Trader Vic’s Mugs

For Tiki Mug Monday, we’re looking at mugs Trader Vic’s, the home of the Mai Tai. They’ve had so many iconic mugs over the years, but these are our favorites.

  • Maori Haka, based off the totem in Trader Vic’s Emeryville. I also like the white variant.

  • Seahorse – the drink they serve the Seyhorse cocktail in, not sure which spelling is preferred

  • Marquesan Drum – great on top of the bar to store mint, garnishes, straws

  • Coconut Cup – fine for any drink

  • The Modernist – produced in 2021 in conjunction with a book from Sven Kirsten

And my personal fave? The Seyhorse with handy spines to grip the mug!

Which is your favorite?

Woody Miller Mug Release at Wilfred’s Lounge

Fantastic new mug from Woody Miller made in the likeness of his huge carving at Wilfred’s Lounge in Napa.

We didn’t do the signature cocktail but it seemed like it was well received by those in attendance. Wilfred’s made it easy to buy a mug with lunch and Woody signed the mug and posed for photos with good cheer. Another fantastic mug release for Wilfred’s in Napa.

I always feel great when I get a woody.

The Kon-Tiki Mug by Woody Miller

Finally made it out to Oaktown to pickup one of these beautiful Kon-Tiki mugs by Woody Miller. These are available at The Kon-Tiki Room in a green glaze but I was more than happy to pick up this wood glaze at the original Kon-Tiki on Webster street.

I really like this design, including the Kon-Tiki logo on the back. I’m a fan of wood glazes and though my personal preference probably lies towards glossy glazes, I never mind when this matte style is used to mimic wood. Cheers to Woody for another excellent mug.

You can also purchase the mug in combo with Kon-Tiki’s very fine Worthy Park Special Barrel rum release. In fact, the Kon-Tiki has a plethora of merchandise options including glasses, shirts, and even bottles of rum to take home. Vintage LPs are barter only.

Groovy Greg by Tiki Maniacs

Had to splurge a little on this fun mug from Tiki Maniacs and designed by Dave “Squid” Cohen. The mug comes with a surfboard and a small poster print that features an original cocktail recipe from Kelly Merrell of Trader Sam’s.

The mug celebrates the central dramatic figure of the best three part miniseries in television history. Believe it or not, it is the 50th Anniversary of this epic event – the Brady Bunch goes to Hawaii. The mug even has Greg Brady’s signature stolen tabu tiki.

The mug is really big, so large that it actually dwarfs Greg Brady himself.

Groovy Greg from Tiki Maniacs

The Modernist Mug and Book by Sven Kirsten

Trader Vic’s held a release event for the first in a series of mugs and books from Sven Kirsten in collaboration with Tiki Farm and Eve Bergeron from Trader Vic’s.

The event last night was very well run, with early arrivals given a numbered ticket for their place in line. So, rather than sit in a long line outdoors for over an hour, we got to enjoy the Trader Vic’s lounge. Much better for everyone.

I’ll be honest, when I first saw this mug I was not in love. The primitive and impressionist design for the mug was based on an early tiki that framed the entrance to the San Francisco Trader Vic’s location. The book goes into some detail about this style of artwork, and as always Kirsten puts the artwork in context of the time. Though the book is only 50 pages, there are lots of great photos and it’s a perfect size to learn more about the art that inspired the mug.

The mug was available in two glazes. I chose Sven’s glaze, but the darker Trader Vic’s glaze was very nice as well. In addition to the mug and the book, a drink ticket for a cocktail was provided. Attendees could choose Sven’s recommendation, the Tortuga, or a Mai Tai or Navy Grog. I went with Sven’s recommendation and boy that Tortuga does pack a punch.

My understanding is that Sven will be selling mugs/books at some upcoming events in Southern California. Check his Facebook for updates.

Mai Tai Joe (and his little brother)

I finally picked up Trader Vic’s iconic Suffering Bastard mug, aka Mai Tai Joe. They threw this in for free on a recent promotional offer, so it pays to get onto Trader Vic’s mailing list.

Earlier this year I purchased the entire line of minified Trader Vic’s mugs, including a tiny Mai Tai Joe. In either format, this is an iconic mug.

The Trader Vic’s Suffering Bastard cocktail is different from the historical cocktail created by Joe Scialom in Cairo during WWII. It is basically a boozier version of the Mai Tai, but garnished with a cucumber peel.

Suffering Bastard (1970s)
3 oz Trader Vic’s Mai Mix
1 oz Light Puerto Rican Rum
2 oz Rhum St. James

This is from the 1972 Trader Vic’s Bartender’s Guide and the Trader Vic’s Rum Cookery and Drinkery (1974). Contemporaneous Mai Tai recipes called for 2 ounces of Mai Tai Mix with 2 ounces of Trader Vic’s Mai Tai rum. Which is to say that if you made a Suffering Bastard from scratch you’d just use more of the lime, orgeat, curaçao, and sugar, and then just use three ounces of rum rather than two.

Also noteworthy: Trader Vic specifically calling for Rhum St James, a Rhum Agricole, in a recipe that’s basically a Mai Tai.

Suffering Bastard (2005)
3 oz Trader Vic’s Mai Tai Mix
½ oz Lime Juice
2 oz Dark Rum
1 oz Silver Rum
Garnish with Cucumber Peel, Mint Sprig, and spent Lime shell.

This is the recipe in the Trader Vic’s Tiki Party book. Once again you basically have a Mai Tai made one-third larger, though this time it calls for more traditional Dark and Silver rums.

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.

Tiki Mug Monday

This is a Woody Miller mug made for a local home bar. I was lucky to score one from the bar owners and it’s perfect for “Spooky Season” (a term that somehow I’ve missed until this year). This one is truly horrific.

The liquid inside is a secret elixir, known only to the creator.

Blue Hawai-Tai and Forbidden Island Mug

Made for a special Zoom get together with the Forbidden Island local tiki Ohana tonight.

Blue Hawai-Tai by Kevin Crossman
It’s like the Blue Hawaii and the Mai Tai had a baby.
1 oz Lemon Juice
1 oz White Overproof Jamaican Rum
½ oz Aged White Rum
½ oz Orgeat
½ oz Simple Syrup
½ oz Blue Curacao