How to Beat the Flippers

I picked up this very cool Book of Tiki 20th Anniversary Mug at the Shag Store in Palm Springs. The mug is huge – 30 ounces – to remind you of the gigantic Book of Tiki that inspired it. Such a cool design from Shag and Sven Kirsten, the author of the book.

Like many folks active in the tiki scene in the 1990s, we heard about The Book of Tiki for years before the release in 2000. Still a seminal book about the history of tiki bars, art, fashion, and more.

I paid $80 for this mug, in the orange glaze that’s part of the larger run of this mug. A far lower price than you’ll see online on eBay where it goes for over $100 and sometimes over $200!

Here is how you beat the flippers:

  • Drive 500 miles to Palm Springs (each way)
  • Refill gas tank several times ($90)
  • Have three meals a day on the road ($60-100 pp. x2)
  • Stay overnight in downtown Palm Springs hotel ($160+$35 resort fee/parking)
  • Buy mug and then walk to local tiki bar to celebrate ($20-40 pp., plus food)

So it’s easy to see how it is easy to beat the flippers. Look how much money I saved.

Love the book, love the artist, love the mug. It’s all okay.

Bloody Highball in Palm Spring Glass

This was one of the treasures we came back from Palm Springs with. Such a festive design that works well with this cocktail celebrating my first COVID vaccine.

The drink is a riff on Brian Maxwell’s (Shaker of Spirits) cocktail the “Mai Bloody Valentine.” This one changes up the rums a bit and formats it in a highball format with soda. Refreshing.

1 oz Aged Jamaican Rum (I used a multi-rum blend)
1 oz Unaged Martinique Rhum (Clement Premiere Canne)
½ oz Orgeat
¼ oz Ginger Syrup
1½ oz Blood Orange Juice
1 dash Angostura Bitters
Shake with Cubed ice, dirty dump and then top with club soda

Best Mai Tai of 2021 (so far) at Tonga Hut

Mrs. Mai Tai and I spent Friday checking out antique and retro-modern stores in the Palm Springs area. We saw a lot of great stuff and further posts will detail the treasures we came home with.

For dinner we went to Lulu just around the corner from where we were staying downtown. We loved our meal and set the evening in motion with a couple cocktails (a Raspberry Lemon Drop for her and a Sidecar and Daiquiri for me). We like this restaurant and the patio dining was working very well.

We then took a stroll up the street for round at Tonga Hut. Knowing their house Mai Tai is a combo of Coruba and a light rum, I ordered it “with just Coruba and extra orgeat.” That was a fantastic Mai Tai, the best so far of 2021. Meanwhile Julie went with one of her favorites, the Macadamia Nut Chi-Chi. Very fast service at Tonga Hut this evening.

Our second round at Tonga Hut was taken to-go. Julie had the classic Bees Knees cocktail, quite well prepared. I wanted to try something different and tried the Mojave Punch that features Hibiscus syrup. That proved to be a good choice because I thought it was wonderful, leaning to the tart side but with a good flavor that worked great over ice.

Tonga Hut remains our recommended choice for Tiki Newbies in Palm Springs as it has a little bit of everything and the cocktails are usually pretty good. I didn’t love the heavy use of Beach Boys for the music being played, but that was our only gripe as our short visit was otherwise quite lovely.

Yacht Rock Night at The Reef

We had a great time cooling down from a hot (for us) day in Palm Springs with dinner and cocktails at The Reef at the Caliente Tropics Resort. We arrived shortly after 6 pm with the party in full swing and ended up being seated inside near the door (our first indoor dining in months). I’ve got a vaccine appointment for Monday, so somewhat looser considering the circumstances and the indoor seating was quite socially distant.

DJ Baz aka “Steely Cruise” was spinning a great selection of Yacht Rock tunes and put on a great show with retro audio clips, some additional percussion, and witty repartee. Unfortunately, he didn’t have my requested song, “Miracles” by Jefferson Starship, because the internet wasn’t around in the late 70s to early 80s and wasn’t able to download it, but still played some great songs. A couple regulars were prepared wearing “captain” hats and there was a great deal of revelry that we haven’t experienced in over a year.

Steely Cruise spinning Yacht Rock tunes

Mrs. Mai Tai and I did salads and lighter fare for dinner, but we enjoyed our cocktails. Julie had the Macadamia Nut Chi-Chi and I started with a Mai Tai (ordered with “heavy orgeat) that was truly fabulous; the best so far of 2021. I followed with the Planter’s Punch that I also found to be excellent.

Such a great time at the Reef!

New Site Feature: Palm Springs Tiki Bars

We’ve added a new page to the Search for the Ultimate Mai Tai website: Tiki Travels – Palm Springs.

If you’re looking for a tiki destination, Palm Springs has a little bit of everything, and the four tiki bars are all in close proximity. Each place has their own charms and good reasons to visit, and so your preference might depend on your taste, which aspects of the venue are most important, the location, or even some small details.

Each bar is located within a four mile stretch of Palm Canyon Drive.

View the page:
Tiki Travels – Palm Springs

Palm Springs Summary

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Palm Springs Tiki Summary If you're looking for a tiki destination, Palm Springs has a little bit of everything, and the four tiki bars are all in close proximity. Each place has their own charms and good reasons to visit, and so your preference might depend on your taste, which aspects of the venue are most important, the location, or even some small details. I am developing a rating system based on these four criteria. Drinks: quality, variety, price, consistency Ambiance: Decor, immersiveness, seating, special features Service: Hours, ease of service, friendliness Tiki Aesthetic: Totems, Polynesian and/or Nautical theme, music Ultimate Mai Tai Tiki Bar Ratings: Bootlegger Tiki 7.5 Tonga Hut 6.75 The Reef 6.75 Toucans Tiki Lounge 5 Interesting, my ratings on Critiki were in the same order: Bootlegger Tiki 8 Tonga Hut 7.9 The Reef 7 Toucans Tiki Lounge 5.4 Overall, Bootlegger Tiki was my top choice. With a great immersive experience inside (if you can hang with an occasional classic rock number) and truly outstanding drinks, this place was my number one and compares well to fine tiki bars nationally. But Tonga Hut was pretty close, and most certainly is the best one to take those new to tiki bars. Drinks were fine to excellent and the centrally located venue has a high seating capacity, perfect music, and great decor. Plus they have some great food, too. Service issues held the rating down for me. The Reef is also a destination that every tikiphile should seek out. The friendly hotel bar vibe is truly relaxing and they too have fine food and great music. Drinks and decor elements were more uneven, hence the slightly lower rating. But with a group of people? This might be the most fun place for an evening of drinks. Lastly, Toucans Tiki Lounge is a nightclub with a tiki theme and so isn't essential for hardcore tiki people. But, you might have a fun time anyway. #tiki #tikibar #tikidrinks #tikiculture #cocktails #craftcocktails #rum #rhum #maitai #1944maitai #palmsprings

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For more details about Palm Springs, check out the page: Tiki Travels – Palm Springs.