Trader Vic’s Canned Mai Tai Redux

These canned Mai Tais are now available at BevMo stores in California, but with a twist. It’s a tweaked formulation that’s different from the earlier cans sampled at AZ Tiki Oasis and at the event this week at Trader Vic’s in Emeryville.

Most notably, the Mai Tai is much darker compared to the first version (see photo), based on less filtration during production (the product uses Belgian sugar). So dark that it looks exactly like the 1944 Mai Tai at the Trader Vic’s Restaurants. This is a plus for me, and once you add some lime and a mint you’d be hard pressed to be able to pick this out of a lineup of freshly prepared Mai Tais. Though, I am not sure this dark color is a “hearts and minds” win for Mai Tai newbies looking for mass appeal.

In terms of the taste, this is also notably different than the earlier formula. Not quite as bold, but also not so heavy on the coconut hints I was tasting. And perhaps just a touch less sweet, but more of a hint of almond here. There is still no funny aftertaste, which producer @tomi.garibaldi says is due to the omission of preservatives. Nonetheless, our cans say these Mai Tais are still good until 12/31/2022. Not that we’re going to wait that long to finish the four pack. These will go down easy on a hot day!

Overall, the Trader Vic’s Canned Mai Tai is still way better than the Cutwater Tiki Rum Mai Tai and half the price of the On the Rocks Mai Tai. Much, much better than the RTD Mai Tai from Koloa. So, a strong entrant into the market.

Retail price is $20 for a four pack at BevMo, priced $5 less if you’re a Club Bev member.

Trader Vic’s Canned Mai Tai

Ready to Drink Cocktails are still popular, so look for these canned Mai Tais from Trader Vic’s coming soon. There are two label designs, featuring iconic Trader Vic’s artwork.

Cocktail snobs know they aren’t the target market for these sort of beverages, and while this does contain rum, lime, cane sugar, and flavors it isn’t really comparable to a freshly made craft cocktail Mai Tai. But, that’s not the point of a canned Mai Tai anyway, which presumably is sometime to bring to a picnic, a cookout, or while camping.

We found these Trader Vic’s canned Mai Tais to be pretty refreshing, especially over ice. There’s a hint of coconut and tropical flavors, but no almond flavor unfortunately. At 10% ABV, these cans will do the job nicely and while we felt the booze the cocktail didn’t really have a boozy taste (this may be a pro or a con, depending on your preference). There is no funny aftertaste.

This is a better canned Mai Tai than the Cutwater Tiki Rum Mai Tai that has wide distribution, though it isn’t as good as the On the Rocks ready to drink bottled Mai Tai that is higher priced and has a different ABV profile. So, compared to the market leader for where this product is aiming, the Trader Vic’s Mai Tai is a good entry to the market.

Review sample was provided by Trader Vic’s.

Bar time at Trader Vic’s

Fab Mai Tai at Trader Vic’s Emeryville with Hamilton New York Blend, just to switch things up a little. So nice sitting at the bar again after so long, too.

The rum collection at Trader Vic’s seems to larger and more diverse than I remember. Things that make you go hmmmm.

New Trader Vic’s San Jose Airport Opens May 27

Only for those on the inside of security, but open any time planes are flying near Terminal B, Gate 22-23. Restaurant and bar, with Outpost grab’n’go.

Update: the Outpost opens on May 27. The bar/restaurant opens mid-June.

Update #2: the Outpost opening is delayed slightly and will not open on the 27th, due to COVID related training snags. Stay tuned.

Update #3: The Outpost is now open.

Update #4: Trader Vic’s San Jose is now fully open

Welcome Back, Indoor Dining

Two weeks out from my second jab, Mrs. Mai Tai and I had a relaxing dinner at Trader Vic’s Emeryville inside a tiki bar for a relaxing meal (we were indoors a couple times in Palm Springs in April but we were totally watching the clock). The tables are spaced out and we had a great video of the Emeryville marina and for a time had the entire second dining room to ourselves.

The cocktail menu is somewhat limited, though of course there is still something for everyone. I started with the San Francisco Mai Tai and Julie had the Chi-Chi, our usual orders. We followed with the Banana Batida for me (which ended up being my desert) and she had the Tututupo Tiki. Fantastic cocktails tonight, and a relaxing evening with exotica and Hawaiian music playing.

