Posted in Damon's with tags , , , , , on December 3, 2011 by Trader Vince

The original Damon’s opened in Glendale, CA, in 1937 and is no longer open. This location, the second of two, opened not very far from the original in 1980. It’s large, warm, and dark inside, boasting several impressive murals, wall to wall bamboo, thatch, fake plants, and an older staff that’s always charmingly quirky. The menu is of the old-school comfort food variety (steaks, burgers, fish sandwiches), and their featured drinks—the Mai Tai and Chi Chi—are nothing fancy, but pack a wallop.

317 North Brand Blvd.
Glendale, CA 91203

Maui & Sons Bar & Grill

Posted in Maui & Sons Bar & Grill with tags , , , , on November 13, 2011 by Trader Vince

It was early fall and Swabbie Chadd and I had just finished a marathon triple-feature of Halloween I, II, & III at the Egyptian Theater, when we literally stumbled upon the Maui & Sons Bar & Grill next door. We made plans to return as soon as possible, because where better to have a Tropical Adventure than Hollywood Blvd?

I mean, it worked for Donn Beach when he opened his Don the Beachcomber Cafe in 1934. In fact, Don’s Cafe was located on 1722 N. McCadden Place, which according to Google maps is only 453 feet away from Maui & Sons. 77 years later and you can still buy a version of Don’s most famous Hollywood tropical cocktail:  the Zombie. Very cool.

Maui & Sons Bar & Grill opened in January 2011. It’s got an open-air surf shack/sports bar vibe, and being on Hollywood Blvd, caters primarily to tourist foot traffic. The tropical cocktails are overly sweet and would piss Donn off for besmirching his legacy, but the food is better than you’d think. I had a blackened fish sandwich, fries, and a Caesar salad. Swabbie Chadd had some tacos. For dessert, we shared the deep-fried widow maker below.

In summary, the first Halloween is the best, followed by Halloween III. Part II is a travesty. Jamie Lee Curtis is stuck in a hospital bed for 75% of the film, then stumbles around in a drugged stupor the entire 3rd act. That’s no way to treat your heroine. Now enjoy a Zombie and the Halloween III Silver Shamrock commercial.


Posted in Bahooka with tags , , , , on October 25, 2011 by Trader Vince

After a very successful trip to Oceanic Arts, Swabbie Chadd and I sailed over to Bahooka on a balmy day to get some grub and libations. Bahooka opened its doors in 1976 and was the second of two locations. The original West Covina location opened in 1967 and closed in 1980 in a lease dispute.

Everything about Bahooka is large. When you enter you immediatley find yourself at the mouth of a giant dark maze of wooden tables suspended by heavy-duty naval chains, 110 oversized fish tanks, tiki statues, and colorful lights. Everything works together to give the impression that you’re below deck in a garish Las Vegas galleon heading to the land of deep fried foods and faux-tropical cocktails. Which makes sense since they filmed a scene from Fear & Loathng in Las Vegas here. To make it even more surreal, it was decked out with Halloween decorations.

Oceanic Arts

Posted in Oceanic Arts with tags , , on October 25, 2011 by Trader Vince

Swabbie Chadd had wanted to go to Oceanic Arts in Whittier, CA for years, and this week we finally made his special dream come true. But never being fully content on a Tropical Adventure that doesn’t involve cocktails, I, Trader Vince, took a page from Steve Jobs and suggested One More Thing: we also hit up Bahooka, which is only 20 minutes away in Rosemead, CA. Without hesitation, Swabbie Chadd agreed.

Oceanic Arts has been the world’s leading supplier of tropical and polynesian decor since 1956. From their giant warehouse, they sell and rent everything from wooden tikis and signs, to shields and masks, to light fixtures and thatch umbrellas, to cocktails glasses and tiki mugs. If you see any of these items in restaurants, hotels, movies, or home bars, there’s a high probability Oceanic Arts was somehow involved.

Lastly, the folks who run it are incredibly helpful and love what they do. Tell them it’s your first time and you might just walk away with a parting gift: in our case, handy little notepads and tiki stir sticks.

For the second half of this Tropical Adventure, see my Bahooka entry.

Milagro Tequila

Posted in Products with tags on September 2, 2011 by Trader Vince

The folks at Milagro were kind enough to send me over a couple bottles of their Limited Edition Select Barrel Reserve, one an amber Reposado, the other a crystal clear Silver. Before even cracking them open, you can’t help but notice the beautiful glass agave sculptures in the heart of the bottles.

The Silver is triple-distilled in small batches from 100% estate-grown blue agave, then mellowed in French white oak barrels for approximately 35 days. The Reposado, for 10 months. Both have taken home gold medals from the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

They also sent along some delicious recipes. As Swabbie Laura and I were headed out the door for a magic-filled night at Los Angeles’s own Magic Castle, we opted for the simplest of them: the Freshest Margarita. It’s aptly named, because we both found it incredibly smooth and fruity—in other words, everything you need for a refreshing Labor Day cocktail.


2 oz Milagro Silver

1 oz Lime Juice (fresh squeezed)

.75 oz Agave Nectar

Shake and serve over ice. Garnish with a salt rim & lime.


Trader Sam’s

Posted in Trader Sam's with tags , , , , , on August 6, 2011 by Trader Vince

To my great delight, Trader Sam’s opened its doors on May 25, 2011. Located next to the Disneyland Hotel, I was very excited to see what Disney magic would bring to the neo-tropical movement. With Swabbie Chadd at the helm, we sailed east on the 10 freeway to the city they call Anaheim to put Sam’s to the test. After spending a few hours there, where we carefully put into action our refined tastes and extensive cocktail knowledge, Swabby Chadd and I decided that we whole-heartedly approve. Who are we kidding, we were won over by the mere idea there was a dark bar on Disney property that served cocktails. The fact that we actually enjoyed everything was just gravy.

Sam’s exterior is in the A-frame tradition, although much more petite than the A-frames of yesteryear. The well manicured flora and metal tiki torches also reminded me of Mama’s Fish House on Maui, a delightful escapist compound designed for tourists.

