Rum Curious Happy Hour at Kon-Tiki

Fun times on Monday with a rum tasting happy hour at The Kon-Tiki in Oakland, hosted by Bryan Inman as part of his Rum Curious Club event series. The rums available for tasting were from Hawai’i’s Kō Hana and Haiti’s Rhum Barbancourt.

This session was a little different than the typical rum tasting at Kon-Tiki where a rum rep usually sets up and is there for maybe a couple hours. For this one the tasting was limited to one hour as were the special $7 cocktails made with the sponsored rums. As such, it was quite the feeding frenzy to get in to taste the rums. I’m not sure this is a better format, but there’s no doubt there was a certain energy in the room, and the Kon-Tiki bar team certainly did a great job keeping up with cocktail orders.

I’ve tried the entire Kō Hana lineup before so I didn’t partake in the rum tasting, but I really loved the Kon-Tiki’s take on the Royal Hawaiian Cocktail made with Kō Hana rum, orgeat, pineapple, and citrus. It was absolutely delightful, featuring the flavorful sugar cane rum made on O’ahu very much in balance with the pineapple.

As for Rhum Barbancourt, I was interested in Haitian Proof, an unaged expression at 110 proof. This was noticeably different than the aged Barbancourt releases which to me don’t have that “sugar cane distillate” taste. Haitian Proof on the other hand definitely has that flavor that you get from other Haitian rums and clairins. Very interesting and retailing for around $30 plus or minus.

Rum Curious Club w/Goslings Rum at Forbidden Island

Fun day on the patio at Forbidden Island Tiki Lounge for a Rum Curious Club event hosted by Bryan Inman and Emily Gosling. The focus was on Goslings rum, the rum that’s in the Dark ‘n Stormy.

The blended dark rum Black Seal is the most ubiquitous of the Goslings rum expressions, and it topped my dark rum comparison test a few months back. I do like this rum that’s aged 3-6 and is a blend of pot and column rums from various Caribbean islands.

We also got to try the Spirited Seas expression that’s finished in barrels on a ship at sea and issued at 44% ABV. Definitely different with subtler aging notes. The Old Rum is aged for 16-20 years and definitely smooth to drink and the most popular among the attendees. My favorite of the group was the Old Rum finished in Rye barrels, which added even more complexity and spice notes.

Emily and Bryan did a good job giving history of Goslings rum, a big part of Bermuda’s economy and culture, and of the Gosling family. Very entertaining and informative. The blindfolded Dark ‘n Stormy contest was a fun capper.

In addition to the rum tastings, we also had two cocktails made by Forbidden Island’s @miamidavefi and both were really great. It’s too bad the weather wasn’t typical April but the patio tent held firm.

Thanks to Bryan for traveling up from SoCal and to Forbidden Island for hosting.

Michael Thanos from Forbidden Island (left) and Bryan Inman

Tropical Escapism at Zombie Village

After dinner at the Tonga Room, we walked down the hill to Zombie Village for a nightcap, passing by the original Tiki Bob location at Post/Taylor. We made reservations for a booth, so we were able to socialize with friends and enjoy our cocktails.

Zombie Village is still doing a lot of things right, including well prepared cocktails and offering a large rum and spirits list for those who want to try something different. The menu is smaller than when the venue originally opened, but it is large enough to offer something for everyone and there was even a small menu of seasonal cocktails.

Disco Banana

My go to option at Zombie Village is the Disco Banana, a blended Daiquiri riff with rhum agricole and overproof Jamaican rums. It’s delicious and was prepared and blended perfectly, one of my favorite cocktails of all time. I then used the rum list to find a premium rum for a freshly made Mai Tai. No surprise to regular readers, I chose Saint Benevolence Rum Clairin and indeed this was a wonderfully flavorful cocktail that’s even better than Zombie Village’s high-quality standard version. For rum nerds it is always appreciated when bars are able to prepare cocktails with a called spirit Hint: because they’re not batching every cocktail.

The bar was fairly busy on Saturday, though not overly so. We had great service, prompt and friendly, and we appreciate the hospitality. Zombie Village remains a stellar escapist destination in The City.

Custom Aged Rum

Mrs. Mai Tai got me this little aging barrel for Christmas and after three months I thought it was aged well enough to bottle. The blend is about two thirds Rum Fire from Jamaica, an overproof rum at 63% ABV with overripe fruit notes, and a third Saint Benevolence Rum Clairin from Haiti, an olive/brine forward rum at 50% ABV. Both pot-still rums are unaged and will put the aging process to the test.

