To-Go Cocktail Review: The Kon-Tiki

Another cocktail review, featuring to-go cocktails from The Kon-Tiki in Oakland.

Jet Pilot: leans heavy on the Cinnamon, in a good way. This classic and boozy cocktail is delicious.

Hot Toddy: many winter spices make this a seasonal favorite. I also tried this over ice and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Day’s Next Mistake: this doesn’t taste anything like a Ray’s Mistake but I did enjoy the rum blend and overall flavor. Contained chili spices, so not my favorite, but not so much that I couldn’t drink it. If this came back onto the menu I’d recommend trying it. I do appreciate new cocktails that follow the traditional tropical cocktail template.


Loco Moco Vat at The Kon-Tiki

This cocktail was added to the Kon-Tiki’s third edition menu, and was part of a section of original cocktails that went along with a set of glasses to benefit Creative Growth, an Oakland-based non-profit serving artists with disabilities. Glasses are still for sale (glass pictured is the standard Kon-Tiki Zombie glass). The Loco Moco Vat was reintroduced last week to the Kon-Tiki’s vast list of to-go cocktails, so I thought I’d give it a try.

Loco Moco Vat:
White rum, Lime, Apricot and Banana liqueurs, Crème de Cacao, Pineapple and Bitters. This tropical drink a wonderful vacation in a glass, including some flavors I don’t often taste in cocktails. Glad I ordered.

Self-serving reason: after I completed the Kon-Tiki’s Expedition Rum list in December 2019, I thought I’d sample all the cocktails on the menu that I had missed when I was doing nothing but rum shots, Daiquris, and Mai Tais to complete the Expedition. I even printed out a nice little card with a checklist. I had gotten pretty far when the lockdown hit, but I haven’t been able to check off any for over 10 months. So, thanks Kon-Tiki for putting the Loco Moco Vat back on the menu.

All I need left is the Sunken Tugboat and the Virgin’s Downfall. Someday, maybe.

Mrs Mai Tai sampled the new Lychee Martini, a single serving tropical Martini. Featuring London Dry Gin, Lychee liqueur, and Vermouth blanc, this was a nice twist on a classic. Well done.

Weekend Specials at Kon-Tiki

Two specials this weekend continue the Kon-Tiki’s culinary tradition. Mrs Mai Tai had the Garlic Shrimp that most definitely did not skimp on the garlic, and were savory and amazing. Meanwhile I had the Sausage, Egg, Cheese Sandwich that was prepared like a breakfast sandwich but was huge and filling. Totally flavorful and not too spicy, so perfect for me. Greasy in the best possible way and a legit companion to the Kon-Tiki’s legendary Burger.

Cocktails were the Uma Uma, Mrs Mai Tai’s frozen favorite. I had the Jet Pilot that was truly outstanding.

RIP 2020 from the Kon-Tiki

2020 sucked in so many ways. I had to cancel trips to New Orleans, Seattle/Tacoma, Portland, Southern California, and London/Dublin/Scotland. I missed visiting a bunch of great tiki bars, even local ones. After visiting 52 different tiki bars in 2019, I only got to 15 in 2020. But, at least our family stayed safe.

The East Bay tiki bars were my life-blood. In 2020 I patronized Trader Vic’s, The Kon-Tiki, and Forbidden Island at least once a month each. But my most visited tiki bar was The Kon-Tiki (same as 2019 and 2018). So we had to end the year on a high note with to-go drinks and their amazing cheeseburger.

I can’t wait to come and hang out indoor or even outdoors soon.

Number One Mai Tai of 2020

The Last Ultimate Mai Tai at The Kon-Tiki (Oakland, CA)

For the second year in a row, my best Mai Tai was at The Kon-Tiki. In early March, we said goodbye to bartender Terry Six as he left the bar to move to Southern California. For one last time I got have the Ultimate Mai Tai made by Terry. This was number one in 2019 when it was on the menu the night I completed the Kon-Tiki Rum Expedition, and was made the way that Terry knows I love it – thank you again. 

Made with Appleton 12, Plantation Xaymaca, Plantation OFTD, and Smith & Cross rum – along with heavy orgeat – this was the best Mai Tai I’ve ever had.

