A companion video to our Search for the Ultimate Navy Grog page. We discuss the Navy Grog cocktail, including the historical recipes from Don the Beachcomber and Trader Vic’s. And then we show you how to make the Ultimate Navy Grog.
The Search for the Ultimate Mai Tai was relaunched on Instagram on this day in 2017.
Last year we celebrated by completing the Kon-Tiki Expedition rum list, including a couple of drink specials and breaking out some special rums. This year… well, it will be different.
So, virtual cheers and thanks to so many fellow Mai Tai fans I’ve had the pleasure of interacting with especially over the last year. I appreciate your follows and likes here, and the discussion of very important topics such as the best rum blend for Mai Tai or which Orgeat is best. Let’s keep it going here online and I for one am looking forward to buying drinks for a lot of people when tiki bars open back up and we get back to normal.
Stay safe everyone!
The team at House of Tabu have done it again with another great issue of this essential magazine covering tiki, retro lifestyle, artists, music, recipes, and more. Some great coverage of Indiana tiki bars by Tiki with Ray and a profile of San Jose artist Christine Benjamin (who did some commissioned art for Mrs. Mai Tai and me). I really liked the music reviews in this issue and picked up the new EP from the Aqualads after reading about it in the magazine. Be sure to check out my review of the Tikiyaki EP Sketches with Guitars and Bongos.
My second long-form contribution to the magazine is an article that is sort of time-capsule of the tiki lifestyle in 2020, starting with the night my world changed when I was at The Kon-Tiki in March. There is a lot of craziness in the tiki community (especially this week, if you’re following the news out of Ft. Lauderdale and Grand Rapids), but the article ends on a hopeful note that we can still find ways to contribute to our favorite bars, restaurants, and artists even while COVID rages.
Exotica Moderne is such a great magazine. Be sure to order your copy now before it’s gone. Head over to www.houseoftabu.com.
The original is the best. That’s the conclusion at Ultimate Mai Tai Headquarters after trying out three other Zombies this month and then trying the 1934 recipe.
The subtle Cinnamon flavor and heavier rums make this a much more palatable cocktail. It’s like Jeff “Beachbum” Berry says, it’s really a magnified Planters Punch with a blend of rums and other kinds of sweeteners and spices.
¾ oz Lime juice
½ oz Don’s Mix
½ oz Falernum
¼ oz Grenadine
1½ oz Jamaican rum
1½ oz Puerto Rican rum
1 oz Demerara 151 proof rum
2 dashes absinthe
1 dash Angostura bitters
6 oz crushed ice
Flash blend for 5 seconds
Don’s Mix: 2 parts White Grapefruit juice and 1 part Cinnamon Syrup.
Glassware and coasters from last year’s Kickstarter by Will Penny.
Buy Sippin’ Safari by Jeff “Beachbum” Berry for the full story about the rediscovery of the 1934 Zombie recipe.
Continuing our theme for the week, I made the 1950 and 1956 Zombie cocktails. We can thank @official_beachbumberry for unearthing these old recipes, and if you haven’t memorized the Zombie chapter from The Bum’s seminal book Sippin’ Safari then you need to order that book right away (get the 10th anniversary edition). These lovely Beachbum Berry Zombie glasses make pairing these two cocktails a delight.
1 oz Lime juice
1 oz Lemon juice
1 oz Pineapple juice
1 oz Passion Fruit Syrup
1 oz White Puerto Rican rum
1 oz Gold Puerto Rican rum
1 oz Demerara 151 proof rum
1 tsp brown sugar
1 Dash Angostura bitters
Shake with ice
¾ oz Lime juice
½ oz Grapefruit juice
1½ oz Unsweetened Pineapple juice
¼ oz Falernum
¾ oz Maraschino Liqueur (only used ⅓ oz)
¼ tsp Grenadine
1¼ oz Gold Puerto Rican rum
1 oz Dark Jamaican rum
1 oz Lemon Hart 151 Demerara rum
⅛ tsp Pernod/Absinthe
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
6 oz (¾ cup) crushed ice
You can see which rums and ingredients I used. Overall I thought that the 1956 Zombie tasted too much like the Maraschino Liqueur, even after I used only half the listed amount. I might drop it down to a teaspoon next time.
The 1950 Zombie was better received both by me and also by Mrs. Mai Tai, as we both felt it was easier to drink. But neither of us felt like either cocktail was something we’d go out of our way to order at a bar.
Tomorrow’s post… the 1934 Zombie.
I’m sure some of you reading this might be thinking, “1947 Zombie? Your year is incorrect.” Well, friends, it is correct and it is delicious.
Behold the Zombie recipe from Victor Bergeron’s 1947 Bartender’s Guide. Trader Vic didn’t have Don the Beachcomber’s secret recipe but his Zombie is no slouch. It is boozy but very easy to drink.
