National Mai Tai Day at Hale Pele

Tiki Kon weekend is here, and the first event was a ticketed, private seating at Portland’s world class tiki bar Hale Pele.

Of course we started with Hale Pele’s Mai Tai, and damn that is a fantastic cocktail! This is still made according to their longtime specs with 1½ oz Cobura Dark Jamaican rum along with ½ oz of Wray & Nephew Jamaican Overproof rum. So flavorful, and one of the best Mai Tais you can buy anywhere on planet earth.

Such a great time at Hale Pele when filled with tiki people, and the Hale Pele team really put on a great show with the fire drinks. Mrs. Mai Tai started with her default cocktail the Lava Flow (yummy!) and then we shared a flaming Jet Pilot. Such a great cocktail and even more special when set on fire by Hale Pele’s team of fire experts.

We really like the food at Hale Pele. My Mahi Tacos were fantastic, as was the Kalua Pork sandwich.

We also have to thank Appleton rum for the wonderful pour of their incredible Appleton 15 rum, along with a small rocks glass. Thank you to Martin and Rebecca Cate for hosting the event, and the entire Hale Pele crew.

Hale Pele’s World Class Mai Tai


Tiki Night in the Bay Area

Can’t get into the specific reasons why but I made visits to three of the Bay Area tiki bars last night. And of course even if went there for other reasons you can’t leave without getting a cocktail.

Smuggler’s Cove: Hibiscus Rum Punch. Fruity and light, quite flavorful.

The Kon-Tiki: their very good Mai Tai and (not pictured) their best-in-the-world Cheeseburger.

Forbidden Island: Ohana night special cocktail called Black Hole Sun, by Sara Rivas. Citrus, Pineapple, Honey, Bourbon, Demerara 151, Dash of absinthe, Dash of bitters. Leaning spicy, this was pretty good!

Apple Maps in the car really came in handy yesterday. Just 30 mins from the Cove to Kon-Tiki at rush hour!

Nice to see familiar faces along the way. Such a blessing to have so many great destination experiences in the Bay Area.

Trader Vic Grog in Trader Vic’s San Jose Anniversary Glass

We had the pleasure of flying out of San Jose a couple weeks ago on the 1st anniversary of Trader Vic’s SJC – the world’s best airport bar. The problem was that our flight was at 7:30 in the morning, so our visit to Vic’s was at opening at 6 am (Mai Tais at 6:15 am!). And the 1st anniversary celebration was at Noon that same day, so all the event merch was held under lock and key. The staff graciously tried to get into it, but no luck.

So we have to thank our benefactor for getting us this amazing Trader Vic’s San Jose Airport glass, and the incredible airline wing-style pin. Mahalo, friend.

To celebrate I made a Trader Vic’s Grog. This is one of the cocktails I’ll sometimes go to at the restaurant when I look for something besides the Mai Tai. It’s a pretty good cocktail in this format, and is basically a crushed-ice and double sized version of the Siboney cocktail that’s served up.

For this version, I used two flavorful Jamaican rums. Some Worthy Park 109, a dark Jamaican rum at 54.5% ABV, alongside Hamilton Jamaican Pot Still Gold. I also made a tiny tweak by adding ¼ oz of simple syrup so that the cocktail was slightly less tart.

Trader Vic Grog
1 oz Lemon Juice
1 oz Pineapple Juice
1 oz Passionfruit Syrup (Liber)
2 oz Dark Jamaican Rum
1 dash Angostura Bitters
Add simple syrup to taste
Shake with crushed ice and garnish with mint.

It is not without a great deal of irony that after being a tiki bar wasteland for decades, that we salute San Jose that now has two very good tiki bars with this Trader Vic’s location and Dr. Funk downtown.

Outdoor Patio at Dr. Funk

Had a nice visit to Dr. Funk last night for the monthly meetup of South Bay Ohana (more info in the South SF Bay Area Tiki Ohana group on Facebook). I went dry since our return from Hawaii, but it seemed like a good time to jump back on the horse.

