Papalin Réunion 10 Year Rum

Picked this beauty up at Tara Spirits in Munich. I’d heard good things about this bottle which includes four different rums all aged ten or more years on Réunion, a French island in the Indian Ocean. There are some of the rich raisin flavors I get from aged pot still rums from Appleton and Mount Gay, but the overall body is a little lighter. There is supposed to be some Grand Arome in here, and all the rums in the bottle are pot still rums aged in French Oak. No sugar or other additives are present, and the bottle comes in at 50% ABV.

I really love these aged flavorful rums, which means they go straight into a Mai Tai. As expected, the aromatic character of the rum works wonderfully in the cocktail and imparts rich flavors.

Papalin Réunion 10 Year Rum is worth seeking out if you can find it.

Havana Club 7 Restock

I’d like to thank the customs agent who didn’t ask any questions and allowed me to bring this Havana Club 7 Cuban Rum back from Germany with ease. I brought back from 12 year old Santiago rum from Cuba last year but I like the overall flavor and body of the Havana Club 7 better, so I made sure to bring back this bottle before my current one is finished. The current bottle is almost gone, and I’m also not sure when I’ll be out of the country so I had to make sure I stocked up.

Some people seem to pooh-pooh these Havana Club rums as only being desired due to scarcity in the United States, but having tried a lot of rum the Havana Club 3 and Havana Club 7 do stack up quite well and are very nice for these lighter style of column-still rums. The HC3 does make a fabulous crisp daiquiri and the HC7 is a very nice sipping rum that’s perfect when you want great flavor but don’t want the rum to be overly assertive. Sometimes you don’t want cask strength spirits.

One bummer was that the HC3 in Germany was only 37.5% ABV, less than the 40% that I got last year in U.K. I’m all for having a little more HC3 but I do draw the line at rum less than 40%.

Blue Mai Tai for July 4th

There were a couple parties last night that I could have attended but wasn’t feeling great. All the fireworks going off in our neighborhood were disturbing, including some that went off right over our house thanks to neighbors. I really hate the 4th of July.

The Mai Tai was the consolation prize.

Blue Mai Tai
1 oz Lime Juice
½ oz Orgeat (Latitude 29)
¼ oz Simple Syrup
½ oz Giffard Blue Curacao
½ oz Rum Fire Overproof Jamaica Rum
1 oz Leblon Cachaça
Shake with crushed ice and garnish with mint.

Normally I make this with the overproof as the featured spirit, but wanted to see if the more savory Cachaça flavors would come through in this format and they surely did. Still very flavorful and leaning sweet (omit the Simple to reduce sweetness).

Sunday Brunch at Hula Hoops is a Crowd Pleaser

We organized a brunch meetup at South San Francisco’s Hula Hoops within the South SF Bay Area Tiki Ohana Group in Facebook, and so a bunch of people came out to see folks and try Hula Hoops’ amazing brunch and cocktails. Great to see everyone and to take advantage of easy reservation options. Staffing was super friendly and all our items came out in a timely manner even though it was quite busy.

Our food was amazing, similar to past visits this year. I once again had the Salmon Avocado toast that was heavenly. We also had the delicious Butter Mochi with tropical Guri-Guri sherbet.

Drinks were quite on point once again, including the Coco Loco which is served in a coconut with dry ice smoke. This rum drink has great tropical flavors and isn’t overly sweet. Mrs. Mai Tai also had one of her favorites, the Ube Martini. Customers can order this with vodka, gin, or tequila, but we naturally chose rum as the featured spirit that pairs so well with ube and coconut cream.

Best Scorpion Bowl Ever

The highlight for me was the Scorpion Bowl. I haven’t loved this Trader Vic’s cocktail in the past, but it’s on the Hula Hoops’ cocktail checklist and I thought I would be able to get a little help finishing it from others in the group.

Whereas in the past I’ve found the Scorpion to have too much lemon and orange, the fruit juice was very well balanced with orgeat and flavorful rum. Hula Hoops really nailed this, a testament to their cocktail program that’s still going strong since 2018.

Top 10 Mai Tais of 2024 (so far)

It’s June 30, which is halfway through the year so this is a great time to review our list of the best Mai Tais we’ve had at commercial or home tiki bars so far this year.

Note that many of these feature custom rum orders compared to the standard-issue at these locations. Sometimes you want a Mai Tai with a special rum, and if you ask nicely the bartender will typically be able to accommodate the request. This can often lead to an excellent cocktail.

