Thanks to Chris Day for making me a Virgin’s Downfall at The Kon-Tiki the other night. This Missionary’s Downfall riff features Mezcal, which is why I always avoided it. But, as a matter of fact, it was delicious! Minty and fresh with some complex flavors that truly worked together.
Which means I’ve now sampled all the cocktails on Kon-Tiki’s third menu revision (first introduced in fall 2019), as tracked by the handmade checklist card I printed out over a year ago. I’m looking forward to the new menu that surely is coming soon.
The Kon-Tiki and their sister properties Palmetto and The Kon-Tiki Room announced yesterday that they are going to require patrons to be vaccinated (or have a negative test) starting in August. As of this week you have be vaxxed to sit at the bar, which is what I did and had a great time talking to Jeff Hall and some other barflies. And you can bet that this policy is going to make me more comfortable patronizing these places, as well as being safer for the staff.
It is going to need to start to get a lot more difficult for non-vaxxed folks to have access to nice things, or we’re going to have to do another round of shutdown and business closures.
I’m still working on my DIY checklist of all the cocktails on their third published menu, and thanks to Chris Day for going off the current menu and making a Sunken Tugboat. I really enjoyed this Daiquiri style cocktail with a hint of cinnamon. Meanwhile, Mrs. Mai Tai had her favorite, the Uma Uma. I also sampled a freshly prepared Kon-Tiki Mai Tai that was quite delightful and had a rich mouthfeel that I very much enjoyed.
When Mrs. Mai Tai and I were finished with lunch at Tangaroa Terrace, it was about 3:10 pm. The way that indoor seating at Trader Sam’s is working right now is that there’s a line that forms at the check-in station in from of the Terrace and that’s the order to get in. With Sam’s opening at 4:00 pm, there were only about five people in line, so I thought hey, I can wait this out for less than an hour while Mrs Mai Tai does some shopping in Downtown Disney. At around 3:30, the hostess starting taking names and party numbers, which allowed me to browse the Disneyland Hotel gift shop and also to go inside out of the sun.
Inside, it was the same Sam’s we’ve all grown to love. Everyone was so excited to be inside the immersive environment. So many things to look at, and we enjoyed the show offered when the Krakatoa Punch and Shipwreck on the Rocks were ordered. I noticed they still have a few additional rums on the shelf, so I ordered a Mai Tai with Hamilton 86 Demerara Rum. That was a pretty good Mai Tai (and they didn’t even charge me extra). Mrs. Mai Tai had the coconut-forward Piranha Pool and that frozen drink was a hit.
I even got to take the de rigueur Trader Sam’s Bathroom Selfie. So nice to be back.
Mrs Mai Tai and we’re supposed to end our road trip in Vegas overnight yesterday but the heat in Phoenix drew us both to the same conclusion that we aren’t used to 115+ degrees – so we went to Southern California instead.
We landed in Anaheim at around 2:30 and thought we’d give the Tangaroa Terrace a shot for lunch. Thankfully there were a few tables largely in the shade so we had lunch and drinks.
My Mai Tai was made with simple syrup rather than the standard agave syrup, per request. This is a big improvement for me, and it was fantastic. Julie had the Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Rum which is her fave there.
So relaxing out on the patio terrace. It was a beautiful day to be outside.
Had a great time at Undertow in Phoenix last night with our tour guide @thetikiboss. I always say, if you can go with a local, do it. Thanks for coming out and showing us the ropes, Ross.
Such an immersive space inside, though we found the sound effects and music to be louder than they could be. But, the decor including some neat special effects really made up for it. Nautical, obviously, but still plenty of tikis.
The cocktails prepared by @ashley.elizabitch and @r_sic were outstanding, as was the service. The Mai Tai was quite excellent with a nutty flavor and balanced set of rums. We loved the other cocktails too.
It is always nice when the hype is met. Certainly was the case at Undertow.
In part one I said that Max’s South Seas Hideaway is America’s grandest tiki bar – that’s currently open. With the Mai Kai being closed, Max’s is the winner hands down. And if the Mai Tai was still open, it’d be easy to favorably compare Max’s overall considering the much higher quality cocktails and somewhat lower prices.
Max’s is a very large establishment. There are two levels with unique decor in each area. On the lower level there’s even a second bar with it’s own lovely decor (this bar wasn’t operating on our visit, but otherwise the place seemed around 2/3 full). I really liked the upstairs decor, including an aquarium and the bar shaped like a boat. Downstairs has a fountain feature that’s not currently operating but there is a large wall of tiki mugs and other artifacts galore. Eye candy everywhere you can see.
The crew at Max’s was super friendly, from the hostess to the waiter to the food runners to the bussers. The service at the table was super fast and friendly, dishes were cleared quickly, and our waiter Tyler treated us very well when we asked about merch options and such.
The patrons all seemed to be having a great time and hey we even saw “tiki people” at the tiki bar. Such a contrast from our visit at Three Dots and a Dash in Chicago.
I can’t recommend visiting Max’s more enthusiastically. Totally worth driving 3000 miles for. We hope to return again!
