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.

Pod Tiki Podcast: Hawaiian Mai Tai Chat

It was a pleasure to talk Mai Tais with Tony from the Pod Tiki Podcast. The new episode with my appearance is now available. Check your favorite podcast app or go to shareyourbuzz.com/pod-tiki.

Tony is a new to tiki but is exploring the territory quite well from his home in Nashville. During the show we discussed my new article for Exotica Moderne magazine, which focused on the evolution of the Hawaiian Mai Tai. And of course a little discussion of how to make or find a great Mai Tai.

Listen now: The Pod Tiki Podcast

Best Mai Tai of AZ Tiki Oasis

Not a lot of Mai Tais on premises but I had an amazing Mai Tai at the seminar “Rum, the Spirit of Hawai’i: Crafting tiki cocktails with island style rum with Gabrielle Maser.” See the recipe in photo 2.



The Mai Tai really highlighted the savory notes from the Kuleana Hawaiian Rum Agricole that goes into the Hui Hui blend. The rich MacNut Orgeat added a nice taste and some rich mouthfeel.

The seminar was a great opportunity to see how some various producers are approaching spirits production in Hawai’i. I have definitely enjoyed Kuleana’s rums and dug the gin from Kupu spirits, sampled here as well.

One of the best Mai Tais I’ve had this year.

Straw from @surfsidesips

The Drunk Munk

We checked out this Scottsdale restaurant and bar for dinner. It clearly comes from the modern tiki side of things, though with considerably more and better decor than Hula’s a few blocks away. The nicely appointed lounge would be fab at night.

During the later afternoon the patio was rocking with young people enjoying the drinks. We sat inside across the bar where a group of young men were getting psyched up to go outside and, uh, mingle.

Drinks here lean sugary and with flavored spirits. Mrs Mai Tai’s Almond Joy was a Chi-Chi with chocolate syrup. Yet, amazingly, the Mai Tai seemed to be prepared according the original 1944 recipe, albeit with aged Bacardi from Puerto Rico. And you know, the Drunk Munk Mai Tai was actually pretty good. I enjoyed the blend of lime and orange, and the rum was a wonderful accent.

There are some “premium” rums on the menu, though the top shelf held better options. The large Moai behind the bar was a cool focal point. There are several tikis inside and a nice retro vibe.

The food include some traditional favorite and plenty of seafood. I liked the chicken skewers and my California roll, and Julie’s Mahi was very good too. Service was prompt and friendly.

As we left, two attractive brand reps from White Claw were passing out swag and samples. Which seems to be the right place at the right time for them, and our cue to depart.

Hula’s Modern Tiki: Scottsdale

We’ve enjoyed Hula’s when we visited the city for Spring Training years ago, so Mrs Mai Tai and I made two trips this visit for an evening nightcap and lunch the next day.

We enjoy what Hula’s is doing. While their cocktails are hit or miss (especially the Island Mai Tai), Mrs Mai Tai does enjoy the Pink Bikini Martini and I do like some of the cocktails. Our evening visit included the option to sample some Patron Tequila cocktails, left over from the AZ Tiki Oasis happy hour from earlier that day. I actually really liked the Jalisco Bird which featured the Tequila and Campari and dialed back the Pineapple.

Jalisco Bird

We enjoyed our lunch the next day. My chicken sandwich was really good but the Jerk Chicken that Mrs Mai Tai ordered was even better. I had the Blood Orange Martini but asked for a sub of Bacardi in place of the Vodka and this was quite refreshing for lunch on vacation. More, please.

Service was outstanding both times. I know the modern decor doesn’t scratch the itch of some tikiphiles but I think this style can work in certain locations such as the tourist-friendly Scottsdale Old Town. It competes favorably with the other party oriented venues locally.

Trader Vic’s San Jose Airport

Mrs Mai Tai and I are flying to Arizona Tiki Oasis and got things started at the world’s best airport bar. The Mai Tai is especially potent on an empty stomach at 9:00 in the morning. Today is also my birthday and it is hard to beat a great Trader Vic’s Mai Tai as a kickoff.

My grilled cheese sandwich was just okay, but look at the Island Parfait! Greek Yogurt, berries, granola, and Trader Vic’s peanut butter! So good. Mrs Mai Tai made the right choice.

Great (House) Mai Tai at The Kon-Tiki

Had a great time last night for Ohana night at The Kon-Tiki in Oakland. The staff was really humming along, even after the place even got a little crowded (that’s a good thing). Bartender Kris even put on a fabulous flame show over a couple Jet Pilots (sadly I did not document). It was really impressive.

Besides the Kon-Tiki’s always amazing cheeseburger, I tried the Happy Hour Saturn that was quite tangy. Total bargain, with a great gin finish.

The Kon-Tiki’s vast rum selection offers so many options. This time I opted for the Hampden 2021 Great House Jamaican rum in a Mai Tai and it was totally fantastic.

Navy Grog at Kona Club

Popped into Kona Club and found that the service issues I’d experience before were not an issue this time. And the Navy Grog wasn’t bad at all. Still free poured and served with cubes and not crushed ice, but I did like this cocktail.

There is good energy here in the evenings.

Officer’s Mai Tai

Props to Andy at Easy Tiki Drinks for getting the recipe to the Officer’s Mai Tai from Devil’s Reef in Tacoma. Jason Alexander makes some truly amazing cocktails, and this Mai Tai riff is no exception. It’s really quite great, using two excellent Plantation rums as the base.

Want the recipe? Head over to the Easy Tiki Drinks channel on YouTube to check it out. But suffice to say that the addition of a small ingredient means this a different animal than the traditional 1944 Mai Tai. But riffs are fine, especially if labeled as such like this one is.

This one is served in a tall glass, paying homage to Devil’s Reef – one of the best tiki bars in America. Really hoping we can make it up to SeaTac sometime when the Reef is open.

Dr. Funk Mai Tai with Denizen Vatted Dark Rum

Denizen Merchant’s Reserve rum has a well-earned reputation for being a great single-bottle Mai Tai rum. It’s a blend of aged Jamaican rum along with some molasses-based rum from Martinique, intended to reproduce the rum used in Trader Vic’s “Second Adjusted Formula” from the 1950s.

While at Dr. Funk I thought I’d give their excellent Mai Tai a try with Denizen’s more recent blended rum product, the Vatted Dark. This is a 100 proof blend of Demerara Rum from Guyana along with unaged Rhum Agricole from Martinique. The complex and savory notes work well in a Mai Tai and other cocktails, and the Dr. Funk version delivered.

I also tried the chicken skewers that have a wonderful ginger glaze. These were quite tasty and served alongside seasoned rice. A very good portion for the price.