As we headed inside, we passed a shifty twenty-something smoking a cigarette. He warned us about some funky chairs at the bar, chairs that we should avoid. We smiled and moved on, thinking he was baked.

Once inside, we found a beautifully lit three-sided bar with 16 stools, and came to find out three of them are gag stools (on hydraulic lifts) that ever so slowly lower the unassuming drinker to make him feel as if he’s had one too many. The way we found out is that I was fortunate enough to sit in one. The effect is very surreal and I was literally chin-level to the bar before I even noticed—and I was only a quarter way through my first Mai Tai. I can only imagine that the bartenders, who have full control of the stools, really mess with drunk customers they don’t like. I know I would.

Moving onto the drink menu, they had 12 tropical specialty concoctions. I had 3 of them (HippopotaMai Tai, Shrunken Zombie Head, Lost Safari) and Swabbie Chadd had 2 (Piranah Pool, Shipwreck On The Rocks). I’m clearly more manly. Two of their drinks, much like the Tiki-Ti’s ritual, come with a production and some chanting. I’ll let you discover those on your own.

Here’s the beautifully garnished drinks themselves, which all tended towards the sweet side. I love that we’re about to get toasty and it’s starting with this napkin:

Sam’s also serves food. We sampled the Fish Tacos, Cheese Flatbread, and Planko-Crusted Chinese Long Beans. They all hit the spot.

As a bonus, a photo of the Trader on the aforementioned gag chair. Swabbie Chadd is bemused and feeling no pain.

For our first Trader Sam’s adventure, we did it up right. We enjoyed the drinks, the food, the Enchanted Tiki Room design, the integration of the Jungle Cruise mythology—and on a hot summer day, the air conditioning. Overall, Don the Beachcomber by way of Trader Vic’s by way of Tiki-Ti by way of Disney really works.

After we bid Sam goodbye, Swabbie Chadd and I felt like some hearty Southern cooking and headed over to Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen in Downtown Disney. He had the Royal Chicken and a Southern Peach Tea, I opted for the BBQ Shrimp & Grits and a Hurricane. We capped it all off with some delicious Beignets and strawberries.

Being inebriated and full, we thought the best thing to do at that point was to wander Downtown Disney and buy caramel apples and chocolate dipped coconut patties. The night was such a success in fact, we didn’t even make it home. We ended up booking a room at Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel and spending the night. Now that’s some Disney magic!

Duke’s (Malibu)

Posted in Duke's with tags , , , , , on July 15, 2011 by Trader Vince

Duke’s is part of a small chain named after Duke Kahanamoku (1890-1968), Olympic gold winning swimmer and the “Father of International Surfing.” Other Duke’s locations include Huntingon Beach, Maui, Kawai, and Waikiki. The Malibu location is located right on the beach and is a very popular tourist destination. Inside, there are several large dining and banquet rooms, as well as several bars, all of which showcacse pictures and vintage collectables that pay tribute to the beach lifestyle and early days of Malibu surfing. And I’m not sure exactly what her job entails, but per the website, “Kathy Kohner Zuckerman, the inspiration for the Gidget novel, movie and TV series that sparked the California surfing craze, works at Duke’s Malibu as our Ambassador of Aloha.” Kathy wasn’t there the day I visited, so I missed her Aloha. Finally, I give major props to Swabbie Laura for taking the following photos, as I was on crutches due to a ruptured achilles tendon. I was still able to drink a Mai Tai though, so all wasn’t lost.

Overall, the food and cocktails are very good and decently priced. It’s that damn gorgeous view they make you pay for.

Bali Hai Restaurant

Posted in Bali Hai Restaurant with tags , , , , , on June 10, 2011 by Trader Vince

Bali Hai opened its polynesian doors for business in 1954 under the name The Hut, a subsidiary of Christian’s Hut in Newport Beach, CA. Struggling financially, it rebranded itself a few years later and has been known as Bali Hai ever since. Located on Shelter Island (a neighborhood of Point Loma in San Diego, CA), Bali Hai recently underwent a substantial 3.5 million remodel. I missed out on the original, but here’s what it’s looking like now:

On the very top of the building, what looks like a shrunken zombie head in a chef’s hat, is the original mascot The Goof—who’s somewhat of a remnant of The Hut era and who’s history is a little muddy. Standing guard by the front door in the lower left of frame is their second mascot, Mr. Bali Hai, who was introduced after the name change.

On the night I was visited they didn’t burn the torches, so perhaps they’re just reserved for special events like corporate parties, weddings, or headhunting raids from neighboring tribal villages.

Mr. Bali Hai has suffered from wood rot and other traumas through the years, but he’s looking like a seasoned veteran these days. Perhaps one day he’ll even get the white bone back through his nostrils—unless that was just a teenage phase of his.

The centrally located bar has a great panoramic view of the bay.

Directly above the bar, this was my favorite detail of the interior. Rich and glossy wood, beautifully lit, it’s easily 20 feet high.

The shadowbox on the upstairs landing could easily be a prop from Wes Anderson’s The Life Aquatic.

A view from the dining room of downtown San Diego. I liked the mashed potatoes and was told by Swabbie Laura and Swabbie Tim that the scallop entrees were delicious (the bland gnocchi not so much).

As an old-school tropical cocktail purist, I found the 2 drinks I sampled (Mai Tai & Navy Grog) to be wanting. In any bar that prides itself on traditional tropical drinks, the Mai Tai serves as a litmus test to the integrity of the entire menu. The Trader likes to keep it positive, so I’ll withhold saying my drinks were subpar and amateurish—especially for a restaurant who’s had so much time to hone their recipes. I will however say that Swabbie Stacie’s blended Lava Slide was a milkshake-esque delight.

And now I must leave you with a song from South Pacific.

Thatch Tiki Bar

Posted in Thatch Tiki Bar with tags , , , , , on June 3, 2011 by Trader Vince

After being at sea for 16 hours, Swabbie Chadd and I arrived at Portland’s Thatch at 6pm on a Friday ready to drink. Tucked into a quaint storefront on Broadway, it’s easy to miss if you’re not looking for it. What I was expecting to find was a dark little Tiki bar, but to my pleasant surprise they had warm natural lighting and a terrific food menu to boot. As I didn’t get a good picture of the exterior (I was dangerously sober upon arrival), let’s start with the interior and work our way into it:

Booth view looking out the front window. The vibe of the neighborhood is relaxed residential, and there’s lots of shops along Broadway as well.

