Went out to dinner last night in the Bay Area suburbs. Lazy Dog Restaurant has a “Blue Hawaiian” on the menu that’s pretty close to Harry Yee’s original blue cocktail. Pineapple, Sweet & Sour, Rum, Vodka – and OJ. It came out really green but the taste was just fine.
At home I made one with a modified recipe that was even better.
Blue Hawaii (Modified) ½ oz Lemon Juice 2 oz Pineapple Juice ½ oz Simple Syrup ½ oz Blue Curacao 1½ oz White Rum Blend Shake with crushed ice.
My white rum blend is made from almost empty bottles of Denizen 3, Wray & Nephew Overproof, Myers’s White, and Three Rolls Estate. So a bit more flavorful than your standard Puerto Rican White. And way better than Vodka.
I used Giffard Blue Curacao. For this drink, I think adding another half ounce of Blue Curacao for a float would look nicer and add a bit more sweetness to the cocktail.
Note that Harry Lee celebrated his 104th birthday this week. You can read an essay about Yee from Hawaiian journalist Rick Carrol, circa late 1990s, on this website.
Look at this amazing cocktail that won the cocktail competition at Mai Tai Day and is now on the menu at Trader Vic’s Emeryville for the month of September. Created by Marisa Miller, the cocktail is a blend of flavors including orange and coconut and features Kō Hana Rum. Garnished with toasted coconut and a sliced passionfruit, so cool and tasty. Mrs. Mai Tai had the Vic and Dotty. She’s a sucker for cherries.
Lunch was great on Sunday and Mrs Mai Tai has been getting me into the Cheese Bings: “Nutmeg seasoned béchamel with Gruyére cheese & smoked ham, rolled in a crepe. Finished in a crispy panko crust.” So good. I enjoyed the salmon sliders as well. Mrs. Mai Tai’s Kapiki Pepe salad was quite picturesque and tasty.
Very relaxed at Trader Vic’s on a Sunday at opening, though the dining room was pretty full by the time we left.
Fun times yesterday at the annual Parking Lot Sale at Forbidden Island. The scope of this year’s event held Saturday and Sunday was a bit more modest, with about half the vendors of pre-COVID events. We attended Sunday which everyone agrees was more relaxed than Saturday. There were some great Hawaiian and exotica tunes being played by DJ Otto.
The sale featured a nice set of vendors in any case and we had a nice time socializing with friends and familiar faces. Forbidden Island had a limited cocktail menu for those who had reservations, but there was still plenty to choose from. I had the delicious Port Light. Parking Lot Sale shoppers (those without reservations) could get walk-up cocktails at the Ku Bar out on the patio and find seating in exterior barrel top tables.
We’d be remiss by not mentioning some amazing fashion accessories pictured. First, Mrs. Mai Tai’s bright pineapple earrings. And Brenda’s seasonally appropriate and jealousy-inducing toad handbag from Windy Willow.
It is always appreciated that Forbidden Island is open during the afternoon on the weekends. A great time to go for the patio, or indoors for the traditional tiki bar experience.
Huihui and Nanea from Kuleana Rum Works are blended rums made from distillate mostly sourced outside Hawai’i. These are semi-premium ($30-40) rums and are a best fit in cocktails.
Nanea is blend of column still molasses-based rums, aged between 2-4 years in ex-Bourbon barrels, giving this a completely different flavor profile that Kuleana’s signature Hawaiian Rum Agricole. The base rum is from Guatemala and aged two years. The “body” rum is from Guadeloupe and aged three years. The “accent” rum is from El Salvador and aged for four years. This is a very pleasant rum to sip, and the 43% ABV gives this a little extra flavor to savor. The column stills give this a light body featuring spice notes.
Huihui is a similar blend of three rums, all unaged and issued at 40% ABV. The base rum molasses-based rum from Papua New Guinea, with the “accent” rum being cane-juice based rhum from Martinique. The “body” rum is Kuleana’s own Hawaiian Rum Agricole, but Kuleana does not break down the percentages.
I’d had Huihui before and rated it 4/5 stars on my Forbidden Island Kill Devil Club rum list, but honestly this didn’t resonate with me as much this time. I think the grassy notes from the Martinique rum are a bit overpowering, even with this just being an accent. Moreover, it sort of overshadows the Hawaiian Rum Agricole that I find much more pleasant. It didn’t work for me in a daiquiri, either. Nice to see some of Kuleana’s own product in the blend, though.
Tasting these rums in a Mai Tai it should not surprise anyone that the aged Nanea is a better fit than the Huihui. Even with a lighter body, the vanilla and spice notes from Nanea do work well in a Mai Tai that I totally enjoyed. I’d expect Nanea would work very well in any cocktail calling for a gold rum generally or something like a Barbados rum specifically.