After three months, you can see the rum has turned very dark. I estimate the “angel’s share” loss to be at least 40%, perhaps due to the barrel not exactly being made to distiller’s quality. In fact, the fragrant blend of rum is still present on the barrel today.

In this glass, this is like nothing I’ve ever tasted thanks to the blend of two flavor bombs blended together. Yet this definitely isn’t the same as the two rums together if poured straight out of the bottle. There’s a lot of traditional flavors that you’d expect from barrel aging, but still a lot of the acetone flavor you sometimes get from overproof Jamaican rums. In the Mai Tai, this potent rum made itself known immediately but the cocktail format rounded off some of the hard edges. It is delightful if you really like to chew on your rums in a Mai Tai.

The experiment isn’t over. I’ve refilled the barrel with some Puerto Rican light rum to see how the barrel and any residual flavors from the Rum Fire and Saint Benevolence affect the flavor. We’ll have an update in three months.

Monymusk Rum Tasting at Oakland’s Kon-Tiki

Seemed like old times in downtown Oakland for some rum tasting and special cocktails at The Kon-Tiki. Michael Goldman was on hand to share the new lineup of Monymusk rums from Jamaica, including two aged expressions and a very interesting Overproof blend.

Michael Goldman

The Monymusk Classic Gold aged for five years is a wonderful rum that’s perfect for cocktails, with the 10 year Special Reserve being affordable enough for cocktails but better suited as a sipper. There’s plenty of traditional Jamican flavor in these two expressions, but as a 40% ABV blend of pot and column-still distillates are perhaps more approachable than some of the overly funky Jamaica rums. Compare to Appleton, not Smith & Cross.

Meanwhile, Monymusk’s Overproof is definitely within the range of White Jamaican Overproof rums you’ve seen before but leaning a little lighter due to a pot/column blend. The funky flavor is there, just a bit rounded out.

Park Lane Special

Kon-Tiki had a special menu of cocktails and I was completely blown away by the grapefruit forward highball cocktail called Park Lane Special. This featured Monymusk Overproof along with a dazzling Grapefruit punch cordial. Kon-Tiki’s Carlos Jimenez really has a winner with this one. I also tried the Jamaican Bee with Monymusk Gold, lemon, and honey – a nice daiquiri riff that shows how the Monymusk rums work well in cocktails.

It was really interesting to try the updated Monymusk product line and to see their new labels. Look for these to be available in California and other states very soon.

My Tie, Youse Tai

Had the pleasure of being hosted by Stephen Curran  at his home bar called the Rocking Jellyfish Lounge in Gig Harbor. It’s a nicely appointed space with a double sided seating bar and some lounge seating. Stephen has traveled to Papua New Guinea and so there’s plenty of authentic and inspired-by PNG artwork. He did a presentation about his travels to Papua New Guinea at the Seattle Tiki Fest a couple weeks ago and it was a truly interesting and compelling presentation. Be sure to catch his seminars if they pop up in the future.

Stephen made me his house Mai Tai which was very good, but then presented a new version he is trying made the Ferrand Dry Curacao Yuzu, Latitude 29 orgeat, along with Appleton 15 and Appleton 21 rums. This was an extravagant and indulgent Mai Tai due to the premium rums, but the combo of curacaos from yuzu and orange really made this cocktail shine. It was absolutely fantastic and one of the best of the year so far.

The name of the cocktail should be resonate with those familiar with Joe Pesci’s 1990s filmography.

Samoan Fog Cutter Modified

I got this Tiki Tolteca mug at the Alameda Point Antiques Fair (thank you @smuggler_steve), so wanted to make a drink in it. I had a great time visiting Tiki Tolteca in New Orleans in 2018, now sadly shuttered.

The drink was a Samoan Fog Cutter, though I misread the ingredients and ended up switching the ratio of Lemon and Orange Juice. I also used a Cara Cara Orange, so this ended up quite a bit sweeter than it would have been otherwise and I think was a more balanced ratio. I also used a lot more Sherry than what the original recipe calls for and to me is better for it.

I thought this tasted great, and I did find that even the small amounts of Brandy and Gin were providing a more complex blend of noticeable flavors than if this just used light rum.

Samoan Fog Cutter Modified
2 oz Cara Cara Orange Juice
1 oz Lemon Juice
½ oz Orgeat (heavy pour)
½ oz Gin (Beefeater)
½ oz Brandy (Korbel)
1½ oz Light Rum (Trader Vic’s)
1 oz Sherry (Harvey’s Bristol Cream)
Shake ingredients with ice, saving the Sherry for a float.