Remembering Alex Fritch

We’re all still dealing with the loss of our friend Alex. If you’d like to help the family, a Go Fund Me has been set up: Celebrate the life of Alex Fritch.

Those who met Alex were impressed by his easygoing and friendly manner. But Alex could be quick with a funny comment too. Both of these aspects are on display with the three videos below.

Down the Hatch Game

Recorded in July 2020, the two rounds here are an homage to the classic 1970s game show Match Game but with a focus on tiki, rum, and the bars in the Oakland, CA area. If you’re not a local, you won’t get a few of the “Oakhana” references, but if you know anything about tiki bars or tropical cocktails there will be a lot of familiar subjects.

Alex was one of the “celebrity panelists”, along with his wife Terra. Alex was put into the “Richard Dawson” chair on the second row, and filled the role of the droll but funny man so well.

5 Bottle Rum Challenge

Recorded in January 2021, Alex was the first person I contacted to participate in a fun round-robin discussion of our favorite rums in five and only five categories. Alex joined us online from his home tiki bar, Fred and Ginger’s Exotic Cocktail Bar and Lounge, and you can truly experience his knowledge and passion for rum.

New Trader Vic’s San Jose Airport Opens May 27

Only for those on the inside of security, but open any time planes are flying near Terminal B, Gate 22-23. Restaurant and bar, with Outpost grab’n’go.

Update: the Outpost opens on May 27. The bar/restaurant opens mid-June.

Update #2: the Outpost opening is delayed slightly and will not open on the 27th, due to COVID related training snags. Stay tuned.

Update #3: The Outpost is now open.

Update #4: Trader Vic’s San Jose is now fully open

Balcones Rum: FI Barrel Edition

Got to try this new rum last night at Forbidden Island. It’s rum from Balcones Distilling (makers of Texas Whiskey) and the Forbidden Island edition is a spicy pot still rum that isn’t half bad. The representative compared it to Jamaican rum, which is honestly a bold move to compare yourself to the world’s best rum (I expect nothing less from a Texan). But, I give those folks from Texas credit for swinging for the fences.

The rum is quite potent, bottled at cask strength. Give it a try the next time you’re at Forbidden Island. There is a “general public” release this Friday 5/21 from 5-7 p.m.

There are a couple cocktail specials using this rum. I tried the “Over the Falls” with citrus, spices, orgeat, and absinthe. This is a wonderful tropical cocktail and while you definitely taste the absinthe it doesn’t overpower. What might be more than you expect is the ABV – this is a very boozy cocktail! Quite delicious though.

Ohana Night at Forbidden Island

Fantastic time tonight for Ohana night at @ . This was our next toe-dip back into indoor dining and it was so nice to see so many familiar faces at Forbidden Island tonight. Wasn’t quite like the before times (hello, marks!) but still some fabulous FI cocktails and hospitality.

Mrs Mai Tai had the Chi-Chi, while I indulged with a classic Mai Tai with Appleton 12 and Plantation Xaymaca. It was a very good Mai Tai! Along with the Guac and Chips and an Ester Williams tropical movie on the TV, it was just like old times.

Welcome Back, Indoor Dining

Two weeks out from my second jab, Mrs. Mai Tai and I had a relaxing dinner at Trader Vic’s Emeryville inside a tiki bar for a relaxing meal (we were indoors a couple times in Palm Springs in April but we were totally watching the clock). The tables are spaced out and we had a great video of the Emeryville marina and for a time had the entire second dining room to ourselves.

The cocktail menu is somewhat limited, though of course there is still something for everyone. I started with the San Francisco Mai Tai and Julie had the Chi-Chi, our usual orders. We followed with the Banana Batida for me (which ended up being my desert) and she had the Tututupo Tiki. Fantastic cocktails tonight, and a relaxing evening with exotica and Hawaiian music playing.

For dinner it was a little bit of Trader Vic’s greatest hits, starting with the Peanut Butter crackers, the Huli Huli chicken for me and a Trader Vic’s salad and Tofu Aloha Bowl for Julie. But the best thing tonight was the Crab Rangoon, so much better when it is freshly served in the restaurant. It was all great, including the service as expected.

