This is the location of the original Don’s Beachcomber Cafe, the forebear tiki bar that opened in Hollywood in 1934. A couple years later Ernest Raymond Beaumont Gantt opened a larger place across the street called Don the Beachcomber, then subsequently changed his name to Donn Beach.
There’s nothing to see really, and as far as I can tell there’s nothing technically at 1722 anymore. There is a condo sitting over location of the second location.
There’s a nice case of vintage Trader Vic’s bottles in the Cook Room at the Emeryville location.
This shot is of the Mai Tai Rum, which combined rums from Jamaica (70%), Martinique (20%), and Virgin Islands (10%), and coming in at a very nice 43% ABV. Likely a great rum to put in your Mai Tai (or your “Mai-Tai” according to the label, sigh). Man, I’d love to try some of this.
It was no sure bet four years ago when Matt Reagan and Christ Aivaliotis opened The Kon-Tiki. Since then, they’ve carved out an important role in the download Oakland restaurant community, and the venue also serves as a hub for many in the East Bay and Oakland tiki community. The “Oakhana” have weekly meetups usually on Wednesdays. Come over and join the fun.
Over the years, the Kon-Tiki has hosted many events with rum producers and developed their rum club, the Kon-Tiki Expedition. When members complete the expedition they bang the gong and it is always a party. Kon-Tiki has hosted a few music events and who can forget the frequent appearances of Cosmic Lady Six for Tarot Tuesdays. And Kon-Tiki has hosted and participated in a number of events in the Oakland community.
These days, Kon-Tiki is the flagship location for everything tiki including a vast selection of rums, a large cocktail menu, and a modest but varied set of food offerings. Including their world famous Cheeseburger, of course. And there is now an “outpost” location a half mile away, the Kon-Tiki Room at Palmetto. And, who knows, maybe more outposts to come.
Our new site page discusses the Mai Tai recipe from the Havana Trader Vic’s, circa 1958.
In addition to being an interesting historical artifact about a little known (and shortly lived) Trader Vic’s location, it is one of the earliest documented references for the use of a Rhum Agricole in a Mai Tai.
Thanks to local tikiphile Monty Dunnington for selling me his used copy of Sven Kirsten’s Tiki Modern, and for offering it at a fair price. This completes my Sven collection, including the Book of Tiki, Tiki Pop, Tiki Style, and Sound of Tiki.
The book is long out of print, which is truly a shame since it is a really interesting look at the tiki art of the 1950s-1960s and it’s place amongst the larger Mid Century art movement and aesthetic. The part that reads most interesting to me, a decade after it was published, is the neutral tone of the text. It is almost like an anthropologist describing a culture on its own terms, not one made with modern sensibilities. It does not denigrate, nor celebrate, the art and architecture described in the book. It just describes it so that we can understand it.
Which isn’t to say that those current sensibilities should be ignored. Just that I appreciated the neutral tone. And there are a lot of fabulous images in the book as well.
Anyway, thanks to Sven Kirsten for the books over the years.
This is a recipe from Steve Crane’s Kon-Tiki restaurant from the Sheraton Waikiki resort circa 1960s, according to the entry in Beachbum Berry’s Taboo Table, and the Total Tiki app. I liked my first sip but it quickly turned into something else, a weird combination of flavors that did not play well on my tongue. I actually dumped it.
Molokai Mule 2 oz Orange juice 1 oz Lime Juice 1 oz Orgeat 1 oz Cognac 1 oz Light Rum 1 oz Demerara Rum Shake with ice cubes.
It was such a pleasure to talk to Will and John, and we had a great Mai Tai discussion on the latest episode of the Rumcast.
The episode covers the history of the Mai Tai, tips for the home bartender, and how to get an awesome Mai Tai at your local watering hole. And of course lots of talk about rum for your Mai Tai. We played a game of “Mai Tai or Not a Mai Tai” and the episode ended with the Rumcast’s signature Rapid Fire round of questions.
The episode begins with a discussion of KōHana Rum from Hawaii, appropriate since Hawaii plays a seminal role in the popularity of the Mai Tai.
I picked up this very cool Book of Tiki 20th Anniversary Mug at the Shag Store in Palm Springs. The mug is huge – 30 ounces – to remind you of the gigantic Book of Tiki that inspired it. Such a cool design from Shag and Sven Kirsten, the author of the book.
Like many folks active in the tiki scene in the 1990s, we heard about The Book of Tiki for years before the release in 2000. Still a seminal book about the history of tiki bars, art, fashion, and more.
I paid $80 for this mug, in the orange glaze that’s part of the larger run of this mug. A far lower price than you’ll see online on eBay where it goes for over $100 and sometimes over $200!
Here is how you beat the flippers:
Drive 500 miles to Palm Springs (each way)
Refill gas tank several times ($90)
Have three meals a day on the road ($60-100 pp. x2)
Stay overnight in downtown Palm Springs hotel ($160+$35 resort fee/parking)
Buy mug and then walk to local tiki bar to celebrate ($20-40 pp., plus food)
So it’s easy to see how it is easy to beat the flippers. Look how much money I saved.
Love the book, love the artist, love the mug. It’s all okay.
Another awesome issue of Exotica Moderne arrived today. So much great content regarding tiki culture, music, and art.
My article about the “Mai Tai Predecessor” cocktail the Q. B. Cooler is here, with fab design treatment by Ken Holewczynski from publisher House of Tabu. Look for some fun and informative quotes from Jeff “Beachbum” Berry and a comparison of a couple historical recipes, which may or may not be the cocktails that influenced the creation of Trader Vic’s original 1944 Mai Tai.
I didn’t like this Don the Beachcomber cocktail when I made it a couple years ago, but my palette has come around on some flavors over time so I thought I’d give this one another shot.
The Mai Tai Swizzle dates from the 1950s, according the Jeff “Beachbum” Berry. The recipe comes from Hawaii: Tropical Rum Drinks & Cuisine which is a Don the Beachcomber recipe book published by Donn Beach’s widow (who made a dubious claim this recipe pre-dated the Trader Vic’s 1944 Mai Tai). Including Grapefruit juice, Bitters, Falernum, and Pernod, the drink does contain some of the ingredients often seen in Don the Beachcomber cocktails.
Mai Tai Swizzle (Don the Beachcomber) ¾ oz Lime Juice 1 oz Grapefruit Juice ½ oz Cointreau ¼ oz Falernum 1½ oz Dark Jamaican Rum (Coruba) 1 oz Gold Cuban Rum (sub Bacardi 8) 6 Drops Pernod 1 Dash Angostura Bitters Shake with crushed ice.
My notes a couple year ago was that this had too much citrus, and that feeling holds true today. I might have different opinions if the Cuban rum was replaced with a Demerara, so maybe I’ll try that next time. (See the results: Mai Tai Swizzle Re-Revisted)
So, I made some tweaks and added Demerara Syrup and added more Falernum. It is much better tasting and more balanced. Mrs. Mai Tai enjoyed it while finishing her cocktail puzzle.
Ultimate Mai Tai Swizzle ¾ oz Lime Juice 1 oz Grapefruit Juice ½ oz Demerara Syrup ½ oz Cointreau ½ oz Falernum 1½ oz Dark Jamaican Rum (Coruba) 1 oz Gold Cuban Rum (sub Bacardi 8) 6 Drops Pernod 1 Dash Angostura Bitters