Settle into one of the half-dozen or so comfortable booths and have a drink why don’t you. Or seven. There’s plenty of cabs.

Love their wood floor, Eames chairs, plants, stellar lamps, and bamboo ceiling. It really felt retro and lived in, like it’s been there longer than its established date of 2007. That’s due in no small part to the owner’s keen eye for authenticity, and the fact that some of his decor was picked up from the now defunct Jasmine Tree chinese restaurant—who got some of their decor from the defunct Portland Kon-Tiki. It’s cool to see the decor live on because you can really feel the rich history in it.

Under the bar is some of that much talked about thatch. Who doesn’t love thatch? It’s wonderfully thatchy.

Michael fits perfectly into the festive and garish environment, staring down at the drinkers with a bemused smile. I want that jacket. Time to move onto the drink menu, Mr. Jackson:

Laminated and easy to read (even after a few), the Thatch menu very impressively has a handle on the Trader Vic and Don the Beachcomber classics, as well as a few of their own: including the Craig’s Mistake, a winking homage to the Tiki-Ti’s Ray’s Mistake.

Swabbie Chadd had the drink on the left, a Royal Hawaiian Mai Tai. According to the menu, “A Hawaiian twist on the Mai Tai, combining pineapple, orange juice, grenadine, and a blend of dark and light rum.” I had the drink on the right, an “authentic Trader Vic’s recipe of Puerto Rican Gold Rum, Jamaican Dark Rum, fresh-squeezed lime, orange Curacao, and a splash of orgeat. Garnished with aromatic mint and a spent lime shell.” Both were stellar.

The Zombie. “Don the Beachcomber’s most notorious drink, this is a simplified version of the 1934 original. Cinnamon, grapefruit, lime, and a blend of aged and overproof rums create a drink to wake the living dead!” By simplified they mean they use Trader Tiki’s Don’s Mix, a hand-crafted syrup made in Portland. For info on Trader Tiki Syrups, see my entry here.

It didn’t photograph that well, but if you look closely at the top of this drink you’ll see fire, which burned for a good three or four minutes inside a spent lime shell. The Lift-Off is “a take on Donn Beach’s classic recipes, with orange, lime, cinnamon, falernum, and a blend of dark and overproof rums, served with crushed ice.” This one put Swabbie Chadd under the table. He said he was just looking for loose change, but that doesn’t explain the drooling and speaking in tongues.

The official Thatch mug, which according to the menu is of Marquesan origin. They surmise it’s a god sitting on a baby, but it could also represent drunkenly trying to hide your girlfriend from your wife. To the food menu!

Very Trader Vic inspired food, I had two items on the menu: the Crab Rangoon and the Breaded Shrimp. Both were great. In fact, better than the versions they serve at Trader Vic’s in Los Angeles, which taste bland in a chain restaurant sort of way. These felt homemade in a good way.

The breaded shrimp with sweet chili sauce was terrific, and the rice with teriyaki glaze and sesame seeds was a great touch. Well, my maiden voyage at Thatch was a success: the vibe was friendly, the food and drinks were dynamite, all in all a great little piece of tropical escapism right in the heart of Portland. Well done, Team Thatch. And now I must dramatically turn and yell, HOIST THE MAIN SAIL, SWABBIE CHADD, WE SAIL TO UNKNOWN SHORES!

Trader Vic’s (Los Angeles)

Posted in Trader Vic's with tags , , , , , on May 21, 2011 by Trader Vince

Between Laker games and concerts at Nokia Theater, I find myself at LA Live every month or so—and no trip is complete without a few Trader Vic drinks and tidbits first. This particular Trader Vic’s franchise opened in 2009 and seems to be growing in popularity every time I visit, which is great. I’ve eaten dinner in their formal dining room a few times and have always found it expansive and cozy—especially if you’re seated in one of their large green leather booths or by their by huge wood fired oven. Most of the time me and the Swabbies just dock at the bar and let it rip.

A few of the food items I’ve enjoyed over various dinners: Oysters on the Half Shell, Seared Hawaiian Tuna, Cantonese Sea Bass, and a complicated dish I forgot the name of and don’t think they serve anymore.

The Boathouse Bar where the Swabbies and I spend most of our time. See that outrigger canoe hanging from the ceiling? Swabbie Chadd once stole it with plans on paddling to Waikiki. He came up short when they caught him on Catalina Island taking a break and drinking a Mai Tai at Luau Larry’s.

Trader Vic’s world famous 1944 Mai Tai. This honestly is the best Mai Tai I’ve come across in my early seafaring adventures. But make sure to ask for it from scratch, or you’ll get the faster and cheaper premixed bottle version, which is okay in a pinch, but you can honestly taste the difference. Fresh squeezed lime juice, orange Curacao, orgeat syrup, sugar syrup, aged Jamaican rum, aged Martinique rum, crushed ice, fresh cut pineapple, mint, and a cherry, they don’t come better than this. In my old age I’m going to forego a morphine drip and request this recipe.

I love the Navy Grog and rank it right up there with the Mai Tai. A mixture of rums and grapefruit juice, it’s semi-sweet with a hint of allspice. Fresh mint and lime juice, a sugar candy stir stick, this is a world class cocktail through and through.

The Chi Chi, essentially a Pina Colada with vodka instead of rum. It’s also a Don the Beachcomber (not Trader Vic) recipe from the 1970’s. Not too shabby, but in the farm leagues compared to the Mai Tai and Navy Grog.

Wanting to leave with some sweetness on our lips, this is a shot of Zaya rum that Swabbie Chadd and I split before heading over to see Echo & The Bunnymen at Nokia Theater. I love this glass. And Echo & The Bunnymen, so I’ll leave you with this.

