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.

Isla Nu-Bar Mai Tai

People sometimes ask, “aren’t you tired of always getting the Mai Tai?” I answer by saying I love to get the Mai Tai. It is never a burden.

But, some days are harder than others.

Isla Nu-Bar debuted a couple years ago when the Jurassic Park section of Universal Studios Hollywood was rebranded as Jurassic World. As you can see from the menu, there are a variety of tropical drinks available, along with beer.

The Mai Tai is made with Rum, Dark Rum, Pineapple, Orange, and Lime Juice. Firstly, there is rum, but also “dark rum.” So what is this other kind of non-dark rum, exactly? Probably focusing on the wrong sort of details.

It is an easy to drink cocktail that is sweet and fruity with enough rum to pass muster for $15 including souvenir plastic glass and an orchid garnish. But, it isn’t really a Mai Tai. But you already knew that.

I probably should have tried the “Tiki Tai” which actually does contain orgeat. But with pineapple rum from Don Q and passionfruit puree I doubt it would be much different or better.

The cocktail was refreshing and we enjoyed lunch at Jurassic World and watched some cool raptor encounters.

2021 Tiki Bar Visits

I visited 31 commercial tiki bars in 2021, a nice return to form thanks to some bars reopening for business, several new tiki bars in the Bay Area, and some looser travel restrictions within our family and society at large. Many of these visits were to support the establishment via to-go orders, hence the bars in my home county topping the list.

The highlight was visiting Max’s South Seas in Grand Rapids. Such an amazing place, it’s a must visit. And then some great excursions in Milwaukee, Chicago, Phoenix, Vegas, San Diego, Morro Bay, Palm Springs, and the greater Bay Area.

It is always a pleasure to be invited to someone’s home tiki bar, and this year we got to visit a few including ones that were new to us. Thank you all.

Cheers to all the great people I’ve met and shared librations with – especially Mrs Mai Tai @juliebeane. We’re wishing for a safer and more pleasant 2022.

2017: 25
2018: 34
2019: 52
2020: 15
2021: 31

2021 Most Visited:
17 Kon-Tiki
13 Forbidden Island
10 Trader Vic’s Emeryville
6 Smuggler’s Cove (plus two pop-up events)
6 The Kon-Tiki Room

95: times this year I’ve walked into a tiki bar, home tiki bar, or bar with tiki event.

Happy Instagramiversary to Me

The Search for the Ultimate Mai Tai was relaunched on Instagram on this day in 2017. 1625 posts and counting, chronicling experiences with cocktails, connections with people in the community, and world’s leading feed of Mai Tai minutiae.

There have been some really terrible and shitty things in 2021, which we won’t focus on except to say that there are some really awful people out there and also that I miss my friend every day.

Some nicer things happened in 2021, though. A few are chronicled in the photos including some travels with Mrs Mai Tai to far off places such as Milwaukee, Chicago, Grand Rapids, Phoenix, Vegas, and various locations in California including San Diego, Palm Springs, Disneyland, Morro Bay, and Sacramento.

Parties were back, and we got to enjoy a few and always appreciate the invites. Plenty of shenanigans especially at The Kon-Tikis in Oakland. Rum Fest was back! 29 different tiki bars – many new to me and some just brand new period, with several more coming very soon. I was interviewed on The Rum Cast and had several long articles published in Exotica Moderne. I completed rum lists at Forbidden Island and Smuggler’s Cove. UltimateMaiTai.com was refreshed with a great logo and banner by B-Rex.

So, thanks to so many fellow Mai Tai fans I’ve had the pleasure of interacting with over the last year. I appreciate your follows, likes, and comments here and in real-life, including the discussion of very important topics such as tiki bar rating criteria and what rums are best in a Mai Tai.

Cheers!