For dinner it was a little bit of Trader Vic’s greatest hits, starting with the Peanut Butter crackers, the Huli Huli chicken for me and a Trader Vic’s salad and Tofu Aloha Bowl for Julie. But the best thing tonight was the Crab Rangoon, so much better when it is freshly served in the restaurant. It was all great, including the service as expected.

Sunday Mai Tai at Trader Vic’s

Mrs. Mai Tai and I took our adult sons to get their first COVID vaccine shots in the morning and then we arrived after noon for the Trader Vic’s Sunday Brunch and Mini-Bazaar. We had planned to just do shopping (more on that later) but we spotting a small table out on the patio and out of the sun and the staff was able to seat us without a reservation.

We enjoyed a light brunch, but what I really enjoyed was a freshly prepared Trader Vic’s Mai Tai. So frosty and refreshing. This is the best one so far in 2021.

Mrs Mai Tai enjoyed her Guava Mimosa, and it made a nice bubble bath for the Menehune!

So nice to see so many familiar faces at Vic’s today, some of which I know are toe-dipping back into group indoor dining. We will be in that place soon.

Friday Mai Tai

Mrs. Mai Tai got her second vaccine today, a super fast experience in Oakland with plenty of time for lunch to-go from Trader Vic’s. I’m really loving their Kahlua Pork Sandwich, which thankfully isn’t bathed in BBQ sauce. So tender and tasty.

The Mai Tai was made fresh with ice for nearby parked lunch experience. Gotta love that great Trader Vic’s crushed ice and fresh lime to make the Mai Tai extra special.

Vic’s is now open for indoor dining. Here’s a peek at the table spacing, if you’re so inclined.

Pipeline Cocktail at Trader Vic’s

The Pipeline is a new limited time cocktail this week at Trader Vic’s Emeryville . Mrs. Mai Tai and I were planning to visit Vic’s after her COVID shot on Friday but couldn’t make it since the lines were so long. So, I got some to-go cocktails from Vic’s today and enjoyed the cool but sunny and clear Bay Area weather on the drive up to Emeryville.

I joked with Julie that the “meal” option for Trader Vic’s would be their utterly decadent peanut butter spread and crackers, but that’s exactly what I did. Three orders of peanut butter and crackers is more than a meal for some and gave us enough food to order Trader Vic’s cocktails.  (note: I dearly miss the Aloha Bowl that was a staple during the initial take-out period and if anyone is listening at Vic’s – please bring it back!). The peanut butter spread at Trader Vic’s so maybe our favorite thing there – besides Mai Tais.

Pipeline is made with Overproof and Spiced Rums, Pineapple Juice, Citrus, and a bit of Blue Curacao and is the signature cocktail at the Abu Dhabi Trader Vic’s.  The initial taste was unexpected and a little bit of a funny taste. Definitely not made for craft cocktail connoisseurs. But second and third hit? Well, I definitely enjoyed it. I also (surprise!) had a Mai Tai that was plenty good. Mrs. Mai Tai had the Banana Batida which hits the coconut and banana notes that she loves. I tasted this and it’s great.

Final Trader Vic’s Mai Tai of 2020

Mrs. Mai Tai and I ran some errands and landed at Trader Vic’s for lunch. It was nearly outdoor dining as we enjoyed the view of the restaurant and lush greenery from our car.

Lunch was fab. I had the Kalua Pork Sandwich with fries and it tasted great. Even better was a bun that completely held everything together. Mrs. Mai Tai had the Volcano Shrimp bowl and once again really liked it. Though, we both really miss the Aloha Bowls. Please, Trader Vic’s, bring back the Aloha Bowls!

The cocktail was the San Francisco Mai Tai, the Mai Tai served with a float of dark and 151 rums. Though it’s all mixed together when served to-go, this Mai Tai had a deep and rich flavor no doubt influenced by those float rums. It was really great and made two full Mai Tais. I don’t know what it is about the Vic’s Mai Tais but they travel very well.

One of the few benefits this year has been the generally reduced freeway traffic, though today was much heavier than expected. Nonetheless, that light traffic has given us the opportunity to patronize Trader Vic’s many times during the various phases of quarantine, take-out, outdoor dining and everything in between. Today, the Trader Vic’s Captain Cook room was all set up for merchandise sales and there was plenty to choose from (I’ve bought plenty of merch this year, too). Thanks to the lovely day in Emeryville, it was a nice way to cap more than a dozen visits to Trader Vic’s this year.