locally.
Mrs Mai Tai and I are flying to Arizona Tiki Oasis and got things started at the world’s best airport bar. The Mai Tai is especially potent on an empty stomach at 9:00 in the morning. Today is also my birthday and it is hard to beat a great Trader Vic’s Mai Tai as a kickoff.
My grilled cheese sandwich was just okay, but look at the Island Parfait! Greek Yogurt, berries, granola, and Trader Vic’s peanut butter! So good. Mrs Mai Tai made the right choice.
Had a great time last night for Ohana night at The Kon-Tiki in Oakland. The staff was really humming along, even after the place even got a little crowded (that’s a good thing). Bartender Kris even put on a fabulous flame show over a couple Jet Pilots (sadly I did not document). It was really impressive.
Besides the Kon-Tiki’s always amazing cheeseburger, I tried the Happy Hour Saturn that was quite tangy. Total bargain, with a great gin finish.
The Kon-Tiki’s vast rum selection offers so many options. This time I opted for the Hampden 2021 Great House Jamaican rum in a Mai Tai and it was totally fantastic.
Popped into Kona Club and found that the service issues I’d experience before were not an issue this time. And the Navy Grog wasn’t bad at all. Still free poured and served with cubes and not crushed ice, but I did like this cocktail.
Props to Andy at Easy Tiki Drinks for getting the recipe to the Officer’s Mai Tai from Devil’s Reef in Tacoma. Jason Alexander makes some truly amazing cocktails, and this Mai Tai riff is no exception. It’s really quite great, using two excellent Plantation rums as the base.
Want the recipe? Head over to the Easy Tiki Drinks channel on YouTube to check it out. But suffice to say that the addition of a small ingredient means this a different animal than the traditional 1944 Mai Tai. But riffs are fine, especially if labeled as such like this one is.
This one is served in a tall glass, paying homage to Devil’s Reef – one of the best tiki bars in America. Really hoping we can make it up to SeaTac sometime when the Reef is open.
Denizen Merchant’s Reserve rum has a well-earned reputation for being a great single-bottle Mai Tai rum. It’s a blend of aged Jamaican rum along with some molasses-based rum from Martinique, intended to reproduce the rum used in Trader Vic’s “Second Adjusted Formula” from the 1950s.
While at Dr. Funk I thought I’d give their excellent Mai Tai a try with Denizen’s more recent blended rum product, the Vatted Dark. This is a 100 proof blend of Demerara Rum from Guyana along with unaged Rhum Agricole from Martinique. The complex and savory notes work well in a Mai Tai and other cocktails, and the Dr. Funk version delivered.
I also tried the chicken skewers that have a wonderful ginger glaze. These were quite tasty and served alongside seasoned rice. A very good portion for the price.
After a series of singles and EPs, Toronto’s Surfrajettes released their first album this weekend. Roller Fink is a collection of originals and covers, tied loosely around the theme of a roller rink. A couple songs have atmospheric roller rink introductions, but otherwise it’s just straight surf rock. The cover of Blondie’s “Heart of Glass” is the new single and treads similar ground to the group’s breakthrough video covering Britney Spears’ “Toxic” (6.2m views and counting). The bright, plucky sound of “Heart of Glass” fits in well with 2021’s single “Couch Surfing” and the roller rink theme.
A few songs on the album have a harder edge, including the title track. But most impressive is the incredible raucous cover of “Train Kept a Rollin’. This fast version is reminiscent of The Yardbird’s infamous rendition from the movie Blowup, with Nicole Damoff’s lead guitar being just as impactful as Jeff Beck’s. The song fits in well with The Surfrajette’s 1960s sensibilities but displays a more confident approach to the material, musical virtuosity, and the surf genre. The song features a brief vocal interlude with the band members shouting one of the song’s memorable lines, “Looking so good I couldn’t let her go!” Be sure to check this track out.
First time having this cocktail originally created by Marco Dionysos, but if Dr. Funk‘s version is any indication this is a cocktail I need to put into the rotation. Quite refreshing with Green Chartreuse, Falernum, Lime, and Pineapple.
¾ oz Lime Juice 1 oz Pineapple Juice ½ oz Falernum 1¼ oz Green Chartreuse Shake with nice or swizzle in a tall glass
I just picked up a bootle of Green Chartreuse. Any cocktail recommendations using it are welcome, please leave a comment.
Dropped by to see how Hukilau is doing. This Hawaiian restaurant is located in San Jose’s Japantown and seemed to have made it through the pandemic unscathed. You can’t sit at the bar, but there are a few tables in the front area to sip drinks or sample appetizers. The large “tiki room” in the back is where most guests having a meal will sit.
Hukilau is listed in Critiki.com’s list of tiki destinations, but is more Hawaiian than tiki. There are a coupe tikis on posters and the bar has a thatch covering but otherwise that’s it. A great place for a beer and some food, though.