Logo Glassware at Dr. Funk in Downtown San Jose

When Dr. Funk opened in December 2021 they had a souvenir Mai Tai glass featuring artwork from B-Rex, similar to the B-Rex designed logo that is still featured on their cocktail napkins. That run of “1st edition” glasses sold out immediately and it seemed like Dr. Funk had forgotten that patrons so often want to take home something from the venue.

Well, this may not be the B-Rex second edition, but Dr. Funk is now selling glasses featuring the logo designed by @gennbunn. Each is $10, or $8 with a cocktail. Each features a heavy base.

These aren’t really anything unique or irresistable, but it is really nice to sip a Mai Tai with Dr. Funk himself providing inspiration for travels to Polynesia. Or just to take home as a souvenir of a night out on the town.

Get them now before they’re gone. Do more of this please, Dr. Funk.

The Mai Tai pictured was a special from Tuesday’s “Traditional Tiki Night” and featured Myrtle Bank Jamaican Rum and Cointreau as the orange liqueur. Just a little lighter than Dr. Funk’s always excellent Mai Tai but still really great in its own right. Dr. Funk is now doing these tiki nights every Tuesday, featuring a rotating set of DJs. Having a DJ is great, and adding drink specials is even better. Do more of this please, Dr. Funk.

Appleton Estate Legend 17 Details

Appleton unveiled details of their forthcoming Appleton Estate 17 Year Old Legend Jamaica Rum release this week. The rum was developed by Appleton’s master blender Joy Spence using four rare distillates to replicate the formula for Wray & Nephew 17, the original rum that Trader Vic used in the Mai Tai. Issued at 49% ABV and aged in ex-Bourbon oak barrels, Legend replicates the original by being 100% pot still distillate.

Spence was quoted in a Forbes article about the release, saying “When I made the Mai Tai with this rum. I tell you, I was in heaven. I sat in my garden and I said this is most amazing Mai Tai ever.”

Appleton Estate

Due to the rarity of the distillate, only 1500 bottles will be available globally, never to be produced again. Legend will be available at select “premium retailers” starting in June 2023, in the United States, Jamaica, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Austria, Denmark, Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea, New Zealand, Japan, and Hong Kong. List price is $500 per bottle.

Their hyped May 17 announcement date coincided with the selling of a few bottles via Blockchain broker BlockBar, where the early adopters are guaranteed an NFT and a bottle. Or, they are now in a position to flip the rum to the highest bidder, with some bottles now well over $1000.

The Mad Scramble Starts in June

You’d think that with a $500 list price that maybe it would keep away some buyers. Heck, even Appleton’s $300-$400 Hearts releases are still found out there here or there. But given the hype it seems that Legend will be very difficult to obtain. We know a few famous venues and collectors who won’t be getting Legend even after they asked.

Personally, I’ll be traveling in the British Isles for the last two weeks in June. So, there’s nary a chance I’ll be able to jump on my favorite retailer’s customer email and snap this release up like I did with the Appleton Hearts release. The whole NFT thing left a bad taste in my mouth.

Maybe someone will take pity and offer me a tot or two.

Infinite Coastline at Forbidden Island – Blue Hawaii Riff

The Blue Hawaii cocktail is usually not my jam, especially when it has a ton of pineapple juice and only uses vodka.

But I thoroughly enjoyed this Infinite Coastline at Forbidden Island the other day. The Blue Curaçao liqueur was forward in the cocktail and the light rum was a very nice accent. Best Blue Hawaii I’ve had in… maybe ever.

You can also order this with Rum Fire Overproof Jamaica Rum, which is 63% ABV and totally delicious. That version is $2 more and I’m sure is the quintessential version. I would have done this except I’d already had another cocktail and was driving.

Be sure to check out the Infinite Coastline the next time you’re at Forbidden Island.

Best Blue Hawaii I’ve had in… maybe ever.

