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.
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.
Tiki Bar number 13 for me in 2020 is Oakland’s Kona Club. This dive/tiki bar on Piedmont Avenue is known for their incredible interior by Bamboo Ben and also for having a dive bar sensibility when it comes to cocktails and liquor. They just reopened this weekend from 4-8 pm for takeout cocktails so I took a drive to check it out.
You don’t get to go inside, as Kona Club has cleverly converted their exterior window to a walk-up window for to-go orders. A small set of cocktails are available, long with some beer selections. The requisite food component is a slice of pizza and a small side salad to complete the “meal.” Nothing to write home about but it’s also only $2. The team is looking to update the food option as they go, so check their Instagram for updates. Cocktails are available as a single for $10 or a double for $20.
The Madadamia Nut Chi-Chi is blended fresh and survived the trip home in good shape. The Mai Tai is the same as what Kona Club normally serves, which is to say it’s an Island Style with light rum (they used Myers’s Light Jamaican rum last time I was there). On a hot Sunday afternoon it wasn’t the greatest Mai Tai I’ve ever had but it was plenty cool and definitely refreshing.
Especially if you’re a local, support the business and give Kona Club a try.
First was the Montego Bay, with funky Jamaican rum, absinthe, allspice, grapefruit, and lime. This was billed as having a bite and I would agree. A little too spicy for me, though Mrs. Mai Tai loved it. Not pictured.
Next, the Lost Cartographer, featuring Irish Whisky, Banana, Cinnamon, and Bitters. I liked this a lot, though it isn’t really a traditional exotic/tropical cocktail. The banana was subtle but paired well with the cinnamon. Pictured with the orange slice in the Kon-Tiki glass.
Lastly, the Coco Gadget, with Guyana and Agricole rums, coconut, curaçao, cold brew coffee, and bitters. Mrs. Mai Tai thought this would be up her alley, but she thought it was too rum-forward and said she couldn’t taste the coconut and coffee. Meanwhile, I tend to avoid coffee drinks but actually really liked this. Seemed very coconut and coffee forward to me, so obviously your mileage may vary. A nice addition to the Kon-Tiki menu.
It is great to see some new menu items at Kon-Tiki. We love our classic tiki cocktails but I do like to expand my horizons.
Tony Martinez made these on to-go bags from The Kon-Tiki in Oakland. I really love them both, so we decided to get them framed. The skull and The Kon-Tiki piece fits in well with the tiki esthetic. The “Drink Rum Do Crimes” is a stamp that’s… best viewed in a mirror (I like unique art). Both are great mementos of 2020 and are a tribute to my “hometown” tiki bar. Great job Tony! Keep up this style and artwork.
The frame work is from Creative Framing in Oakland. We really like the bamboo style and it was really easy to work with Heather on the project. Mahalo.
I grew up in the 1970s, which meant that it was impossible to not be aware of the seminal 1970s game show, Match Game. It was one of my favorites back then, and remains a favorite today.
So, I decided to put together a Match Game themed game show for the tiki ohana community based in Oakland, the Oakhana. We met up on Zoom and everyone dressed up so fabulously. And everyone was well lubricated, a Match Game tradition.
Questions ranged from “dumb” things to put into a Mai Tai, the country that makes the best rum, tiki artists, naughty cocktails, and a few Oakland-specific questions. Plus two Audience Match rounds and two Super Match challenges.
There was a primary game and then a “second round” using some alternative questions with the same panelists but different contestants. Hope you enjoy.
Got to try out the online ordering system at everyone’s favorite Oakland Tiki Bar, The Kon-Tiki. The system was easy to use and conveniently allows you to order before the restaurant opens (now 4-8 pm Mon-Sat). Give it a try.
The system is useful too, in that it reminds you of the rum bottles available for sale. I picked up the Denizen Vatted Dark and it’s wonderful. It also allows you to make comments for each item (such as sauce on the side). The loaded Tater Tots are back and they’re wonderful. The peppers have a little kick but not too bad. The tots traveled great, too. Still crispy when I got home. And the Jerk Almonds had a great favor too. The Kon-Tiki Cheeseburger was amazing as always, though do note that it comes with chips now, not fries.
The Kon-Tiki Zombie cocktail was a delight. I made sure to carefully pour over ice.
There are a lot of new murals in downtown Oakland, in support of Black Lives Matter. They look amazing and of course have an important message.
We’ve got a heat-wave in the Bay Area, which mean that Mrs. Mai Tai didn’t want to turn on the over for dinner. Then she looked interested in the new Shrimp Sandwich at The Kon Tiki. So you know what’s next.
Great takeout from Kon-Tiki tonight. The Kon-Tiki Burger traveled exceptionally well tonight, as did the fries. Man, that Kon-Tiki burger is sooo good. The Shrimp Sandwich was spicy and good according to Mrs. Mai Tai. We saved her Uma Uma in freezer for tomorrow.
And the Mai Tai… very good to close out the weekend. I put mine in one of the fine Kon-Tiki glasses, still for sale.
Only bummer was no cool artwork on the bag, but resident bag artiste Tony Martinez needs a day off from time to time.
Wish I could do takeout more from these guys, but even with no freeway traffic it’s hard to travel 30 mins in each direction (same for Forbidden Island and Trader Vic’s). I’m still contributing to the staff Go Fund Me, though.
We swung by 65th and San Pablo Ave in Oakland on our way to Trader Vic’s the other day to go check out what’s happening. And like the past few years, there isn’t much. But starting in 1934, this was the home of the original Trader Vic’s location and where the Mai Tai was created in 1944.
Two palm trees used to flank the entrance, but sadly only one remains. The last time I visited in October 2017 one of the trees was still standing, though without fronds. It seems to have been cut down in the meantime. Someone is still maintaining the grounds here, though, as there aren’t tall weeds growing anymore and the graffiti is painted over.
The lot is still for sale. If you’ve got $500,000-750,000 burning a whole in your pocket you might still be able to buy it.