Tiki Tuesday at Dr. Funk Was Pretty Great

Dr. Funk, Downtown San Jose’s excellent tiki bar, has been trying to make Tiki Tuesday a thing for the past year with DJs offering a variety of vintage styles on Tuesdays from 7 – 10 pm. I am not sure how much this has been actually pulling in the tiki people (more on that later) or even locals, but they’re continuing this program in 2024. We ventured down to see DJ Ship Rex who is assigned the rare “5th Tuesday of the month” slot.

The first bit of good news is that Dr. Funk is now doing Happy Hour all day on Tuesday. This is a big improvement since under the old set-up, the Happy Hour would end at 7:00 when the DJs started playing. So, having the better priced $12 Dr. Funk Mai Tai and some other drink specials is a nice update. I think tiki people would prefer drink specials like a nightly special cocktail more than a DJ (no offense to the DJs) but at least Happy Hour pricing is a plus.

Unfortunately there was a technical snafu and DJ Ship Rex got “ship wrecked” and couldn’t play tonight. Nonetheless, it was fun to hang out with Rex and a number of other tiki folks who came out. Be sure to check out Rex on his next gig.

The place was actually nicely full through most of our visit, perhaps due to the Sharks Night specials where there are some special cocktails such as the Shark’s Tooth that Mrs. Mai Tai tried in lieu of some of her favorites. The Blue Hawaii riff includes high-quality Probitas rum and was a great deal on the Sharks menu. She also tried the Shipwreck cocktail, a fruity cocktail that’s very nice.

I’m pleased to report both of my cocktails were made well, including the Mai Tai. I also tried the “Myers Storm” which is a Dark ‘n Stormy riff made with Myers’s Single Barrel – I asked them to go easy on the ginger beer and it was made correctly even if it wasn’t spelled correctly.

How do you spell Myers’s Rum?

Mai Tais Monday

These are the different Mai Tais I’ve had this month at The Kon-Tiki in Oakland. I’m working on their Expedition rum list and trying some of the rums in Mai Tais.

Real McCoy 5
I enjoy traditional Barbados rum, including those from the Real McCoy brand produced at the Foursquare Distillery. The blend of heavy pot still and lighter column still distillate means that the rum is more delicate than rums from other locations. This Mai Tai didn’t hit me with the usual punch I’m used to, a much lighter style and leaning more on the lime juice for overall flavor. A tad more orgeat would have improved this.

R.L. Seale’s
Another Barbados rum produced by Foursquare and with better but similar results as Real McCoy. Again, not terrible but the rum is mostly lost in the cocktail.

Hampden Estate 8 YO
This is more like it. A bold Jamaica rum aged for 8 years and issued at a reasonable 46% ABV, this Hampden is just what I’m looking for in a Mai Tai. The rum is bold enough to punch through but the other ingredients do support the rum and make it more palatable than drinking neat.

Hamilton Pot Still Blond
My favorite of the Hamilton Jamaica Pot Still rums, this Worthy Park distillate is absolutely fantastic in a cocktail. It’s very smooth, but with long and lingering flavors that make every sip a treat. I’m in love.

The Kon-Tiki’s rum selection is vast and there’s something for everyone. They have a nice printed list with prices to help you decide and the bartenders are knowledgeable and always able to offer suggestions depending on what you’re looking for.

Farewell, Wray & Nephew 17 Copy

I used the last of the Wray & Nephew 17 Copy Rum in a fine Mai Tai, good to the last drop. This was the recipe published in the late Greg Easter’s book Advanced Mixology: A New Approach. Easter’s family knew Trader Vic Bergerson personally and Easter claims to have sampled a bottle of the famed original Mai Tai rum, albeit a “doctored” version. Easter says that Vic would add a small amount of “Nastoyka,” an infused liqueur, to his rum bottles to give them a special flavor.

The rum was produced by our friend Brenda and we continue to be appreciative of the effort and for sharing a bottle.

Glassware: Make & Drink YouTube Channel

The Sinking Ship Room is Bakersfield’s Amazing Basement Tiki Bar

Mrs Mai Tai and I were excited to visit The Sinking Ship Room again, the basement sister venue from the folks behind Tiki-Ko. Access is through a separate door on the street and you cannot pass from bar to bar without going outside. The hours currently are more limited for The Sinking Ship, which is a larger and more elaborately themed space than Tiki-Ko upstairs.

After our visit to Tiki-Ko earlier, we arrived at The Sinking Ship right at opening at 7 pm on a Saturday and quickly got our drinks. I ordered the standard-issue Mai Tai that was really great with a blend of Jamaican and Martinique rums and some pleasant nutty flavors from the orgeat. The mood music was in full effect and allowed us to admire all the nick nacks, tikis, and nautical decor inside. There’s a mix of tables and lounge tables, with a large booth available by reservation.

Mai Tai with Rhum J.M Terrior Volcanique

I was feeling like I wanted to try another cocktail and scanned the shelves to see if there was an interesting rum to have in a Mai Tai. I spotted a bottle of Rhum J.M Terrior Volcanique and thought this aged agricole rhum might do well. Terrior Volcanique is aged in barrels with a double char process that results in a smoky and spicy rum. I haven’t loved this rhum neat in a glass but it was absolutely fantastic in a Mai Tai even at only 43% ABV. Like really, really amazing. Easily the best so far this year and a lock for placement on the year-end Top 10 list.

The Sinking Ship Room is an amazing space that every tikiphile needs to support and visit. The outstanding and immersive decor pairs so well with the Tiki-Ko crew’s unpretentious and friendly service orientation.

Bakersfield’s Tiki-Ko Remains a Stellar Destination

On our way home from SoCal we decided to stop in Bakersfield for the evening and landed at Tiki-Ko for a round of cocktails before heading downstairs to the adjacent Sinking Ship Room bar and then to dinner. We arrived at around 6:00 pm and sat in a booth on the far end of the room. We’ve enjoyed Tiki-Ko in the past, and the welcoming vibe was in full effect when bartender Jorge recognized and welcomed us by name.

I decided to try something new here and went with a Lapu Lapu, a juicy tropical cocktail that provided a stealthy punch. I liked this and it seems to have been made with the right specs. The bar got busier and busier as our visit went on, so its nice to see Tiki-Ko pulling in locals and travelers alike. Music inside is wonderful and we like the U-shaped bar layout and the lounge tables near the entrance.

Tiki-Ko has more regular hours than The Sinking Ship downstairs, and both largely share the same cocktail menu, so either way you’re in for a fine time. In the past we’ve had a great Mai Tais and always enjoy the Mary Ann cocktail. There are some good restaurant options nearby if you wanting to make an evening out of it, like we did. Tiki-Ko remains a stellar tiki bar and ought to be considered a regional treasure.