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.

Forbidden Island Kill Devil 1.0 Rum List

I completed the Kill Devil list on the patio at Forbidden Island today. I started the list in early 2018, but got probably 75% of the 106 rums purchased via take-out orders in the last few months. So, I’m pleased to be part of the “Quaranteam” who did this largely under lockdown.

My final rum was my favorite, Appleton 12, in a Mai Tai of course. This was our first baby step back to dining in person with table service on the patio at a table with Mrs. Mai Tai (who said the Chi-Chi’s were especially delicious today).

Thanks to some of the members of the “Forbidden Ohana” Facebook group for coming out to celebrate today, some of which were at conversation distance away at their own tables. Thank you to Dean Koenig for the pour of Foursquare 2008, a fantastic rum. I was at FI when Dean completed his Kill Devil list, so it’s very nice to see him today for mine. Cheers!

And thank you John and Michael and all the FI staff for support doing the list. I’ll look forward to seeing my plaque up on the bar someday when I’m patronizing inside again (FI opens for indoor dining starting tomorrow). I’ll start working on FI’s Kill Devil 2.0 rum list soon, though for a while I’ll be sticking to cocktails on my next few visits.

These rum clubs are a great way to try our some new rums. And while they aren’t all “winners” it is a great experience to talk with fellow patrons and the FI staff about the rums. For my 106 rums I kept short tasting notes and did rate the rums. I grade on the curve so there were lots of 3 star rums, but here are the top rums from the list.

5 Star

  • English Harbor 5 yr
  • Ron Barcelo Imperial
  • Appleton 21 yr
  • Appleton 12
  • Hamilton Jamaican Pot Still
  • Hamilton 86
  • British Royal Navy Imperial
  • Pampero Anniversario

4 Star

  • Mount Gay Extra Old
  • Real McCoy 12 yr
  • St. Paul Dark Rum
  • El Dorado 15 yr
  • Skipper Rum
  • Appleton Reserve
  • Coruba
  • Plantation Rum Jamaica
  • Smith & Cross
  • Clement Creole Shrubb
  • Kuleana Hui Hui

Should come as no surprise to regular readers that my tastes favor Jamaica/Barbados/Guyana rums.

And now on to the next adventure of spreading the good word of rum.

Heatwave Hideaway

The Bay Area is having a heatwave but that didn’t stop dozens of tikiphiles from braving 100° heat to pack the Forbidden Island outdoor patio on Sunday. Straight from opening at 2 pm every table was filled with cool drinks being the desired antidote. I tasted a few rums in the form of a Mai Tai (these were all rums that I’ve had before). You can definitely taste the difference between Pyrat XO and Clement Premiére Canne in a Mai Tai.

The Forbidden Island crew has really got this patio process working smoothly now, with attentive servers and fast service for cocktails, rum samples, and the requisite food component of your order. The Yelp-based reservation system is important and crucial these days.

We had the pleasure of seeing two local luminaries complete the Kill Devil Club 2.0 rum list. Congrats to Cathie Wartelle and Lon Cook for drinking all the rums from this list of “hard to find, allocated, rare and rums aged 10 years and older.” The tiki mug you get is pretty cool too.

Forbidden Island: Great Patio Experience

I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Alameda’s Forbidden Island twice in the last few days. Their patio is open and is expanded to fill the parking lot. 

The crew has done a good job filling the space with socially distant tables and two-seat barrels, with some nice decor, a shade netting, and a fine selection of diverse but appropriately retro/exotic music.  The crew works hard to accommodate groups in whichever seating they are most comfortable, and upon entering everyone has use some hand sanitizer and to read the rules (my favorite: No “Freedom Rights” Outbursts). Masks are supposed to be worn when away from the table, and encouraged to be worn except when you are actively eating/drinking.

Food is still a required part of your experience, if you want cocktails. This is basically an extension of the same rules allowing to-go cocktails but only when accompanied by food.

The new setup means that Forbidden Island is now able to have a much larger set of cocktails to order from, and they’re presented in all their regular garnished glory. The crew is also able to have a brief bit of conversation and camaraderie that Forbidden Island is famous for. The set up is a big draw for patrons working on their Kill Devil rum lists order rums from the list. Rums can be sampled neat, on rocks, or in a Daiquiri, Ti Punch, or Mai Tai.

To-go cocktails have been great, but there’s nothing like getting a freshly made Chamborlada or another expertly prepared cocktail. I ordered a Mai Tai and John Peterson somehow after all these months remembered that I like it a little bit heavy on the orgeat. Man, that is customer service at it’s finest.

It was a great couple visits, and I got to see some tiki friends in the flesh, too. Mahalo to Forbidden Island, let’s keep this going.

To-Go Cocktails Still Going Strong at Forbidden Island

Pleased provide another report from our to-go experience at Forbidden Island.

For takeout food we did the coconut shrimp with fries that were crispy and delicious – and Mrs. Mai Tai had the corn dogs that she loves so much. Check.

For the drinks we had an assortment. The coconut forward Monkey Pod was favored by Mrs. Mai Tai once again and she said it was really good as always.

For my drinks I went home with a Hurricane, a 1950 Zombie, and a classic Mai Tai. Of these three, the Hurricane was the standout – but a warning that it is very boozy. The sweet Fassionola in this cocktail is really great. For the Zombie and Mai Tai, these were both less sweet than is my preference. This is the downside of to-go cocktails in that you can’t tell your bartender to make it a little sweeter because that’s the way you like it. But, a little extra Demerara syrup or Orgeat is all it took to set these both to the path of delightful.

This was good timing, too. I’m working on a house Zombie recipe and wanted to try the 1950 Zombie to compare to the 1934 version.

The online ordering system at Forbidden Island is a breeze and they seem to have weekly specials. Give them a try this weekend!

To-Go Tiki from Forbidden Island

The Best Value for Bay Area To-Go Tiki is: Forbidden Island

Forbidden Island opened up on Thursday for take-out bites and cocktails, so we sampled this on Sunday. The portions were quite good and even after a 30 minute trip home everything stayed in good shape (waffle fries travel better than thin tiny ones). The coconut shrimp in particular were quite good at home.

And the cocktails. Delicious and plenty boozy.  Mrs. Mai Tai had the coconut-forward Monkey Pod, whereas I went with the Demerara Dry Float. That cocktail even came with a tiny bottle of rum to float on top!  Definitely two servings worth per cocktail.

I was real happy with the ordering experience with Forbidden Island. It’s done on the website, and you do have to get your order in before 2 pm on the day of. But other than that, it was a dream and everything came out perfect – nothing missing or wrong with the order. Go out there and give these guys your support.

And remember to leave a big tip.