Dealer’s Choice Mai Tai by Adrian Castañeda at The Kon-Tiki Room

Had a fab time over at Oakland’s Kon-Tiki Room at Palmetto to send best wishes to local raconteur Adrian Castañeda who is moving to Barcelona in a few weeks. We’ve bumped into Adrian in all sort of places, including tiki bars where he’s worked such as Zombie Village, helping Doc Parks at Mai Tai Day 2021, and once even ran into him at the Midway Antique Emporium in Sacramento.

Last night he was doing a shift behind the bar at The Kon-Tiki Room and made a Zombie variant from the ZV days called the Sparkle and Froth. A very nice pineapple-forward cocktail that was super tasty.

I also asked Adrian for a “Dealer’s Choice Mai Tai” using the rums available at The Kon-Tiki Room. It was great to see a rum expert scan the shelves and pull down three bottles to work with, and to use them in just the right ratios. For the Mai Tai, Adrian used 1 oz of Worthy Park Kon-Tiki Single Barrel (aged 5 yrs), along with ½ oz each of Worthy Park 109 and Uruapan Charandra Anejo. This was a fantastic Mai Tai! So rich with flavors, where the aged Jamaican rum really paired well with the molasses and sugar cane juice-based Charandra from Mexico.

This unique blend was so great it is currently on my top 10 list of best Mai Tais for 2022. Mahalo Adrian and best wishes.

The Kon-Tiki Room now has a subtly placed TV for their regular Thursday Star Trek Nights, and last night was playing a vintage 1960s beach movie. Which then allowed them to play some traditional lounge and Hawaiian music, which was totally fantastic. This place is a lot better when there’s escapist tropical music.

Kon-Tiki Enters Revised Top 10 Mai Tai List

Perhaps no destination demonstrates the search for the ultimate Mai Tai better than The Kon-Tiki in Oakland. Their Mai Tai has always been good, but self-described constant R&D means their 2022 Mai Tai has leapfrogged into the top 10, replacing sister bar The Kon-Tiki Room.

This sweet and savory cocktail uses Super Jugoso Orgeat, rum-based orange shrubb, and a blend of rums from Guyana, Martinique, and Jamaica. The house Mai Tai is excellent at Kon-Tiki, or try one with their special Kon-Tiki Single Barrel Rum from Worthy Park.

Kon-Tiki is also the place where where a customized Mai Tai was the best we’ve ever had.

Here are the top 10 Mai Tais that you can have right now.

  • Beachbum Berry’s Latitude 29
  • Dr. Funk
  • Hale Pele
  • Halekulani Hotel
  • The Kon-Tiki Oakland
  • Rumba
  • Maunakea Mai Tai at Skull & Crown Trading Co.
  • Smuggler’s Cove
  • San Francisco Mai Tai at Trader Vic’s Emeryville
  • Undertow

Mrs Mai Tai and I are going to New York City at the end of the month and expect to visit Sunken Harbor Club, home of Garret Richard’s famed Mai Tai. A possible new entry in this list, so stay tuned.

Best Tropical Cocktail and Food Combo at The Kon-Tiki in Oakland

Landed at The Kon-Tiki in Oakland for my favorite combo meal: The Kon-Tiki Mai Tai and a single patty Kon-Tiki Burger. Pound for pound the best cocktail and food combo you’ll find at any tiki bar. I call it the Ultimate Mai Tai Special.

The Mai Tai – funky with rums from Guyana, Martinique, and Jamaica. And the best cheeseburger I’ve ever had. Still going strong after five years.

There’s been some redecorating of the name plagues of the people who’ve completed the Kon-Tiki Expedition Rum List (see if you can spot mine). Thank you to the Kon-Tiki staff for keeping the flame alive.

Wasn’t overly crowded before six and still always a cool vibe inside. The upbeat 70s vintage tunes included some deep cut Parliament songs that were fantastic. Fine for Friday.

The Kon-Tiki Expedition Rum Explorers

 

The Kon-Tiki Mug by Woody Miller

Finally made it out to Oaktown to pickup one of these beautiful Kon-Tiki mugs by Woody Miller. These are available at The Kon-Tiki Room in a green glaze but I was more than happy to pick up this wood glaze at the original Kon-Tiki on Webster street.

I really like this design, including the Kon-Tiki logo on the back. I’m a fan of wood glazes and though my personal preference probably lies towards glossy glazes, I never mind when this matte style is used to mimic wood. Cheers to Woody for another excellent mug.

You can also purchase the mug in combo with Kon-Tiki’s very fine Worthy Park Special Barrel rum release. In fact, the Kon-Tiki has a plethora of merchandise options including glasses, shirts, and even bottles of rum to take home. Vintage LPs are barter only.

Kona Club Revisited

A relaxing Saturday afternoon on Oakland’s Piedmont Ave concluded with a visit to Kona Club. I had a round while Mrs. Mai Tai shopped nearby, and then she joined me for a second round. Service was much better than on some previous visits and we had a good experience with the cocktails. Music was a mix of mellow hip-hop and groovy dance music that was generally relaxing. But whoever put Poison’s “Talk Dirty to Me” on the playlist needs to reconsider their choice.

