Petco Park Mai Tai

Petco Park is a dream for fans of local favorites Cutwater Spirits and the myriad craft beer breweries. Cutwater is everywhere, with a common menu of cocktails throughout the stadium and their ubiquitous canned cocktails. Since neither is my favorite, I was pleased to see an unexpected option with a Mai Tai at one of the  cocktails bars that had a unique menu. Even better was the presence of Orgeat and Orange Curacao on the back bar.

If you’re so inclined, you can get this served in a tall plastic bat, but we went old school for a SD cup. And this Mai Tai wasn’t bad at all. There’s a little splash of pineapple juice, and so when I returned for our second game of the weekend I ordered it sans-pineapple and it was even a little better. Since this uses Cutwater’s light rum, don’t expect too much rum flavor, but for a ballpark you could do much worse.

Blind Burro

Back in 2017, we were so pleased to see a tiki bar called the Cat Eye Club just steps from Petco Park. It wasn’t an amazing tiki bar per se, but the clientele seemed free of the jocks and frat bros that crush all the other nearby establishments on game day. Food was from the adjacent restaurant The Blind Burro.

Sadly, all that remains of the Cat Eye Club is the “Tiki” neon sign that now says “Tacos”. It’s now simply part of the restaurant. 

Our pregame lunch at the Blind Burro was pretty good nonetheless including some tasty Mexican food and Margaritas from their expansive menu. Mrs Mai Tai liked the Guava Margarita. I loved my Chipotle Chicken Torta.

There is a Mai Tai on the menu that includes “white rum” and a float of Real McCoy 5 yr rum. I ordered this without the pineapple juice that it normally comes with and it was a competent Mai Tai and comes nicely served in a Real McCoy tiki mug.

Humphreys Half Moon Inn

After lunch at Bali Hai we wandered over to take a look at Humphreys Half Moon Inn, a Shelter Island classic.

So pleased to see that the majestic A-frame is now back greeting hotel and concert guests to the venue. The previous one went down in a vehicle accident.

The grounds here still look great and wandering around the gardens and pools is truly relaxing. We saw parrots, koi, turtles, ducklings, and a few tikis. We also saw them setting up for the America concert and even got a new nods for the SF Giants gear we were wearing from the roadies.

We also saw that the Humphreys Restaurant is open again, featuring its own majestic A-Frame entrance. We enjoyed our stay at the Half Moon Inn last year and would come back if we aren’t in town mostly to be by the stadium like this time.

False Idol – San Diego’s Best Tiki Bar

We skipped False Idol last year since we weren’t doing much indoor bar crawling, but we were sure to make it this trip by making a reservation. Having visited Smuggler’s Cove and Hale Pele in the last ten days this completed the trio of Martin Cate’s bars on the west coast.

A rare moment when standing room cleared

You enter False Idol via the host stand inside Craft & Commerce. With reservations you’re seated at a table and get to avoid the crush of patrons in standing room or trying to get to the bar seating that is first come, first seated. The reservation for four at 8 pm on a Friday was for two and half hours and we used nearly every minute. Our server Jordan did a great job checking in with drink orders and such, and since we were seated by the exit door we also saw him play bouncer when people tried to sneak in.

The decor here is so cool, with a ceiling filled with floats and carvings on the fall walls from local legend Bosko. Thunder roars when flaming bowl drinks are served. This was our first time seeing the new entrance, replacing the old speakeasy style freezer entrance with one framed by scary shrunken heads and skulls.

The cocktail menu is vast, offering both a classic tropical cocktail as well as a modern riff.  I thought the Mai Tai was just fine, and the Mai Sho Roa Na riff was a great excursion for a version using Banana rather than Orange liqueur and then adding Madiera. Our group tried some of the other cocktails including the Polynesian Forty-Niner (using Gardenia mix), Coronado Luau Special, Mac Nut Chi Chi, and Ube Bae. Really great cocktails overall at False Idol.