 

Golden Tiki

Our last Vegas trip was 2016, before Golden Tiki opened. So we made visiting a priority with a dinner reservation on Sunday. We entered the brightly colored yet still dimly lit space with so much to look at, while being serenaded by the retro stylings of Dino a’ la Carte. We were seated nearby Dino, who soon welcomed us and congratulated us on our anniversary (noted in our reservation). Thereafter the waitress surprised us with an anniversary cocktail flight and a Dole Whip.

Service was a strength here, as our waitress was quite attentive through various rounds. Dinner isn’t served until after happy hour ends at 7 pm, so this added additional layers of service calls. I tried the pork sliders and spam musubi and both were pretty good.

Golden Tiki is gorgeous, with different themed areas and lots of little details. Some Disney style elements, lots of shrunken heads, and some raunchy stuff especially in the restroom. The large layout leaves plenty of seating for groups and this feels like a perfect tiki bar for Vegas.

The Mai Tai was okay, definitely leaning sweet and easy to drink. Mrs. Mai Tai said the Painkiller tasted like it had coffee liqueur, a welcome addition. Her Trial by Fire didn’t provide the coconut and chocolate flavors advertised on the menu, but I thought it was pretty refreshing. She for sure liked the Strawberry Batida. Meanwhile, we both felt the Piranha Punch was too sweet, but I really loved the Hemingway’s Ruin which adds Don’s Mix to the standard Hemingway Daiquiri template.

We made sure to get a photo in their signature clam shell. There is so much to see here, we’ll want to return again, and everyone treated us so well. We also enjoyed the no smoking policy, which combined with better cocktails allows us to tap Golden Tiki as our favorite in town.

Trader Vic’s SJC

The world’s greatest airport bar is at San Jose International, at least as far as this writer has experienced: Trader Vic’s San Jose Airport.

Mrs Mai Tai and I breezed through security in less than 10 minutes and landed at Gate 22 to have brunch at Trader Vic’s. Staff was super friendly, even suggesting an off-menu San Francisco Mai Tai. The standard issue was just fine for me, and you know what it tastes like? It tastes like a Trader Vic’s Mai Tai.

I also tried the signature cocktail for the location, the Pilo Pilo. Fruity and delicious.

My Salmon Bowl was an unexpected pleasure. Plenty hearty with a gigantic portion of salmon. This was really great, I’d love to see this at other Vic’s locations.

The restaurant and bar are on the gangway side of the Airport, so this is sort of like the Vic’s in Emeryville except it is a different kind of vessel that you’re looking at. The Outpost across the way has merch and some grab and go items.

It’s always great to see a new Trader Vic’s, especially stateside. The place is well positioned in the terminal and was busy the entire time we were there. Check it out and try to fly SJC on your next trip.

Presidio Afternoon at Walt Disney Museum and Sessions

Julie and I took our sons our for the afternoon at the Presidio in San Francisco. We started with a visit to the Walt Disney Family Museum, which is featuring a wonderful special exhibit on Disney during World War II. Photos aren’t allowed inside but there are some truly fascinating exhibits that chronicle not just the studio’s animation output but also putting some fo the things into cultural and political context. Highly recommended. We also did a quick run through the main museum which we have visited several times before and is always a delight. I am especially fond of the last room chronicling Walt’s media diversification in the 1950s starting with television and then with Disneyland.

Dinner was at Sessions, which we enjoyed earlier in the month during the May 4th special event with Smuggler’s Cove. The food here is gourmet, though pricey. This time we tried the beignets and they are so great. Wait service was disappointingly slow (like it was last time), though.

There are only a few cocktails on the menu. The Rum and Pineapple-based Sarlacc Shrubb was okay, though more tart than I prefer. Much better was the Golden Gate Mile, featuring Bourbon, Grapefruit, Honey, and Ginger. Julie liked the Presidio cocktail with Gin, Lemon, Hibiscus, and Prosecco. If you’re a wine fan, there are dozens of Skywalker Vineyards selections, which seemed popular with the patrons.

We finished the day by visiting the Yoda statue nearby.