Saturn from Kon-Tiki

As the cocktail menu at Oakland’s The Kon-Tiki evolves to feature new frozen cocktails, warm holiday drinks, and cocktails that lean into some non-tiki styles, there has been the addition of some classic tiki cocktails to the menu as well. This includes some old favorites such as the Jet Pilot and the Jungle Bird. Today we’re sampling their Saturn.

The Saturn is a Gin-based cocktail with Lemon Juice, Passionfruit syrup, Orgeat, and Falernum. The Kon-Tiki’s version is quite good and presented pretty much to the standard recipe. When I make it at home I do add more Orgeat, but the Kon-Tiki version was still quite good. I did feel that shaking the drink with crushed ice and then straining into a Coupe glass with a wide stainer did allow for small ice crystals enhanced the drink’s experience. Delightful.

Frozen Grasshopper and Kon-Tiki Burger

I usually don’t feel too much guilt calling myself a cocktail snob at this point, which means that I have fairly high standards for how I taste and rate cocktails. In this respect, I haven’t done a lot of exploring of the drinks made famous during the “cocktail wasteland” of the 1970s and 1980s. As such, I’ve never head a Grasshopper before.

Enter The Kon-Tiki’s new Frozen Grasshopper, another cocktail that leans a bit more into classic cocktail territory than classic tiki/topical cocktails. Well, the Grasshopper is served frozen and this is simply delightful. Another hit from Oakland’s Kon-Tiki, the Tiki Bar that leaned so far into 1970s Yacht Rock that they had a whole section on their cocktail menu to drinks named after Yacht Rock songs. Pair this with their signature coconut-forward Uma Uma and you’ve got a couple amazing frozen cocktails.

The Grasshopper is paired with the amazing Kon-Tiki Burger, still the only cheeseburger that Mrs. Mai Tai will eat regularly. And even with a longer-than-normal travel time back home the burger and fries were still quite ready to be devoured by the entire household.

Last note, Mrs. Mai Tai had the Kon-Tiki’s new Spiced Rum Toddy, a warm cocktail with three rums, tawny port, lemon, honey, allspice, and clove spices. She loved it, and it fits right in to the holiday season. Be sure to check it out if you’re dining on Kon-Tiki’s heated patio that now includes music.

Tiki in Oakland / Not My Presidente

I had short but fun visit saying hello to some of the Oakhana regulars at The Kon-Tiki last night. It was so cool, Neil even brought a little record player to play some vintage LPs. So nice to see some of the regulars, plus an active Wednesday night crowd at The Kon-Tiki. I also finally got to try one of 2020’s seminal cocktails, Best Fronds (tropical Negroni) and to check out the newly expanded outdoor patio.

There are now ten big outdoor booths, plus a few 2-top tables for “in person” dining and cocktailing at Kon-Tiki. Check the number on your table, include that with your online order, and then they bring out your drinks and food. Hopefully some roofing to come soon for rainy season.

It’s a pretty good setup and the drinks came out fast. I enjoyed the Best Fronds, with Pineapple Rum, Sweet Vermouth, Campari, and Mole Bitters. I’m not still not a Campari lover but I did like this. Definitely a nice change of pace from the usual tropical cocktail merriment. Good job Chris Day and nice to see Kon-Tiki crew.

Not My Presidente

This cocktail was part of this past weekend’s @bartenders4change celebration. Lots of great content going into the @thekontikioakland Instagram feed, plus some topical interviews. @samson_miller did a great job with the content and interviews, and I learned a lot. And credit to The Kon-Tiki for providing the platform.

This cocktail was still on the menu last night, and getting ready for the debate I’d be lying if the name of this cocktail didn’t strike a chord.

Not My Presidente: American Gin, Overproof Rum, Manzanilla Sherry, Hibiscus Grenadine, and Pufferfish Bitters. Definitely in the classic cocktail style, and boy was this plenty boozy. Just enough to forget my troubles for a few hours. And tasted fine after a day in my fridge.

The Kon-Tiki has a nice setup for online order, to-go orders, delivery, and now an opportunity for in-place outdoor consumption. I shall return.