The Multipass at The Kon-Tiki

This is one the “zero gravity” drinks on The Kon-Tiki‘s recent Sci-Fi themed cocktail menu. It has Watermelon, Hibiscus, Oolong, Honey, and Lime and is well garnished for $8. You can “choose your element” by adding a called spirit for just $6 more.

This is a wonderful drink just by itself but does work very well with a variety of rums and other spirits. Would go great with Tequila and Vodka, and I can attest it works for Rhum Agricole and Clairins too. The juicy flavors and the tang from the watermelon really work for me.

I like this for tasting rums from the Kon-Tiki’s large selection. I have the rum by itself and I try some of it neat, then pour into the Multipass to see how the rum works in a cocktail. It’s a great option when you’re doing the tiki thing in downtown Oakland.

Goodbye, Hamilton 86

Sent off this bottle of Hamilton 86 rum from Guyana in style with a modified Ancient Mariner cocktail. The Ancient Mariner is a Navy Grog riff from Jeff “Beachbum” Berry that appeared in the original Grog Log back in 1998. Modified by me due to the lack of grapefruit juice and a heavier pour of the Hamilton Demerara rum just so I could finish the bottle.

Ancient Mariner (modified)
½ oz Cara Cara Orange Juice
1 oz Lime Juice
¼ oz Simple Syrup
¼ oz St. Elizabeth Allspice Liqueur
1¾ oz Hamilton 86 rum from the Demerara River
¼ oz Wray & Nephew Overproof
Shake with ice, garnish with mint

The orange came through in this and so it didn’t quite have that classic Grog taste, but otherwise this was plenty good.

Ancient Mariner by Jeff “Beachbum” Berry
½ oz White Grapefruit Juice
¾ oz Lime Juice
½ oz Simple Syru
¼ oz Pimento Dram (Allspice Liqueur)
1 oz Demerara Rum
1 oz Dark Jamaican Rum
Shake with ice, garnish with mint and lime wedge

New Cocktail Recipe: (Dirty) Shirley Manson

Mrs. Mai Tai often orders a Shirley Temple in lieu of a cocktail but sometimes you want this kind of drink with alcohol included. This alcoholic “Dirty” Shirley Temple riff is named after Garbage and Angelfish singer Shirley Manson, a native of Scotland. So, naturally the featured spirit in this cocktail is Scotch Whisky. Given the difficulty of balancing the high cherry content in a boozy highball you might understand why I worked on this on and off for over a year until I finally got it where I wanted it.

Noteworthy is the use of Ginger Ale rather than 7-Up or Sprite; true Shirley Temple aficionados will agree this is the correct soda mixer. The use of Maraschino Cherry Juice is potentially controversial but is the key ingredient to provide the flavor notes that’ll remind you of your favorite childhood version of this drink. I tried Luxardo cherry juice while prototyping but it was too thick and didn’t lighten the already heavy flavors from Cherry Heering liqueur.

(Dirty) Shirley Manson
½ oz Maraschino Cherry Juice
½ oz Cherry Heering Liqueur
½ oz Cointreau
1½ oz Scotch Whisky 
1 dash Cherry Bitters (optional)
3 oz Ginger Ale\
Fill glass with crushed ice or small cubes. Build in Collins glass and stir lightly. Garnish with three cherries on a pick.

I went around with some different styles of Scotch and am not officially designating a specific brand or type. If you like it peaty, then choose a beloved Islay brand. Although the peaty flavor isn’t my favorite I do feel like a little bit of it in the cocktail will provide authenticity and a good counterbalance to the sweet cherry notes. 

When I make this at home I use 1 oz The Glenlivet 12 year and ½ oz of Johnnie Walker Black Label, providing just the right amount of that smoky Scotch flavor along with the Speyside Scotch’s predominantly floral notes.


Atahi A Kai Mug by Reesenik for Trader Vic’s

Fun time at Trader Vic’s last night for a little informal discussion with Matt Reese (Reesenik) and Chris Shima who recently designed mugs for Trader Vic’s. There was a little panel discussion with the artists and you could purchase a mug. Trader Vic’s has been partnering with artists for a few years now and while some of the previous products were hand-crafted, limited edition, and expensive, these were more affordable but still very nice for the price/scale of production. The Kia’i mug from Shima is in the Trader Vic’s online store and I’d expect the Reesenik mug to be there any day.

I was really interested in this unusual design of Atahi A Kai mug that’s so easy to hold in the hand and is so thin it’s only about 15 oz, which means you can fill with a normal drink and not have five times more ice than you normally would. I picked one up and you can see Matt posing with his work.

