Instagram Top Nine for 2023

I do still continue to love Instagram, where even the ads help me with my holiday shopping. Plus all the connecting and commenting on the things we love to share. Check out the fun at @UltimateMaiTai. So, here are the Top Nine Posts for 2023.

  • Appleton 17 Mai Tai with Martin Cate (497)
  • Appleton 17 at London event (370)
  • Napa Museum for Tiki Exhibition (358)
  • Cocktail Archaeologist Costume meme (348)
  • Trad’r Sam’s iconic sign (309)
  • Ultimate Mai Tai at Royal Tot (294)
  • World’s Worst Mai Tai at Make & Drink studio (268)
  • Tonga Room (266)
  • Legendary Mai Tai on Make & Drink channel (262)

So, what I’m hearing is that y’all were pretty interested in Appleton 17 Legend rum this year. Seems like you’ve chosen the correct feed for all your Mai Tai minutia.

Top Nine says I had 29,600 likes on 244 posts, an average of 121 per post, so thank you all for the likes. I’m in the “top 1% of accounts with up to 5000 followers,” so the goal next year is to be a smaller fish in a bigger pond.

The Fink – New Cocktail Bar in Downtown Napa

We were excited to try the new cocktail bar in downtown Napa from local raconteur Judd Finkelstein – aka “The Fink” where the venue gets its name. The bar is the same spot as the former Silo’s and is situated in the historic grain mill that now houses the upscale Napa River Inn. The venue takes inspiration from the nearby Napa River and is cohesively themed by Daniel Gallardo (Tiki Diablo) as a nautical trading post. It’s dark yet warm with a large bar, some two-top tables, several booths with portholes, and a lounge area. There is a stage with a piano that will house live music starting in a few weeks.

The Fink serves beer and wine, and Finklestein’s experience with Judd’s Hill Winery means you won’t be lacking for good options. But first and foremost this is a cockail bar and they’ve hired experienced bartenders from the area including Andrew Salazar (ex-Miminashi) to put together the cocktail program and execute it flawlessly.

There are currently 24 cocktails, with more to come. Presently there’s a twelve item House Cocktails section, with six each for the tiki-inspired “LA to the Bay” and classics-inspired “Gotham City.” New Orleans will be the next destination.

OG Mai Tai from The Fink’s Judd Finklestein

Our starting place was the OG Mai Tai, which features house-made Orgeat. This nutty cocktail includes two Jamaican rums and one from Martinique and is quite good. We loved two other exotics on the menu, the tangy Cobra’s Fang and the spicy Nui Nui. All of these would stand up to any cocktail you’d find at leading tiki bars in the country.

Cobra’s Fang and Nui Nui

We also tried the Casino Royale cocktail including Cognac, lemon, orange bitters, Maraschino Liqueur, and Champagne. It’s an elegant cocktail with a medium-bodied mouthfeel and a lingering finish.

Casino Royale

The Fink serves small bites and has some great merchandise options (with more coming) including a membership pin. We loved the swizzle stick that pays homage to Finklestein’s eyewear. We had a great time at The Fink and it is truly worth seeking out or making a special trip for.

Tiki Dreams: From Far-Away Fantasy to Pop-Culture Phenomenon / Napa Valley Museum Yountville

We enjoyed a trip up to the Napa Valley Museum Yountville to view the exhibition running now through through December 31, 2023. The collection is curated by Baby Doe & Otto von Stroheim of Tiki Oasis and it tells a chronological story of tiki in popular culture with an emphasis on venues from the Bay Area. Those venues include Trader Vic’s of course, but also The Lanai, Tiki Bob’s, and more. Each named venue features a nice chronology and plenty of historical details and artifacts.

The collection includes some large tikis, a tiki mug collection, and plenty of artwork. There’s an incredible tiki by Crazy Al (unfortunately not attributed in the museum) that has nods to the different carving styles from across the Pacific. And there’s a custom-built bar built by Woody Miler and used for events.

Overall, the exhibit is well worth the drive and modest entrance fee. We went first thing on Saturday and avoided the typical weekend traffic jams. A California Road Trip exhibit downstairs will also scratch the itch for fans of midcentury kitsch.

