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.

Tiki-Ko and the Sinking Ship Room

One of the nice perks of the Central California Tiki marketplace was the location in the parking lot across the street from Tiki-Ko and the Sinking Ship Room. Two world-class tiki bars across the street from the marketplace, opening at 1 pm on a Saturday! Staff was just as friendly as in our past visits, a strength of the establishment.

Tiki-Ko is a smaller space with a large U-shaped bar and some booth and lounge seating on each side. Very much a traditional tiki bar, with exotica playing and featuring colorful lighting. This set-up lends itself to some interaction with the bartenders, depending on how busy it is, of course. Mrs. Mai Tai enjoyed the Mary Ann cocktail (similar to a Tradewinds) and a delicious El Duderino with coffee liqueur and coconut cream. I had a pretty good Mai Tai but didn’t love the Navy Grog.

After an early dinner, we went back and hung out in the Sinking Ship Room, catching the last bit of the set from Par Avion. This space has a low ceiling and is elaborately decorated like the hull of a ship. Though there are a few stools by the bar, this space is really more of a lounge setup. You order at the bar and then the drinks are brought to your table. Music here is vintage 1920s, giving this a very different feel from Tiki-Ko upstairs. We both truly enjoyed the frozen Grasshopper (topped with a thin mint) and Mrs. Mai Tai liked the frozen Monkey’s Gone to Heaven cocktail featuring banana. I tried the Three Dots & a Dash which as very forward with a very grassy Agricole – not my favorite. I did enjoy the NA Saturn made with an alcohol-free Gin.

Though these two bars share essentially the same cocktail menu and staff, they’re really two different spaces (you have to exit the building to go to the other) and have different hours. Either one is amazing though, making Bakersfield a destination location for any tikiphile.

Navy Grog at Kona Club

Popped into Kona Club and found that the service issues I’d experience before were not an issue this time. And the Navy Grog wasn’t bad at all. Still free poured and served with cubes and not crushed ice, but I did like this cocktail.

There is good energy here in the evenings.

Dr. Funk Navy Grog

Unlike the Mai Tai which has a well-established canonical recipe, the Navy Grog does not. There’s the Don the Beachcomber version. There’s the Trader Vic’s version. There are versions that blend key ingredients from both. And then there are places that do something different. This is the Dr. Funk Navy Grog.

Still a heavy cocktail with lots of grapefruit and rum, but it does not lean into the traditional ingredients such as honey or pimento dram. Instead, Dr. Funk introduces a different set of spices including Grapefruit Bitters. It is worth trying and you might even prefer this recipe.

Navy Grog Grapefruit Shootout

My previous White vs. Red Grapefruit juice comparison was with a classic cocktail served up, the Old Friend. In that taste test, I preferred the sweeter Red Grapefruit. But that was a cocktail without a lot of sweeteners.

Today’s comparison is with a tiki classic, the Navy Grog. And the recipe is our own Ultimate Navy Grog that blends the historical recipes from Don the Beachcomber and Trader Vic, and includes our potent Ultimate Mai Tai rum blend as one of the base spirits. This recipes includes a full two ounces of sweeteners, counterbalancing 1½ ounces of citrus.

Ultimate Navy Grog
¾ oz Lime Juice
¾ oz Grapefruit Juice
1 oz Honey mix
½ oz Pimento Dram (Hamilton)
½ oz Vanilla Syrup (BG Reynolds)
1½ oz Ultimate Mai Tai Rum
1½ oz Demerara Rum (Hamilton 86)
Shake with crushed ice. After pouring into glass, top with 2 oz of Soda.

I made two Navy Grogs and found that the Red Grapefruit version felt thin on the tongue. Meanwhile, I found that the White Grapefruit introduced a noticeably heavier body to the cocktail, and this version simply tasted better overall. So, the White Grapefruit was the clear victor in this taste test.

Navy Grog Stress Relief

Looked like I picked the wrong year to quit drinking booze. We are all very upset by the insurrection and attempted coup in WDC today.

This Navy Grog is for Mrs Mai Tai. I made my own too. Too early to drink. Too crazy not to.

I am disgusted by the traitors and deplorables. I urge law enforcement to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law – and also to look at the police that seemed to have a lax approach today. We all know how things would have been different had the skin color of the “protesters” had been different.

Here is the recipe if you want to numb the pain.

Ultimate Mai Tai Navy Grog
¾ oz Lime Juice
¾ oz Grapefruit Juice
1 oz Honey mix
½ oz Pimento Dram (Hamilton)
½ oz Vanilla Syrup (BG Reynolds)
1 ½ oz Ultimate Mai Tai Rum
1 ½ oz Demerara Rum (Lemon Hart)
Shake with crushed ice. After pouring into glass, top with 2 oz of Soda