Kona Club Chi-Chi

Mrs Mai Tai had Kona Club’s signature cocktail, the Chi-Chi. There’s a noticeable amount of Macadamia Nut liqueur here, which I think is a plus for the cocktail. I also sampled their standard-issue and quite decent Paloma, but thought the Undertow cocktail was even better. It has white rum, coconut rum, lime, passionfruit puree, orgeat, and guava. Some ingredients I don’t normally like but I have to admit it worked well.

It is too bad that the music and other aspects of Kona Club aren’t more in line with what tikiphiles prefer. As such, Kona Club relies on the patronage of locals who come in for non-tropical cocktails, beer, or shots. Literally three others ordered whiskey pours during our visit.

Kon Tiki Single Barrel Release Party

Congrats to our friends at The Kon-Tiki who celebrated Monday evening with the long-awaited release of their Worthy Park Single Barrel Rum. This cask-strength rum from Jamaica comes in at a hefty 66% ABV and you’ll taste every bit of the flavor. Obviously overproof and quite funky by general rum standards, but not so much that this can’t be sipped neat or on the rocks. It’s from barrel 717 and aged five years in the tropics.

These bottles are for sale. Prices vary depending on whether you buy one, two, or a case, but think ~$60 per bottle. It is a great rum and supplies are limited, so be sure to visit The Kon-Tiki soon to secure this great rum.

For the party on Monday, there were some cocktail specials featuring this rum along with other products from the Worthy Park / Rum-Bar Rum portfolio. Of course I had to try the Kon-Tiki Barrel Mai Tai and this rum is simply a great choice. One of my favorite Mai Tais of 2022. Expect to see this as a higher-end Mai Tai option in a revised menu coming soon.

Got to speak a little with Zan Kong who is the Commercial Manager for Spirits at Worthy Park. Such a nice guy and knowledgable and passionate about what Worthy Park is doing. 

For many years the distillery has made a tidy profit selling bulk rum to the likes of Hamilton Rums, Doctor Bird, and others. But lately the distillery seems to be using more of their rum for their own products. I’m a fan of their mainstream aged rum release Worthy Park Single Estate Reserve, but also their unaged Rum-Bar Overproof expression and Worthy Park 109, a lightly aged dark rum. 100% pot still rum, always.

Star Trek Thursdays at The Kon-Tiki Room

The outpost location next Palmetto has been doing things a little differently than the original Kon-Tiki across town. One of these is their Star Trek Thursdays, with episodes shown on a screen (without audio) and some drink specials. Not classic tiki by any means, but “The Room” has been stretching the boundaries with music already, so … sure, why not?

I wanted to check Star Trek night out and visited last Thursday with some drink specials featuring Copalli rum from Belize. I had a pour of their Barrel Rested Rum, and it had some nice flavors including some pleasant spice notes.

The drink specials are pretty good for these Star Trek nights, alongside the rest of The Kon-Tiki Room’s excellent cocktail menu.

Tonight’s Star Trek Thursday pays tribute to the recently passed Nichelle Nichols, Lt. Uhura from Star Trek: The Original Series. I’m sure they’ll pick some of the best episodes with Nichols, a true icon.

Turkey Rum

I’m not joking. And it isn’t bad at all. In fact it is pretty amazing.

Matchbook Distilling has a limited edition rum called Some Night in Autumn that is “Molasses mashed with dunder double pot distilled with a turkey hanging in the kettle.” A. Turkey. And that Turkey provides a fine finish to this rum. Definitely rich on the tongue with a fat finish that will make you think of Thanksgivings of your youth.

It wasn’t on my radar but as I understand it, there is a tradition for agave spirits to be redistilled with local fruits, nuts, and poultry called Pechuga. So, this rum borrows from that tradition.

Thank you Kon-Tiki for carrying this special rum. Another great expression from the Kon-Tiki’s excellent selection of fine rums and spirits.

Tiki Night in the Bay Area

Can’t get into the specific reasons why but I made visits to three of the Bay Area tiki bars last night. And of course even if went there for other reasons you can’t leave without getting a cocktail.

Smuggler’s Cove: Hibiscus Rum Punch. Fruity and light, quite flavorful.

The Kon-Tiki: their very good Mai Tai and (not pictured) their best-in-the-world Cheeseburger.

Forbidden Island: Ohana night special cocktail called Black Hole Sun, by Sara Rivas. Citrus, Pineapple, Honey, Bourbon, Demerara 151, Dash of absinthe, Dash of bitters. Leaning spicy, this was pretty good!

Apple Maps in the car really came in handy yesterday. Just 30 mins from the Cove to Kon-Tiki at rush hour!

Nice to see familiar faces along the way. Such a blessing to have so many great destination experiences in the Bay Area.

Great (House) Mai Tai at The Kon-Tiki

Had a great time last night for Ohana night at The Kon-Tiki in Oakland. The staff was really humming along, even after the place even got a little crowded (that’s a good thing). Bartender Kris even put on a fabulous flame show over a couple Jet Pilots (sadly I did not document). It was really impressive.

Besides the Kon-Tiki’s always amazing cheeseburger, I tried the Happy Hour Saturn that was quite tangy. Total bargain, with a great gin finish.

The Kon-Tiki’s vast rum selection offers so many options. This time I opted for the Hampden 2021 Great House Jamaican rum in a Mai Tai and it was totally fantastic.