Black Tot Day 2022

This is the rum we crack open for a pour of at home on Black Tot Day, the day when the Royal Navy stopped issuing rum rations in 1970.

I love Navy Rum, including the original rum from the 1960s that I’ve been fortunate to try a couple times. I also have several delicious rums that follow the tradition, such as Pussers, Wood’s, and Skipper Rum. These rums are exclusively Demerara rum from Guyana, so aren’t the blend of rums that were poured into large vats in London before being issued to the ships. But they do have a lot of the same character.

But those aren’t as amazing and special as this one from Black Tot Rum. They have yearly limited releases such as this 50th Anniversary release from 2020 that is a blend of rums from Guyana, Barbados, Trinidad, and Jamaica. Plus .5% of original Navy Rum. Bottled at navy strength, obviously, at 54.5% ABV. I won’t be watering it down like they did on the ships.

Up spirits!

Turkey Rum

I’m not joking. And it isn’t bad at all. In fact it is pretty amazing.

Matchbook Distilling has a limited edition rum called Some Night in Autumn that is “Molasses mashed with dunder double pot distilled with a turkey hanging in the kettle.” A. Turkey. And that Turkey provides a fine finish to this rum. Definitely rich on the tongue with a fat finish that will make you think of Thanksgivings of your youth.

It wasn’t on my radar but as I understand it, there is a tradition for agave spirits to be redistilled with local fruits, nuts, and poultry called Pechuga. So, this rum borrows from that tradition.

Thank you Kon-Tiki for carrying this special rum. Another great expression from the Kon-Tiki’s excellent selection of fine rums and spirits.

Aperol Bird

We had some pineapple juice and so I did a Jungle Bird riff using Campari’s sweeter cousin, Aperol. I have been enjoying Aperol Spritzs this month and thought this might work in a cocktail that calls for the more bitter Campari. I’ve grown to appreciate the Jungle Bird as a cocktail, but regular readers know I lean sweet.

Aperol Bird
½ oz Lime Juice
4 oz Pineapple Juice
½ oz Simple Syrup
¾ oz Aperol
1 oz Hamilton Jamaican Pot Still Black Rum
½ oz Goslings Dark Rum
Shake with cubes.

This was okay. I’ve found that when the Hamilton is used by itself it can sometimes overpower a cocktail, hence cutting it with Goslings. As it turns out, it probably would have been better with all that Jamaican rum instead. The Aperol does give this a lighter and sweeter taste but it isn’t able to stand up to all that pineapple juice as well as Campari.

Trader Vic’s Hawaiian Bazaar & Brunch

We skipped brunch but it is always fun to check out the vendors at the Hawaiian Bazaar at Trader Vic’s Emeryville, one of the few tiki marketplace events that take place in Northern California.

We caught up with some local favorites who we’ve purchased from before, including Woody Miller, B-Rex, Sweet Siren Designs, and Tiki Lounge Lights. All had some great stuff, though we were most impressed by the Greg’s amazingly cool peacock chair lamps.

There were some new vendors at this event. Rob and Jeanine Allspaw brought their Mischief Motu carvings up from Southern California for the first time that I can remember, and we scored a few items for our bedroom walls. Oakland artist Kelly Jo Mullaney had some interesting shirts and paintings – and many of the designs have hidden elements. Tiki Makaio was showing off some wood coasters and bottle openers that have vintage designs – and he does custom work too. Check them out.

Can’t go to Vic’s and skip a Mai Tai. Mrs. Mai Tai had been meaning to try the Guava Tai, a sweet variant that for sure you’re not going to miss the guava in. I went my favorite, the San Francisco Mai Tai – the standard Mai Tai with 151 float.

Nice to catch up with some folks out on the back patio and in the marketplace. It was a beautiful sunny day in Emeryville.

Revised List of Top 10 Mai Tais

People often ask where they can get the best Mai Tai. So, we’ve recently updated and expanded the list of the best ones to a total of ten. These are my top Mai Tais made without any rum or ingredient substitutions, current as of July 2022, and they’re all great Mai Tais that anyone should enjoy.

Note that for purposes of the “rating” on this list, it only about what’s in the glass and not about the rest of the bar visit experience. Not that any on this last have poor ambiance or service, mind you.

Here is the alphabetical list of the top 10 Mai Tais that you can have right now.

Beachbum Berry’s Latitude 29 – New Orleans
Dr. Funk – San Jose
Hale Pele – Portland
Halekulani Hotel – Honolulu
The Kon-Tiki Room at Palmetto – Oakland
Rumba – Seattle
Maunakea Mai Tai at Skull & Crown Trading Co. – Honolulu
Smuggler’s Cove – San Francisco
San Francisco Mai Tai at Trader Vic’s – Emeryville
Undertow – Phoenix

The list is ever-evolving. We had a close call in Seattle where Rumba is transitioning their Orgeat and we caught the bartender incorrectly using the previous ratios. And we hear that The Kon-Tiki in Oakland and Dr. Funk in San Jose are working on revised menus. So, we’ll have to see how that affects this list.

This list obviously skews to the United States. I’m willing to try anyone’s Mai Tai if a plane ticket and hotel is included in the invite.

Additional details, photos, and recommendations for these Mai Tais

Petco Park Mai Tai

Petco Park is a dream for fans of local favorites Cutwater Spirits and the myriad craft beer breweries. Cutwater is everywhere, with a common menu of cocktails throughout the stadium and their ubiquitous canned cocktails. Since neither is my favorite, I was pleased to see an unexpected option with a Mai Tai at one of the  cocktails bars that had a unique menu. Even better was the presence of Orgeat and Orange Curacao on the back bar.

If you’re so inclined, you can get this served in a tall plastic bat, but we went old school for a SD cup. And this Mai Tai wasn’t bad at all. There’s a little splash of pineapple juice, and so when I returned for our second game of the weekend I ordered it sans-pineapple and it was even a little better. Since this uses Cutwater’s light rum, don’t expect too much rum flavor, but for a ballpark you could do much worse.

Neverland: an Immersive Peter Pan Inspired Bar

Neverland is a pop-up experience at venues in cities worldwide. We attended the San Francisco location which is running through early August. The bar is set up with a Peter Pan theme, and features scripted and improvised encounters with Peter Pan, Captain Hook, and the crew. The audience plays lost boys who work with Peter Pan to rescue Tinkerbell from Captain Hook. Those who aren’t into live-action role playing need not worry – this aspect is somewhat minimal and you aren’t expected to be “in character” for your entire 90 minute experience.

The adults-only experience includes a few saucy jokes and plenty of alcoholic beverages. Upon entry, everyone is provided with a little glass of beer or wine. After some interactions with Peter Pan and Captain Hook, you’re given the ability to explore the space and take part with some physical activities to win doubloons that get you a barrel of Painkiller-style rum punch. The final cocktail is built using a base that’s poured into a coupe and then completed by combining it with some citrus in a bottle you find hidden in the space. Cocktails are okay given the venue/price.

Additional cocktails and beverages are available for additional purchase, including a smoking fishbowl and some shots. But you’ll get plenty already we think most guests will stick to the included offerings. In SF, this was $45 per person which included the three drinks. There’s a tip jar and Venmo codes for tips.

There’s plenty of time for photos and encounters your crew members, and the space looks great including a jail cell, lighting, and props. This is a lot of fun with a group of people.