Patio Mai Tai at The Kon-Tiki

Quick drive up to Oakland for a Mai Tai on the patio and a peek at the indoor dining situation at The Kon-Tiki. Man, the Mai Tai was really good on the patio, listening to Yacht Rock that the Kon-Tiki is famous for.

Nice to see Chris Day and Chris Parker and of course some of the Oakhana who were doing the indoor thing. After my second shot in a couple weeks, we’ll be indoors too.

Woody Miller Art

Two of the treasures we picked up at the mini-bazaar at Trader Vic’s yesterday. These are from Woody Miller including a wood piece in his signature style. I really love the Moai-inspired mug with a wood style glaze.

Be sure to check out more of Woody’s art in the forthcoming issue of Exotica Moderne magazine, now available for pre-order at Woody is the cover artist and I had the pleasure of interviewing Woody for the article. Some surprises inside.

Looks like we’ll be able to see more of Woody’s work at The Kon-Tiki Room at Palmetto in Oakland, opening very soon. Can’t wait.

With The Kon-Tiki Room opening in the same window as Woody’s cover story, everything is working out as Woody and I planned when we did the interview back in December. Yep, we totally planned this. No luck involved at all.

Last Photo

This was taken a year ago at The Kon-Tiki at a celebration for Terra Fritch and Alex Fritch completing the Kon-Tiki Expedition Rum list. It was such a great time but that’s where we heard about Tom Hanks and the NBA shutdown, and well, you know the rest of the story.

Perhaps if I had been sitting on the couch when all of this went down I might be taking the one year anniversary less hard. That event was such a memorable gathering and the rapid shutdown thereafter is something I’ve thought about almost daily; heck, I wrote a whole essay about this for Exotica Moderne magazine a few months ago.

Mrs. Mai Tai is getting her second vaccination tomorrow and hopefully our sons and I can get vaccinated soon as well. That will make us feel safe for private gatherings of vaccinated people, and is a step to getting transmission rates so far down that we’ll feel safe doing indoor dining again.

Someday we’ll be able to do this again.

Chet Baker Cocktail at The Kon-Tiki

It’s nice to see some changing menu items at The Kon-Tiki in Oakland. The new cocktail this week is Chet Baker, a rum-based Manhattan with two overproof Jamaican rums, Punt e Mes Italian Vermouth, Honey, and Bitters. I really liked this, though when you put Jamaican rum forward in a cocktail and I can’t see how you can do wrong. Wikipedia says that Chet Baker was a Jazz musician who died falling from a window in Amsterdam while high on heroin and cocaine, so I’m not sure what that has to do with the this tiki version of a Manhattan.

Also new this weekend was the Steak Sandwich – grilled ribeye, shallots, American cheese, arugula, garlic aioli, and BBQ sauce. The meat was tender and easy to eat in sandwich form and I liked it. Man does not live by the Kon-Tiki Cheeseburger alone!

The Kon-Tiki’s second parklet got an artistic makeover this week, an indication that those will be with us for a while. Quite a nice crowd yesterday at dinnertime when I picked up the meal, and the soundtrack was James Bond themes, an indication that Kon-Tiki’si retro-inspired music program continues to surprise and delight.

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.