Mai Tai

I attempted to not over-indulge by only having two drinks. But the group was really interested in ending the night with a flaming bowl drink, so we settled on the Alkala the Fierce, featuring Dons Spices #2, Orgeat, rum, and Chai-infused Bourbon. I really liked this cocktail, and Jordon flamed it up real good for us. Though, afterwards there was a clear cloud of cinnamon that settled on the table.

A really fantastic evening at False Idol.

Bali Hai – Spectacular Views in San Diego

On our free day between Giants/Padres games this weekend we visited Old Town in the morning for some shopping and cultural activities. Then we went to Shelter Island’s Bali Hai for a late lunch.

Seating is solely indoors now, and we were seated by one of the myriad water-facing windows. The windows are so clear that we weren’t sure there were actually windows present! Kudos to whoever cleans these.

We had evening plans at False Idol so we went modest for the drinks at lunch. Which means there was no way I was ordering Bali Hai’s infamous Mai Tai with 5 oz of rum! I decided on a pour of the El Dorado Port Mourant Rum special release. The current version of Mr Bali Hai cocktail was a hit by those at our table.

Food and service were right up there with the high standards we expect at Bali Hai and it was so relaxing to have lunch on a clear day with the views of San Diego Bay.

Bali Hai Dinner

Mrs. Mai Tai and I had a great time at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park but we put in more than a days worth of exercise walking up and down the hills. So we chose the easy option for dinner, which was to walk over to Bali Hai.

We again went with the outdoor option, and there was a young man playing soft rock hits on an acoustic guitar (he seemed quite popular with the group of older ladies celebrating a birthday with Mai Tais). We had a great meal, including a delightful peanut shrimp plate that Julie said was amazing. I went with a smattering of apps, including the grilled Caesar salad and beef skewers again.

After nearly killing myself the previous day, I avoided the infamous Bali Hai Mai Tai and instead went with their signature Mr. Bali Hai cocktail. This isn’t the classic recipe with coffee liqueur but is made with light rum, blackberry brandy, juices, and a Demerara 151 float. I quite enjoyed it, and wish more people had the pleasure of drinking the balanced cocktails like this one or the Goof Punch rather than the glass of rums they call their Mai Tai.

Julie chose the Lava Slide, with Kahlua, Bailey’s, vodka, and chocolate syrup. Desert in a glass! And quite decadent.

I finished the meal with a pour from Bali Hai’s modest but well considered rum tasting list. They were out of Appleton 21, so my backup was the El Dorado Single Barrel PM Marque. Only $18 and quite a steal since I loved it. I saw some reviews bemoan the low 40% ABV and I appreciate where those heads are at. But the rich pot-still flavor really came through in this bold rum (it actually tastes similar to Mount Gay’s Pot Still release). I’m so glad I tried it.

We had a great time at two meals at Bali Hai. Such a wonderful place to be and while indoors would be better we still enjoyed our outdoor dining there.

Humphrey’s Half Moon Inn

We enjoyed our stay at this Shelter Island hotel with its longstanding Polynesian theme. While the extended beams on the lobby A-frame aren’t there anymore, this place still has a lot of the old spirit. They even were playing Hawaiian music down by the pool one day when I went down to cool off.

Rooms are okay and nicely appointed, commensurate with the price we paid. The bed was a little creaky but WiFi was solid and while we were at the end of the wing, we didn’t encounter any noise issues. Overall the grounds were in good shape and while the on-prem restaurant is closed, there’s a takeout window that was handily available downstairs from our room. Cocktails were… not craft, but staff was friendly and efficient. We did take out dinner one night and everything came out just fine.

Humphrey’s Mai Tai (yes, it’s pink)

The vibe on shelter island is relaxed and perfect for our vacation. We enjoyed watching the Navy ships sail by, as well as the nearly marina views.

Bali Hai Mai Tai

Our first full day in San Diego was a lazy morning for Mrs. Mai Tai. Meanwhile, I crossed town to Quality Liquor to pickup a bottle of the Hamilton Florida Rum Society blend.

