Mai Tai Happy Hour Private Event

As part of the silent auction component of the Oakhana Summer Swizzle / two home tiki bar crawl in August, one of the auction items I contributed was a private tasting event with three Mai Tais for up to 8 people and hosted by Jeff Hall at the Dragon’s Den in the Oakland hills. Nav Singh was the high bidder and we had the event this past weekend.

What a great time, thanks to Nav and some of the Sacramento Ohana she brought along for the ride. A few quality questions about the Mai Tai’s ingredients and components and some about its key ingredient (that would be rum, folks). We also had a great vibe at Jeff’s place and some tasty food provided by Jeff. I brought the rum and the cocktail ingredients.

Auction winner Nav Singh

We had three Mai Tais:

  1. First was a Trader Vic’s Mai Tai made with either Khukri rum from Nepal or Santiago aged rum from Cuba. One of these countries has a great reputation as a rum producer, but both are unusual and have a lighter column-still production method. Either one of these produced a fine Mai Tai.

  2. Second was a Mai Tai made with Hampden Great House 2020, a cask strength flavor bomb from Jamaica. The difference between our first Mai Tai and this was greatly evident, and even with a super boozy rum the cocktail is still very approachable. This shows how different rums produce a very different Mai Tai.

  3. We ended with a Blue Mai Tai, made with high quality Giffard Blue Curacao and a rum blend featuring Charley’s JB Overproof rum that’s available only in Jamaica. I’ve done different variants of this over the years and it still impresses; people expect it to be sweet like a Blue Hawaii but the boozy Jamaican rum gives it a good balance.

Thanks again to Jeff for hosting and to Nav for the winning bid.

Additional photos by Robyn Haas and Nav Singh.

Oakhana Summer Swizzle Recap

An epic day in Oakland for the inaugural Oakhana Summer Swizzle home tiki bar crawl and fundraising event. This was a very well-run event, so we thank the entire organizing team, bartenders, and all the event volunteers.

The day started at The Dragon’s Den, Jeff Hall’s house. We enjoyed the dark ambiance and some cocktails and pupus. The drinks were done well, featuring Tanduay and Rum Fire rums, and bartenders Carlos and Christian kept up with demand like the pros that they are. I especially liked the Mai Tai that was even made with Latitude 29 Orgeat (Rum Fire is great in a Mai Tai). Groovy music was provided by DJ Wiley Coyote.

We then moved over to Pearl’s Hideaway, hope of Laura and Woody Miller. DJ Ship Rex switched music with a couple tight sets from the Reefriders – including an incredible version of “Taboo.” Drinks were from Doc Parks and he and Julio also did great including a blended cocktail with banana. I liked Doc’s spin on a Jungle Bird using Rum Fire to counterbalance the Campari. We also had dinner here, and many enjoyed swimming in the pool.

The event featured a silent auction to raise money for Oakland’s Eat. Learn. Play. Foundation, and bidding at closing time got a little crazy. We did win a couple items and look forward to delivering the Mai Tai Happy Hour experience that was an item in the auction. There was also a second fundraiser, a raffle of new and used items that people brought to the event, and the funds there are going to Maui.

We can’t thank Laura, Jeff, Woody, and all the Summer Swizzle planning team and volunteers enough for putting on such a great event. Let’s doing it again!

Oakhana Summer Swizzle Silent Auction – Opens Friday, Register Now

A small charity focused tiki bar crawl is happening on Saturday, organized by the Oakland-based Tiki Ohana – the Oakhana. This two bar crawl has limited capacity and tickets are sold out, but even if you’re not attending you can get into the action by participating in the silent auction. There are some great items available, with proceeds going to Stephen and Ayesha Curry’s Eat. Learn. Play. Foundation.

In addition to tiki mugs, gift cards, books, and fashion items, there are a couple experiences available. I’m pleased to include an Ultimate Mai Tai Happy Hour at Jeff Hall’s Dragon’s Den home tiki bar in Oakland.

Ultimate Mai Tai Happy Hour:
3 hours, from 4-8 attendees

Taste three different Mai Tais to appreciate how different rums and other ingredients can help you develop your own personal ultimate Mai Tai. The Mai Tai was born with a long-aged rum from Jamaica, and Kevin will be bringing some rare and potent rums to demonstrate the variability when using different rum styles.

