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

Stats:

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)

 

Happy 1st Birthday Trader Vic’s SJC

The world’s best airport bar is celebrating its first birthday today. It was a long time coming but Trader Vic’s San Jose Airport has been slinging cocktails for one year now. We didn’t plan on being here specially for this but it was a happy accident with our flight to Hawai’i leaving at 7:30 and we still had time for breakfast.

Breakfast Mai Tai? Absolutely. It is 6:15 am somewhere, right?

Mrs Mai Tai had a Shirley Temple and we both had the Island Parfait. So good.

For those scoring at home this does NOT count for the Hawaiian Mai Tai contest.

Central California Tiki

Ran into Wayne Stonecipher at Arizona Tiki Oasis and he gifted me this cool Central California Tiki bottle opener. Wayne is the head honcho for the Central California Tiki Facebook group, and has been doing a great job helping to plan events up and down the Central Valley.

The group has done meet-ups at Bakersfield’s amazing world-class Tiki-Ko and the Sinking Ship, along with vendor events, meetups at home tiki bars, parties with guest bartenders like Skipper Christian and B-Rex, and more. It is really cool to see the folks coming together including those new to tiki along with veterans. If you’re in the area and aren’t already connected then be sure to look for the Central California Tiki group in Facebook and on Instagram.

Arizona Tiki Oasis

Had a great time this weekend at Arizona Tiki Oasis. This is our first TO event (we’ve been to Tiki Kon a couple times), so it was nice to see how this event worked. We stayed at the site hotel, the wonderful Hotel Valley Ho, and overall this seemed like a great venue for the event.

Saturday was our big seminar day, and I really enjoyed the well-delivered seminars by Sven Kirsten, Matt Pietrek, Gabrielle Maser, Didi Saiki/Sam Miller/Fred Acebo, and especially the seminars from Mike Skinner. The cocktails being served in the seminars were welcome and tasty, and the event staff were helpful at getting everyone into the sessions. Seminars are always a big interest for me.

It was nice to see some old and new friends, as well as to experience the vast set of vendors. We enjoyed the suite-vending that started on Friday as well as the large marketplace on Saturday and Sunday. So many nice things, and we bought a few. I also enjoyed some of the spirit tastings and we enjoy the rooftop cocktail hour with great views of Scottsdale.

Valley Ho’s primary sit-down restaurant ZuZu is nice but upscale. I figured out too late that there is also food available from the pool bar, so if any attendees got food here I’d welcome any comments about whether or not it worked or not. Some food trucks were an option and we enjoyed the shave ice as well as the Korean BBQ trucks. But, we did end up going off-site for a couple dinners.

The Entertainment lineup seemed good, but the venues were a little tricky. The indoor Sands event space was really loud, so not really able to both listen and talk. The pool venue’s sound was great, and it’s always nice to hang by the pool – but the band location was less engaging when viewed from across the pool. Tough to have a perfect solution, of course.

We also enjoyed the scavenger hunt for Bird Man “secret immunity idols” hidden by John and Janet Mulder. We’re not “heat people” and temps were on the upper end of tolerable for us.

We had a great time at AZ Tiki Oasis.

Tiki Kon: The (De)Evolution of the Hawaiian Mai Tai

As if you need any more excuses to attend Tiki Kon this year, you can come attend my seminar on the De-Evolution of the Hawaiian Mai Tai. This session is based on the same research I did for the forthcoming article for next month’s issue of Exotica Moderne magazine and will include additional detail, content, media, and stories.

The session explodes a few myths about this iconic drink, as well as the timeline for when the cocktail changed at the iconic Royal Hawaiian Hotel.

Tiki Kon: Rim of Fire is in Portland from July 1-3. Learn more at www.tikikon.com.

Oga’s Cantina

Disney has an interesting and useful new way of getting into standby lines at dining locations at Disneyland. If you’re in the vicinity of the location you can tap on the location in the Disneyland app and request to be added to the walk-up waitlist. This worked great for us on an evening last week when we got into Oga’s Cantina after just a short wait.

Looks like they’ve refreshed the cocktail offering at Oga’s, though everything still leans super sweet (even for me!). I quite liked the Coruscant Cooler with Maker’s Mark Bourbon, Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur, Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth, Cranberry Juice, Lime Juice (left in photo), and thought that Mrs Mai Tai’s Tarkenian Night Flower with Gin, Elderflower Liqueur, with flavors of Ginger and Huckleberry, garnished with Sweet Hibiscus Flower was also quite nice (right in photo). Our son had the non-alcoholic Jabba Juice, Simply Orange with Pineapple, Kiwi, Cantaloupe, and Blueberry Flavor-filled Boba.