We walked over to Bali Hai for lunch and had a relaxed time outdoors under an umbrella, listening to Hawaiian music while glancing at San Diego bay. Our service was fast and friendly, and we enjoyed our meal. I stated with the beef skewers and had the kalua pork bowl as my main course while Julie had a tasty salad and finished with the poke bowl.

Julie had the Big B’s Bri-to, an original cocktail with vodka, soda, and juices. Meanwhile, I ordered the infamous Bali Hai Mai Tai, a drink that can barely be called that due to the minute portions of orgeat, triple sec, and sweet and sour mix. It’s mostly about five ounces of rum with ice and it honestly isn’t great except for getting you super drunk (I didn’t even finish mine). To be fair, the waitress was warning patrons about the strength of the cocktail and redirecting to other cocktails such as the Mr. Bali Hai instead. And, the Bali Hai Mai Tai is only $9.25, which is pretty cheap for such a boozy cocktail sold in California.

I took a chance on a second cocktail and tried the Goof Punch with Hamilton Demerara Rum, Coruba Jamaican Dark Rum, Cruzan Aged Light, Trader Vic’s Orgeat Syrup and a blend of fruit juices. I ordered this with “heavy orgeat” thanks to the light hand I experienced with the Mai Tai and was rewarded with a very tasty cocktail. I really loved the Goof Punch, with heavier rums and just the right amount of pineapple juice.

We enjoyed our visit and took the rest of the afternoon for a drive to various locales. Well, Mrs. Mai Tai drove, not me. I’m writing this after dinner and I’m still inebriated.

Trader Mort’s Liquor Store and Mai Tai

Mrs Mai Tai and I arrived in San Diego and checked into Humphrey’s Half Moon Inn on Shelter Island. We are still not in indoor dining mode, so we did take-out from Ketch that was recommended. On the way to pickup I did a quick visit to the seminal Shelter Island liquor store, Trader Mort’s. Pretty good selection considering the store itself is fairly small. There are a couple Trader Mort’s mugs for sale that look great. I picked up some Myers’s Jamaican rum in a dainty 375ml bottle that will come in handy on our trip.

The dinner process from Ketch was weird. They have take-out available on their website via Chownow, but when I arrived to pick up they sort of treated it as if it was some sort of alien ordering system. And then the food pickup was in one place, but the to-go cocktails were a separate pickup. This is unusual 13 months into COVID take-out mode.

Thankfully, our dinner from Ketch was great. Some excellent salads and seafood cocktail apps, plus the cocktails were pretty good (considering the bartenders are free-pouring). Mrs. Mai Tai loved her Spa Day cocktail with vokda, elderflower, lemon, and cucumber soda. Meanwhile I enjoyed the “Trader Mort’s Mai Tai” featuring Trader Vic’s Royal Amber rum, orgeat, curacao, lime, and sugar.

We enjoyed dinner in the room, overlooking bayfront views from our second floor room at Humphrey’s. Vacation is going well, so far.

Official Bali Hai Mai Tai Recipe

I think I’ve cracked it. I have noticed that Bali Hai does list Orgeat and Triple Sec alongside the rum and other “no juice” ingredients, so my second version without either must not be correct.

This is was based on a comment from @icecrushersd in a previous Instagram post and indeed seems to taste like the Bali Hai Mai Tai that I remember. Except that I didn’t find this too bad. Maybe I’m just so used to drinking straight rum that the tiny affordances of other ingredients is feeling like a luxury. Your actual mileage may vary.

The True Bali Hai Mai Tai
½ oz Sweet and Sour Mix – or ¼ oz Lemon Juice and ¼ oz Simple Syrup
¼ oz Orgeat
¼ oz Triple Sec
2½ oz Cruzan Light Rum
2½ oz Coruba Dark Jamaican Rum
Shake with ice

Yes, five ounces of rum.

I’m looking forward to comparing to the legendary Bali Hai original.