The outdoor “Bootleggers Bay” section of the patio is getting some additional decor enhancements. This section of the patio is open in the evenings on weekends as an additional bar station to address capacity constraints for the popular San Jose tiki bar. The netting and the bird of paradise treatment on the fencing looks great.

Hawaiian Mai Tai Contest Winners and Recap

My Official Mai Tai Number is 34 Mai Tais consumed in the State of Hawaii on my 11 day trip.

We had three correct guesses in the Mai Tai Contest (I should have considered a tiebreaker). Congrats to the winners: @we.shall.tiki, @farbrorfuzz, and @wishiwastraveling84. I’ll be sending out a prize package with coasters, cocktail napkins, and stickers (bummed nobody seems to be giving out swizzle sticks or matchbooks anymore).

You can see the chart with the plot of all the guesses. Thanks again to everyone for playing along.

Top 5:

  1. Maunakea Mai Tai at Skull & Crown Trading Co.
  2. Casa de Christa Mai Tai
  3. Trader Vic’s Mai Tai at Mamahune’s
  4. Deck
  5. Dagger Mai Tai at Skull & Crown

Best Island Style Mai Tai: Tipsy Tiki
Best Bar: Skull & Crown
Best Restaurant: Duke’s Kauai
Best Beach Bar: Mai Tai Bar at Royal Hawaiian
Best Hotel Bar: Mamahune’s
Best Value: Arnold’s $10 Mai Tai
Best Vintage Location: Mai Tai Bar at Royal Hawaiian
Best New (to me) Location: Tiki Iniki


Oahu: 19, Kauai: 14, Hawaiian air space: 1
23 different venues, some who served more than one type of Mai Tai, and others where I consumed more than one
1944 Style: 13, Island Style: 15, Original Riffs: 2, RTD: 4

Complete List

1. Aulani (Island style)
2. Monkeypod Mai Tai (Island style)
3. Splash Bar at Sheraton Princess Kaiulani (Island style)
4. Tipsy Tiki (Island style)
5. Tiki’s Grill and Bar (1944 style)
6. Deck (1944 style)
7. Mai Tai’s (1944 style)
8. Dagger Mai Tai at Skull & Crown (Original riff)
9. Maunakea Mai Tai at Skull & Crown (1944 style)
10. Vic’s ’44 at Mai Tai Bar (1944 style)
11. Casa Crista (1944 style)
12. ‘Awa’Awa Mai Tai at Skull & Crown (Original riff)
13. Halekulani (1944 style)
14. Halekulani (1944 style)
15. Trader Vic’s Bottled (RTD)
16. Koloa Bottled (RTD)
17. Arnold’s Beach Bar (Island style)
18. Arnold’s Beach Bar (Island style)
19. Royal Hawaiian Mai Tai (Island style)
20. Hawaiian Airlines / On the Rocks (RTD)
21. Bamboocha Mai Tai at Lava Lava Beach Club (Island style)
22. Hilton Garden (Island style)nn Welcome Mai Tai at Mamahune’s (Island style)
23. Trader Vic’s Mai Tai at Mamahune’s (1944 style)
24. Koloa Tasting Room (RTD)
25. Welcome Mai Tai at Mamahune’s (Island style)
26. Vic’s Top Shelf at Tiki (Island style)nikii (1944 style)
27. Vic’s Top Shelf with Denizen and heavy Orgeat at Tiki (Island style)niki (1944 style)
28. Tahiti Nui (Island style)
29. Welcome Mai Tai at Mamahune’s (Island style)
30. Trader Vic’s Mai Tai at Mamahune’s (1944 style)
31. Kalapika Mai Tai at Duke’s Kauai (Island style)
32. Classic Mai Tai at Oasis at the Beach (1944 style)
33. Welcome Mai Tai at Mamahune’s (Island style)
34. Stinger Ray’s Tiki Bar & Lounge (Island style)


Mamahune’s Welcome Mai Tais

Our hotel provided coupons for two free Mai Tais (or a soft drink) at Mamahune’s Tiki Bar each day during our stay, so of course we made sure to put them to good use. The Welcome Mai Tai is an island version, different than the excellent Trader Vic’s Mai Tai that’s on their cocktail menu. Which is totally okay by me and it wasn’t bad at all.

