Skull and Crown Trading Co.

During our two nights were were convinced that Skull & Crown is one of the best tiki bars on planet Earth. We already discussed the amazing Mai Tais, but the craft cocktail experience at Skull and Crown is top notch.

Mrs. Mai Tai loved the Koloa Colada, a Pina Colada riff with Spiced Rum, Coconut Rum, Pineapple, Lemon, and Coconut Cream. Topped with a flower and Toasted Shaved Coconut. This was excellent both times we visited and is a wonderful example of the care the S&C team put into the cocktails. Toasting the Coconut shavings really added another aspect to the cocktail.

I also tried the Trader Noa’s Old Fashioned, a great Hawaiian Agricole cocktail. So very flavorful.

Koloa Colada and Trader Noa’s Old Fashioned

We must salute S&C’s dynamic duo, Trader Noa Laporga and Angelina Khan. We felt so welcomed to see these special people for the first time in months. Noa play host and welcomed us and introduced us to some fellow tikiphiles. Noa shared some historical cocktail recipes he uncovered, and we liked seeing Noa behind the bar as well. And Angelina made sure that the service was prompt and totally set us up for a relaxing experiencing. Mahalo.

Trader Noa

Food is available at S&C, and we enjoyed our food. We’d have preferred forks be issued rather than just chopsticks, but that was our only gripe. During our second night we celebrated Skull & Crown’s third anniversary with some live music from Don Tiki’s Kit Ebersbach (Perry Coma) along with local favorite Starr Kalahiki on vocals. Simply fantastic.

Skull & Crown is a jewel.

Trader Vic’s Tiki Stem Coupe

Picked up a couple of these very nice Tiki Stem Coupes from the Trader Vic’s online store. The 7 ounce glass is a little larger than my current coupes, and looks fabulous as well. Vic’s also has a couple smaller glass options, while still keeping the tiki stem.

The cocktail is the Blue Caribbean, a Blue Hawaiian riff featuring Rhum Agricole.

Blue Caribbean
½ oz Lime Juice
3 oz Pineapple Juice
1½ oz Cream of Coconut
½ oz Blue Curacao
1¾ oz Clement Premiere Canne (or other unaged Rhum Agricole)
¼ oz Dark Jamaican rum
Shake with Crushed Ice

A bit of a tight fit into this particular glass.

When I first developed this cocktail I served it in a Collins glass with crushed ice and that’s probably a better format than being served up. I do like how the Rhum Agricole works with the Pineapple and Cream of Coconut, provide a more complex flavor. Adding a tiny bit of flavorful Dark Jamaican rum adds an additional bit complexity without darkening up the cocktail.

Recipe: No Pain, No Gain

Everyone loves playing with the rums in a Mai Tai, with bars competing for the best custom blend and home bartenders organizing blind taste test parties. But why stop at the Mai Tai? Why don’t we do this for the Painkiller?

Well, there is a certain reason.

Pusser’s Rum trademarked the Painkiller cocktail, which means that legally it can’t be called that unless you use Pusser’s rum. Which is kind of ridiculous. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of Pusser’s – especially their boozy Gunpowder Proof which is so flavorful and clocks in at 109 proof.

So, today’s cocktail isn’t a “Painkiller” at all. It is something else. But, you know, it kind of isn’t different.

No Pain, No Gain by Steve Perez
3 oz Pineapple Juice
1 oz Orange Juice
1 oz Cream of Coconut
1½ oz Rum Fire Jamaican Overproof Rum
1½ oz Plantation OFTD
Shake with crushed ice and garnish with nutmeg

Steve Perez was talking up this rum blend last week at Dr. Funk and after a hard day it seemed like the perfect time to try this rum made with one rum at 63% ABV and another at 69%. So, quite boozy! More importantly, quite flavorful. I do feel that Jamaican rums can add a lot to this style of coconut-forward cocktail.

Thanks for the suggestion Steve!

Glassware: Tiki Goth Club

Rum-Bar Overproof

Regular readers know I love Jamaican rum, and one of my favorite styles is the unaged white overproof. Wray & Nephew Overproof is the affordable standard bearer for this style of rum, but I do prefer when this type is 100% pot still distilled and featuring a heavier body. “Overproof” because it is issued at 63% ABV.

Rum-Bar Overproof from Worthy Park Estate is such an entrant, and I recent obtained a new replacement bottle so I’d be sure to have some on hand at home. It is an intense and fragrant rum that fills the room with a wonderful fruity scent. It also tastes great – closer to Rum Fire than Wray in flavor profile and overall mouthfeel. It is an intense flavor.

