The Multipass at The Kon-Tiki

This is one the “zero gravity” drinks on The Kon-Tiki‘s recent Sci-Fi themed cocktail menu. It has Watermelon, Hibiscus, Oolong, Honey, and Lime and is well garnished for $8. You can “choose your element” by adding a called spirit for just $6 more.

This is a wonderful drink just by itself but does work very well with a variety of rums and other spirits. Would go great with Tequila and Vodka, and I can attest it works for Rhum Agricole and Clairins too. The juicy flavors and the tang from the watermelon really work for me.

I like this for tasting rums from the Kon-Tiki’s large selection. I have the rum by itself and I try some of it neat, then pour into the Multipass to see how the rum works in a cocktail. It’s a great option when you’re doing the tiki thing in downtown Oakland.

Mai Tais Monday

These are the different Mai Tais I’ve had this month at The Kon-Tiki in Oakland. I’m working on their Expedition rum list and trying some of the rums in Mai Tais.

Real McCoy 5
I enjoy traditional Barbados rum, including those from the Real McCoy brand produced at the Foursquare Distillery. The blend of heavy pot still and lighter column still distillate means that the rum is more delicate than rums from other locations. This Mai Tai didn’t hit me with the usual punch I’m used to, a much lighter style and leaning more on the lime juice for overall flavor. A tad more orgeat would have improved this.

R.L. Seale’s
Another Barbados rum produced by Foursquare and with better but similar results as Real McCoy. Again, not terrible but the rum is mostly lost in the cocktail.

Hampden Estate 8 YO
This is more like it. A bold Jamaica rum aged for 8 years and issued at a reasonable 46% ABV, this Hampden is just what I’m looking for in a Mai Tai. The rum is bold enough to punch through but the other ingredients do support the rum and make it more palatable than drinking neat.

Hamilton Pot Still Blond
My favorite of the Hamilton Jamaica Pot Still rums, this Worthy Park distillate is absolutely fantastic in a cocktail. It’s very smooth, but with long and lingering flavors that make every sip a treat. I’m in love.

The Kon-Tiki’s rum selection is vast and there’s something for everyone. They have a nice printed list with prices to help you decide and the bartenders are knowledgeable and always able to offer suggestions depending on what you’re looking for.

Happy 6th Anniversary Kon-Tiki in Oakland

Officially opening six years ago today, we’ve had so many memorable times at The Kon-Tiki in Oakland. Birthdays, rum celebrations, even a of couple wakes. Such a special place to me over the past few years.

The place where I’ve had the best Mai Tai of my life (so far…), and also the best cheeseburger. And so many cocktails. So. Many.

Thanks to Matt and Christ and all the crew over the years. You’re awesome, Kon-Tiki.

Mai Tai Happy Hour Private Event

As part of the silent auction component of the Oakhana Summer Swizzle / two home tiki bar crawl in August, one of the auction items I contributed was a private tasting event with three Mai Tais for up to 8 people and hosted by Jeff Hall at the Dragon’s Den in the Oakland hills. Nav Singh was the high bidder and we had the event this past weekend.

What a great time, thanks to Nav and some of the Sacramento Ohana she brought along for the ride. A few quality questions about the Mai Tai’s ingredients and components and some about its key ingredient (that would be rum, folks). We also had a great vibe at Jeff’s place and some tasty food provided by Jeff. I brought the rum and the cocktail ingredients.

Auction winner Nav Singh

We had three Mai Tais:

  1. First was a Trader Vic’s Mai Tai made with either Khukri rum from Nepal or Santiago aged rum from Cuba. One of these countries has a great reputation as a rum producer, but both are unusual and have a lighter column-still production method. Either one of these produced a fine Mai Tai.

  2. Second was a Mai Tai made with Hampden Great House 2020, a cask strength flavor bomb from Jamaica. The difference between our first Mai Tai and this was greatly evident, and even with a super boozy rum the cocktail is still very approachable. This shows how different rums produce a very different Mai Tai.