Zombie (Trader Vic’s)
1 oz Lemon Juice
1 oz Orange Juice
½ oz Grenadine
1 oz Orange Curacao (Cointreau)
1 oz Jamaican Rum (Plantation Xaymaca)
2 oz Puerto Rican Rum (Bacardi 4)
½ oz 151 Proof Demerara Rum (Hamilton 151)
1 dash Pernod
Stir in mixing glass with large ice cube, then pour over shaved ice in a tall glass.
A few months ago I posed a question in a Facebook group to ask what were the seminal ingredients for a Zombie (in the same way that Orgeat is the seminal ingredient for a Mai Tai). I honestly did not get any sort of consensus answer, except for a mix of rums and maybe Cinnamon syrup. We also know that Grenadine is a key differentiator between the 1934 Zombie and a Jet Pilot.
All of which means that Trader Vic’s Zombie is probably not quite as spice-forward as those who love the 1934 Zombie are expecting. But it isn’t a terrible “guess” by Vic at what made the Don the Beachcomber Zombie world famous. The grenadine is there, along with Pernod/Herbsiant that often used in Don the Beachcomber cocktails. And, the rums are pretty much exactly as what Donn used in his various Zombie recipes.
Is it as good as a 1934 Zombie? Certainly not. But I’ll tell you that it is miles better than most Zombies I’ve had at good craft-oriented tiki bars.
Give it a try and let me know what you think. Happy Hulaween.
The glass is from last year’s kickstarter from Will Penny.
I keep trying to make this one. It seems so simple and maybe uninteresting, but when I tried it at the Mai-Kai last year I was blown away. So I keep trying. And the fact that this is blended, when I’ve been fighting like Ahab to get my blender to make good slushy blended drinks, well let’s just say that the result was better but still not perfect.
This time the blend was better but still too many big chunks considering I was sipping rather than using a straw.
½ oz Lime juice
1 oz Orange juice
½ oz Sugar syrup
1½ oz Light Rum (I used Plantation 3 Star)
Blend with ice
I used fresh Valencia Oranges and it certainly made a difference compared to when I’ve used bottled OJ. But neither is as good as the Orange Juice they use at the Mai-Kai in Florida, so I guess all those ads about Florida oranges are true.
The Atomic Grog has great resources for everything Mai-Kai and their page for this cocktail is no exception. Check it out.
This essay has been gracing the back cover of the Trader Vic’s Cocktail Menu for decades. It serves to highlight the spirit that is most prominent in Trader Vic’s cocktails, and is both a history lesson and a list of “shout outs” to famed mixologists. This is a scan of a menu circa 1965.
This is one area where I think that Victor Bergeron deserves more credit, as quite often he would credit the original creator of a cocktail on the menu or in his books. In the essay he highlights a number of 20th Century barmen including Frank Meier of the Ritz Bar in Paris, Constantine at La Florida Bar in Havana, and Albert Martin of Con Ton Bar in New Orleans. He ends with several pointed salutes to Don the Beachcomber of Hollywood.
The design includes pictures of some of the famous venues and a caricature of Don the Beachcomber himself.
Closer view of the text
Found this in the 1947 Trader Vic’s Bartender’s Guide. It is a light and refreshing cocktail that is influenced by Trader Vic’s travels to Cuba in 1937.
½ oz Lime Juice
¾ oz Cointreau
1 tsp Sugar
1¾ oz Rum
I made this with Havana Club 7 aged Cuban rum and it’s a very good cocktail. But it is missing something… something that could add a little more sweetness and complexity. Hmm… thoughts?
Great day at Trader Vic’s for Mai Tai Day
Firstly, it is nice to see this being labeled “Mai Tai Day” this year rather than “Real Mai Tai Day”. It celebrates the birth of the Mai Tai in 1944, using the date for Mai Tai Day designated by Oakland several years ago.
Vic’s opened at 11 am for Brunch and cocktails, and several of us made the trek to be there at opening. Plenty of souvenir Mai Tai Day Mason Jars were available and they’re a timely design. My Mai Tai looked great and was refreshing on Vic’s outdoor patio/picnic space (in the corner of the parking lot). Good social-distancing employed.
Brunch was a little tricky in that you still have to order food via telephone (brunch menu isn’t in the online system yet, though I’d expect that to be fixed soon). And so you have to go over to the main building to pick it up. But otherwise, this is pretty nice. The morning fog was actually a welcome component and then slowly burned off by around 12:30 pm. My Salmon Toast was delightful and Mrs. Mai Tai’s Eggs Benedict was great too. Supposedly brunch will be an option every week going forward.
Aside from the tikiphiles in attendance, there was a special online toast for Mai Tai Day, featuring Vic’s CEO Rhett Rosen. Eve Bergeron set up a monitor and so everyone in attendance could participate. While this wasn’t as grand as last year’s incredible Mai Tai 75 celebration, this was still pretty good considering the restrictions on indoor gatherings.
Long live the Mai Tai, long live Trader Vic’s!