I enjoy this type of rum with grapefruit soda, especially the Ting soda from Jamaica if you can find it. I also find that Squirt works well enough and is much more available. I’ve also used this cocktails such as my Blue Hawai-Tai or even as a half or full ounce of White Overproof rum in a Mai Tai alongside something more refined.

Paranubes Anejo Aguardiente de Caña

I received a gift card to Bitters & Bottles and picked up this aged cane spirit from Mexico. 

Such interesting flavors. You can taste the Olive-like cane juice source in this rum, but the spiced aging notes from new American oak barrels gives this a bit of a Scotch-like taste. You can definitely savor this spirit, bottled at 53.8% ABV.

Off-Menu Mai Tai at Golden Pineapple Craft Lounge

This restaurant and craft cocktail bar was recommended from a friend, and we decided to pop over for dinner last weekend at Arizona Tiki Oasis. Located past Tempe’s vibrant downtown, The Golden Pineapple would be easy to miss on a suburban boulevard, but definitely has the goods on the inside. We really enjoyed the food, including Navajo Fried Bread. My delicious Aloha Burger was made with a brisket patty and topped with coleslaw and teriyaki aioli.

There’s a large menu of craft cocktail options here, including many with rums you don’t normally see. Mrs. Mai Tai ordered the Surfer on Acid that has Mexican and Barbados Rums, Amaro Montenegro, Kalani Coconut Liqueur, Pineapple, Lime, and Angostura Bitters. A great combination of flavors and it is topped with a fun Jägermeister Jello mold. Very memorable.

Seeing that the venue has an extensive rum selection, I took a chance and asked the waitress to ask the bartender if they could make a 1944 Mai Tai. When she asked what was in it, I said to just ask the bartender if and they know then that’s what I’d like and if they didn’t then that was fine and I offered an on-menu substitute.

I’m sure that Mrs. Mai Tai is sick of these menu subs, but this was one those occasions where it truly was worth it, because the off-menu Mai Tai was fantastic! The bartender chose a bold Jamaican rum for the cocktail, which I found out later when the bill game was the Holmes Cay Jamaica Wedderburn 2011 Single Cask. This cask-strength rum comes from the Clarendon Distillery and is aged in Jamaica for three years, and then an additional seven in the U.K. It is great stuff, and was an excellent choice by the bartender to use a bold, flavorful Jamaican rum. And not much of an upcharge for the premium rum either.

Thank you Golden Pineapple for an amazing Mai Tai. Definitely one of the Top 10 Mai Tais so far in 2022.

Appleton 17 Legend Jamaican Rum

Biiiig news, Mai Tai fans. Appleton Estate is coming out with a new rum expression aged 17 years, intended as a “re-creation of the legendary rum crafted by J. Wray & Nephew in the 1940s” that “inspired the bartending world.” No specific mention of Trader Vic Bergeron or his most famous creation, the 1944 Mai Tai, but we all know what they’re hinting at.

Take my money!

I’ve often wondered why Appleton didn’t try to tap into the nostalgia of Mai Tai fans worldwide and release a 17 year expression to match the Wray & Nephew rum used in the original Mai Tai. After rebranding their standard issue product line in 2020 and issuing mainstream and widely available 15 year and 21 year old expressions last year, plans for the 17 year expression are now public. Thanks to Cocktail Wonk Matt Pietrek for sharing the TTB filing.

A few facts:

  • Minimum aged 17 years in the tropics
  • 49% ABV
  • 1500 bottles total

Since this is a 750ml bottle, this is most likely the allocation for the United States. No specific details are shown regarding the blend, and “100% Pot Still” is not indicated on the bottle as you’d expect if it were so.

But, surely the pot still component is greater in this expression than it is for Appleton’s mainstream rum products, if this is to be a “faithful re-creation of the original.” Having tried the very limited release of the 25 year old Appleton 1995 that’s 100% Pot Still I can tell you that those Appleton pot stills are quite effective at producing amazing distillate, and makes an amazing Mai Tai

Stay tuned for further developments.


Best Mai Tai of AZ Tiki Oasis

Not a lot of Mai Tais on premises but I had an amazing Mai Tai at the seminar “Rum, the Spirit of Hawai’i: Crafting tiki cocktails with island style rum with Gabrielle Maser.” See the recipe in photo 2.

The Mai Tai really highlighted the savory notes from the Kuleana Hawaiian Rum Agricole that goes into the Hui Hui blend. The rich MacNut Orgeat added a nice taste and some rich mouthfeel.

The seminar was a great opportunity to see how some various producers are approaching spirits production in Hawai’i. I have definitely enjoyed Kuleana’s rums and dug the gin from Kupu spirits, sampled here as well.

One of the best Mai Tais I’ve had this year.

Straw from @surfsidesips