The exhibit also features a gift shop with a great selection of items from Trader Vic’s, McBiff, Heidiline, Tiki and Stitch, and more. The great looking event mug by Woody Miller that pays tribute to the Barney West tiki outside Trader Vic’s is only available at the ~monthly ticketed special event receptions: June 17, July 15, August 19, September 16, October 7, December 2. Check the website for event details and ticket links.

Maximum Aloha at Wilfred’s Lounge

It is long overdue recognition that this delicious cocktail should be considered a modern classic. Every time we try it is is on point and it is totally a draw for Mrs Mai Tai whenever we’re in hailing distance of Napa. We know we should have dinner at some of the other restaurants, but we can’t not go to Wilfred’s Lounge for the cocktail.

Maximum Aloha was an opening day cocktail at Wilfred’s and contains Strawberry Infused Philippine Rum, Lemon Juice, Cinnamon, Prickly Pear, Hibiscus, Overproof Jamaican Rum, Coconut Banana Whip. It leans tart, not sickly sweet like you might expect from the color. But that tartness can be adjusted by mixing in the delicious whipped cream.

We decided to Napa last weekend sort of last minute to check out the Napa Lighted Art Festival (more photos under @kevincrossman), so we didn’t have a reservation. We put our name on the Wilfred’s wait list but we’re quickly able to find a couple seats at the bar where they treated us so well. We do enjoy the Hawaiian food here, including the delicious pineapple fried rice.

I was taking it easy so I tried the spirit-free Toucan Sham, a flavorful lime-aid like refresher with Passionfruit, Vanilla, Pandan, Coconut Cream, Lime, Soda. This was pretty. The fruity flavors that favored lime really worked for me. Delightful.

Dinner with a view at Wilfred’s Lounge

Winter Cocktails at Wilfred’s Lounge in Napa

There are some interesting winter cocktails at Wilfred’s Lounge in Napa. I tried and liked the Hot Buttered Rum, a lighter spin on the cocktail and without a ton of thick batter like you sometimes see (I acknowledge that could be a plus, or a minus, depending on your preference). I liked the warm rum cocktail on a rainy day (a coaster-related accident prevented me from taking a nice looking photo). We also heard great things about the Flora’s Holiday with mulled wine.

We were also pleased to see a hard-bound menu this visit, replacing the old floppy leather binder we had to use perviously. So much nicer in this format, but still plenty of space for pages of cocktails, rums, food, and even a section of available merchandise. The merch shelves inside the restaurant are looking nice these days.

We enjoyed our lunch last Sunday. I tried the burger for the first time and found it to be quite the delight. It comes with sweet potato fries, which isn’t really my thing but might be for you.

Woody Miller Mug Release at Wilfred’s Lounge

Fantastic new mug from Woody Miller made in the likeness of his huge carving at Wilfred’s Lounge in Napa.

We didn’t do the signature cocktail but it seemed like it was well received by those in attendance. Wilfred’s made it easy to buy a mug with lunch and Woody signed the mug and posed for photos with good cheer. Another fantastic mug release for Wilfred’s in Napa.

I always feel great when I get a woody.

Happy 1st Anniversary Wilfred’s Lounge

Getting married on a holiday ain’t bad when you both have the day off from work and can head up to Napa for an Anniversary lunch at Wilfred’s Lounge. Happy Anniversary @juliebeane.

We had a great time at Wilfred’s. We appreciated the hospitality of the anniversary champagne, appropriate since Wilfred’s is celebrating their 1st anniversary today too.

Lunch was fab. We split the salmon rangoon, salmon entree and pineapple fried rice, really great. And I enjoyed the spam musubi. The Ono Pie is not to be missed.

Cocktails are still on point. The Maximum Aloha remains Mrs Mai Tai’s favorite, a tart cocktail that can be sweetened with the banana whip cream. I tried the new Manta Ray cocktail that is a light blend of gin, rum, and wonderful flavors.

Cheers to @doc_parks and the team at Wilfred’s. Such a cool vibe inside, with friendly service and cool surf tunes playing inside.