Mug Signing With Sven Kirsten

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , on May 19, 2011 by Trader Vince

Today I had the good fortune of meeting the designer of the awesome Tiki-Ti 50th Anniversary mug, none other than Tiki luminary and urban archeologist Sven Kirsten. The mug came in brown or blue and I chose blue, which had a limited run of 150 and is affectionately referred to by Sven as the Smurf Mug.

He signed, we toasted and drank, everyone was happy. A few detail shots:

For more info on Sven and his awesome Book of Tiki, go here.

Coconut Snow RIP?

Posted in Products with tags on May 14, 2011 by Trader Vince

I have it on good authority from the boys down at the Tiki-Ti that Coconut Snow has gone the way of the Dodo. Don’t know if this is permanent, but as of right now you can no longer get it. From the back of the can: “Produced from an exotic blend of ripe coconuts and other fine ingredients, Hawaiian Coconut Snow is the answer to a richer, creamier Pina Colada. It’s also perfect for creating other delicious tropical beverages and foods. ALOHA!” In this case, aloha appears to mean goodbye. If you’d like to try and re-create it from scratch, here’s the ingredients: Sugar, Whey, Coconut, Nonfat Milk, Egg Whites, Natural & Artificial Flavors, Salt.

Tiki-Ti 50th Anniversary

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , on April 28, 2011 by Trader Vince

I was there. I’d been waiting to celebrate it for years, then it came and went all too fast. 50 years. Wow. What an incredible accomplishment for any business, especially the finicky bar business, especially in Los Angeles, and especially for only having 3 employees. Hats off to Mike, Mike Jr, and Mark for providing a magical South Seas getaway on Sunset Blvd. and allowing this landlocked sailor to hide out from maritime law. Well done, sirs, you are adored by myself and a legion of tropical print wearing men and women.

Throughout my time this week I got to meet and talk with out-of-towners, complete strangers, and some Ti vets who’d been patrons since the 60’s & 70’s. I also got to briefly meet Tiki authors and gurus Sven Kirsten and Jeff “Beachbum” Berry (who liked my shirt!). The crowd at the Ti is always eclectic and diverse, and this week was even more amplified.

All who enter here abandon your pretensions, inhibitions, and let the liquid of the Tiki gods assuage your earthly pains. Cash only, thank you.

Trader Vince with the man himself, Mike Buhen, proprietor and son of master ninja Ray Buhen, the genius who started it all back in 1961. Mike, you are a terrific bartender, a handsome gentleman, and a gracious host!

I was literally the last patron in the bar this evening. I took this picture right before the lights went out and the magic ended. Even though I knew the magic would begin again at 4pm the next day, it’s always sad to see the rum stop flowing and Ti wind down.

I found these stir sticks in my pocket the next morning. I’m not sure if I had this many drinks or I stole them, but they now reside in my home bar and will grace many a cocktail.

My new mug will allow me to get the day started right with a Spiced Rum Coffee, the traditional breakfast of many South Sea residents. Adventure complete: see you at the 51st, Swabbies!

Smuggler’s Cove

Posted in Smuggler's Cove with tags , , , , , on April 10, 2011 by Trader Vince

Swabbie Brett and I were in San Francisco to run the US Half-Marathon, and a trip to Smuggler’s Cove was going to be our reward. But come the evening it was time to visit rum paradise, he was so tired he had to bow out. His overwhelming lethargy was due in no small part to his overnight flight from Nigeria where he had just completed a challenging photo expedition. As always, and joined by Swabbies Laura and Diana, the Trader was undeterred and pressed on while Swabbie Brett stayed in the hotel room to dream of hyenas and political unrest. It turns out that going to a bar with two classy ladies instead of Swabbie Brett is much more fun.

Smuggler’s Cove was opened in 2009 by Martin Cate and has been racking up awards like nobody’s business. They stock over 200 varieties of rum and their is approach is an impressive triple threat—Traditional drinks of the Caribbean islands, Classic libations of Prohibition-era Cuba, and Exotic cocktails from Legendary Tiki bars. Their drink menu has over 70 cocktails, all made with housemade ingredients and fresh squeezed juices.

The Cove is three skinny stories high, the main bar being on the middle floor. There’s a second bar on the bottom floor (a tricked-out basement of sorts), and the top floor is seating only (a tricked-out attic of sorts). With the crates, ropes, and rum barrels, it really does feel like you’re in the belly of a creaky wooden clipper ship en route to exotic ports.

The main bar on the second floor. I love all the lived-in items they’ve packed in, including the female figurehead in the flowing dress.

The stairway from the main bar to the third story crow’s nest.

L to R: the Hawaiian Sunset, Pupule, and Halekulani. All amazing. For our second round we had the Zombie, Chi Chi Pache, and Mai Tai. And guess what? All amazing. Another thing I love about Smuggler’s Cove is the rich design details, and their menu is no exception:

All in all, an amazing place with a sense of fun, a grasp of history, and a no-nonsense approach to their cocktails—which are literal works of art. I can’t wait to go back once I get that lazy-ass Swabbie Brett out of bed.

Tonga Hut

Posted in Tonga Hut with tags , , , , , on March 22, 2011 by Trader Vince

The Tonga Hut opened its North Hollywood doors in 1958 and is the oldest Tiki bar still operating in Los Angeles. But unlike the legendary consistency of the Tiki-Ti (which opened in 1961), the Tonga Hut has changed hands and gone through various dive bar incarnations over the years. Recently, its changed ownership yet again and appears to be in a full-swing renaissance with owners intent on restoring its original Tiki pride and glory.

The decor itself is terrific, with large leather booths, carvings, murals, an operating multi-tiered fountain—and they recently started up The Loyal Order of the Drooling Bastard, an elite club of sorts who’s members drink their way through Beachbum Berry’s Groglog. Once complete, you get your very own Tiki plaque emblazoned on the wall and the pride of sampling years of unearthed and historical tropical recipes. Swabbie Chadd and I have accepted the challenge and are pacing ourselves through it, we’re currently at 20 something of 70 something. It’s going to take awhile but we’re on island time and in no real hurry. Here’s a look at the front:

Swabbie Chadd and I always park in the back lot, so let’s work our way through the back door, down the hallway, an into the dark bar itself, which is tough to photograph:

Don the Beachcomber

Posted in Don the Beachcomber with tags , , , , , on November 1, 2010 by Trader Vince

Located on a sleepy part of PCH in Huntington Beach, CA, Don the Beachcomber has been open for business and fighting the good tropical fight since 2009. It’s also apparently a rogue bar/restaurant paying homage to the original Don the Beachcomber chain, and not officially part of it. In the space previous to Don’s was the short-lived Kona, before that Sam’s Seafood, a Huntington Beach perennial from 1923–2007.