  3. We ended with a Blue Mai Tai, made with high quality Giffard Blue Curacao and a rum blend featuring Charley’s JB Overproof rum that’s available only in Jamaica. I’ve done different variants of this over the years and it still impresses; people expect it to be sweet like a Blue Hawaii but the boozy Jamaican rum gives it a good balance.

Thanks again to Jeff for hosting and to Nav for the winning bid.

Additional photos by Robyn Haas and Nav Singh.

Farewell to The Room

Along with Palmetto, the connected Kon-Tiki Room also closed last night. The series finale was raucous thanks to cocktail specials from Santa Teresa Rum but mostly from locals and tikiphiles coming out to say goodbye. In previous visits I’d bemoaned the playing of 1980s top 40 here, but had a softer spot for lesser known New Wave material being played. Still not truly tiki but at least it was a retro subgenre. Last night it was full-on “Dark Wave” which totally fit the bill given the occasion.

The last Stargazer

“The Room,” as it began to bill itself over time, was always the less favored child, either from the more glamorous Palmetto next door or the OG Kon-Tiki a few blocks away. But over time the pop culture sensibilities of the staff made this a decidedly different destination thanks to Star Trek nights and such. Such was on hand with last night with Star Trek on TV and even one couple dressed as Mulder and Scully to pay homage to The Room’s X-Files Friday events.

There was lot of good cheer in the air as we said goodbye. Thank you to Matt and Christ for trying to do something a little different in Uptown. To Jeannie for the cocktail program including our beloved Disco Banana. And to Jeni and Tori for fab service at the bar like always. We truly wish everyone the best and hope for future success.

Farewell Palmetto

Palmetto opened in Oakland’s uptown neighborhood for full service in 2021 as an upscale steakhouse and craft cocktail bar. The restaurant is from the same team as Kon-Tiki at 14th/Webster and the location across from the Fox Theater seemed like an ideal location for foot traffic, especially for the Kon-Tiki Room bar that shares the space and kitchen with Palmetto.

But the team recently announced that Palmetto and Kon-Tiki Room will be closing this Sunday, October 29. Business slowed considerably over the summer and has not recovered. It’s always sad when restaurants close, even if closings aren’t that rare in the industry, especially when you’ve enjoyed the visits and respect ownership and staff.

Some local tiki ohana organized a group dinner at Palmetto last night, our way of saying goodbye. We tried many of the dishes including the escargot and amazing little gem salad. I tried the strip steak and found the butter, cream, and tomatoes to be perfect complement.

The cocktail game at Palmetto has always been strong and we loved the cocktails. Mrs Mai Tai especially liked the Disco Punch and a fine Espresso Martini. I had a rum Old Fashioned with Saint Benevolence, so nice.

There’s always regret about not better supporting a restaurant that’s closing when they needed the patronage. I’m sorry we didn’t visit more often. It is a reminder that these businesses need our support now more than ever.

We wish the team at Palmetto all the best.

Rum is Still a Thing at Kon-Tiki in Oakland

Tried some new (to me) rums at The Kon-Tiki the other day. Their Expedition Rum list is still going, and after 100 you get your name on the wall. And for folks like me who’ve already done this I’m doing a second list and just picking from the myriad options from the back bar. They do have a printed rum list that you can peruse with pricing, etc. Prices are quite reasonable.

So many choices are available at Kon-Tiki but honestly space is becoming an issue so come on down to Kon-Tiki to help kill some of these bottles! I tried to do my part on Wednesday.

First rum was Ron Colón which is a blend of column still Salvadorian rum and pot still Jamaican rums. A very pleasant taste in a Mai Tai, not too assertive. This style of blended rum might work better in a Daiquiri where the general lightness and a bit of the Jamaican flavor would be a little bit more forward and present.

Next, I tried the Diamond Dark rum. This is a Demerara rum and is part of Diamond Distiller’s (El Dorado rum) entry level rum line. This is heavily colored and this has a caramel/maple syrup flavor – not nearly as overbearing as something like Cruzan Blackstrap but still more in that direction than Goslings or Myers’s. Not bad in a Mai Tai.

Last rum was Plantation’s Extreme series Long Pond 25 year rum from Jamaica. Very fragrant and completely delicious, Jamaica rum continues to be my absolute favorite.