Kon-Tiki Enters Revised Top 10 Mai Tai List

Perhaps no destination demonstrates the search for the ultimate Mai Tai better than The Kon-Tiki in Oakland. Their Mai Tai has always been good, but self-described constant R&D means their 2022 Mai Tai has leapfrogged into the top 10, replacing sister bar The Kon-Tiki Room.

This sweet and savory cocktail uses Super Jugoso Orgeat, rum-based orange shrubb, and a blend of rums from Guyana, Martinique, and Jamaica. The house Mai Tai is excellent at Kon-Tiki, or try one with their special Kon-Tiki Single Barrel Rum from Worthy Park.

Kon-Tiki is also the place where where a customized Mai Tai was the best we’ve ever had.

Here are the top 10 Mai Tais that you can have right now.

  • Beachbum Berry’s Latitude 29
  • Dr. Funk
  • Hale Pele
  • Halekulani Hotel
  • The Kon-Tiki Oakland
  • Rumba
  • Maunakea Mai Tai at Skull & Crown Trading Co.
  • Smuggler’s Cove
  • San Francisco Mai Tai at Trader Vic’s Emeryville
  • Undertow

Mrs Mai Tai and I are going to New York City at the end of the month and expect to visit Sunken Harbor Club, home of Garret Richard’s famed Mai Tai. A possible new entry in this list, so stay tuned.

The Murderqueen Cocktail: a Dark Cocktail for Halloween

This original cocktail was developed by Tonga Tim Harnett of Tiki Underground bar in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. It was featured last week on Spike’s Breezeway Cocktail Hour on YouTube, named in honor of Spike’s girlfriend Larissa – otherwise known as the Murderqueen. Check out the video on YouTube, and then check out the amazing surf/horror single “Theme from The Murderqueen” that Spike put out a couple years ago on Hi-Tide Recordings.

The Murderqueen Cocktail by Tim Harnett
1½ oz Pink Grapefruit Juice
½ oz Solerno Blood Orange Cordial
¼ oz Orgeat
¼ oz Passion Fruit syrup
½ oz Raspberry syrup
1 oz Plantation OFTD Overproof Rum
1 oz Rum Bar Overproof Rum
4 heavy dashes Peychauds Bitters
Shake with ice and garnish with three dark cherries

I subbed Liber for the Blood Orange Cordial, and Chambord liqueur for the raspberry syrup. I used Latitude 29 Orgeat and Small Hand Foods Passion Fruit Syrup.

Despite the grapefruit juice and heavy rums, this cocktail is actually pretty easy to drink. It has a real nice set of flavors and seems timely for Halloween season.

Glassware: new Halloween Mai Tai glass from Trader Vic’s, available for sale online.

El Dorado Single Still Port Mourant Cask Strength

It is so great to see El Dorado offering some of their seminal pot still products in a single still format. Long known for being the secret ingredient in many blended Demerara rums, Port Mourant is a wooden pot still constructed in 1732! And it is still making fabulous rum.

I would say that if you’ve had the pot still releases from Mount Gay or Appleton that this is somewhat more approachable, even at 56.7% ABV. This is not quite as heavy as those other releases, and the flavor isn’t as intense. Nonetheless, this 12 year aged rum will knock the socks off most rum lovers and for sure will impress any rum newbie. You can really savor every sip.

As is the practice at Ultimate Mai Tai headquarters, we tried this rum in a standard 1944 Mai Tai. So delicious. The Mai Tai really shines when there’s a heavy, higher proof rum in the glass, and so this El Dorado was really excellent. The pot still flavors still shine through, even in a cocktail format.

The 750ml bottle runs anywhere from $125-150, alongside the Versailles and Enmore still releases that are also reaching the market right now. Check them out at your favorite liquor outlet or at finer bars with great rum collections.

El Dorado Single Still Rums

I Hate Oddly Shaped Bottles

There’s only so much surface area and height inside the few liquor cabinets I have stashed around the house. So bottles that are wide and short are less ideal than bottles with a small foot and that are taller. But bottles that are extra tall aren’t better, either.

So you know that the rums inside these bottle must be pretty special.

Saint Benevolence Rum Clairin from Haiti is one my favorites, so I always restock when a bottle is finished. Definitely a more savory taste than molasses-based rums from places like Jamaica or Barbados, but so far away from the overly grassy sugar cane juice-based agricole rhums from Martinique. Easy to sip but also great in cocktails. Makes a killer Mai Tai.

The El Dorado single still releases were something I tried at the San Francisco Rum Fest, and when Bitters & Bottles put them on sale I knew I had to buy one from the series. So, I splurged on the Port Mourant. More about this rum in a future post.

