Off-Menu Mai Tai at Golden Pineapple Craft Lounge

This restaurant and craft cocktail bar was recommended from a friend, and we decided to pop over for dinner last weekend at Arizona Tiki Oasis. Located past Tempe’s vibrant downtown, The Golden Pineapple would be easy to miss on a suburban boulevard, but definitely has the goods on the inside. We really enjoyed the food, including Navajo Fried Bread. My delicious Aloha Burger was made with a brisket patty and topped with coleslaw and teriyaki aioli.

There’s a large menu of craft cocktail options here, including many with rums you don’t normally see. Mrs. Mai Tai ordered the Surfer on Acid that has Mexican and Barbados Rums, Amaro Montenegro, Kalani Coconut Liqueur, Pineapple, Lime, and Angostura Bitters. A great combination of flavors and it is topped with a fun Jägermeister Jello mold. Very memorable.

Seeing that the venue has an extensive rum selection, I took a chance and asked the waitress to ask the bartender if they could make a 1944 Mai Tai. When she asked what was in it, I said to just ask the bartender if and they know then that’s what I’d like and if they didn’t then that was fine and I offered an on-menu substitute.

I’m sure that Mrs. Mai Tai is sick of these menu subs, but this was one those occasions where it truly was worth it, because the off-menu Mai Tai was fantastic! The bartender chose a bold Jamaican rum for the cocktail, which I found out later when the bill game was the Holmes Cay Jamaica Wedderburn 2011 Single Cask. This cask-strength rum comes from the Clarendon Distillery and is aged in Jamaica for three years, and then an additional seven in the U.K. It is great stuff, and was an excellent choice by the bartender to use a bold, flavorful Jamaican rum. And not much of an upcharge for the premium rum either.

Thank you Golden Pineapple for an amazing Mai Tai. Definitely one of the Top 10 Mai Tais so far in 2022.

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.

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.