There’s a lot of nostalgia and lived-in history in this building, which is actually quite cavernous. There’s several large dining rooms, two decked-out banquets rooms, another room or two I haven’t explored yet, and the bar. And when the slogan of the bar is “Where good rum is immortalized and drinking is an art” how can you not get your drink on? Not sure when I’d be back next, and having a chance to taste some Donn Beach original recipes, I took down 4 of them—with Smoked Brie & Mozzarella Quesadillas of course:

The Vicious Virgin is very sweet, flavorful, and a complex mix of ginger, clove, lime zest, and rum among other things. Easily my favorite drink of the night. The Nui Nui was also very good: rum, vanilla vodka, cinnamon, various juices, culminating into a dry sweetness and my second favorite drink. The Mai Tai was just okay. I rank it third behind the Mai Tais at Trader Vic’s and Tiki-Ti, but ahead of Damon’s. The 3 Dots & A Dash I just didn’t understand. The allspice flavor was good, but overall it was sour and bitter. I need to make this one at home and figure it out.

Trader Tiki’s Exotic Syrups

Posted in Products with tags , on September 24, 2010 by Trader Vince

If you’re looking for tropical cocktails you can easily make at home, check out Trader Tiki’s amazing syrups. Just add some rum and a little lime juice and you’re off like a Space Pilot. I’m particularly fond of Don’s Mix which makes an amazing Zombie. The Syrups are FDA approved and made in a commercial kitchen in Portland, OR. They’re also Beachbum Berry endorsed, so you know they’re quality.

My first Zombie. I’ve also tried making them with Kraken, Appleton Special, Sailor Jerry, Captain Morgan, Whaler’s, Trader Vic’s Dark, and as of yet don’t have a favorite: I love them all!

Buy them here:  http://www.tradertiki.com/store/

Tiki-Ti Round Up!

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , on July 22, 2010 by Trader Vince

Remember this menu from the beginning of my Tiki-Ti Adventure back in February, 2010? You might notice all the drinks are now crossed off. That’s because I had all 92 cocktails on the menu, photographed them, logged my thoughts, and posted everything right here for you to enjoy!


–Duration: 5.5 months

–Drinking Sessions: 26

–Most Drinks In One Session: 5

–Least Drinks In One Session: 1

–Average Drinks Per Session: 3.5

–Years Taken Off Life: Undetermined


–Drink Costs: $1,032

–Bartender Tips: $290

–Cab Fares: $650

–Total Adventure: $1,972


–Drink Menu Breakdown: 53 rum, 12 vodka, 4 gin, 4 tequila, 8 liqueurs & liquors, and 11 various liquors.

–I can’t pick a favorite drink, they’re all my special children.

–One session I drank from open to close (4pm-2am).

–One week I went all 4 days they were open (Wed-Sat).

–I made a lot of new friends.

–I learned a ton.


For his tremendous accomplishment Trader Vince has awarded himself the very first I Drank the Entire Tiki-Ti Menu Award even though one doesn’t currently exist and he has no authority to do so. For their part in making this happen, he would like to give a very special thanks to Mike, Mike Jr., Mark, and the one and only Ray for an amazing ride. They’re awesome and he couldn’t have done it without them. A shout out also goes to tropical homies Bruce, Jim, Frank, Chadd, Tim, Jeff, Matt, Brett, Leaf, and Laura for their encouragement, excellent shirt choices, and derisive laughter.

Well, I hope you enjoy the entries below, I had a great time doing them. Now it’s time to dry out and get shipshape for my next Adventure. MAUI!


Trader Vince

Missionary’s Downfall (92 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , on July 15, 2010 by Trader Vince

Muddled mint, lime, and simple syrup, the Missionary’s Downfall is very similar to a Mojito, but instead of white rum uses a healthy amount of Myers’s dark. Along with the Vicious Virgin, it’s also a contender for my favorite drink name.

Mo Tiki (91 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , on July 14, 2010 by Trader Vince

The Mo Tiki is a unique drink made with Bacardi rum, muddled mint, lime, and simple syrup, with a champagne float. It’s super refreshing, so if you like Mojitos you’ll enjoy it.

Dark & Stormy (90 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , on July 14, 2010 by Trader Vince

Gosling’s rum, ginger beer, and lime juice, the Dark & Stormy is spicy and delightful. In Bermuda, Dark ‘n’ Stormy is a registered trademark of Gosling’s Brothers Limited as is considered Bermuda’s National Drink.

Q.B. Kula (89 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , on July 14, 2010 by Trader Vince

The Q.B. Kula has gold and dark rums, passion fruit juice, a little club soda for snap, and a few other mystery ingredients. It’s sweet, delicious, and reminds me vaguely of the Ray’s Mistake both in look and taste.

Sumatra Kula (88 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , on July 14, 2010 by Trader Vince

The Sumatra Kula has gold and dark rums, lime and passion fruit juices, and a little Falernum among other mixers. It’s sweet with a tart citrus aftertaste and in looks is the twin brother to the Princess Pupuli. Sumatra is an island in western Indonesia, is the sixth largest island in the world, and has a population of 45,000,000.

Sonkakura (87 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , on July 14, 2010 by Trader Vince

Grapefruit juice, gold rum, Coruba dark rum, the Sonkakura is semi-sweet and tart. I’m not exactly sure what Sonkakura means, but Sakura is Japanese for cherry blossom.

Never-Say-Die (86 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , on July 10, 2010 by Trader Vince

Coruba dark rum, gold rum, gin, vodka, lime juice, and a little Falernum among other mixers, the Never-Say-Die is semi-sweet, tart, and very optimistic.

