Tam O’Shanter: Celebrating 100 Years

We had reservations to go to Tam O’Shanter in January, but those were cancelled at the height of omicron. We were staying nearby in Glendale so this was a perfect opportunity to give the restaurant a second chance for a visit.

We were intrigued in learning more about the history of the Scotch-inspired steakhouse that is celebrating 100 years in business this year. While prime rib isn’t our thing, themed environments are and Tam O’Shanter really delivers. While we were seated outside under a charming tent and nearby an equally tranquil garden, we also got to peek inside at the myriad dining rooms inside. Frequented for many years by Disney animators and Walt Disney himself. Table 31 was Walt’s favorite and there are carvings in the table done by Disney animators.

We went in a turkey direction for our meal, but I decided to test the unfamiliar waters of Tam O’Shanter’s vast Whiskey collection. Walt Disney’s favorite cocktail was a Scotch Mist so I figured this was a good choice for the occasion. I asked for a Scotch that wasn’t so “peaty” and the bartender used Cutty Sark which was just fine with me. Scotch, ice, and a twist of lemon.

The service was great and we enjoyed the food. Being able to score a reservation inside would be a priority for future visits, since the interior is so elaborately themed.

You can learn more about the Tam O’Shanter in this video from our friends Tiki with Ray and Stephen Curran. The embed below is part of a longer video covering historical Disney-connected destinations in Los Angeles and starts in the section covering Tam O’Shanter. 

Amazing Mai Tai at Trader Sam’s

The app-based reservation system I mentioned for Oga’s Cantina worked even better getting inside at Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar last Wednesday afternoon. Once I got onto the Disneyland Hotel property I tapped on Sam’s and added myself to the waiting list. The app said the estimated wait was 30 minutes. But just seconds after receiving the first “you’re on the list” text message, I got another one that said my table was ready.

Inside, the bar was not busy so it was a perfect time to cool down inside with a cocktail. Skipper Nate was working behind the bar and I ordered a Mai Tai with Appleton Reserve rum. Nate checked the order, “classic style?” which I took to mean no Agave Syrup that they use in their standard house Mai Tai. “Yes, sir,” I said. That Appleton Reserve Mai Tai was faaantastic, and I was more than happy to compliment the Skipper when he asked how it was. Very rummy, but also a wonderful flavor profile – not too sweet, not too sour. Great mouthfeel.

Classic Mai Tai with Appleton 8 Reserve Rum

Second Round, Better than the First

For the second round, I asked Skipper Nate if they had something a little more funky, and he suggested Hamilton Pot Still Blonde rum. I said that would be great – a half Appleton Reserve and half Hamilton Blonde Mai Tai.

It was one of the best Mai Tais I’ve ever had.

The funkier rum really added a nice punch to the cocktail, and elevated what was already an amazing Mai Tai. On this day it was damn near perfect.

Nearly Perfect Mai Tai with Appleton Reserve and Hamilton Pot Still Blonde rums

Thank you Skipper Nate! I will follow you into battle anytime.

That day it really came together at Trader Sam’s: relaxing in the immersive space, exotica music playing, and the light hum of conversations and laughter.

Oga’s Cantina

Disney has an interesting and useful new way of getting into standby lines at dining locations at Disneyland. If you’re in the vicinity of the location you can tap on the location in the Disneyland app and request to be added to the walk-up waitlist. This worked great for us on an evening last week when we got into Oga’s Cantina after just a short wait.

Looks like they’ve refreshed the cocktail offering at Oga’s, though everything still leans super sweet (even for me!). I quite liked the Coruscant Cooler with Maker’s Mark Bourbon, Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur, Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth, Cranberry Juice, Lime Juice (left in photo), and thought that Mrs Mai Tai’s Tarkenian Night Flower with Gin, Elderflower Liqueur, with flavors of Ginger and Huckleberry, garnished with Sweet Hibiscus Flower was also quite nice (right in photo). Our son had the non-alcoholic Jabba Juice, Simply Orange with Pineapple, Kiwi, Cantaloupe, and Blueberry Flavor-filled Boba.

Less good was the Takodana Quencher with Bacardi Dragonberry Rum, Bols Blue Curaçao, Simply Orange with Pineapple, Kiwi flavors. Sickly sweet and the fake OJ really made this taste like it came from a large jug at 7-11.

I’ve come around on Galaxy’s Edge. We did enjoy our visits this last trip, perhaps greatly influenced by me being a pilot on the Millennium Falcon ride. There were a lot of character interactions that we saw, including R2-D2, Rey, Chewbacca, and Kylo Ren with Stormtroopers. Having the characters makes the whole land seem much more alive and organic, and gives you something to do while drinking Blue Milk or stumbling out of the cantina.

Honey Buzz at Pym’s Tasting Lab

Our family had a lot of great memories at Bug’s Land at Disney California Adventure, and a few even before that when it was the Bountiful Valley Farm, so I was bit sad when it was razed to make way for Avenger Campus that opened last year. And as a California native I regret that DCA’s initial “California” theme continues to be watered down. But, with adult children who love Marvel movies, it wasn’t like we were spending a lot of time in Bug’s Land anymore.

We gave Avenger’s Campus a try this trip. I enjoyed the Spider-Man attraction far more than I expected; it was lots of fun. And we gave the food eatery a chance this time too. Pym’s Test Kitchen is a counter-service restaurant with the gimmick that the food has been altered by Ant-Man shrinking/growing tech. Hence the gigantic pretzel or their chicken sandwich that has a tiny bun but an over-sized chicken patty. I even did a kids meal with make your own PB&J. Pretty good, and both walk-up and mobile order worked great for us on this trip.