The Blind Rabbit: Speakeasy Cocktails in Anaheim

Mrs. Mai Tai suggested trying this speakeasy cocktail bar again, so we were pleased to score a last-minute reservation right for opening. The Blind Rabbit is located in the Anaheim Packing District venue, and seems to have relaxed a lot of the “rules” that previously were enforced. We had a lot of delays getting our Lyft and were stressed we might miss the 15 minute grace period.

In the end, we arrived right on time to find … ourselves as the only customers inside the bar! As such our server was quite attentive, even after other guests started to arrive. The hostess kept a tight ship, shooing out some guests who walked right into the bar without first checking in.

The Blind Rabbit’s menu is fairly small and features some cocktails with ingredients such as Mezcal that aren’t in my wheelhouse. While I know that the staff can go off-menu, we do like to try from the cocktail menu.

Icy Colors Change – Gin, Elderflower, Lemon, Pomegranate. I enjoyed this light cocktail, though my light did not change.

Ardbeg Your Pardon – I’m not a fan of peated Scotch, so I asked the server about this cocktail with Ardbeg Scotch, Rye, and spiced syrups. Ardbeg is indeed peated, but I took and chance and found that it didn’t overpower thanks to the Rye.

For my last drink I did go off menu to ask for a Rum Old Fashioned with Jamaica Rum. The bartender prepared this wonderfully and it’s always wonderful to savor my favorite style of rum.

Mrs. Mai Tai enjoyed a Zombie variant called Happier than Ever and served in a cool Viking skull mug. She also got an off-menu cocktail the server recommended for its similarity to a Pacific Cooler Capri Sun.

After drinks, we ate dinner at The Iron Press upstairs where we had absolutely fabulous Pretzel Bites and a Simple Burger. So great.

Appleton 17 Legend Jamaican Rum Coming Soon

The social media accounts for Appleton Rum in the U.S. and U.K. went live today with a teaser about the “legend” returning, with a subtle “17” as part of the design. We did see May 17 being mentioned earlier today.

This is surely a reference to the Appleton 17 Legend Jamaican Rum that had a label approved by the TTB nearly a year ago.

The label says this limited edition rum expression is intended as a “re-creation of the legendary rum crafted by J. Wray & Nephew in the 1940s” that “inspired the bartending world.” There isn’t a specific mention of Trader Vic Bergeron or his most famous creation, the 1944 Mai Tai, but this certainly is intended to make you think of the legendary Wray & Nephew 17 that was the first rum using in Vic’s Mai Tai.

You can sign up for email updates on AppletonEstate.com.

Stay tuned, Mai Tai fans!

Funky Doctor Bird Mai Tai

Was feeling like I hadn’t had a rich and funky Mai Tai in a while, so I pulled out this wonderful bottle of Doctor Bird Jamaica Rum. This is the special Madeira cask release that was put out in conjunction with Bitters and Bottles a couple years ago, and I prefer this to the standard-issue Doctor Bird that’s finished in Moscatel casks. It is also issued at a hearty 59.2% ABV.

The result was a very chewy Mai Tai that tasted fantastic. Totally savory to have funky rum like this delivered in the Mai Tai format, where some of the rough edges are minimized.

I’m even getting a little fresh mint from a nascent planting in the backyard.

Glassware is obviously inspired by the rum. It’s an opening day B-Rex design for Dr. Funk San Jose. It would be great if the good doctor would do more of these, just saying.

Mai Tai Planters Punch

Felt like making it a little extra spicy tonight, so did a riff between two favorites. This was quite nice, without overpowering sweetness or spice.

1½ oz Lemon Juice
1 oz Trader Vic’s Mai Tai Concentrate Syrup
⅓ oz Don’s Spices #2 (50/50 Vanilla Syrup/Pimento Dram)
3 oz Jamaican Rum Blend (courtesy Andy from @easytikidrinks)
4 dashes Angostura Bitters

I love this Trader Vic’s Pilsner glass for tall drinks like this. Looks great with the classic logo treatment. We’ll see if the Mai Tai Planters Punch ever gets famous.

