Some shots from The Surfrajettes show last night in San Jose. Really great set with a little bit of a harder edge than last year’s show, perhaps to play better as the opener for Reverend Horton Heat.
We skipped Frankie’s Tiki Room on our last trip but made a point of visiting this time. Knowing that it can be crowded and extra smoky during the evenings, we visited right after a late breakfast on Friday morning around 11:00. Only two other people inside and it still smelled like smoke.
The inside of Frankie’s is a delight, with so many pieces of art and some really excellent tikis and decor. I like how there are different sections to hang out in, from the booths to the bar to the tables in between.
Service is from the bar, and obviously with a light crowd was super efficient and friendly. There is a jukebox where you can select some songs, but we sat underneath their loud air purifier so couldn’t hear the exotica very clearly (but, air purifiers are nice). It is super dark inside, one of Frankie’s charms.
Our drinks were… okay. They were prepared via free-pour so your mileage will vary. The Mai Tai is unbalanced and leans sweet, but I ordered the off-menu Rum Rum Rudolf (from the Liquid Vacation book) that was really great. Mrs. Mai Tai thought one of her drinks was okay but the other wasn’t very flavorful.
Being a dark tiki bar where the outside world is completely shut off, it is easy to see why people love this place. It feels surprisingly large inside and there are video poker machines at the bar if that’s your thing. We did have a good time at Frankie’s.
Was pleasantly surprised to hear about the new menu release at Charlotte’s Royal Tot tiki bar, where they’ve added the Ultimate Mai Tai to their menu. This is the first bar to feature my Ultimate Mai Tai blend on the regular menu, beating Tiki Tom’s which announced it was coming but hasn’t yet released their new menu.
Sharp eyes will note a subtle sub from my published recipe. Royal Tot is subbing Clement Creole Shrubb for Ferrand Dry Curacao, a swap I do all the time at home. I should probably indicate that either orange liqueur is preferred. But otherwise, they’re using my Ultimate Mai Tai Rum Blend, Plantation Xaymaca, Plantation OFTD, Appleton (12) Rare Casks, and Smith & Cross.
And we were thrilled to see on Reddit that it impressed cocktail expert JenTiki who said “I can honestly say the only better Mai Tai I’ve ever had was at Smugglers Cove (and I’ve had a lot of Mai Tais).” That is some very high praise for the cocktail quality at Royal Tot, and Jen praised the Navy Grog as well.
I’d be interested to see how well this sells. Given the limited supply of all three Jamaican rums in this blend, the $30 price doesn’t seem so bad. If you’re in the area, give it a try and let us know how it tastes.
Red Dwarf is a newish dive bar with tiki leanings. This differs from Frankie’s which is a tiki bar with dive leanings. We were told to check this place out as friendly bar that also serves Detroit-style pizza (crust, cheese, then sauce). Their Sunday brunch starting at 11:00 am was perfect for us.
Inside, there are quite a few tiki elements, but certainly is not as immersive as Frankie’s or Golden Tiki. We tried to sit in one of the booths but it was super tight so we switched to the bar, which actually worked out for us better. Service was friendly and prompt at the large center bar with two sides. Warsaw Poland Bros played live surf and Slavic American Ska and really were fabulous. They even had groovy ska number about the Red Dwarf bar! Sound was at a perfect level – we could easily hear the music but we could also hear ourselves.
Red Dwarf has a large beer selection, including the option to do the “Dungeon Master Challenge” where you roll a D20 to see what beer and shot you’ll get. We tried the Dwarf Piss, a very nice $4 lager that’s exclusive to this venue.
A small cocktail menu is also available. They are prepared via free pour but overall were pretty decent. The Mai Tai is credible and includes a small portion of Falernum as a little twist, and I enjoyed a second made with Appleton Reserve 8 rum from their collection. Mrs. Mai Tai had the very good Blue Hawaiian riff called “I Just Blew Myself” because it is served flaming.
The pizza is fantastic here, but sometimes sells out by late evening especially on the weekends. Brunch is really an awesome option here – really relaxing and with well-mannered regulars, but be sure to get there early. No smoking, except outside on their small patio.
We somehow got a table right away at the very busy Chandelier bar at Cosmopolitan Las Vegas last Thursday night. Despite a few clubby elements they let a few of us folks outside the target demo have a round of fab cocktails.
As far as I can tell, the cocktail menu is completely different depending on what level you’re on. We were on level 1.5 (yes… that’s what they call it) and in addition to drinks I ordered a very nice shrimp cocktail.
My drink was the Cigar Lover’s Manhattan, which featured rum along with whiskey. And a very tasty chocolate cigar. Really great and worth a little premium.
Mrs Mai Tai had the We’re All Mad Here with Empress Gin, elderflower, lemon, and ginger. Very… transformative but also quite balanced.
We passed this bar on Friday and it wasn’t nearly as busy, which surprised us a little. Cocktails were really good here.
We ran across the 1923 Prohibition Bar in the shopping complex between Mandalay Bay and Luxor, and once we entered through the “secret” entrance decided to take a load off with a cocktail.
As Prohibition style bars inside Casinos go, 1923 bar is pretty reasonable. Totally cut off from the shopping area and tourists, and a relaxing vibe with vintage touches inside. There are TV screens here showing period or venue-specific content (not sports/news, thankfully), plus music that is relaxing but isn’t period, so this is not 100% committed to the theme. They do however do burlesque here some nights and during mid-day when we went it was totally chill.
There’s a Mango Mai Tai on the menu, featuring Bacardi Mango Rum alongside Appleton Signature Rum and the standard 1944 ingredients. They also have Appleton Reserve and Rhum Barbancourt on their spirits list. I thought I got lucky to find a good 1944 Mai Tai in Vegas, and ordered one just with Appleton Reserve. Sadly, they said they were out of all of their rums except Myers’s.
Rather than fight a losing cause I ordered the Barrel-Aged Old Fashioned that was quite serviceable and set the mood for the venue quite well.
Check out 1923 Prohibition Bar the next time you’re in the area.
We made reservations at The Golden Tiki for 7 pm Friday and had a pretty good time at this Chinatown destination. About the same experience for us as last time: good (but not great) cocktails, some good food, interesting decor, and mostly lots of good smoke-free energy. We arrived a little early and got to span the transition from Happy Hour to regular service, so we took advantage of some of the Happy Hour specials.
We were seated back in the far lounge (right next to where we sat last time), which isolated us from the energy of the main room but also avoided some of the crowd. There was a band playing when we arrived but after they ended there wasn’t music playing in the back and that brought the energy down.
Food was pretty good, including the Fried Rice and I especially liked their Crab Rangoon. Service overall was on point and the waitress did do a good job explaining things about the cocktails. One of our party felt a “2 skull” cocktail didn’t have any taste of alcohol and the server said that cocktails were batched and so it would be impossible for booze to not be present.
Which of course lends the question about the quality of this and other cocktails, when batching is a factor. Just so you know.
My Mai Tai was fine, and would be great if you love a very orgeat-forward and sweet Mai Tai. I did enjoy the Lemba Lemba Akulapu cocktail with three rums, juices, and spices – and this four skull cocktail definitely had some booze! We’ll make more of an effort to try and sit in the main room at the bar, where maybe we can possibly work with the bartenders, but cocktails here overall are fine as is.