The bottles were provided by Kuleana but this is not a sponsored post.
The production of rum made from native Hawaiian sugar cane has been growing over the past decade. Whereas O’ahu’s KōHana is experimenting with a variety of cane varietals and release types, Kuleana Rum Works on the island of Hawai’i is taking a different approach.
Kuleana’s seminal product is Hawaiian Rum Agricole, a 40% ABV unaged rum made from sugar cane juice produced on the Big Island and distilled in a copper pot still. There are noticeable savory flavors common to other cane juice-based rums, but this product doesn’t have the “grassy” overtones that are sometimes objectionable to consumers and to this author. I taste a mix of green apple, olive, and banana flavors. It’s a crisp rum that works great in a glass by itself, but the bold flavors are superb in cocktails like the Mai Tai too.
This is a blended product designed to have a consistent taste over time, so there aren’t any specs on the specific blend of cane varietals or a harvest date. You can expect bottles you purchase in the future to taste similar. Kuleana products are available in many states including Total Wine locations, and available directly from Kuleana’s website. Hawaiian Rum Agricole run around $50-65 per 750 ml bottle.
Kuleana’s other rum products include distillate sourced from other countries and bottled in combination with the Hawaiian Rum Agricole. We’ll have more to say about those other expressions in the coming days.
The bottle was provided by Kuleana but this is not a sponsored post.
It is so great to see El Dorado offering some of their seminal pot still products in a single still format. Long known for being the secret ingredient in many blended Demerara rums, Port Mourant is a wooden pot still constructed in 1732! And it is still making fabulous rum.
I would say that if you’ve had the pot still releases from Mount Gay or Appleton that this is somewhat more approachable, even at 56.7% ABV. This is not quite as heavy as those other releases, and the flavor isn’t as intense. Nonetheless, this 12 year aged rum will knock the socks off most rum lovers and for sure will impress any rum newbie. You can really savor every sip.
As is the practice at Ultimate Mai Tai headquarters, we tried this rum in a standard 1944 Mai Tai. So delicious. The Mai Tai really shines when there’s a heavy, higher proof rum in the glass, and so this El Dorado was really excellent. The pot still flavors still shine through, even in a cocktail format.
Some shots of the interview with Otto Von Stroheim on the Tiki with Ray show, filmed live at Forbidden Island. The interview is now live on Ray’s YouTube channel, and is a breezy history of Otto’s role in our community and some stories about Tiki News, Tiki Oasis, and more. Ray is a good interviewer, and Otto knows how to be a good interviewee. Check it out.
It’s really great that Forbidden Island can host these kind of events, alongside the usual regular Tuesday night Ohana gathering shenanigans.
Finally made it out to California Gold, a beer and cocktail bar in downtown San Rafael. Located in a historic building, there are tons of retro accoutrements and nods to California history.
We arrived at opening on Saturday for a couple rounds and thank goodness since it was quite packed by the time we left. Service was pretty decent and the cocktails were quite good. I loved the grog style Voodoo Western with bourbon, rum, passionfruit, cinnamon, grapefruit, lime, falernum, and voodoo secrets. Mrs. Mai Tai had the Carousel Park Swizzle, a nod the Queen’s Park Swizzle. All great.
This seems like a great place for cocktails in San Rafael’s cute downtown.
There’s only so much surface area and height inside the few liquor cabinets I have stashed around the house. So bottles that are wide and short are less ideal than bottles with a small foot and that are taller. But bottles that are extra tall aren’t better, either.
So you know that the rums inside these bottle must be pretty special.
Saint Benevolence Rum Clairin from Haiti is one my favorites, so I always restock when a bottle is finished. Definitely a more savory taste than molasses-based rums from places like Jamaica or Barbados, but so far away from the overly grassy sugar cane juice-based agricole rhums from Martinique. Easy to sip but also great in cocktails. Makes a killer Mai Tai.
The El Dorado single still releases were something I tried at the San Francisco Rum Fest, and when Bitters & Bottles put them on sale I knew I had to buy one from the series. So, I splurged on the Port Mourant. More about this rum in a future post.
This was dinner that Mrs Mai Tai made the other night, which I ate while isolating in my office since the weekend with COVID again. Only a mild case, thankfully.
So, having the option for a Trader Vic’s canned Mai Tai was pretty nice. Add this to the reasons to get these and gave them on hand at home. Plus a reminder that among the canned Mai Tais in this price tier, the Trader Vic’s is the best we’ve tried so far. Available at BevMo and online.