Pym’s Tasting Lab is a bar that is adjacent to the Test Kitchen. This is where they offer beer, wine, beer cocktails, and cocktails. I decided to go with the Honey Buzz, which contains Gin, Lemon, and Honey, along with a “honey straw” that is basically a stick of honey. Otherwise known as a Bee’s Knees, this was a very sweet and easy to drink cocktail. I liked it a lot and ordered it again on our second visit.

We also tried The Regulator, which is a beer cocktail with Patrón Silver Tequila and Golden Road Mango Cart Wheat Ale, with Mango and Habanero Syrups, and Mango Flavor-filled Boba. The Habanero was tempered enough for me to drink it, but still was too spicy for me.

Blue Milk at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge

Disney has been chasing the rabid following of Universal’s Butterbeer at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter for years. I didn’t really care for the Apple Freeze at Cars Land, though I thought the Berry Freeze at Fantasyland was better. But for sure none of them were universally hailed as Butterbeer.

Star Wars fans have dreamed of tasting Blue Milk ever since it appear in 1977’s Star Wars movie. And with a Star Wars themed land being added to the parks in 2019, Blue Milk is available for purchase. But the beverage actually doesn’t contain any dairy. The concoction is described as being a “plant-based blend of Coconut and Rice Milk with alluring fruity characteristics.” There’s also Green Milk that is described as “plant-based blend of Coconut and Rice Milk with zippy citrus and tropical characteristics”. Plus, I’m sure, some food dye.

While Blue Milk doesn’t quite match Butterbeer, I have grown to like it a lot and make it a key stop on my visits to the Star Wars land at Disneyland. It is cold and refreshing and easy to drink, with a mild flavor that I find pleasant. Even better is the Blue Milk with Rum option at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando, Florida. 

I didn’t care for the Green Milk, but Mrs. Mai Tai likes the Toydaria Swirl, which is Green Milk swirled with savory Fruit Sauce, Mango Jellies, and topped with Chili Lime Seasoning. Sort of like a spicy Lava Flow, so it is right up her alley.

Disney Collection

I collect what I like and I’m not really a completist. So I don’t have every edition or release.

My favorite here is the blue HippopotoMai-Tai. That’s a color you don’t often see and I think it pops nicely. Bone or green glass are nice too, but blue is better.

Just behind and to the right is a B-Rex glass set we got a couple years ago during one visit to Club 33. 😉

The Shag goblet is from the 40th anniversary of the Enchanted Tiki Room.

I’m a sucker for Disney attractions posters so the Enchanted Tiki Room plate is a favorite too.

Walt Disney’s Annette and the Mystery at Smuggler’s Cove

Found this 1963 tome at an antique store. This seems like a tween novel version of one of Annette’s movies (at one point she even breaks out in song, I’m not kidding). The plot involves Annette and her blonde friend Babs who “borrow” a small ship from their boyfriends Rod and Neil and then crash the ship on rocks in Smuggler’s Cove. There are subplots involving the planning and execution of Annette’s big Luau party and a stolen painting that has connections to exiles of a Central American country.

Smuggler’s Cove is described as a local Southern California cove where “rum-runners had a shack there during the prohibition era many years ago. The palm trees had been a landmark.” It is far less exotic than the title of the book suggests. There’s a Spanish-speaking family living nearby that help Annette and Babs after they crash land, but (spoiler alert!) are also connected to the exiles.

It’s all very melodramatic and features plenty of casual white privilege seen in early 60’s media.

Day Drinking at Trader Sam’s

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Day Drinking at Trader Sam’s is Perfect It’s been a while since I’ve visited Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar during the day. I noted the other day that when we showed up on Friday night there was no room inside, so we went to the Tangaroa Terrace patio next door. The last few visits were also during busy times. But early in the day, boy is Trader Sam’s a joy. So glad they open up at 11:30 am. Our day at Disney California Adventure ended earlier than planned (thank you MaxPass and Extra Magic Hour), and then we were done with lunch a little before noon. Mrs. Mai Tai wanted to go shopping so I had time for a quick visit to Trader Sam’s on the way back to the hotel. The bar was active but mellow enough to hear yourself think and to listen to the wonderful Exotica music playing inside. Some very friendly customers and the bartenders had a little bit of time to breathe and interact with the guests. THIS was the vibe at Trader Sam’s that I fell in love with. I asked if they have simple syrup and when it was confirmed I asked for a 1944 style Mai Tai with Appleton Reserve rum. Skipper Will immediately made me an excellent Mai Tai, probably the best I’ve ever had here. The standard Sam’s Mai Tai here uses Agave Syrup, which isn’t a flavor I’m fond of. The standard rum blend is Bacardi/Coruba so the Appleton was a big upgrade. Noteworthy: they don’t carry simple syrup at the Trader Sam’s in Florida, so it’s nice that the Sam’s at Disneyland can offer a more versatile set of ingredients. So glad I was able to squeeze in an additional visit to Sam’s on this trip. @disneyland #tiki #tikibar #tikidrinks #tikiculture #tropicaldrinks #cocktails #craftcocktails #rum #rhum #maitai #1944maitai #disneyland #jamaicanrum #tradersams #tradersamsenchantedtikibar

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Evening at Tangaroa Terrace