Depending on who wins the auction, we can customize the rums being brought and definitely will prepare something awesome for the attendees.

The registration for the silent auction is now available, with bidding starting on Friday at Noon Pacific time and closing Saturday August 19 at 7:30 pm Pacific.

Atomik Tiki Lounge Luau and Grog Contest

We had a great time on a warm Saturday attending the annual luau at the Atomic Tiki Lounge. Big thanks to hosts Chad and Jenny who opened their home, backyard, patio, and rum collection to the party attendees. Their tiki bar is comfy and covered wall to wall with fab artwork, and the patio outside is covered and comfortable as well.

There’s a cocktail contest each year that Chad organizes. Last time I attended it was a Mai Tai contest and I came in second to a really awesome Mai Tai and this year’s fiesta was a Grog contest. I’m pleased to report that my Turkey Grog was the winning entry, and I won a bottle of Amrut Two Indies rum from India. These contests are a lot of fun and I tasted some of the other entries and they were all worthy of consideration with strong merits.

Photo credit: Josephine Bjellqvist

Turkey Grog by Kevin Crossman
¾ oz Lime Juice
½ oz Ruby Grapefruit Juice
½ oz Honey Syrup (1:1)
½ oz Velvet Falernum
½ oz Don’s Spices #2
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
¾ oz Smith & Cross Jamaican Rum
1½ oz Wild Turkey 101 Bourbon
Shake with ice, garnish with mint. Serve in glass of choice.

Don’s Spices #2: Equal parts Vanilla Syrup and Pimento Dram/Allspice Liqueur.
If you have non-alcoholic Falernum syrup then drop the amount to ¼ oz.

Hala Kahiki Derby

We had the fortunate pleasure to have a visit with the lovely Carla and Neil Smith and to check out their home tiki bar Hala Kahiki Derby. Nicely appointed with room for a couple bar stools, a relaxing couch and peacock chair, plus so much artwork and displays of tiki mugs. The working vintage jukebox was a great centerpiece.

Neil had a delicious clarified punch ready once we arrived allowing everyone to relax immediately and for him to prep some ice and such. Thereafter he asked what we liked and Mrs Mai Tai requested something from the coconut branch of exotic cocktails, so he made a fab Tradewinds for her.

Of course I requested their house Mai Tai which as well as was quite fab. A Smuggler’s Cove devotee, Neil uses Denizen Merchant’s Reserve which is difficult to get in the UK but I was more than happy to mule a bottle over from California. I also brought the Smiths a bottle of the very good but somewhat scarce Hamilton Rum Florida Rum Society blend. Neil says this rum works great in a Banana Daiquiri. Neil also shared a dram of some locally made rum which I also enjoyed.

We are indebted to the Smiths for being wonderful hosts. Truly above and beyond for us fairly inexperienced UK travelers. Cheers to Carla and Neil!

Fremont Mai Tai at Home Tiki Bar

The OG name for the Ultimate Mai Tai and featured on a party menu from our friends Brenda and Glen’s place. Always honored when people want to put my Mai Tai on a menu and make it the right way.

Their home tiki bar has a namesake cocktail The Cannibal’s Eye that is absolutely fantastic too.

Birds of Paradise Lounge

We were lucky to snag tickets to the @sac_ohana monthly gathering this month, since the event sold out in just 3 minutes. It seems everyone made this month’s event at Birds of Paradise Lounge a priority, even on Easter. Easy to see why, though, since the house is so well appointed and the homeowners @mrs_bravo and @midcenturytiki are even nicer.

Truly a sight to behold, with a nondescript living room transformed into a tiki bar with artwork, mugs, and spirits galore. And then there’s the living room with wood paneling and wall to wall Witco. And finally the spectacular pool in the very large backyard. What a dream.

We were quite impressed by the cocktails, which included a cinnamon-forward Zombie and a light and refreshing Pisco Punch. And the Mai Tai? The best I’ve had all year. The Birds of Paradise Mai Tai includes a rum blend of Appleton 12, Smith & Cross, Plantation Xaymaca, and Kō Hana Kea. So flavorful, with a savory finish that was fantastic.

The Sac Ohana group is doing a great job with these monthly meetups, and certainly are a model for any local community of tikiphiles to follow. Nice to see some familiar faces, even if our visit was not quite as long as we would have liked.