I saw them batching these: two large cans of Pineapple Juice, one bottle of Trader Vic’s Orgeat, one bottle of Sweet & Sour, one bottle of Triple Sec. Pour over ice in a small cup and float with Whaler’s Dark Rum. They say to tip your bartender generously, and one of our free Mai Tais was served in a very large cup by a bartender who recognized us from previous visits.

Mamahune’s is an interesting location. It is definitely attached to the Hilton Garden Inn Kauai Wailua Bay, but does have some signage off the front parking lot and from the county beach parking slightly down the hill from the property. So it can be it’s own destination as well. It is also just steps down from the hotel’s main pool, so serves as a defacto pool bar. The hotel’s lobby restaurant is only open for breakfast and that venue’s bar is not operational the rest of the day, perhaps due to COVID. There is a Ahi Uila Fireshow that includes a buffet on Tuesday nights.

The other cocktails we had at Mamahune’s were pretty good, as was the food. Not really enclosed, and with a large lawn for tables and chairs, Mamahune’s is much more than a typical outdoor “tiki bar.” The covered section of the venue does have some well-done decor by Bamboo Ben, which looks really great a night. There are also bar seats on both sides, and we did see some groups using this as a hangout place. Music is played on some nights, which is a nice component as well. Sadly, the little volcano does not seem to erupt anymore.

Tiki Iniki – Best Tiki Bar on Kauai

Located in upscale Princeville, Tiki Iniki presents the most cohesive tiki bar experience on Kauai. While purists will bemoan the windows and the patio, there are large portions of the restaurant that are quite dark and in the bar where we sat the windows were small and underneath the roofline.

The poke and chicken plates we ordered for lunch were quite good, and the service from host and waiter Todd was exemplary. Tiki Iniki is owned by rock musician Todd Rundgren and his wife Michele, and there’s a great painting of the rocker that puts all other tiki bar owners to shame.

Cocktails were … okay. Based on recommendations I ordered the Vic’s Top Shelf Mai Tai with Martinique and Jamaican Rum. I found it to be quite tart, though it did improve a little after some dilution. I ordered a second just with the Denizen rum and “heavy orgeat” and it was better but still leaning on the tart side (they use Fee Brother’s Orgeat). Mrs. Mai Tai’s Iniki cocktail with citrus, rums, syrups, and Prosecco was better.

There’s a fairly large rum selection here, and decor from Bamboo Ben that impresses. There are some new Tiki Farm mugs that include Tiki Iniki branding and we took one to go, along with a little shot glass and a t-shirt. The restaurant has a bunch of little spaces for tables that include peacock chairs, and well-appointed artwork.

Tahiti Nui

Mrs Mai Tai and I drove up to the north shore of Kauai (see posts under @kevincrossman), and we stopped on the way back in Hanalei for some shopping and a visit to Tahiti Nui. They open at 3:00 for Happy Hour and we arrived about 15 mins early, and there was a growing crowd waiting. Luckily, when they open you can sit immediately if you’re at the bar.

Happy Hour Mai Tais are only $10 and this Island style Mai Tai was pretty good.

Tahiti Nui seems like a fun locals bar that became famous and is overrun by tourists (like us…) yet still conveys many of its original charms. Service was prompt and friendly even amidst the chaos of opening.

Trader Vic’s Mai Tai at Mamahune’s

Mamahune’s is located out back behind the Hilton Garden Inn we’re staying at on Kaui’i. It is an outdoor tiki bar with a good number of covered seats and some tables beyond on the lawn.

The Trader Vic’s Mai Tai is an excellent 1944 made with Appleton 8 and Smith and Cross Jamaican rum. It’s really great (apart from the cubed rather than crushed ice). Served in a cup that can be taken over to the pool or to your room.

There are some nice decorative elements here including a nod to Bob and Leroy from Oceanic Arts. Looks like Tiki Tony’s handiwork and I know Bamboo Ben did most of the heavy lifting putting it in place. Very nice.