Great day on the patio in Alameda for the annual Parking Lot Sale at Forbidden Island. There were some really great vendors on Sunday for our visit, and I came away with a lantern from Relic Vintage and a Disney aloha shirt and a fish float from Tiki Tacky Tu. Mrs. Mai Tai bought a necklace from Match Accessories. We look forward to this event every year. DJ Tanoa Stewart provided some great garage rock-leaning vintage tunes.
My lantern worked out really great. Besides looking nice on our patio, it matched the cocktail I’d already ordered: the Port Light. Serendipity! Forbidden Island’s Port Light cocktail is perfectly balanced with just the right amount of bourbon. We also enjoyed the Spam Musubi.
Mrs. Mai Tai and ventured to Oakland to check out the new cocktail menu at The Kon-Tiki. This is a major overhaul and we wanted to try some of the new cocktails. We also saw that the interior of Kon-Tiki is receiving a “space” themed overhaul to coincide with the new menu’s theme. This is not really to our taste, especially when accompanied by some sleepy 60s jazz songs. Things felt a lot better once a selection of 70’s-80s deep cut space-rock songs were being played (Alan Parsons, Neu!, Japan), which at least had a bit of pep and reminded us of the Kon-Tiki’s heyday as a Yacht Rock place.
We tried four of the new cocktails.
Pale Blue Dot This Blue Hawaiian riff features St. Lucian and Jamaica Rums, Blue Curacao, Coconut, Pineapple, Lime, Orange, and Peychauds Bitters. We both felt this needed more coconut. Just so-so.
Heyerdahl Maneuver Better was this cocktail with Aquavit as a base, along with Pisco, Charanda, Lavender, Banana, Honey, Grapefruit, and Lemon. Tastes lighter than the blend of ingredients might indicate and features a really interesting and unique taste. Totally worth trying – it might be your favorite.
Event Horizon This was an absolutely fabulous cocktail. Using aged Charanda, Coffee Liqueur, Vanilla, Angostura and Cacao Bitters, this has a wonderful taste and a perfect blend of bitter and sweet along with a very approachable Mexican rum base. We both thought this was truly excellent.
Lunar Camel Far and away my personal favorite and Mrs. Mai Tai thought it was great as well. The Lunar Camel has Barbados Rum, Apple Brandy, Tamarind, Lemon, Amaro, and Angostura Bitters. This felt like an alien version of a rum barrel and features a truly satisfying blend of ingredients. Perfect mouthfeel. I can’t wait to try this again, it’s that good.
Here’s a welcome return to the food menu at Oakland’s venerable Kon-Tiki.
The Crab Rangoon dip features crab and bay shrimp, melted cheese, and sweet chili sauce. Served with savory wonton chips that stand up to the dip. It’s pretty good and probably best if you’re able to share with others.
The crew from the Los Angeles-based lifestyle brand Vatos Who Tikiwere up in the Bay Area last weekend and did a takeover at Oakland’s Kon-Tiki after Rum Fest. Having the Kon-Tiki’s legendary cheeseburger after drinking rum all day seemed like a no-brainer. The takeover included some great tunes from DJ Oran and El Nova and a special cocktail menu.
I very much enjoyed the Oaxacan in Jamaica, the Vatos’ Mai Tai blend that includes Oaxacan and Jamican rums. I’ve loved all the Oaxacan rums I’ve tried so this one was a great combo especially when paired with my cheeseburger.
Very nice to talk to El Nova in person after years of online discussions. The Vatos Who Tiki merch lineup for this event was full of great items including glasses and stickers – and you can buy shirts in their online Etsy store. Check it out.
We great to see Doc Parks in the house and to visit with Christ from Kon-Tiki.
I don’t know if anyone else cares about this at all, but I’m always interested when one of my favorite places updates a menu. And since I have the older menus, it is interesting to see what’s coming, going, and staying. I’ve done this each time they’ve changed menus but as you’ll see below this time was quite a bit easier. There are 22 items on this menu, including sharables and “low/zero gravity” cocktails, compared to a total 27 on the last one.