Yellow Bird (85 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , on July 10, 2010 by Trader Vince

Gold rum, Coruba dark rum, lime juice, crème de banana, various juices and a few other secret ingredients, the Yellow Bird is semi-sweet with a plucky sour tail.

Top Secret (84 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , on July 9, 2010 by Trader Vince

Developed in Area 51 of the Nevada desert, the Top Secret has flavors of gold and dark rums, lime juice, perhaps a dash or two of bitters, but other than it’s a complete mystery. Both refreshing and spooky.

Ray’s Special (83 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , on July 9, 2010 by Trader Vince

Creamy and semi-sweet, the Ray’s Special is made with gold rum, Coconut Snow, several fruit juices, and a dash of Falernum. It’s very similar to the Bayanihan, but with grenadine and 7-Up thrown into the mix.

Midnight Special (82 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , on July 9, 2010 by Trader Vince

The Midnight Special is made with gold rum, Coruba dark rum, orange juice, orange Curacao, and grenadine. It’s sweet, refreshing, looks good in a dress, with slight notes of cherry.

Hong Kong (81 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , on July 9, 2010 by Trader Vince

Made with gold rum, fresh squeezed limes, and passion fruit among other ingredients, the Hong Kong is as mysterious as the city itself. It’s sweet, has some carbonated snap, and strangely enough goes well with tamales.

Tiki Punch (80 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , on July 9, 2010 by Trader Vince

The Tiki Punch has light and dark rums, vodka, and various juices including orange. In an way, it reminded me a Bayanihan with banana. Sweet with a tart tail, it makes a great summer drink. Who am I kidding, they all do.

Chief Lapu Lapu (79 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , on July 8, 2010 by Trader Vince

Chief Lapa Lapu the drink is sweet and tart, but in real life he was a Filipino hero who resisted Spanish colonization and led a battle against Christian soldiers headed up by Ferdinand Magellan. In what would later be known as the Battle of Mactan, Magellan and several of his men were killed. If things had turned out differently, we might all be speaking Spanish and drinking Magellans.

Great White Shark (78 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , on July 8, 2010 by Trader Vince

The Great White Shark also uses the soon to be extinct Lemon Hart rum, but the 151 variety. Passion fruit, lime juice, a little club soda, it’s sweet, strong, and has several rows of razor sharp teeth.

Lemon Hart Lemon Head (77 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , on July 7, 2010 by Trader Vince

As of this writing, the Tiki-Ti has 6 bottles of Lemon Hart rum left. Apparently Pernod, who owns Lemon Hart, just sold it to some Canadian company—which means this is the first and last time I’ll have this drink. Lemon Hart rum, lemon juice, simple syrup, a substantial sugar rim, it’s basically a damn good Lemon Drop made with rum. Lemon Hart rum, goodbye old/new friend.

Blue Wave (76 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , on July 7, 2010 by Trader Vince

In the same family as the Blue Hawaiian, the Blue Wave mixes rum, pineapple juice, and blue Curacao among others, to great frothy delight.

Ray’s Mistake (75 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , on July 7, 2010 by Trader Vince

The Ray’s Mistake is Tiki-Ti’s signature drink and was invented (mistakenly) by Ray Buhen in 1968 when he was trying to make an Anting Anting. Made with passion fruit, a dark Coruba rum float, and the Ti’s secret flavorings, the Mistake is semi-sweet and only $5 on Wednesdays until 9pm. That’s the kind of mistake I’m talking about.

Bonnie & Clyde (74 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , on June 30, 2010 by Trader Vince

The Bonnie & Clyde has rum, gin, lime and passion juices, and the Ti’s secret special flavorings. The real Bonnie & Clyde were both born in Texas and died in Louisiana in 1934. Bonnie was 23 and Clyde was 25. Remember, violent behavior should never be glorified, but drinking should.

Anting Anting (73 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , on June 30, 2010 by Trader Vince

Rum and lime juice among other ingredients, I was told by the boys at Tiki-Ti that Anting Anting means “witches brew” in Filipino. Other web research says it’s also vernacular for amulet, talisman or charm. That must be why I drank so many of them, I was under a spell.

Laka Nuki (72 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , on June 30, 2010 by Trader Vince

Myers’s dark rum, Cruzan gold rum, Bols blackberry liqueur, Bols banana liqueur, and a couple secret mixers made the Laka Nuki strong and in your face. This one is a little on the sour side, which might explain the name Laka Nuki as it literally translates into “lack of sweet loving” in Hawaiian.

Uga Booga (71 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , on June 23, 2010 by Trader Vince

The Uga Booga is a very strong drink made with Myers’s dark rum and various juices. If you’re looking for one drink to do you in, this is a candidate. This is also the second of two drinks (the Blood & Sand being the other) where the entire bar joins in as it’s being made by yelling UGA BOOGA, which both scares and delights me every time.

Rum Runner (70 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , on June 23, 2010 by Trader Vince

The rum runner is on the thinner side and uses gold Cruzan rum, Myers’s dark rum, and banana liqueur. I’m not sure what the mixers were, but the overall drink tasted vaguely of spiked grape juice.

Bayanihan (69 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , on June 23, 2010 by Trader Vince

The Bayanihan is a perennial all-star and second most popular drink behind the Ray’s Mistake. It’s a sweet rum-based drink that uses Coconut Snow and makes a great virgin cocktail if you’re with a non-drinker. Bayanihan is a Filipino term referring to a spirit of communal unity or effort to achieve a particular objective, in this case getting drunk and having fun.

151 Rum Swizzle (68 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , on June 17, 2010 by Trader Vince

Bacardi 151, passion and lime juices, club soda, a dash of bitters, a Caruba dark rum float, and a pinch of cinammon on top, the 151 Rum Swizzle tastes like cinnamon apple pie. Chase it with a Head Hunter’s Kula to make it a la mode!

Tiki Kangaroo (67 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , on June 17, 2010 by Trader Vince

Gold and dark rums, passion and lime juices, the Tiki Kangaroo seems pretty straight forward until you add the final ingredient: grape juice. That’s right, the Tiki Kangaroo is the only Tiki-Ti drink to use Australia’s national beverage. It’s dry, delicious, and the perfect excuse to bring in all your Aussie friends.

