Thanks to Chris Day for making me a Virgin’s Downfall at The Kon-Tiki the other night. This Missionary’s Downfall riff features Mezcal, which is why I always avoided it. But, as a matter of fact, it was delicious! Minty and fresh with some complex flavors that truly worked together.
Which means I’ve now sampled all the cocktails on Kon-Tiki’s third menu revision (first introduced in fall 2019), as tracked by the handmade checklist card I printed out over a year ago. I’m looking forward to the new menu that surely is coming soon.
The Kon-Tiki and their sister properties Palmetto and The Kon-Tiki Room announced yesterday that they are going to require patrons to be vaccinated (or have a negative test) starting in August. As of this week you have be vaxxed to sit at the bar, which is what I did and had a great time talking to Jeff Hall and some other barflies. And you can bet that this policy is going to make me more comfortable patronizing these places, as well as being safer for the staff.
It is going to need to start to get a lot more difficult for non-vaxxed folks to have access to nice things, or we’re going to have to do another round of shutdown and business closures.
A very curious design for this new City Sky Blue Undervisor 59FIFTY hat from New Era and available at Lids.
Firstly, this is an OAKLAND cap, but the bridge is the Golden Gate Bridge located in San Francisco. Not exactly the best way to win over the Oaktown locals.
But turn the cap around and there’s a tropical drink. Not exactly the first thing you typically connect to baseball. But, apparently, this is exactly what you think it is – it’s a tribute to Oakland by featuring the Mai Tai that was invented there in 1944.
The rainbow of colors won’t win over craft cocktail fans, but I’m willing to give New Era a break on this point, if only to make the cocktail design more interesting to look at. At least it features an actual old fashioned glass rather than a hurricane glass.
Thanks to Carlos for the tip on this curious new baseball cap.
I’m still working on my DIY checklist of all the cocktails on their third published menu, and thanks to Chris Day for going off the current menu and making a Sunken Tugboat. I really enjoyed this Daiquiri style cocktail with a hint of cinnamon. Meanwhile, Mrs. Mai Tai had her favorite, the Uma Uma. I also sampled a freshly prepared Kon-Tiki Mai Tai that was quite delightful and had a rich mouthfeel that I very much enjoyed.
Pretty much like it was in the old days during our visit last night to The Kon-Tiki.
Bar seating is back! Lounge seating in the palapa is back. Indoors was filled. Rum lists were being worked on again. Burgers were consumed. Plenty of discussions amongst old and new friends. And for Ohana night, the music was classic exotica.
The cocktails were Donnie’s Element and Mrs. Mai Tai’s favorite, the Uma Uma. And then I had a Mai Tai with the Transcontinental Guadeloupe rum. Delicious!
Mrs. Mai Tai and I finally made it to Palmetto in Oakland, after some drinks next door at The Kon-Tiki Room. The neon and art-deco style of Palmetto is best experienced indoors, and the fine food seems like the stuff that might not travel so well for a 30 minute drive back home. We’re finally doing indoor dining, so it was time.
The food here is fantastic. Truly savory, and we both loved the scallops that were available as a starter. The shrimp cocktail was also very good. For the main course, I had the chicken and Julie had the yellowtail, both were excellent. Note that the menu changes frequently, so some things may be different on your visit. The quality of the flavors were truly gourmet, justifying the mid-tier pricing. There is a focus on steaks here too, if that’s your thing, including Prime Rib on Wednesdays.
Palmetto also has an active cocktail program (and wine and beer). Julie had the Girl Goes Walking, featuring Cachaca as the main spirit, paired with Armaretto, Tamarind, Grapefruit, Lemon, and Bitters. Quite delightful.
Located across the street from the Fox Theater in Uptown, Palmetto is a great Oakland destination and an upscale treat to pair with drinks next door at the Kon-Tiki Room.
Some additional shots of the newly soft-opened tiki bar in downtown Oakland, next door to Palmetto. The Kon-Tiki Room is a very nice space with plenty of room. You can see the nautical elements from artist Woody Miller, and the displays with nods to tiki bars past and present.
Congrats to the team for building a great space that is great out of the gate. This will evolve of course but has a strong foundation with some great cocktails, impressive decor, and bar bites paired with interesting sauces. Totally worth checking out (one block from 19th Street BART station), and sure to be a popular destination when the Fox Theater opens again across the street.
Noteworthy: The Kon-Tiki Room’s music included exotica when we entered, but transitioned to Yacht Rock. We think this retro-genre works in a tiki bar (famously employed at the sister location The Kon-Tiki), but we know it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. I personally like that these guys do things a little different and are introducing some variety to the Bay Area’s plethora of tiki bar offerings.
Next door to Palmetto and from the same team behind The Kon-Tiki and Palmetto is The Kon-Tiki Room. The soft-open was last night and once again those of us in the Bay Area are spoiled by yet another awesome tiki bar.
Though it shares a kitchen with Palmetto and there is a door in between the two establishments, The Kon-Tiki Room is really it’s own standalone destination. The nondescript door awaits your entrance and inside there’s a nautical themed bar with bright colors to pair well with Palmetto’s art-deco vibe. But whereas Palmetto is bright and shiny, The Kon-Tiki Room is dark and mysterious. There are several little nooks and a large bar running through the space.
The nautical design from artist Woody Miller is inspired by ports of yore, with dramatic scenes of barrels, cargo, and some skeletons. Not really “pirate themed” per se but definitely a little bit of that. There’s a medium sized tiki in the bar of the bar.
Small bar bites are available but cocktails are the focus here. We tried several and they ranged from good (Singapore Sling) to great (frozen Disco Banana, Cou-Cou Comber). The Mai Tai features Agricole rhum and is excellent. Not grassy at all, but the savory elements shine in this cocktail.
The Kon-Tikihas transitioned back to making freshly prepared cocktails and the crew last night were working like a well-oiled machine. I had a fab Daiquiri with Worthy Park rum and Mrs. Mai Tai had her go-to Uma Uma.
We got a little preview of the revised cocktail menu, coming soon. Chris Day’s excellent Donnie’s Element is available now (in non-frozen form) and we got to try this most excellent Blush Crush. This dainty cocktail has Rhum Agricole and Campari, two ingredients that are not usually in my wheelhouse. But there is something magical about the one – it is delicious.
It is so strange being inside the bar after so long, but also nice to see Kon-Tiki coming out of lockdown/to-go cocktail mode and thriving.
Those who met Alex were impressed by his easygoing and friendly manner. But Alex could be quick with a funny comment too. Both of these aspects are on display with the three videos below.
Down the Hatch Game
Recorded in July 2020, the two rounds here are an homage to the classic 1970s game show Match Game but with a focus on tiki, rum, and the bars in the Oakland, CA area. If you’re not a local, you won’t get a few of the “Oakhana” references, but if you know anything about tiki bars or tropical cocktails there will be a lot of familiar subjects.
Alex was one of the “celebrity panelists”, along with his wife Terra. Alex was put into the “Richard Dawson” chair on the second row, and filled the role of the droll but funny man so well.
5 Bottle Rum Challenge
Recorded in January 2021, Alex was the first person I contacted to participate in a fun round-robin discussion of our favorite rums in five and only five categories. Alex joined us online from his home tiki bar, Fred and Ginger’s Exotic Cocktail Bar and Lounge, and you can truly experience his knowledge and passion for rum.