Trader Sam’s: Different on Saturdays

I had a great time popping into Trader Sam’s in the early afternoon last January. I breezed into the bar with essentially no wait. There was hardly anyone inside and had plenty of time to shoot the breeze with Skipper Nate.

Our visit last Saturday was different.

We arrived 30 mins before opening and put our name on the waitlist, told it would be 5-10 mins past opening at 11:30. A little relaxing strolling around the Disneyland Hotel isn’t bad but we didn’t get called in until nearly noon. Not too bad for a Saturday, obviously, but a bummer that expectations weren’t met.

Inside it was quite crowded but we were able to get our orders in for lunch and some drinks. We sure love it inside. It’s really one of the best tiki bars to sit inside, looking at all the different treasures and elements on the walls and shelves and ceiling. Plus music that is on point and those Trader Sam’s special effects.

I really enjoyed my Poke Bowl with Salmon, and a fantastic 1944 Mai Tai with El Dorado 8. Very nice, and it is always appreciated that even on a busy weekend day that the skippers are willing and able to go off menu slightly and still deliver a great cocktail.

Trader Sam’s is still one of my favorites.

Black Tot Day 2022

This is the rum we crack open for a pour of at home on Black Tot Day, the day when the Royal Navy stopped issuing rum rations in 1970.

I love Navy Rum, including the original rum from the 1960s that I’ve been fortunate to try a couple times. I also have several delicious rums that follow the tradition, such as Pussers, Wood’s, and Skipper Rum. These rums are exclusively Demerara rum from Guyana, so aren’t the blend of rums that were poured into large vats in London before being issued to the ships. But they do have a lot of the same character.

But those aren’t as amazing and special as this one from Black Tot Rum. They have yearly limited releases such as this 50th Anniversary release from 2020 that is a blend of rums from Guyana, Barbados, Trinidad, and Jamaica. Plus .5% of original Navy Rum. Bottled at navy strength, obviously, at 54.5% ABV. I won’t be watering it down like they did on the ships.

Up spirits!

Hala Kahiki Derby

End of the week deserves a manly Mai Tai made with @woodsnavyrum in tribute to our friends @neilsmith1971@carlasmith1973 from England. We braved Covid on the Sunday Bar Tour with them at @tikikon #busDisthebestbus



Thank you for the shirt. The @hala_kahiki_derby design looks great! Cheers!

The Mai Tai with Wood’s is amazing. Such a bold and flavorful dark Demerara rum, with plenty of burnt caramel overtones. Another friend from England muled that over for me a couple years ago and I keep it for special occasions.

Worthy Park Blind Taste Test

I posted this to my Instagram stories and it seems to have drawn some interest.

When I posted about Worthy Park 109 a couple days ago, I mentioned that this new black rum from Jamaica tasted more like a Demerara rum from Guyana than the funky rums that Worthy Park is most famous for. Those Worthy Park rums are most notably expressed with Rum-Bar Overproof, but also many of the Hamilton rums that use Worthy Park distillate as their base. And then some people said that 109 didn’t taste anything like a Demerara and I was only looking at the color. Well, I’ll never turn down a challenge.

Hence the blind taste test with some Jamaican, Demerara, and blended rums. I compared the WP109 to Hamilton 86 from Guyana, Blackwell Black Gold from Jamaica, and the new Hamilton Zombie Blend that is a blend of rums from Jamaica and Guyana.

Tasting Notes

To me, the 109 tasted most similar to Hamilton 86. I know that caramel coloring is present in both and in theory does not impart taste, but to me these were very close. The 109 being 100% pot still and higher ABV did have a better mouthfeel and a richer taste.

The Blackwell was a poor choice for this comparison, since it was so clearly not really in the same league as the others. Beside the lower ABV (40%) there definitely was a sugary taste that made it stand out. The color isn’t that black either. I should have maybe tried Coruba instead. I find the Hamilton Pot Still Black to be quite funky (using Worthy Park distillate) so that wouldn’t really have been a good comparison either. In other words, Worthy Park 109 isn’t just a higher proof “black Jamaican” but something a bit different.

As for the true Demerara/Jamaican hybrid, I found the funky notes in the Hamilton Zombie Blend to be quite forward. While delicious and wonderful (and easily sippable at 59% ABV) it too didn’t really taste like the Worthy Park 109.

As I mentioned in my post the other day, I found the rich and heavy and boozy characteristics of the Worthy Park 109 to be delightful in a Mai Tai where I’m looking for rich and heavy and boozy. This one is a keeper.