Tiki Modern

Thanks to local tikiphile Monty Dunnington for selling me his used copy of Sven Kirsten’s Tiki Modern, and for offering it at a fair price. This completes my Sven collection, including the Book of Tiki, Tiki Pop, Tiki Style, and Sound of Tiki.

The book is long out of print, which is truly a shame since it is a really interesting look at the tiki art of the 1950s-1960s and it’s place amongst the larger Mid Century art movement and aesthetic. The part that reads most interesting to me, a decade after it was published, is the neutral tone of the text. It is almost like an anthropologist describing a culture on its own terms, not one made with modern sensibilities. It does not denigrate, nor celebrate, the art and architecture described in the book. It just describes it so that we can understand it.

Which isn’t to say that those current sensibilities should be ignored. Just that I appreciated the neutral tone. And there are a lot of fabulous images in the book as well.

Anyway, thanks to Sven Kirsten for the books over the years. 

Everyone Jabbed

A Mother’s Day gift for @juliebeane is taking our sons to get their second vaccine shots. I had my second this past Monday.



Are you vaccinated? Everyone needs to do this so that we can safely return to our favorite past-times. I like supporting restaurants and bars by using their parklets and patios but indoors is where we all want to be, and to do so in mixed company. It ain’t gonna happen until everyone is vaccinated. Let’s do this everyone.

New Exotica Moderne with cover feature of Woody Miller

I had the pleasure of contributing to the magazine again, this time writing the article/interview with cover boy Woody Miller. The article turned out great, and I hope I was able to weave a narrative beyond a list of Woody’s accomplishments and the eye candy of his art.

I’m also in there with my Mello Pomelo recipe. Note there is a typo: should have 1 oz Pomelo Juice.

There’s lots of other great stuff so be sure to get it before it is gone from www.houseoftabu.com.

May the Fourth Special Event in SF with Smuggler’s Cove

What a fabulous time in San Francisco yesterday for the special event at Sessions restaurant on the Lucasfilm campus. The special “May the Fourth” event was a partnership with Smuggler’s Cove and featured some special Star Wars themed cocktails on the menu and the inclusion of Smuggler’s Cove merch, silent auction items, and rum tasting alongside the merchandise and wine tasting from Lucasfilm and Geeki Tikis.

We really enjoyed our meal at Sessions, so much that we’re planning to come back. The patio dining suited us just fine.

Mai Tai Fighter and Blue Harvest

As for the cocktails: we need Princess Leia to give gold medals to the bartenders from Smuggler’s Cove. I started first with the “Mai Tai Fighter” which is a standard 1944 Mai Tai with a “dark side” float of OFTD. Oh, such an amazing Mai Tai. By far the best so far in 2021.

Equally impressive was the “Blue Harvest,” a riff on SC’s Captain’s Grog. Blue Harvest was the codename for the original Star Wars movie and the inclusion of Rum-Bar Silver replacing the dark Jamaican rum was a huge plus for this cocktail. I will feel no shame ordering this at the Cove, it’s just that good. The “Rebel Pilot” was a stand in for a Jet Pilot and was quite excellent, as was the Kessel Run with rum, bourbon, and coffee liqueur.

Rebecca Cate and Martin Cate from Smuggler’s Cove

Additionally, it was so nice to see familiar faces at the event. We had a great time socializing (wearing masks) after dinner. We are now really looking forward to Smuggler’s Cove’s reopening (in June?).

Spring Saturday in Sacramento

Mrs Mai Tai and I drove up to Sacramento and had what Frank the Tank called “a nice little Saturday.” We visited several antique and vintage stores including the Midway Antique Mall which is our favorite.



Dinner was at The Jungle Bird at opening at 4 pm (hence the line outside in the photo). The cocktails were on point as always, and in addition to my Mai Tai I decided to order a Mint Julep since it was Derby Day. Man, that Mint Julep was fantastic, so sweet and minty.

The food options at Jungle Bird seem to be more limited than they used to be. The veggie Potstickers were good, as was the Veggie Stir Fry with noodles, but Mrs Mai Tai seems to recall more veggie options in the past. I really liked the Crab Rangoons but have had very mixed experiences with their burger and pork belly sliders.

Jungle Bird still has a big patio out back which was great for us (I get my second shot tomorrow) and they have done a good job with the spacing of the indoor seating. The staff was super friendly and very quick with the service.