Margaritas at La Fiesta in Mountain View

With Trad’r Sam open again in San Francisco, we traveled up to check out their offerings. I was assured they’d be open on Saturday between 2:00-3:00 but at 3:30 there was nobody there and no sign of activity. Mrs. Mai Tai was not happy. I get that this is a family-run business and that Saturday night is the priority, not Saturday afternoon. Well, tikiphiles, I tried.

So, we headed down the Peninsula to our favorite Mexican restaurant, La Fiesta in Mountain View. This place is a few blocks off downtown but is totally worth seeking out. They’ve converted half their parking lot into outdoor seating and the tables are spaced out really well. We love the Grandma’s Special sauce that is added to various menu items. It is unbelievably good.

For our Margaritas, Julie had the Margarita Rosalina (the Grandma in “Grandma’s Special”) with reposado tequila, cranberry juice, lime, triple sec, and sweet and sour. I had the Veracruz with silver tequila, blue curaçao, triple sec, lime, and sweet and sour. Both were excellent.

We we got home I made a couple more blue margaritas.

Ultimate Blue Margarita
¾ oz Lime Juice
¾ oz Blue Curacao
¼ oz Blood Orange Cordial
1½ oz el Jimador Blanco Tequila
Shake with ice and serve over cubed ice.

Pumpkin Spice Mai Tai

Another neighborhood delivery

This was the choice of the recipient, who definitely needs a stiff drink. I’m not a pumpkin spice hater.

Pumpkin Spice Mai Tai
1 oz Lime Juice
½ oz Orgeat 
½ oz Orange Curacao 
¼ oz Demerara Syrup 
1 oz Captain Morgan Jack’o’Blast Pumpkin Spiced Rum
1 oz Aged Jamaican Rum

Derby Daiquiri

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.

Derby Daiquiri
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.

Santiago Cocktail-2

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.

Santiago Cocktail-2
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?

The Vacation

This is a great cocktail from Daniel “Doc” Parks from the Minimalist Tiki book. So many great flavors! It’s always a favorite at Zombie Village or wherever Doc Parks might be serving drinks.

The Vacation by Daniel “Doc” Parks
¾ oz Lime juice
1 oz Pineapple juice
½ oz Mango syrup
¼ oz Falernum
1 oz Lightly aged or filtered rum (Real McCoy 3)
1 oz Unaged agricole rum (Rhum J.M Blanc)
1 oz Pisco (Capurro)
1 dash Vanilla-Infused Angostura bitters

The Minimalist Tiki book by Matt Pietrek and Carrie Smith is now in a third edition, complete with some new recipe riffs on the “Classic 30” tiki drinks. Plus fixes for those pesky typos. If you haven’t gotten this book yet, it’s totally worth getting as it covers the key ingredients needed for a home bar, plus the Wonk’s usually great coverage of rum and spirits. Many truly amazing cocktail recipes.

Blue Curacao: Giffard vs. Senior

So many thanks to local tikiphile Cathie Wartelle for donating some of her Senior Blue Curacao for another shootout comparison with our reigning champion Giffard Curacao Bleu.

Last week we compared Giffard to the much cheaper Drillaud, and so this week it’s a more even playing field since the Senior is priced similarly (or in many places even higher). Once again, we did this in our Blue Hawai-Tai cocktail – though this time I did switch up the rums. We have Rum-Bar White Overproof and Denizen Aged White Rum for standing in this week.

In the glass: I found the Giffard to be a deeper shade of blue, and heavier and more complex on the tongue. The Senior is pleasant but just lacks a bit of depth – though it is 31% ABV compared to 25% for the Giffard. 

In the cocktail: The Senior Blue Curacao mixes well in the cocktail, and for sure helps this cocktail go down easy. The sweetness of Senior is similar to the Giffard, but once again the Giffard just has a little extra complexity in the cocktail that is a notable difference.