10. Mister, Might I… by Doc Parks at The Kon-Tiki
Besides being a great Mai Tai, this was served with a side of pineapple juice that allows the customer to decide what to do with it. Some might incorporate it into the cocktail, but I took it as a chaser.

9. My Tie, Youse Tai
Served at the home tiki bar of Stephan Curran, this elegant cocktail used premium aged rums from Jamaica: Appleton 15 and Appleton 21. I felt like a celebrity drinking this amazing upscale Mai Tai.

8. Stray Pirate
The standard-issue Mai Tai at Vegas’ newest immersive bar is really great and uses Jamaican and Martinique rums.

7. Matiki
I was totally blown away by this outstanding Mai Tai at Vienna’s modern tiki bar. It uses Rhum Saint James Agricole along with Appleton 12 and Smith & Cross Jamaica rums.

6. The Beachcomber
Fans of Rhum Agricole know The Beachcomber is the place to be in London. Their off-menu Mai Tai is savory and sweet and just as good this year as it was last year.

5. Strong Water Anaheim
The strong cocktail program at Strong Water means that their standard Mai Tai is really great, using Demerara Rum and Jamaica Rum.

4. Dr Funk ($8 MTM)
The quality control problems in this San Jose tiki bar seem to be addressed with their formidable Mai Tai back on track. This one was only $8 for Mai Tai Monday and still uses Appleton 12 and Smith & Cross. So good.

3. Trader Sam’s 1944 w/Smith & Cross by Maddie
Skipper Maddie killed it with some off menu cocktails and her presentation for a classic Mai Tai nailed the look and the taste. Amazing.

2. Kon-Tiki with Hamilton Pot Still Blonde
When tasting rums at The Kon-Tiki I’ll often have them in a Mai Tai. I’m such a fan of Pot Still Blonde and the bartenders made it perfectly.

1. The Sinking Ship at Tiki-Ko with Rhum J.M Terroir Volcanique
I couldn’t believe how much I loved this Mai Tai made just with Rhum Agricole aged in heavily charred casks. The sweet orgeat rounded off the smoky edges from the rhum and it was heavenly.

Runners up:
11. Mai Tai with Appleton 15 at Rumpus Tiki Budapest
12. Trader Vics’s Emeryville
13. Zombie Village with Saint Benevolence Rum Clairin
14. Lost Inferno
15. The Fink
16. Trader Vic’s San Jose Airport
17. Trailer Happiness
18. Equiano Rum Mai Tai at The Shipwreck

Honorable Mentions:
Wilfred’s Lounge, Our Big Luauski, Trader Vic’s Munich, The Formosa Cafe, Red Dwarf, Hula Hoops (Lilikoi Tai), Golden Tiki

Matiki Vienna Has Amazing Craft Cocktails

The charming Spittelberg neighborhood is the home of Matiki, a modern tiki bar that has truly outstanding cocktails. We visited early on a Friday and passed the outdoor seating to decide to sit inside. There are some sparse tiki displays inside plus windows, so this isn’t a dark tiki bar. Nonetheless we enjoyed our visit thanks to the service and craft cocktails.

Tutti Flirty

Every tiki bar decides to emphasize specific things, and Matiki’s is the cocktails. Some really interesting menu items here, including a section of highballs, and each tiki drink comes in a specific mug or glass. There were a few classics and several more inspired originals including the Tutti Flirty with gin, amaro, port wine, falernum, and juices. That cocktail was garnished with a candy and a little love note where you could add your telephone to give to new friend. Mrs. Mai Tai also liked the Humuhumunukunukuapua’a with gin, orgeat, lemon, and Peychaud’s. She liked the mug so much we even bought one.

Meanwhile, I was totally blown away by Matiki’s amazing Mai Tai. Billed as having rhum agricole and Jamaica rum, I pretty much got the same Appleton 12/Smith & Cross notes I’ve had at other tiki bars – and sure enough that’s what they were using in addition to Saint James aged agricole. One of the best Mai Tais of 2024 so far. I also loved the If You Like, a petite colada variant with cream topping, and also Pu Er Sour with gin, brandy, amaretto, and Pu Er Tea syrup.

Mai Tai

Matiki had some of the highest quality and varied cocktails that we’ve had in a while. Some savory popcorn is also provided when you sit down and overall we really enjoyed the vibe inside and talking to the friendly staff who understood by my Aloha shirt that we were not there by accident. We exited and soon found a wonderful Austrian restaurant to have dinner outside in the square. This one a wonderful evening in Vienna.