Wanted to thank you to Ray for driving us from Portland to Seattle and then meeting up with us on Tuesday for a night to remember (at least for the portions that we can actually remember). Such a pleasure to catch up and also to hear about what’s happening in the Seattle area and to give us some suggestions for things to do and such.
Without Ray, we probably wouldn’t have inquired about the orgeat-heavy Mai Tais at Rumba, nor would we have checked out the Tiki Tuesday at The Diller Room. He opened some doors and did some introductions for us at Tiki Kon, too.
They say that alcohol reduces your inhibitions, which can lead to bad decisions. Or great ones. Sometimes, it’s a little of both and that was our experience at The Diller Room on Tuesday.
Having already done drinks at Rumba and Inside Passage, we were encouraged by our friend Tiki with Ray to visit the Diller Room just a short drive away to see Justin Wojslawwho slings tiki drinks on Tuesdays. Ray promised Pearl Divers, which was just up Mrs. Mai Tai’s alley, so against our better judgement we headed over.
When we arrived we saw Justin hard at work, but welcomed us with his special tiki menu that featured some tropical classics, as well as some originals. Ray and Julie ordered Pearl Divers and I ordered the Golden Era Mai Tai, Justin’s house variation. Special Diller Room tall glasses are also available for sale.
All the cocktails were really great, especially the Pearl Diver, and the mood in the room was happy but mellow. Justin is a true artist behind the bar, confirming his well-deserved reputation for quality cocktails and hospitality. The neon sign provides a great backdrop.
But, all the booze was catching up with us and it was time for head back to the hotel, so we didn’t stay long.
We had a reservation for Rumba’s sister bar Inside Passage, and coordinated the move between the two with our server. So very helpful. The entrance is via the host station inside Rumba.
Inside Passage, as many of you know, is a nautical themed bar that borrows many traditional elements of tiki bars, including the tropical cocktails, dark decor, and exotic lighting and music. But there aren’t any idols and the business has gone to great pain to distance themselves from “tiki.” So, fine, not a tiki bar. Except it basically is.
We were seated in a booth that featured decor from Notch Gonzalez and is laid out quite similarly to the booths at Dr Funk that Notch also designed. The bamboo and jade tiles really look great here. The interior feels like the inside of a ship, with a kraken named “Kiki” breaking through the ceiling. It’s very impressive.
There are several original cocktails that have over-the-top vessels, garnish, and effects with dry ice. These are pretty clever with nods to local icons Amazon and Rainer Beer. And the cocktails sure were tasty. I followed up with a Saturn that was well-balanced.
With a small capacity and higher prices for cocktails, Inside Passage feels like a special occasion destination rather than a place where you’ll become a regular. Which isn’t bad at all, and the implementation is quite grand.
We’re in Seattle for a few days and the priority for me was to get up to Rumba and re-try their Mai Tai that I found to be truly amazing on a previous visit a couple years ago. So, Mrs. Mai Tai and I met up with Tiki with Ray for dinner.
Ray and I both ordered the Rumba Mai Tai, featuring Rumba’s House barrel aged Wray & Nephew, Rhum JM Gold, fresh lime, curaçao, and orgeat. But when we took a sip we could barely taste the funky rums. In fact, we couldn’t really taste anything except orgeat. Ray is local and said they must have changed their recipe, so he asked the waiter about it. He said that the Mai Tai only uses ¼ oz of orgeat, but we assured him there had to be far more than that.
As it turns out, our suspicions were confirmed. Rumba recently switched to a different orgeat that’s sweeter, and they dropped it from ½ oz to ¼ oz. But the bartender forgot and used the old measurement. These things can happen during a recipe transition.
We were offered new, correctly made Mai Tais and that small drop in orgeat made a huge difference as the cocktail became correctly balanced. And that Rumba Mai Tai is fantastic, with the funky rums offering savory notes alongside the tart lime and sweet orgeat.
The rest of the visit was great, with all of our drinks being truly high quality and our food coming out quite well. Service was outstanding, and they even helped us transition to our reservation at the connected sister bar Inside Passage.
Rumba has a huge collection of rums, and we got to see the wall for the members of their rum club. The postcards that line the walls and fun painted signs work well with the library-style furniture and shelving. It’s a seminal destination in Seattle.