Fremont Mai Tai at Home Tiki Bar

The OG name for the Ultimate Mai Tai and featured on a party menu from our friends Brenda and Glen’s place. Always honored when people want to put my Mai Tai on a menu and make it the right way.

Their home tiki bar has a namesake cocktail The Cannibal’s Eye that is absolutely fantastic too.

Latitude 29 Orgeat is Back!

There were worried grumblings in some online communities for the past few weeks when it seemed like every product from Orgeat Works Ltd. was not available for sale. Orgeat Works is the Brooklyn-based producer of several cocktail syrups including our all-time favorite: Latitude 29 Orgeat.

Thankfully, there was an update today on Facebook: “Just letting everyone know OWL syrups are back in stock. Took a pause to restock and catch up on fulfillment after relocating Orgeat Works here in Brooklyn. Let the Mai Tais flow!” Our long national nightmare is over!

Latitude 29 Orgeat was developed in conjunction with Jeff “Beachbum” Berry, the proprietor of the Latitude 29 Restaurant and Bar in New Orleans, and we think this clear and floral syrup is the best. The mild almond flavor doesn’t feature any marzipan aftertaste like you get with some orgeats and is stable in the fridge for months.

We also like and recommend Orgeat Works T’Orgeat Toasted Almond Syrup if you’re looking for something both darker and bolder. Both are available now and the company is here to stay – so if something is on backorder do know that it will be available soon. Free shipping on orders of $85 or more.

Tiki Dreams: From Far-Away Fantasy to Pop-Culture Phenomenon / Napa Valley Museum Yountville

We enjoyed a trip up to the Napa Valley Museum Yountville to view the exhibition running now through through December 31, 2023. The collection is curated by Baby Doe & Otto von Stroheim of Tiki Oasis and it tells a chronological story of tiki in popular culture with an emphasis on venues from the Bay Area. Those venues include Trader Vic’s of course, but also The Lanai, Tiki Bob’s, and more. Each named venue features a nice chronology and plenty of historical details and artifacts.

The collection includes some large tikis, a tiki mug collection, and plenty of artwork. There’s an incredible tiki by Crazy Al (unfortunately not attributed in the museum) that has nods to the different carving styles from across the Pacific. And there’s a custom-built bar built by Woody Miler and used for events.

Overall, the exhibit is well worth the drive and modest entrance fee. We went first thing on Saturday and avoided the typical weekend traffic jams. A California Road Trip exhibit downstairs will also scratch the itch for fans of midcentury kitsch.

The exhibit also features a gift shop with a great selection of items from Trader Vic’s, McBiff, Heidiline, Tiki and Stitch, and more. The great looking event mug by Woody Miller that pays tribute to the Barney West tiki outside Trader Vic’s is only available at the ~monthly ticketed special event receptions: June 17, July 15, August 19, September 16, October 7, December 2. Check the website for event details and ticket links.

Tropical Standard Book Event at Trader Vic’s

A wonderful evening at Trader Vic’s where Eve Bergeron welcomed authors Garret Richard and Ben Schaffer who discussed their new book Tropical Standard. The authors signed copies and held a Q&A about topics within the book. We thought Schaffer did a good job sort of leading the discussion points and throwing it to Richard for deep dives on various topics. Lots of smiling head nods when Richard noted “Lime, sugar, and spirit is nature’s alcohol delivery system.” A very tight and breezy hour or so. 

Richard also discussed the approach for his Mai Tai recipe, noting that he uses ⅝ oz of Latitude 29 Orgeat (2:1 syrup) and two orange liqueurs to provide an ounce of sweet to balance the ounce of lime juice. He mentioned going to 2¼ oz of rum to deliver the equivalent of the booziness of mid-century rums.

The authors also brought Tommy’s Margarita creator Julio Bermejo to discuss his approach to that cocktail, procuring and using limes, and more. Bermejo’s adjustment to use a watered down Agave Syrup in lieu of Triple Sec in the Margarita reinforced some of the author’s ideas around Sugar Adjustment for preparing cocktails, and Bermejo is a charismatic speaker in his own right.

Three cocktails from the book were featured and prepared in the Cook Room where the book discussion was held. I heard only great things about Yacht Rock, which I did not try, but I did enjoy the two others.

  • From Dusk Till Dawn was quite delightful, featuring a delightful Blood Orange Syrup. The use of a Blood Orange Syrup allows the flavors of that fruit to be used but in a format that is sweet enough to work with the spirit and doesn’t water down the drink.
  • Pineapple Princess was a delicate cocktail that uses a Pineapple Syrup and milk washed rum. I thought this was great.

We thank the authors for signing the book and for bringing forth the ideas about preparing tropical cocktails using these different techniques.

Fire Drinks

Always a big hit in the tiki bar, and did you ever notice that once someone orders one that’s all anyone else orders for a while? People want to experience a fire drink for themselves.

Especially when they’re as well done as this one here from Dr. Funk in San Jose. Mrs. Mai Tai and I were downtown and popped in around 3:30 on Sunday for a quick drink.

Behold the Phoenix Rising!

In this case the fire is no mere gimmick. Phoenix Rising features smoky Mezcal, along with Mexican rum, Aperol, pineapple, lime, coconut, cinnamon, and Serrano tincture. So, it’s quite spicy and smoky, where the smoking ciders of the flaming garnish actually serve to enhance the cocktail rather than detract from it.

This drink was too spicy for me but Mrs. Mai Tai loved it and I think it’s a great option to have some different kind of flavors in your tropical cocktail.