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.

SF Rum Fest Recap: The Rums

Had a great time in the city for this annual Rum Fest, this time being billed as the San Francisco Rum Fest now that there’s a companion new event in Los Angeles.

This is an event that’s mix of educational seminars, rum education, rum exploration, and social meetup. Having tasted more of these rums over the years, I lean more into the social side but there’s always some new brands or expressions to try. View the video of the layout.

I was impressed by the single-still releases from El Dorado: Enmore, Versailles, and Port Mourant. These are all aged 12 years and provided at cask strength. I was told these would retail at ~$90, in which case that would be a steal. I do see them offered online for ~$150 which seems to be more what I’d expect. In any case, these are flavor bombs that are so great. I was most impressed by the Versailles, with the Port Mourant being a close second.

Diamond Distilleries was also showing off a fruity and light white 151, aged six months. And a heavier dark 151 aged two years, somewhat more reminiscent of the famed LH151 but still quite lighter.

Rhum Barbancourt had a white expression I’d never tried before and liked. It’s a lighter style than the Haitian rum clairin from Saint Benevolence, which has an aged expression in the market and more things to come.

Copalli rum from Belize seems to be everywhere. I liked both the white and the barrel rested expressions. They were serving a great daiquiri riff by local bartender Maritza Rocha-Alvarez that was superb.

Rhum Saint James from Martinique seemed to be making a push to get better distribution and had a number of new and interesting expressions.

I spoke to the Hawaiian producers about their product, which will be covered in a deeper dive in a couple weeks.

Reader Request: Custom Mai Tai Blend

We received an email from reader Andrew Furber:

Hi Kevin, love your website/blog as well as all things tiki like yourself. Need help blending the perfect Mai Tai working with these current bottles on my home bar:

Appleton 12yr
Clement VSOP
Wray & Nephew
Plantation OFTD
Plantation Stiggins Fancy
El Dorado 5yr
Cruzan Single Barrel 5yr
Goslings Black

I normally do 50/50 Appleton and Clement blend (1 oz each) but wanted to get your thoughts. I recently discovered a nearby liquor selling Doctor Bird so I may pick up a bottle of that soon too.

I asked Andrew to rank some common rum styles in order of preference, and here was his list:

1. Jamaican rum (funky)
2. Jamaican rum (blended)
3. Rhum Agricole
4. Barbados rum
5. Light rum

Thanks, Andrew, that helps. If you like it funky you’ll want to use the Wray and the Clement.

I’ll give you a sort of simple version and a slightly more complicated and boozier option. You want a good backbone of aged rum, hence the high percentage of Appleton 12 in both options. You really can’t go wrong with Appleton 12 in a Mai Tai.

Simple version:
1 oz Appleton 12
½ oz Clement VSOP
½ oz Wray & Nephew Overproof

Boozier Blend:
¾ oz Appleton 12
½ oz Clement VSOP
½ oz Wray & Nephew Overproof
¼ oz Plantation OFTD

And, yes, we think you’ll love Doctor Bird and would be a good sub for the Wray in the above recipes.

Regal Beagle shirt and cocktail

I was eyeing this shirt for weeks and had to order it …  Loved Three’s Company as a kid and the idea of a friendly bar down the street.

The cocktail was made up on the spot using some unaged Martinique rhum as the base.

1 oz Lemon Juice
½ oz Simple Syrup
⅓ oz Grenadine
¼ oz Passionfruit Syrup
2 oz Unaged Martinique Rhum (100 proof)
 

This was really quite good.