Felt like making it a little extra spicy tonight, so did a riff between two favorites. This was quite nice, without overpowering sweetness or spice.
1½ oz Lemon Juice 1 oz Trader Vic’s Mai Tai Concentrate Syrup ⅓ oz Don’s Spices #2 (50/50 Vanilla Syrup/Pimento Dram) 3 oz Jamaican Rum Blend (courtesy Andy from @easytikidrinks) 4 dashes Angostura Bitters
I love this Trader Vic’s Pilsner glass for tall drinks like this. Looks great with the classic logo treatment. We’ll see if the Mai Tai Planters Punch ever gets famous.
A fun Saturday night to see Depeche Mode in San Jose. We had intended to pregame at Dr. Funk but we got a little bit of a late start and there were already patients in the waiting room see the Doctor, so we had dinner at Olla Cocina a couple doors down instead.
We’ve enjoyed this restaurant over the years, and see it has returned to a traditional table service restaurant after a little while where their method was to order food when you entered. The food here is pretty good, but I do need to rave about the cocktails.
Traditional favorites the Margarita and Paloma were well-received, as was the Chicha Sangria that blends red wine with sherry and vermouth.
But the standout for us was the White Sangria, with white wine, grapefruit, elderflower, pisco, agave, pineapple, and lime. Garnished with a blackberry and grapefruit wedge. The elderflower was really forward in this cocktail and I didn’t really taste the wine much – fine by me as I’m not a big wine person. Really rich and very satisfying. So good that all ordered it for a second round and took advantage of the offer to have it served in a carafe for a little bit of savings.
I’ve been mostly on the wagon for the past two weeks after coming back from Bakersfield with a pretty bad flu. But felt well enough to try a few things tonight. The Blue Curacao was being used for a comparison test we’ll cover in the upcoming days.
But I had a little bit left over, so made myself a quick and dirty unmeasured cocktail. And you know it ain’t too shabby.
National Cocktail Day Cocktail 2 glugs of Giffard Blue Curacao 2 glugs of Probitas Rum 1 scant pour of Lemon Juice 2 Dashes Orange Bitters Stir with ice
The orange bitters actually did improve this a little and there’s nothing wrong with a half-half pour of my favorite Blue Curacao and my favorite “white” rum.
I’m really enjoying the new album from Tikiyaki Orchestra, released earlier this month. This album is a return to form after two Tikiyaki 5-0 surf albums (which were awesome) and 2020’s Jim Bacchi solo “minus Orchestra” e.p. Sketches with Guitar and Bongos.
Tropika is sort of like a greatest hits of the Tikiyaki sound, with varied instrumentation and styles. The rock-style drums set a foundation across the record, with guitar and vibraphone taking the lead for most of the songs, perhaps most effectively with the Hawaiian swing of “A South Pacific Soujorn.” Other standout tracks include “Bombs Away!”, “The Boobam Song”, and the bouncy “Walkabout.”
For more than a decade the Tikiyaki Orchestra have the most prominent band playing exotica and tropical music, paying homage to the style’s 1950s foundations and showing that the genre is still an exciting musical form. Their energetic shows are always a hit, so be sure to seek them out if they’re appearing at club or event near you.
Another sensational tiki destination is within driving distance of the population centers of the Bay Area with the addition of Kapu Bar in Petaluma. The large main room includes several large booths and some tables, featuring cohesive Polynesian decor and numerous tikis. Seating there accommodated via reservations and the Big Trouble (think Big Trouble in Little China) room with pinball machines serves as an overflow area. The large U-shaped bar is available for walk-in seating and there’s plenty of elbow room. The Captain’s Quarters is available for special reservations and features a separate bar and some stools and chairs.
The interior of Kapu is a classic dark tiki bar and the menu is inspired by venues of the past. There’s a nice medium-sized menu of $16 tiki classics, plus a section of frozen concoctions. Food is Asian and Hawaiian inspired and though the portions are fairly small the quality is more than reasonable. Prices reflect the quality as well as the immersive nature of the venue. Music was a blend of Exotica, Surf, Jawaiian, Garage, and even some Punk. I enjoyed this eclectic blend, though the Clash was too mainstream for my taste.
Frankie’s Tiki Room alum Michael Richardson is the GM, and I would say that the cocktails are a big step up from that venue. The Mai Tai was pretty good, with some rich rums and a little bit of a heavier lean more in the Orange Curacao direction. I really enjoyed the Frozen Saturn, balanced well with tart Passionfruit. Mrs. Mai Tai really enjoyed the frozen Sesame Chi Chi, an interesting riff on the classic, and also enjoyed the Pearl Diver.
Talking to locals, the cocktail program seems to be settling in at a good place, though supply issues with specified spirts have made ongoing production a challenge. But for a new venue with staff new to the program, the issues have been minimal.
Kapu Bar is a compelling and exciting new destination for any tikiphile or newbies looking to see what the fuss is about. We found the staff to be super-friendly and extraordinarily prompt with service. We also got to see a preview of a forthcoming mug that will elevate the opportunity for those looking to take home a souvenir.
Big Trouble RoomBig Trouble RoomPearl DiverSesame Chi-ChiCaptain’s Quarters
This is an Irish Whiskey variant of the Eastern Sour. Like the Mai Tai recipe variants we discussed a couple weeks ago, Trader Vic’s created the Sour template and then substitutes different types of spirits to give the cocktail a new name, often related to a new Trader Vic’s location.
Eastern Sour: Bourbon
London Sour: Scotch
Munich Sour: German Brandy (sometimes Cognac)
Toronto Sour: Canadian Whisky
Tokyo Sour: Japanese Whisky? Recipes are unclear.
Jalisco Sour: Tequila
Dublin Sour Recipe from Trader Vic’s (2023) 2 oz. Irish Whiskey Squeeze ¼ Fresh cut Lemon Squeeze ¼ Fresh cut Orange (save spent shells) 1 oz. Lemon Juice 1 oz. Orange Juice Dash (¼ oz) Orgeat Dash Rock Candy Syrup Shake with cracked ice and pour in your new St. Patrick’s Day Glass and top with spent shells for garnish.
Sharp-eyed readers will note this recipe differs from the classic recipe from the 1972 Trader Vic’s Bartender’s Guide. That book called for the “juice of half an orange and half a lemon.” That basically means 2½ oz of orange juice and just about 1½ oz of lemon juice. Trader Vic’s says they use the smaller amount because an entire half orange and half lemon are too large for the glass.
Using Jameson, the whiskey is really lost in this cocktail, even with just the 1½ oz of OJ I squeezed from my small-ish orange. Bolder spirits such as Scotch or Bourbon are a better match for all that juice, and I also recommend upping the Orgeat to ½ oz.
In any case, raise a Dublin Sour on Saint Patrick’s Day and toast: “A good friend is like a four leaf clover, hard to find and lucky to have”