I had a great time popping into Trader Sam’s in the early afternoon last January. I breezed into the bar with essentially no wait. There was hardly anyone inside and had plenty of time to shoot the breeze with Skipper Nate.
Our visit last Saturday was different.
We arrived 30 mins before opening and put our name on the waitlist, told it would be 5-10 mins past opening at 11:30. A little relaxing strolling around the Disneyland Hotel isn’t bad but we didn’t get called in until nearly noon. Not too bad for a Saturday, obviously, but a bummer that expectations weren’t met.
Inside it was quite crowded but we were able to get our orders in for lunch and some drinks. We sure love it inside. It’s really one of the best tiki bars to sit inside, looking at all the different treasures and elements on the walls and shelves and ceiling. Plus music that is on point and those Trader Sam’s special effects.
I really enjoyed my Poke Bowl with Salmon, and a fantastic 1944 Mai Tai with El Dorado 8. Very nice, and it is always appreciated that even on a busy weekend day that the skippers are willing and able to go off menu slightly and still deliver a great cocktail.
The Tia Mia is basically a Mai Tai where 1 oz of rum is replaced by Mezcal. This agave spirit hasn’t been my favorite (I’ve only recently warmed to Tequila), since its signature “smoky” taste isn’t really my thing. Certainly in this format, where the Mezcal is tempered by some Jamaican rum and the sweeteners, it is more palatable. But I probably wouldn’t choose this normally, since with ratio the Mezcal was still very much up front.
Spicy/smoky is not really my thing, but if you like Mezcal then give the Tia Mia a try.
Inside, the bar was not busy so it was a perfect time to cool down inside with a cocktail. Skipper Nate was working behind the bar and I ordered a Mai Tai with Appleton Reserve rum. Nate checked the order, “classic style?” which I took to mean no Agave Syrup that they use in their standard house Mai Tai. “Yes, sir,” I said. That Appleton Reserve Mai Tai was faaantastic, and I was more than happy to compliment the Skipper when he asked how it was. Very rummy, but also a wonderful flavor profile – not too sweet, not too sour. Great mouthfeel.
Second Round, Better than the First
For the second round, I asked Skipper Nate if they had something a little more funky, and he suggested Hamilton Pot Still Blonde rum. I said that would be great – a half Appleton Reserve and half Hamilton Blonde Mai Tai.
It was one of the best Mai Tais I’ve ever had.
The funkier rum really added a nice punch to the cocktail, and elevated what was already an amazing Mai Tai. On this day it was damn near perfect.
Thank you Skipper Nate! I will follow you into battle anytime.
That day it really came together at Trader Sam’s: relaxing in the immersive space, exotica music playing, and the light hum of conversations and laughter.
Mrs. Mai Tai really liked this bag, which features the HippopotoMai-Tai mug as one of it’s design elements. There’s a nice pattern on the inside too. It looked very nice at the bar next to a Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Rum.
When Mrs. Mai Tai and I were finished with lunch at Tangaroa Terrace, it was about 3:10 pm. The way that indoor seating at Trader Sam’s is working right now is that there’s a line that forms at the check-in station in from of the Terrace and that’s the order to get in. With Sam’s opening at 4:00 pm, there were only about five people in line, so I thought hey, I can wait this out for less than an hour while Mrs Mai Tai does some shopping in Downtown Disney. At around 3:30, the hostess starting taking names and party numbers, which allowed me to browse the Disneyland Hotel gift shop and also to go inside out of the sun.
Inside, it was the same Sam’s we’ve all grown to love. Everyone was so excited to be inside the immersive environment. So many things to look at, and we enjoyed the show offered when the Krakatoa Punch and Shipwreck on the Rocks were ordered. I noticed they still have a few additional rums on the shelf, so I ordered a Mai Tai with Hamilton 86 Demerara Rum. That was a pretty good Mai Tai (and they didn’t even charge me extra). Mrs. Mai Tai had the coconut-forward Piranha Pool and that frozen drink was a hit.
I even got to take the de rigueur Trader Sam’s Bathroom Selfie. So nice to be back.
1944 Mai Tai with Appleton Reserve at Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar (Anaheim, CA)
The date was March 8. Less than 10 days later everything would be shut down, but on this day I wandered into Trader Sam’s after a great Sunday morning at Disney California Adventure park. Unlike the evening two days earlier, Sam’s wasn’t at capacity and I was able to relax with a cocktail. It’s to the credit of the Trader Sam’s bartenders that they are eager to accommodate, especially when things aren’t crazy inside. Skipper Will made me a traditional 1944 Mai Tai made with simple syrup rather than the Sam’s standard agave syrup, along with Appleton Reserve Jamaican rum. This was the best Mai Tai I’ve ever had a Trader Sam’s.