Most notable for us is the continued presence of an ultra-premium Mai Tai on the menu. We are saying goodbye to the $44 Samaroli Mai Tai which is being replaced by the $38 Captain’s Reserve Mai Tai made with Kon-Tiki’s fantastic private barrel Worthy Park Jamaica rum. I’ve had Mai Tais with this rum and it is a big improvement.
Only four cocktails are carrying over to the new menu, all of which were on the original menu when the Kon-Tiki opened in 2017. The menu’s design and the cocktail names are leaning into a Sci-Fi theme which I find… well, unexpected. I’ve loved the graphical design of the Kon-Tiki’s menus, cocktails, and website. This is something altogether different.
Be sure to try some of the new cocktails the next time you visit.
Original Menu Holdovers The Kon-Tiki Grog The Kon-Tiki Zombie Uma Uma Virgin’s Sacrifice
New Exotic Drinks Cadet’s Grog Captain’s Reserve Mai Tai Cherry Coco-Naut Cosmo Ship Yamato Cotopaxi Caldera Crater of Excalibia Event Horizon Heyerdahl Maneuver Leviathan Lunar Camel Multipass Nova’s Nexus Pale Blue Dot Pop Star Princess of Mars SR-138 Sunset of Risa Zenith
Thanks for the memories Blush Crush Coca-Coconut Donnie’s Element Golden Gong Golden Snitch Haitian Hi Ball Island Old Fashioned Ma Kua (for 2 or 4) Mai Tai Martinique on Fleek Mezcal in the Banana Stand Plantation Stiggins Fancy Pineapple Rum on Nitro Draft Phoenix Bowl Ring of Fire Rum and Spice Rum Club Cooler Samaroli Mai Tai Saint Lucia’s Fox Sea Shandy Sea Shandy Jr. Stormy Keone The Kon-Tiki Spritz Virgin Painkiller
Pagan Idol was a quick stop on our way to dinner, so we just shared a Mai Tai. Unlike the version at sister bar Zombie Village, this flavorful Mai Tai leaned into the Martinique rhum as the most forward flavor. Thus, more of those grassy notes that this style of rhum is famous for. Not my personal preference but it might be right for you and in either case it is nice to see each place doing their thing.
One thing that’s a lot better at Pagan Idol is that back bar is visible and you can scan the myriad bottles of rum. And what did my little eye spy? Not one, but two (!) bottles of the famed Foursquare 2004 Exceptional Cask Series rum. This is one of my all-time favorite rums and in my opinion the best of all the ECS releases. If you sometimes find Barbados rum to be mild or timid you won’t feel that way anymore after tasting the rich buttery notes in Foursquare 2004. Very rare to find on shelves in bars, so head on down to Pagan Idol to give it a try.
I took Mrs. Mai Tai to Zombie Village for her first visit since 2019. We were pleased to see that that the cocktail program is still going strong including some of our all-time favorite tropical cocktails, plus a pleasant surprise.
After all these years, the cocktail menu is still largely similar to the one that opened this Tenderloin tiki bar in late 2018 – though of course the prices are higher now. Julie loves the Coco Pandan, featuring an Ube popsicle, and we both love the Disco Banana. The latter is supposed to be blended and our results weren’t perfectly smooth but at least all the flavors of banana and funky rums was present.
My Mai Tai was a pleasant surprise. While the Mai Tai here has always been perfectly reasonable, I found this one to be richer and leaning more into Jamaica rums than in the past. It was really great, one of the best I’ve had this year.
Our service was efficient and friendly, even with us at the bar and competing with a giant group of 14 young people who were hooting and hollering in one of the booths behind us. Music during our visit was a good mix of vintage tunes. Zombie Village’s impressive wall of decor still impresses as well.