Pagan Idol Visit

Another bar it’s been too long since I visited. Very welcoming vibe inside Pagan Idol and service remains stellar, along with an exotic music program that plays well for newbies and tiki bar snobs (like me).

I didn’t love the Mai Tai. Like sister bar Zombie Village, this was too Agricole forward for me. But it was more tart than Zombie Village’s so really not in my wheelhouse. I only stayed for one drink, though, and didn’t lean into menu favorites such as the Day Walker which are always on par.

I see that Pagan Idol is starting up some live music performances coming up, featuring the Alcatraz Islanders who play some great swing era Hawaiian and jazz. I took BART for the first time in forever and it was a pretty good experience (everyone wore their masks) so more Pagan visits may be in my future.

Return to the Village

Made a return visit to Zombie Village after a long absence and was pleased to see the vibe and overall service levels are still quite strong. On an early Saturday evening the music was peppy but exotic and instrumental, so still in line with the tropical aesthetic.

My Mai Tai was fine – a little heavy on the Rhum Agricole for my personal taste, but quite reasonable. I only stayed for one cocktail but it was nice chatting with some of the staff.

Zombie Village is still one of the key tiki bar destinations for anyone visiting San Francisco. I always love my visits to the village.

Clinch Cocktail

Made this simple cocktail to watch the San Francisco Giants clinch a playoff spot. I had oranges but no other citrus, which I guess is poetic considering that orange is the Giants’ main color.



1 oz Valencia Orange Juice
¾ oz Passionfruit Syrup (Liber & Co)
1½ oz Myers’s Platinum White rum
Shake with ice and strain
Buster Posey figure optional

There is no doubt this one goes down easy. It leans sweet, that’s for sure. Balanced cocktails can come by later.

Saint Benevolence Rum

One of the highlights of the California Rum Fest was the rums from Saint Benevolence. Two of their expressions are Clairins from Haiti, and profits from the business are funneled back to medical, educational, and economic charities in Haiti. Saint Benevolence is currently available in nine states, Canada, and the U.K. I’m a big fan of the unaged Rum Clairin expression.

I took another pass at tasting on their new aged rum This is the same clairin that’s been available for a couple years, but aged for at least a year. This aged version does present some different tasting notes including vanilla and spice. Totally worth seeking out.

California Rum Fest 2021

After taking 2020 off, the California Rum Fest returned to San Francisco yesterday. The seminar schedule was a little lighter than last time, but Eve Bergeron had a great presentation about the Mai Tai, including some wonderful historical photos of The Trader himself. More about this presentation in the coming days.

The variety of rums available for tasting was quite reasonable and I got to try some new ones that I’ve been wanting to try. Most notable was the Worthy Park 109, a dark Jamaican rum at higher ABV. The booth also featured a very interesting cocktail called the Park Walk from Jeanie Grant of Palmetto (nice matchbooks too). The new Worthy Park Madeira and Sherry cask editions were also available and quite good.

The entry process into the event included a check of vaccination status and ran very smoothly. Some of the rum brands had giveaways such as stickers and pins, or recipe cards and details on the rum expressions. So, it’s a great way to learn more about new brands or dive deeper into a product line.

Fritch’s Favorite Five Rum Flight at Smuggler’s Cove

As Smuggler’s Cove officially welcomes guests again, we want to highlight one of the new offerings. Fritch’s Favorite Five is a rum flight based on the picks that our late friend Alex Fritch made during our Five Bottle Rum Challenge video earlier this year. It’s actually a really great selection of rums that span a range of different styles and different countries of origin.

The flight offers tribute to our friend, and 100% of the sales go to Alex’s family. So go ahead and give these amazing rums a try, but know it is going to a good cause. And send a little toast Alex’s way as well.

Be sure to ask the Smuggler’s Cove crew about their rum club, the Rumbustion Society. This is a little more educationally oriented than some rum clubs are, and you can sample rums from The Cove’s vast selection (over 1000 bottles on site). A great way to learn more about rum.

Smuggler’s Cove is reopening today.

Welcome Back Smuggler’s Cove

Reopening today is San Francisco’s Smuggler’s Cove, available to serve guests like they always have since 2009. No more cans or to-go soup, just fine cocktails and a vast selection of rums to taste.

We had the pleasure of visiting the Cove last week for a soft-reopen and it was so nice to be able to relax inside an immersive tiki bar while sipping on the finest cocktails in the city.

Mrs Mai Tai’s new favorite cocktail is Dr. Barca’s Fluffy Banana. So flavorful and light, perfect even for those who say they don’t like banana in a cocktail.

Meanwhile, I had the Smuggler’s Cove Mai Tai, which I’m pleased to say still ranks in the top 3 of all time.

There’s a new cocktail called the Pratique Punch, which is a great way to celebrate the reopening. There’s also a special rum flight which we’ll cover in detail in the next post but will put a quick plug in here too.

The Smuggler’s Cove staff couldn’t have been nicer and even with being benched for over a year due to COVID most certainly have come back strong. Note that The Cove doesn’t offer reservations and that entry will be by first-come basis, so if you’re planning to visit it’ll help to get there early before opening.

Presidio Afternoon at Walt Disney Museum and Sessions

Julie and I took our sons our for the afternoon at the Presidio in San Francisco. We started with a visit to the Walt Disney Family Museum, which is featuring a wonderful special exhibit on Disney during World War II. Photos aren’t allowed inside but there are some truly fascinating exhibits that chronicle not just the studio’s animation output but also putting some fo the things into cultural and political context. Highly recommended. We also did a quick run through the main museum which we have visited several times before and is always a delight. I am especially fond of the last room chronicling Walt’s media diversification in the 1950s starting with television and then with Disneyland.

Dinner was at Sessions, which we enjoyed earlier in the month during the May 4th special event with Smuggler’s Cove. The food here is gourmet, though pricey. This time we tried the beignets and they are so great. Wait service was disappointingly slow (like it was last time), though.

There are only a few cocktails on the menu. The Rum and Pineapple-based Sarlacc Shrubb was okay, though more tart than I prefer. Much better was the Golden Gate Mile, featuring Bourbon, Grapefruit, Honey, and Ginger. Julie liked the Presidio cocktail with Gin, Lemon, Hibiscus, and Prosecco. If you’re a wine fan, there are dozens of Skywalker Vineyards selections, which seemed popular with the patrons.

We finished the day by visiting the Yoda statue nearby.