Less good was the Takodana Quencher with Bacardi Dragonberry Rum, Bols Blue Curaçao, Simply Orange with Pineapple, Kiwi flavors. Sickly sweet and the fake OJ really made this taste like it came from a large jug at 7-11.

I’ve come around on Galaxy’s Edge. We did enjoy our visits this last trip, perhaps greatly influenced by me being a pilot on the Millennium Falcon ride. There were a lot of character interactions that we saw, including R2-D2, Rey, Chewbacca, and Kylo Ren with Stormtroopers. Having the characters makes the whole land seem much more alive and organic, and gives you something to do while drinking Blue Milk or stumbling out of the cantina.

Honey Buzz at Pym’s Tasting Lab

Our family had a lot of great memories at Bug’s Land at Disney California Adventure, and a few even before that when it was the Bountiful Valley Farm, so I was bit sad when it was razed to make way for Avenger Campus that opened last year. And as a California native I regret that DCA’s initial “California” theme continues to be watered down. But, with adult children who love Marvel movies, it wasn’t like we were spending a lot of time in Bug’s Land anymore.

We gave Avenger’s Campus a try this trip. I enjoyed the Spider-Man attraction far more than I expected; it was lots of fun. And we gave the food eatery a chance this time too. Pym’s Test Kitchen is a counter-service restaurant with the gimmick that the food has been altered by Ant-Man shrinking/growing tech. Hence the gigantic pretzel or their chicken sandwich that has a tiny bun but an over-sized chicken patty. I even did a kids meal with make your own PB&J. Pretty good, and both walk-up and mobile order worked great for us on this trip.

Pym’s Tasting Lab is a bar that is adjacent to the Test Kitchen. This is where they offer beer, wine, beer cocktails, and cocktails. I decided to go with the Honey Buzz, which contains Gin, Lemon, and Honey, along with a “honey straw” that is basically a stick of honey. Otherwise known as a Bee’s Knees, this was a very sweet and easy to drink cocktail. I liked it a lot and ordered it again on our second visit.

We also tried The Regulator, which is a beer cocktail with Patrón Silver Tequila and Golden Road Mango Cart Wheat Ale, with Mango and Habanero Syrups, and Mango Flavor-filled Boba. The Habanero was tempered enough for me to drink it, but still was too spicy for me.

Blue Milk at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge

Disney has been chasing the rabid following of Universal’s Butterbeer at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter for years. I didn’t really care for the Apple Freeze at Cars Land, though I thought the Berry Freeze at Fantasyland was better. But for sure none of them were universally hailed as Butterbeer.

Star Wars fans have dreamed of tasting Blue Milk ever since it appear in 1977’s Star Wars movie. And with a Star Wars themed land being added to the parks in 2019, Blue Milk is available for purchase. But the beverage actually doesn’t contain any dairy. The concoction is described as being a “plant-based blend of Coconut and Rice Milk with alluring fruity characteristics.” There’s also Green Milk that is described as “plant-based blend of Coconut and Rice Milk with zippy citrus and tropical characteristics”. Plus, I’m sure, some food dye.

While Blue Milk doesn’t quite match Butterbeer, I have grown to like it a lot and make it a key stop on my visits to the Star Wars land at Disneyland. It is cold and refreshing and easy to drink, with a mild flavor that I find pleasant. Even better is the Blue Milk with Rum option at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando, Florida. 

I didn’t care for the Green Milk, but Mrs. Mai Tai likes the Toydaria Swirl, which is Green Milk swirled with savory Fruit Sauce, Mango Jellies, and topped with Chili Lime Seasoning. Sort of like a spicy Lava Flow, so it is right up her alley.

Butterbeer

We had a nice time at Universal Studios. Plenty of outdoor seating and pretty good mask compliance.

The highlight was our visit to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Though I am most definitely a muggle, and haven’t read the books or watched the movies I do enjoy the immersive land. The highlight of which is always the same: Butterbeer.

I enjoy both the cold version, similar to cream soda, as well as the frozen version. Both are super refreshing and the butterscotch/cream flavor is so unique and, well, perfect. It is easy to see why everyone seems to love this. The marshmallowy float is a great addition, though they seemed a little stingy with the amount this visit.

The lines for Butterbeer can get really long at the two outdoor carts, but it is also available inside the Hogs Head pub, along with beer, ale, and cider. The line was shorter inside, and the hog’s head actually snorts. It’s all part of the magic.