Tiki Tahitian (66 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , on June 17, 2010 by Trader Vince

Gold rum, passion and lime juices, I’m not sure what makes it Tahitian, but I liked it.

Caribbean Limbo (65 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , on June 16, 2010 by Trader Vince

Gold rum, passion fruit and lime juices, club soda, and a secret mystery ingredient, the Caribbean Limbo is sweet, snappy, and unlike the name implies, decidedly non-Catholic.

Tiki-Ti Special (64 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , on June 16, 2010 by Trader Vince

Like the Shark’s Tooth, the Tiki-Ti Special is sweet, uses gold and dark rums, passion fruit and lime juices, but it also throws a little Falernum into the mix, which does indeed make it special.

Hawaiian Twist (63 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , on June 12, 2010 by Trader Vince

Rum, orange juice, and Coconut Snow among other ingredients, this frothy masterpiece tastes very similar to an Orange Julius. I can honestly say that everyone I’ve recommended the Hawaiian Twist to has loved it.

Shark’s Tooth (62 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , on June 12, 2010 by Trader Vince

The Shark’s Tooth has multiple rums, lime and passion fruit juices, a splash of club soda, and a dark Coruba rum float. Overall, a nice balance of sweet, sour, and dry.

Suffering “B” (61 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , on June 10, 2010 by Trader Vince

My theory is that the “B” in the Suffering “B” stands for Brian. I don’t know who Brian is or why he’s suffering, but his drink includes gin, lime juice, orgeat syrup, club soda, and a dark Coruba rum float. It’s delicious, Brian, cheer up!

Tiki Gold (60 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , on June 10, 2010 by Trader Vince

The Tiki Gold has amber rum, Coruba dark rum, lime juice, and a splash of passion. It was also the official drink of the 1980’s Solid Gold Dancers.

Montego Bay (59 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , on June 10, 2010 by Trader Vince

The Montego Bay is a dry drink made with multiple rums, lime and grapefruit juices, and a little club soda for snap. Montego Bay is also the capital of St. James Parish and the second largest city in Jamaica. It also boasts picturesque low mountians and the sheltered Doctor’s Cave beach, one of the most famous beaches on the island.

Penang (58 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , on June 10, 2010 by Trader Vince

The Penang is made with light and dark rums, orange, lime and pineapple juices. It’s so smooth and sweet that you’d never know there’s booze in it, making it very dangerous. Penang is also an island state in Malaysia.

Puka Puka (57 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , on June 2, 2010 by Trader Vince

The Puka Puka is like the Rum Barrel, but with a slightly simpler recipe: rum, passion fruit, lime and orange juices, and a dash of bitters. Pukapuka is also a coral atoll in the Cook Islands located in the Pacific Ocean, which has three small islets threaded on a reef, which encloses a beautifully clear lagoon. To drink a Puka Puka in Pukapuka sounds awesome.

Rum Barrel (56 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , on June 2, 2010 by Trader Vince

The Rum Barrel is flavorful, slightly fruity, and uses light rum, Coruba dark rum, and various juices with a dash of bitters. Yo ho ho.

Pain Killer (55 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , on June 2, 2010 by Trader Vince

Pussers Rum, orange juice, coconut snow, cinnamon and nutmeg on top, the Pain Killer numbs the pain and how. Per Beachbum Berry, this baby was invented in 1971 by George & Marie Myrick of the Soggy Dollar Bar in the British Virgin Islands, where it’s still served today. Pain, pain, go away!

Fee Brothers Cordial Syrups

Posted in Products with tags on May 31, 2010 by Trader Vince

Don’t Squeeze Use Fees. So says the Fee Brothers marketing slogan, but we all know there’s nothing better than fresh squeezed juice to bring a cocktail to life. As a user of the amazing Fee Brothers bitters in my home bar (the exclusive Dark Penguin Speakeasy), I thought I’d try their cordial syrups and bought an introductory starter kit. It’s shocking how many flavors the syrups come in: I count 41 on their website, English Toffee, Praline, Papaya, Kiwi, Grape, Caramel, Butterscotch, and Apricot to name just a few. My only knock is that the sweetener is high fructose corn syrup instead of cane or rock sugar, but I’m enjoying them and use them sparingly for a splash of flavor.

For more info on Fee Brother products, go here.

Surf Bar & Seafood Restaurant

Posted in Surf Bar & Seafood with tags , , , , , , on May 27, 2010 by Trader Vince

Finding a sandy floored restaurant/bar in the middle of Williamsburg, Brooklyn was the last thing I thought I’d ever find, but I guess Broolynites need their tropical escapism too. Lived-in and casual, it’s hard to be pretentious in this place—which offers a variety of indoor/outdoor seating and a pretty solid menu: chowders, salads, clam baskets, lobster rolls, seafood paella—a much better selection than you’d think at first blush.

But as for the Tiki drinks, they were pretty one-note and sickly sweet. The Zombie was passable, but the Tiki Ricky I abandoned after only one sip—it almost tasted like I was drinking Coco Lopez right out of the can. They’re actually the type of drinks that give tropical drinks a bad repuatation, so you’re better off going for simplicity: beer, wine, rum & coke, etc. Overall, a relaxing and fun place for happy hour with your Swabbies.

Zombie Hut

Posted in Zombie Hut with tags , , , , , on May 21, 2010 by Trader Vince

Open since 2002, the Zombie Hut is a mellow little Tiki bar in Gowanus, Brooklyn. It’s got a friendly vibe, is super laid back, and boasts a huge Royal Tenenbaums-esque wall of board games you can play while you drink. It’s also got plenty of indoor/outdoor seating, including a lush open air back patio. Their namesake drink, The Zombie, is basically a Slushee so that gives you a feel for their cocktails, which are strong, sweet and simple. Overall, the ZH is fun, well kept, and comfortable. No food, cash only.

Rum, Gum & Lime (54 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , on May 19, 2010 by Trader Vince

Simple in concept and delicious in execution, the Rum, Gum & Lime is made with fresh squeezed lime juice, simple syrup, Corbua dark rum, and a little club soda for snap. Just delightful.

