The Mai Tai at Trader Vic’s San Jose Airport was especially good today. Some National Mai Tai Day magic happening at the world’s best airport bar.
8:30 am isn’t too early for a great Mai Tai at Trader Vic’s. Next step, Portland and Tiki Kon.
We had the pleasure of flying out of San Jose a couple weeks ago on the 1st anniversary of Trader Vic’s SJC – the world’s best airport bar. The problem was that our flight was at 7:30 in the morning, so our visit to Vic’s was at opening at 6 am (Mai Tais at 6:15 am!). And the 1st anniversary celebration was at Noon that same day, so all the event merch was held under lock and key. The staff graciously tried to get into it, but no luck.
So we have to thank our benefactor for getting us this amazing Trader Vic’s San Jose Airport glass, and the incredible airline wing-style pin. Mahalo, friend.
To celebrate I made a Trader Vic’s Grog. This is one of the cocktails I’ll sometimes go to at the restaurant when I look for something besides the Mai Tai. It’s a pretty good cocktail in this format, and is basically a crushed-ice and double sized version of the Siboney cocktail that’s served up.
For this version, I used two flavorful Jamaican rums. Some Worthy Park 109, a dark Jamaican rum at 54.5% ABV, alongside Hamilton Jamaican Pot Still Gold. I also made a tiny tweak by adding ¼ oz of simple syrup so that the cocktail was slightly less tart.
Trader Vic Grog
1 oz Lemon Juice
1 oz Pineapple Juice
1 oz Passionfruit Syrup (Liber)
2 oz Dark Jamaican Rum
1 dash Angostura Bitters
Add simple syrup to taste
Shake with crushed ice and garnish with mint.
It is not without a great deal of irony that after being a tiki bar wasteland for decades, that we salute San Jose that now has two very good tiki bars with this Trader Vic’s location and Dr. Funk downtown.
Had a nice visit to Dr. Funk last night for the monthly meetup of South Bay Ohana (more info in the South SF Bay Area Tiki Ohana group on Facebook). I went dry since our return from Hawaii, but it seemed like a good time to jump back on the horse.
The outdoor “Bootleggers Bay” section of the patio is getting some additional decor enhancements. This section of the patio is open in the evenings on weekends as an additional bar station to address capacity constraints for the popular San Jose tiki bar. The netting and the bird of paradise treatment on the fencing looks great.
The world’s best airport bar is celebrating its first birthday today. It was a long time coming but Trader Vic’s San Jose Airport has been slinging cocktails for one year now. We didn’t plan on being here specially for this but it was a happy accident with our flight to Hawai’i leaving at 7:30 and we still had time for breakfast.
Breakfast Mai Tai? Absolutely. It is 6:15 am somewhere, right?
Mrs Mai Tai had a Shirley Temple and we both had the Island Parfait. So good.
For those scoring at home this does NOT count for the Hawaiian Mai Tai contest.
Dr. Funk is now serving food on Sundays and Mondays, which previously were sans-kitchen. So, Mrs. Mai Tai and I had a great meal along with some drinks. I had the burger and Julie had the mushroom curry, both quite good. The cocktail for me was the Planter’s Punch, but I also had a pour of Koloa Gold rum to get me in the mood for our trip to Hawai’i starting on Wednesday (we’ll be in Kauai down the street from Koloa starting on the 14th). Music was mellow and leaning toward exotica, a welcome touch we always like to highlight.
And the venue is now open at Noon on Friday-Sunday, so there’s even more opportunity to try the specialty cocktails and excellent selection of rums and other spirits. If you like the early opportunity to do the tiki thing in the afternoon, I’d suggest patronizing and giving the team the feedback and economic incentive to continue opening early.
We’ve been told a special brunch menu is in the works, which would help for those early openings on the weekends when there is considerably less foot traffic in downtown San Jose.
Several people ordered these when I was there on Thursday, but it was too much booze for me to have that night, so I picked one up on an impromptu visit on Saturday. This off-menu cocktail seems to be made to classic specs, using good ingredients that Dr. Funk is always known for. Fantastic, so layered and flavorful.