The verdict: unlike last time, price differences aren’t a factor, so Giffard is still our winner. If you’re at a liquor store and you had to choose between some $7 low-end Blue Curacao and Senior, should you feel bad going upscale? Absolutely not. The Senior Blue Curacao is a good liqueur. But pound for pound, the Giffard is better in our opinion.

Blue Hawai-Tai by Kevin Crossman
1 oz Lemon Juice
1 oz White Overproof Jamaican Rum
½ oz Aged White Rum
½ oz Orgeat
½ oz Simple Syrup
½ oz Blue Curacao

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with crushed ice. 

Orange Skies Over California

As if 2020 couldn’t get any more bizarre. Look at the orange skies out in the backyard, and honestly it was unsettling and pretty disturbing.

Tried to make a cocktail that matched the color of the sky, so I turned to this one featuring the bright orange BG Reynolds Circus Peanut syrup. 

Big Top Mai Tai by Jason Alexander
½ oz passion fruit sirop
½ oz almond sirop
1 oz Clown Sirop
1½ oz lemon juice
2½ oz Plantation Xaymaca

At least the day ended well.

Blue Curacao: Drillaud vs. Giffard

Blue Curacao Shootout

Back to our regularly scheduled program. I found the Drillaud Orange Curacao to be pretty serviceable and a great option for those looking for a lower-priced liqueur. So, it’s time to give the Drillaud Blue Curacao a spin and compared to my recommended spirit in this category, Giffard Curacao Bleu.

Both spirts are 25% ABV and the color is deep and blue in both. Tasting both neat, it does seem that that the Giffard has a more complex flavor that is a pleasure to flow over the tongue. The Drillaud is thankfully not as sickly sweet as some liqueurs I’ve tasted, and without any unpleasant after-taste. But, it does taste a bit “thin” compared to the Giffard. Nonetheless, this is a good sign for Drillaud.

Next, I tasted both in a Blue Hawai-Tai. As you can see, the colors are similar and both make an excellent version of our Blue Mai Tai with heavy rums. Here too, the Drillaud makes a good cocktail but indeed the Giffard is still better. Just a little bit more satisfying and rounded.

Giffard is the winner on taste alone but what about the price? I see the Giffard for sale at around $28, where the Drillaud is around $13. So, the Drillaud is a pretty good substitute and is just about half the price.

Learn more: Giffard vs. Senior Blue Curacao

Blue Hawai-Tai by Kevin Crossman
1 oz Lemon Juice
1 oz White Overproof Jamaican Rum
½ oz Aged White Rum
½ oz Orgeat
½ oz Simple Syrup
½ oz Blue Curacao


Cocktail Delivery: Painkiller and Blue Hawai-Tai

Cocktail Delivery for a teacher friend who’s had a hard week (a friend of Mrs Mai Tai). I got some stickers to put my collection of mason jars to good work.

Standard issue Painkiller (with Lemon Hart 1804/Plantation Dark) and a Blue Hawai-Tai. It was fun to share the love of a good cocktail, and in this case for sure went to a worthy cause.

Blue Hawai-Tai by Kevin Crossman
1 oz Lemon Juice
1 oz White Overproof Jamaican Rum
½ oz Aged White Rum
½ oz Orgeat
½ oz Simple Syrup
½ oz Blue Curacao

Old Cuban

Tried something new, the Old Cuban. This calls for Cuban style rum, and is sort of a Mojito-meets-sparkling wine. I tried with both Bacardi 8 from Puerto Rico and Real McCoy 5 from Barbados and indeed the lighter rum is actually much better.

Old Cuban
¾ oz Lime Juice
1 oz Simple Syrup
6 Mint Leaves
1½ oz Cuban-style Rum
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
2 oz Sparkling Wine

Muddle the lime, syrup and mint. Then add the rum and bitter. Shake with ice and strain into a coupe glass. Top with sparkling wine (I used Prosecco). Very nice, and I normally don’t like wine.