Orinda’s Boo Loo Lounge Has Expanded Hours

Just in time for spring, Orinda’s small tiki bar Boo Loo Lounge now has expanded hours, offering guests an opportunity to enjoy the fresh air on their patio. As with the main bar, this patio is small but does provide additional seating, a small water feature, and the same exotic music track that plays inside. Totally chill. The venue now opens at 2 pm.

The drink pictured was a non-alcoholic cocktail with lime, prickly pear syrup, and ginger beer. It was quite refreshing out on the patio, my first time being able to try the outdoor seating since most previous visits coincided with rain. The patio is shaded during the day and does have heat lamps for use in the evening. Check it out.

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.

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.

Best Hangover Brunch in the Bay Area at Hula Hoops

After our night of tiki bar hopping in The City, we landed in South San Francisco for brunch at Hula Hoops. We were seated inside the small two-table tiki room built by Bamboo Ben, providing a quiet place to socialize and avoid the bustle in the rest of the restaurant that always been busy in our experiences. Reservations strongly recommended.

Banana Craze

No booze for us, though I loved the non-alcoholic Banana Craze that was rich and creamy and topped by a fantastic garnish and a mountain of whipped topping. This was just what I needed. Meanwhile Mrs. Mai Tai and our friend Kristi had Iced Ube Latte with Ube ice cream as a topping that you eat first before pouring in the coffee. This was a big hit.

The main reason we wanted to try brunch here was to try the specialty pancakes. Mrs. Mai Tai went with the Ube pancakes and I went with the Lilikoi. These were easily the tallest and fluffiest pancakes that I’ve ever had, and the Lilikoi topping was a perfect balance of sweetness and tartness. The presentation for both was totally high quality as well. This was so much that we couldn’t finish, so if you’re a couple and can agree on a style these would be wonderful to split.

Iced Ube Latte

Brunch at Hula Hoops was a perfect hangover remedy, and we thank the Hula Hoops staff for the hospitality and for seating us in the tiki lounge.

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.

Quality Cocktails are Still a Thing at San Francisco’s Tonga Room

After the San Francisco Giants home opener, we headed to The Tonga Room for a Friday night dinner and drinks. I’m pleased to report that the refreshed cocktail menu from October is still being used and that the quality hasn’t degraded at all. We will note that prices have increased $2-4 per cocktail, putting these firmly as the most expensive in town though. The Mai Tai and Hand Shaken Colada cocktails were big hits with our friends and Mrs. Mai Tai liked the tropical Mimosa-style Tiny Bubbles cocktail.

Tiki Hunter at The Tonga Room

The Tonga Room’s Zombie features five different rums with falernum, grenadine, Don’s Mix, along with a bit of pineapple juice. It most certainly packs a punch, and I found it to be pretty good. I also liked the Wiki Wiki cocktail, a juicy blend of rums, spices, and just the right amount of Allspice Dram. Meanwhile, the Tiki Hunter remains the most interesting and flavor-forward tropical cocktail – don’t let the listed Jäegermeister component scare you off, it’s delicious.

The band plays on the floating stage starting at 7:00 pm, with the players this time featuring two female vocalists. This worked great on a stellar version of Fleetwood Mac’s mellow hit “Dreams.” But we continue to feel that 80s pop songs like “Crazy for You” don’t play as well as those from earlier decades. If pop must be played, the Sixties and Seventies feel more organic and connected to this retro leaning Polynesian palace.

Our dinner and service were as stellar as always. The Asian-inspired dishes are really good here, though I wish there was a little bit more variety on the menu as this is very seafood forward. The prices are fairly high, though not outside what you’d expect from a fine dining restaurant in The City. And you can’t beat the gorgeous interior with the pool and the thunderstorm that comes every 20 minutes. But remember that it’s a $1000 fine for jumping in the pool. Staff told me they’ve already had one person do this so far this year, which seems like way more than one too many.

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.