Sven Kirsten The Tahitian Mug Release at Trader Vic’s

The Tahitian is the second of a series of mug/book bundles from Book of Tiki author Sven Kirsten, produced in conjunction with Tiki Farm and Trader Vic’s. The previous Tiki Portraits release was The Modernist tiki (2021) but the Tahitian is a more traditional style mug. Though, as Kirsten documents in the book, the style and proportions of the Trader Vic’s Tahitian tiki was actually a modern interpretation by artist Ahlo Leon of an older style tiki. The 60 page book is a fascinating read adorned with myriad historical color photographs and images.

The hefty mug produced by Tiki Farm comes in a single glaze, perhaps to avoid the FOMO frenzy that became associated with the multiple glazes of The Modernist. It fits well in the hand and is not improperly balanced despite being top-heavy.

The event at Trader Vic’s Emeryville on Friday consisted of a mug and book signing by Kirsten and some cocktails available at the Cook Room’s bar. The Anana Mango Punch being selected by Kirsten for this event. We didn’t try but heard from others it was a delightful mango-forward cocktail.

Retail price for the book and mug bundle was $120 + tax, and I’d expect any unsold inventory to be available at future events hosted by Kirsten in Southern California and in the Trader Vic’s online store.

Kirsten says that the third in the series is expected sometime next year.

Out Of This World: A Deep Draught into the Woman Who Named the Mai Tai

David Bartell has posted a new video that’s an incredible deep dive biography of Carrie Guild, the woman who named the Mai Tai (or perhaps the wife of the person who named the Mai Tai). Bartell is a longtime contributor to the Search for the Ultimate Mai Tai, providing Mai Tai reviews back on the original site and contributing the circa-1999 essay “Famous Dirty Stinkers” which is still available.

Here’s the description of Bartell’s video essay:

“Maita’i roa ae! Out of this world, the best!” That’s the legendary phrase that gave the Mai Tai its name, according to Trader Vic. The toast was made by a friend, Carrie Guild, who with her husband Eastham were visiting from Tahiti.

Many of you already know that version of the story, but just who was this woman, and what do we know about the context of her gastronomic enthusiasm? Quite a lot!

In this video you will explore uncharted details about the circumstances surrounding the origin of the Mai Tai cocktail, while sailing around the world with the Guilds. If you read the companion article in the November 2023 issue of Exotica Moderne, get ready for an even deeper dive and a few little surprises for tiki afficionados.

You might catch a cameo of someone familiar toward the end of the video.

Primal Mai Tai Soap

Something a little different for Mai Tai Monday this week as we go back in time to 2002 and check out the cocktail bar by the artist Shag – a bar of soap! This was in a line-up that included a Dirty Martini and Cosmic Cosmopolitan but of course the one I picked up at Tiki Fest in Seattle was the Primal Mai Tai.

Shag himself provides the directions: “Transform your tub into a tiki temple with the Cocktail Bar so authentic it comes with tiny bubbles. Bask in the mystical Mai Tai mojo. Then tuck a paper umbrella behind your ear, and head for the nearest volcano.” In other words, use it as a special tropical treat in the tub. After 22 years, there’s a pleasant and mildly fragrant smell from this bar, though I did not take it for a proper “test drive” in the tub.

There’s also a “Simple Mai Tai” recipe on the back which I prepared as directed, and I even used some 2000s era Appleton V/X Jamaica rum to provide that true 2002 authenticity. This being a recipe prior to the Craft Cocktail Renaissance(™️), the recipe subs Grenadine in for the Orgeat and uses Bar Sugar rather than something richer.

Simple Mai Tai
1 oz Jamaican Rum
¼ oz Orange Curacao
1 tsp. Grenadine
1 tsp. Bar Sugar
Juice of ½ fresh Lime
Hand shake and pour over cracked ice. Garnish with lime peel and mint sprig.

I’m using high quality Liquid Alchemist Grenadine and this cocktail was not good. Simply using the proper Orgeat and using a Demerara Syrup rather than bar sugar really made this so much better. I guess we’ve learned a few things since 2002.

Got to hand it to Shag, though, the box and packaging are really nice and who wouldn’t have impulse bought one of these at Hot Topic back in 2002?

Make & Drink Lapu Lapu

There are a number of historical recipes for the Lapu Lapu / Chief Lapu Lapu cocktail, described in a recent video from Derek on the Make & Drink channel on YouTube. Besides going into the history of the cocktail and its notable presence as the featured cocktail at The Royal Hawaiian in Laguna Beach, Derek came up with his own Lapu Lapu recipe that we are trying tonight.

Make & Drink Lapu Lapu
½ oz Lemon Juice
½ oz lime Juice
2 oz Orange Juice
1 oz Passion Fruit syrup
¼ oz Rich Simple Syrup
1½ oz Light Rum
1 oz Pot Still Rum
1 oz Club Soda
¾ oz 151 Rum
Flash blend all ingredients except 151 rum for five seconds, then pour over crushed ice in a large snifter. Float ½ oz of 151 rum. Garnish with mint and a passionfruit shell with 151 rum, set on fire.

I took a few liberties here, notably on the garnish side since I had no mint and decided to use a lighted lantern pick. I used Liber Passionfruit Syrup, a light rum blend of Trader Vic’s white and Hamilton White Stache, Hamilton Pot Still Black Jamaica rum, and Hamilton 151 Demerara rum.

This is a really juicy cocktail and the excellent tangy Passionfruit Syrup from Liber really shines in this. I’m not getting much of the Pot Still rum, and if I was going to do this over I’d probably go 2 oz Pot Still and 1 oz Light rum. Or maybe just incorporate all the rum and not leave the 151 as a float, since a little of that famed Overproof Demerara rum can really add some great flavors to a cocktail.

Nonetheless, this is a really great version of this cocktail. Do you have a favorite Lapu Lapu recipe? Leave it in the comments.

Fogcutter Friday

There’s been quite a bit of conversation happening lately in some of the blogs and YouTube channels that I watch around the classic Trader Vic’s cocktail The Fog Cutter. This was one of Vic’s breakout cocktail hits in the 1940s, based on a reputation for being extremely potent and also for being served in the signature mug. The cocktail contains, rum, gin, brandy, and sherry, along with citrus juices and Trader Vic’s signature sweetener, orgeat.

We were a Trader Vic’s Emeryville last week and thought I’ve give the modern day Samoan Fog Cutter a try. This version from the 1950s has slightly less booze than the original Fog Cutter but still features plenty of the citrus that folks often feel makes the cocktail unbalanced. And with all that juice it sure looks like it would be too tart, but I’ll tell you I thought the balance was just fine, especially once that sherry float began to be incorporated into the drink.

Samoan Fog Cutter
2 oz Lemon Juice
1 oz Orange Juice
½ oz Orgeat
1½ oz Light Rum
½ oz Brandy
½ oz Gin
½ oz Cream Sherry, floated

Possible that the orange juice they’re using at Trader Vic’s leans sweet. Or perhaps they used a little more orgeat. I’ve made some Trader Vic’s cocktails at home and indeed did find them leaning tart, but that wasn’t the case for me at the restaurant last week.

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