We also got to see a sneak preview of the movie Cabali & the Tiki Mug Obsession with the director Josh Dragotta and the subject of the movie Doug “Fini” Finical (co-owner of the new Cabali tiki bar in Tuscon). This documentary includes interviews with numerous mug makers and tiki bar owners and is on track for a release later in 2024.

A Great Mai Tai and Two Terrible Ones

Had dinner and some drinks last night in San Jose before The Surfrajettes show at Dr. Funk in Downtown San Jose. Our last visit gave us hope they’d maybe fixed the quality control issues we’d seen in the visits prior and had confirmed by so many others.

I started out with a Mai Tai, made once again with Appleton 12 and Smith & Cross rums plus Dr. Funk’s house-made orgeat that’s delicious. I saw that the orgeat and demerara syrup were squeezed directly into the shaker but the lime and rum measured with a jigger. And it turned out great, I really loved it.

A buddy showed up and ordered a Mai Tai but the flavors weren’t anywhere the same based on his tasting and mine via a “straw sample” of the cocktail. It tasted flat like maybe they used fewer ingredients or not enough of some.

Then he ordered a second Mai Tai that was even worse and legit terrible. Nothing was measured in a jigger and the shake was half-hearted. A truly awful Mai Tai.

It really bums me out that Dr. Funk cannot figure this out, since the space remains immersive and their excellent rum selection means that I can try some new-to-me rums. I tried the Black Tot Master Blender’s Reserve 2023 and it was absolutely delicious and very similar to the old British Royal Navy rum from the 1950s and 1960s that I’ve been able to try.

If Dr. Funk wants to be considered a craft cocktail bar, they need to measure the ingredients with jiggers.

If they want to be considered a world-class tiki bar the bartenders need to know where the overproof 151 Demerara rum is without having to spend a long time looking for it (no, I’m not kidding).

If Dr. Funk just wants to be a party bar just tell us that so that we can reset our expectations. San Jose doesn’t need another party tiki bar like Tiki Pete. They need a tiki bar where a great Mai Tai is expected – and not the exception.

Recipe: Cherry Pie Tai

This Mai Tai riff from Nathan Robinson was a delicious twist on an old favorite. It’s especially nice if you’re looking for something else to use with Cherry Heering liqueur. I love the combination of blended Demerara rum and a bit of Rhum Agricole from Martinique. Delicious, give it a try.

My only gripe is the name. Shouldn’t it be “Cherry Pai Tai”?

Cherry Pie Tai by Nathan Robinson
¾ oz Lemon Juice
½ oz Orgeat
¾ oz Cherry Heering liqueur
1½ oz Demerara Rum (pref Hamilton 86)
½ oz Rhum Agricole Blanc (pref JM Rhum Blanc)
Shake with nice and garnish with a cherry

The Shipwreck Nautical Bar in Martinez

Locals were promoting this new bar that’s located in the multi-vendor Market & Main venue in downtown Martinez, CA, and we were nearby so we popped in. The Shipwreck soft-opened earlier this month and is a small bar adjacent to the Shuck It! Oyster Bar where you can order food. We had a great lobster roll and shrimp cocktail and Shuck It! will deliver to your seat at Shipwreck.

We were told this was a tiki bar, but it is not. Thankfully, it is also not a pirate bar but instead is a modestly decorated small nautical bar that seems to pair well with Shuck It! next door. Don’t confuse it with “Shipwrecked” in nearby Davis, CA. The small drink menu is obviously tiki-inspired and overall we thought the cocktails were pretty good. Mrs. Mai Tai loved her Neptune’s Garden that paired Tequila with Elderflower Liqueur to great effect.

Neptune’s Garden

The back bar has a modest collection of spirits but very little in the way of rum. The 7 Year Mai Tai is named after the Angostura 7 rum, a mild aged rum that’s easy to drink along with pineapple juice and other traditional Mai Tai ingredients. Definitely pineapple leaning, though not overwhelming, and this fruity and sweet Mai Tai did taste good.

I asked about other rum options and they offered Cruzan Dark and Captain Morgan, neither of which were what I tend to go for. I then spotted a nearly empty bottle of Equiano Dark rum, a very nice blend of aged rums from Mauritius and Barbados, so asked for Mai Tai with that rum and without the pineapple juice. This one was served in the skull glass rather than the Angostura mug and used DeKuyper Orange Curacao and Liquid Alchemist Orgeat. That Equiano rum was really great in this well-prepared and balanced Mai Tai. I did suggest to the staff they ought to invest in at least a couple of additional rums, since that’s what folks would expect at this sort of bar.

Equiano Rum Mai Tai

Market & Main has a pizza place and cookie dough storefront, with Bentley’s classic cocktail bar located upstairs during the winter (and on the back patio during the summer). We liked the sleepy vibe of downtown Martinez that includes other restaurants and antique stores.