Pagan Idol was a quick stop on our way to dinner, so we just shared a Mai Tai. Unlike the version at sister bar Zombie Village, this flavorful Mai Tai leaned into the Martinique rhum as the most forward flavor. Thus, more of those grassy notes that this style of rhum is famous for. Not my personal preference but it might be right for you and in either case it is nice to see each place doing their thing.
One thing that’s a lot better at Pagan Idol is that back bar is visible and you can scan the myriad bottles of rum. And what did my little eye spy? Not one, but two (!) bottles of the famed Foursquare 2004 Exceptional Cask Series rum. This is one of my all-time favorite rums and in my opinion the best of all the ECS releases. If you sometimes find Barbados rum to be mild or timid you won’t feel that way anymore after tasting the rich buttery notes in Foursquare 2004. Very rare to find on shelves in bars, so head on down to Pagan Idol to give it a try.
I’m doing Kon-Tiki’s Rum Expedition list of 100 rums again, and decided to Daiq it up last night for National Daiquiri Day.
I tried three rums in this format, all light/clear and I believe all unaged.
Copalli White – this pot/column blend from Belize is made from sugar cane juice but is very approachable. Not as much character in this one compared to the other two, but it is very serviceable in this format.
Père Labat Blanc 59 – a high proof rhum had more oomph and the traditional Martinique grassy notes were somewhat tempered in this format. I liked this, not just for the 59% ABV but because of the terroir of the island of origin.
KōHana Hawaiian Agricole Rum KEA – by far by favorite from this list. I absolutely love Kea for the savory qualities, even at only 40% ABV. Not grassy like the Martinique, instead this flavor bomb had a really lovely and long finish in the daiquiri.
After we left L.A. and ventured up the coast we decided to stop in Ventura for lunch. It’s been a while since we visited VenTiki Lounge and Lanai and found it to be in good shape with lots of shade on the patio and inviting us for a relaxing time on a nice spring day.
I went upscale for the refreshing $35 Mai Tai, a good price considering it uses a couple of premium Martinique Rhums and you get to keep the nice VenTiki mug as a souvenir. I also tried and liked the sweet and tangy Vicious Hibiscus that includes Spiced Rum, Elderflower, and Hibiscus Syrup. This was better than The Fuzz that Mrs. Mai Tai ordered and includes Tequila and Hibiscus Syrup.
Our service was great and it was truly relaxing listing to mellow music with lunch. The server saw our interest and even gave us some matchbooks and a couple extra swizzles. The VenTiki team is doing a lot of things right given the small-ish size of the venue and we did enjoy the warning to mug thieves in the restroom.
This cocktail was recently featured on the Cocktail College podcast and so I thought I’d make one at home. An interesting aspect of this cocktail is that it called for an Aged Martinique Rhum, and I’ve heard specifically that this should be a sugar cane juice-based Agricole Rhum, not a Grand Arôme from Molasses. But the guest on Cocktail College seemed to not dial this in and even suggested an unaged Agricole might be better.
Having made the cocktail I can say that an aged Agricole for sure works better to compliment the spicy notes from the Falernum and Allspice Dram. The cocktail I made turned out really great and only served to remind me that I ought to order this more when out at bars.
Three Dots and a Dash by Don the Beachcomber ½ oz Lime Juice ½ oz Orange Juice ½ oz Honey Mix ¼ oz Falernum ¼ oz Allspice Dram / Pimento Liqueur ½ oz Demerara Rum 1½ oz Aged Martinique Rhum 1 dash Angostura Bitters Flash blend with 6 oz crushed ice. Garnish with three cherries (dots) and a pineapple front (dash).
Spirts: Falernum: John D. Taylor (heavy pour) Allspice Dram: Hamilton Demerara Rum: Skipper Rum Aged Martinique Rhum: Clement VSOP
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.
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.