Nuclear Daiquiri

There were some discussions of this cocktail online this week and so I took at run at it. I tweaked the original recipe by lowering the Green Chartreuse a little and definitely going for a heavy pour of John D. Taylor Falernnum that is not as bold as the Falernum syrup used in the original version of the cocktail.

¾ oz Lime Juice
¾ oz John D. Taylor Falernum (heavy pour)
½ oz Green Chartreuse
1 oz Wray & Nephew Overproof Jamaica Rum
Shake with ice cubes and strain

This was just right for me. Enough of the Chartreuse to taste, but not enough to overwhelm. But it works very nicely with the bold Wray & Nephew rum.

Planters Punch with Orgeat

A little remix that I gave half a thought to and tried. I subbed half the simple syrup for Ogreat in a Planters Punch to … okay results. It tasted like a Planters Punch, and the funky Jamaican rums at 45-46% ABV gave this a nice punch. But it needs something else or maybe different proportions to be excellent.

Planters Punch
1 oz Lime Juice
½ oz Simple Syrup
½ oz Orgeat (Latitude 29)
1½ oz Hampden Estate Single Jamaican Rum
1½ oz Worthy Park Single Estate Reserve
2 dashes Angostura Bitters

Trader Vic’s Mai Tai Shootout

I’d been thinking of doing a comparison test anyway, but was inspired by this week’s episode of the Tiki with Ray show on YouTube featuring the topic of “My Favorite Mai Tai” and a discussion of Menehune Juice.

Menehune Juice is a Mai Tai variant developed by Trader Vic’s in the early 1970s and is essentially a replacement of the aged Jamaican-forward rum with a Light Puerto Rican Rum. Other variants from this time period include the Pinky Gonzales (sub Tequila) and Honi Honi (sub Bourbon). The Menehune craze of the 1960s allowed Vic to put the Menehune Juice on the menu and you even got to take one home with you.

For this test, I compared the 1944 Mai Tai, Trader Vic’s Mai Tai, and Menehune Juice as they are prepared by Trader Vic’s restaurants today. Notably, the latter two use Trader Vic’s Mai Tai Concentrate as a substitute for the Orgeat, Rock Candy, and Orange Curacao. That Concentrate is used in Trader Vic’s restaurants and is occasionally sold off the Trader Vic’s website (I bought mine as part of the Trader’s Treasures membership). For the 1944 I’m using the present day recipe that calls for ¾ oz of Orange Curacao (I used DeKuyper).

I was surprised how much I liked the Menehune Juice, which I found light and refreshing but still “rummy” in a good way. I do enjoy the Mai Tais made with the Concentrate. But, no surprise that my personal preference was for the more complex body and taste of the 1944. Mrs. Mai Tai said she preferred the Trader Vic’s Mai Tai and then the Menehune Juice, so it seems true that there’s a cocktail for everyone at Trader Vic’s.

1944 Mai Tai (Trader Vic’s present day, referenced as The Original Mai Tai on menus)
¾ oz Lime Juice
¼ oz Rock Candy Syrup
½ oz Orgeat
¾ oz Orange Curacao
2 oz Trader Vic’s Royal Amber Rum
Shake with crushed ice and pour into Mai Tai glass
Squeeze ¼ of a lime, then garnish with spent lime shell and mint sprig

Trader Vic’s Mai Tai
Typically labeled “Our signature Mai Tai has been modified to perfection” on menus.
½ oz Lemon Juice
¾ oz Mai Tai Concentrate
2 oz Trader Vic’s Royal Amber Rum
Shake with crushed ice and pour into Mai Tai glass
Squeeze ¼ of a lime, then garnish with spent lime shell, fruit stick, and mint sprig

Menehune Juice
Same as Trader Vic’s Mai Tai but sub 2 oz Trader Vic’s Light Rum in place of the Royal Amber.

I used Trader Vic’s products throughout, except subbed Latitude 29 orgeat and Liber Demerara for the Rock Candy in the 1944 recipe.