For dinner, I did the chicken skewers again and Mrs. Mai Tai and I split the Nacho Fries which were pretty good. Julie had the mushroom curry she’s had before and says it is still very good.
Dr. Funk’s new outdoor bar space is open now on the weekends starting at 8 pm. Dubbed “Bootleggers Bay,” the venue’s menu includes the full food menu from Dr. Funk and a smaller selection of cocktails: Daiquiri, Mojito, Scotch Colada, Mexican Firing Squad, Caipirinha, Bitter Hurricane, Spanish Paloma, and Mai Tai – plus several beer options. Plenty to choose from considering the party crowd I’m sure will be present.
Menu photo via @socy.delreal stories
The mid-month Ohana meetup is now the 3rd Thursday starting this month and based on last night seemed like a good change. We had a nice group of folks attending. Join us starting at 5:00 and ending … later. We still have a standing meetup on the 1st Sunday staring at 5:00 – remember, no food at Dr. Funk on Sundays/Mondays.
Thanks to Trader Don for the photo of Sean and me.
Music last night was a playlist of Ukulele covers of Bob Marley and Eagles songs, which I thought fit in just fine and was more than reasonable. There was even a little exotica, and in any case it is always appreciated when the venue sticks to the atmospheric theme rather than giving in to playing classic rock and ruining the vibe.
Dr. Funk has added on to their outdoor patio, just in time for summer. There are even plans for an outdoor bar for certain days (presumably weekends) when crowds are heavier.
The Mai Tai was Dr. Funk’s standard, with Plantation Xaymaca subbing for their standard rum blend. I keep throwing different rums at the Dr. Funk Mai Tai and it never disappoints.
Was pleased to take a trip to downtown San Jose to meet up with Stephen Curran and his wife Heidi at Dr. Funk. It was their first time to visit Dr. Funk and though food isn’t served on Mondays, we had a great time. I’ve been watching Stephen’s many appearances on the Tiki with Ray YouTube show and we briefly met at the Aloha OA event a few weeks ago. It’s always nice to meet new tiki people and learn about their lives and travels. We’ll be seeing the Curran’s at Tiki Kon in July and made plans to check out their home bar near Tacoma in the days thereafter.
Mondays aren’t the busiest nights at Dr. Funk so there was plenty of space to stretch out and our service was quite fast. Even more importantly, the drinks were really great once again. I revisited two favorites, the Planters Punch and the Mai Tai – and man that Mai Tai was next level last night. I mean, so great. Stephen and Heidi recommended the nearby Hotel De Anza for out-of-towners, just one block away.
It looks like the city of San Jose is going to permanently close San Pedro St. to cars between Santa Clara and St. John St, which bodes well for Dr. Funk and all the other cool restaurants and bars on the street. Party in the streets this summer! We continue to enjoy fairly easy trips to downtown, even at commute time. And the parking garage across the street is fantastic.
Mrs Mai Tai and I are flying to Arizona Tiki Oasis and got things started at the world’s best airport bar. The Mai Tai is especially potent on an empty stomach at 9:00 in the morning. Today is also my birthday and it is hard to beat a great Trader Vic’s Mai Tai as a kickoff.
My grilled cheese sandwich was just okay, but look at the Island Parfait! Greek Yogurt, berries, granola, and Trader Vic’s peanut butter! So good. Mrs Mai Tai made the right choice.
Denizen Merchant’s Reserve rum has a well-earned reputation for being a great single-bottle Mai Tai rum. It’s a blend of aged Jamaican rum along with some molasses-based rum from Martinique, intended to reproduce the rum used in Trader Vic’s “Second Adjusted Formula” from the 1950s.
While at Dr. Funk I thought I’d give their excellent Mai Tai a try with Denizen’s more recent blended rum product, the Vatted Dark. This is a 100 proof blend of Demerara Rum from Guyana along with unaged Rhum Agricole from Martinique. The complex and savory notes work well in a Mai Tai and other cocktails, and the Dr. Funk version delivered.
I also tried the chicken skewers that have a wonderful ginger glaze. These were quite tasty and served alongside seasoned rice. A very good portion for the price.