Few tiki bars do both decor and food/drinks excellently, but Max’s South Seas Hideaway is one such example. We loved our dinner, including some Crab Rangoon that were full of cream and crab. So very tasty. I saw sushi on the menu and had some wonderful California Rolls. Meanwhile, Mrs. Mai Tai had the Spicy Salmon Roll that was on special during our visit. We finished with a wonderful Matcha tea cheesecake and chocolate coconut Gelato. Everything was heavenly.
Cocktails were similarly excellent. Mrs. Mai Tai had the blue Juan Ho Royale with Tequila, Marooned with the Movie Star cocktail that featured ginger beer and fresh ginger (Ginger… get it?), and the banana-forward Astrochimp. Julie loved these, and made a new friend with the monkey that came with the Astrochimp. My sampling of these resulted in a similarly impressive conclusion.
Meanwhile, I found the Pearl Diver to be quite excellent, with a rich taste that I savored. I had the standard issue Mai Tai and found it to be fair, but nothing special. As is often my plan of attack I ordered a second Mai Tai with Appleton 12 and extra Orgeat, and this one was better but still not amazing. Bummer.
Overall, the food and drink offerings at Max’s were outstanding. Prices are commensurate with the quality offered.
Everything they say is true. Max’s South Seas Hideaway is by far the grandest tiki bar currently in operation in North America.
Saturday night in Grand Rapids was a perfect time for a visit. We arrived right on time for our reservation and were seated immediately in a cozy booth. The artwork here is incredible. There were 24 pieces just in our one booth! There is a series of large Shag prints in the staircase and hallway leading to the restrooms. And a wall of tikis carved by Gecko. Simply breathtaking.
I also want to highlight the music, which was a mix of classic exotica paired with upbeat songs such a “Pineapple Princess” but still were thematic and period appropriate. Best music mix in any tiki bar I’ve been to. But please drop The Monkees song.
As I understand it the downstairs design was led by Bamboo Ben and upstairs by Notch. Each is unique but both are amazing.
A middle-aged couple walks into a supposed tiki bar.
That’s it, there’s no punchline. We were excited to visit Three Dots and a Dash in downtown Chicago, which was a block from our hotel. We had a pretty good experience there in 2015 when things were slow and we sat at the bar talking to the bartenders. It was a different experience last night, since our reservation was 8:30 on a Friday night.
Very clubby feel. Very. Clubby.
Lots of thumbing music, louder than I prefer, and the interior has much more red/purple club lighting than our last visit, giving this a total nightclub feel. Everyone seemed to be having a great time, but Mrs. Mai Tai and I were at least two decades older than the average patron.
Thankfully, the cocktails at Three Dots and a Dash were pretty good. We sampled five and they were all good to great, and prices were not out of line at all. We notice that all the cocktails had elaborate garnishes, so that each cocktail at a least four separate items as part of the garnish, or a dry ice special effect. Service was very good as well, with the waitress refiling our water and helping us with some mug purchases.
Mai Tai – quite good, with a healthy amount rum from Jamaica, Martinique and Fiji.
Saturn – served in the sea urchin mug, this was well balanced and easy to drink. Not too tart of spicy.
Three Dots and a Dash – just as good as you’d expect given the place is named after this Don the Beachcomber classic. A very nice agricole finish and plenty of juices and spices to savor. We really liked the mug.
Neptune’s Trident – a Corn ‘n Oil riff featuring Foursquare Sagacity rum, along with Glenlivet 15 year old Scotch, plus some spices. This was just as good as the great spirits should lead you to believe. The Barbados rum and Scotch blended well.
Navy Grog – I went off-menu and ask if they could make one. Sure enough, it came our very well with lots of rum and allspice liqueur.
The cocktail menu isn’t large here, perhaps to avoid intimidating the tiki newbies. The Bamboo Room was open for regular seating and not the rum-focused experience that it was originally set up for. But, the very large rum list is right there on the menu, so it is noticeable and a key focus of the venue. There are a large number of tables and booths set up outside as well. As we left there was a really long line to get into the place, so Three Dots seems to be doing great business.
So lucky to have spend MaI Tai Day at Foundation in Milwaukee, one of America’s best tiki bars.
The decor and atmosphere were impeccable. Outside, this looks like any building on the block. Inside, it is an immersive tiki bar that compares favorably to any of the highest quality. Music was classic Hawaiian and very mellow, so perfect for background music while you s your party enjoy conversations and cocktails. I really liked the music here. So many little nooks for conversations, including some cozy booths. Seating at the bar still isn’t available but there is a front room and a back room and their seating areas feel separate and unique.
Cocktails were pretty good, especially for the price. Mrs Mai Tai had the Lonely Virgin, one of the sweet cocktails on the menu. I thought this was pretty good, especially if you like pineapple forward.
Foundation’s Mai Tai is fine for $10, featuring El Dorado 5 and Coruba. I followed this with an Appleton 12 Mai Tai “heavier on the Orgeat” and that one was far better and truly wonderful. Such a great way to celebrate Mai Tai day.
We arrived around 6:30 on Wednesday and the crowd was fairly light. By the time we left at 8:15 the bar was mostly full with a bunch of younger people enjoying the cocktails and company. We even witnessed a first date. Good luck to them!