Space Pilot (53 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , on May 19, 2010 by Trader Vince

The Space Pilot is a Donn Beach creation hailing out of the 1940’s (originally called the Test Pilot). The Ti’s version has numerous rums and juices (including orange) with a dark rum float. Sweet, tart, delicious, don’t forget to wear your helmut and bring some back-up oxygen.

Skull & Bones (52 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , on May 19, 2010 by Trader Vince

The Skull & Bones is semi-sweet and tart, made with light and dark rums, lime juice, and grenadine. If the taste of a rum soaked cherry sounds good to you, you might really like this one.

Scorpion (51 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , on May 19, 2010 by Trader Vince

The Scorpion is a semi-sweet classic that includes rum, lime juice, and club soda with a Coruba dark rum float. Back in the day the Ti used to serve a flaming Scorpion Bowl, but more stringent safety precautions now make that a bygone era. Good thing, too, because I’d be afraid of my beard catching on fire. Wait, I don’t have a beard.

Luau Larry’s

Posted in Luau Larry's with tags , , , , , , on May 17, 2010 by Trader Vince

After an exciting weekend of dancing and drinking prohibition cocktails at the Avalon Ball on Catalina Island, Swabbie Laura and I were able to squeeze in one last bit of adventure before catching the Catalina Express back home to LA. Luau Larry’s lies in the heart of the Avalon boardwalk and has been a tourist staple since 1988. Their drinks are strong contemporary faux-tropicals, and their Wiki Wacker comes with your choice of a free hat or a sticker. Their lunch is your standard fish & chips menu, and at night they become one of the island’s party spots.

As a bonus, here’s a few pictures of the aforementioned Avalon Ball, in all its Jazz Age and Art Deco glory. It took place in the Avalon Casino Ballroom and was a walk back in time:

Barbados Kula (50 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , on May 12, 2010 by Trader Vince

The Barbados Kula is strong, a touch sour, and includes Meyers’s rum along with orange and lime juices. Barbados is an island nation of the Lesser Antilles that gained their independence from the UK in 1966. Their capital is Bridgetown, their currency is the Barbadian dollar, and their official drink is the Barbados Kula which is mandatory drinking beginning at age 7.

Tiki Daiquiri (49 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , on May 12, 2010 by Trader Vince

The Daiquiri is a renowned classic that first gained international fame at the El Floridita in Havana, Cuba. There’s many variations, but the Ti’s is great and tastes a little like frothy pink lemonade.

Cobra’s Fang (48 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , on May 12, 2010 by Trader Vince

The Cobra’s Fang is a year-round thirst-quenching antidote. It’s semi-sweet and made with rum, grenadine, orange and lime juices, and a splash of club soda. When this Cobra strikes, it bites!

Planter’s Kula (47 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , on May 12, 2010 by Trader Vince

A variation of the Planter’s Punch, the Planter’s Kula uses Myers’s dark rum and orange juice among other ingredients and is similar to the Ti’s Zombie. I planted too many of these and a hangover grew.

Vicious Virgin (46 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , on May 12, 2010 by Trader Vince

Another Donn Beach creation with a fantastic name, the Ti’s Vicious Virgin is made with rum, lime juice, Falernum (a ginger-lime syrup invented in the West Indies), and a hint of almond. Sweet, tart, and statutorily delicious.

Tuba-Co-Ola (45 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , on May 7, 2010 by Trader Vince

To the best of my knowledge the Tuba-Co-Ola is a Tiki-Ti original made with rum and red passion fruit among other mystery ingredients. It’s sweet, a touch sour, and as of this writing I still have no idea how to pronounce it. TUBA-CO-OLA!

Pearl Diver (44 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , on May 7, 2010 by Trader Vince

The Pearl Diver is another Donn Beach creation from the 1930’s. The original drink was served with a pearl at the bottom of every fifth drink, but the Ti uses a cherry in every one so your chances of finding treasure are much higher. Gold and dark rums, sweet & sour, passion fruit, a hint of almond, this sucker doesn’t disappoint.

Mai Tai (43 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , on May 7, 2010 by Trader Vince

The most famous of all tropical drinks, even teetotalers have heard of the Mai Tai. Purportedly invented by Victor Bergeron in 1944 at his Oakland restaurant Trader Vic’s, but contested by tropical pioneer and rival Donn Beach who claims he invented it in 1933. If Donn and Vic weren’t such great rivals, I’m sure they would have made a dynamite comedy team. At any rate, the Ti’s version of the Mai Tai seems closest to Trader Vic’s and has dark rum, light rum, lime juice, orange Curacao, a splash of club soda, as well as a couple other mystery syrups. As a top-shelf option you can also add Grand Marnier to make it a Grand Mai Tai.

Nui Nui (42 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , on May 7, 2010 by Trader Vince

The Nui Nui is another Donn Beach creation from the 1930’s. It was originally called the Pupule, but by the 1950’s the name Nui Nui was firmly entrenched. It’s sweet and thick like an Orange Julius (a California chain) and contains rum, orange and lime juices, and several mystery syrups. Overall, a magical elixir.

Zombie (41 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , on May 7, 2010 by Trader Vince

The Zombie is one the perennial classics in the genre of faux-tropical drinks. It was created in 1934 by the man who started it all, Donn Beach, at the very first tropical bar and restaurant, Don the Beachcomber in Hollywood, California. Not only that, but the Tiki-Ti’s very own Master Ninja Ray Buhen was there as one of its original bartenders. The Zombie is sweet, strong, and contains numerous rums (including 151), passion fruit and lime juices. Donn’s limit was 2 per customer, but the Tiki-Ti isn’t into gimmicky marketing so down as many as you want—just drink plenty of water and have a cab at the ready.

Navy Grog (40 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , on April 28, 2010 by Trader Vince

The Navy Grog is the first of 53 drinks in the Ti’s Rum section. It’s an old school recipe that contains light rum, dark rum, grapefruit and lime juices, with an allspice/honey aftertaste. I wore a Pea Coat and naval hat in the hopes of getting a Navy Grog discount, but I only received derisive laughter instead. Makes me think twice about wearing my Zombie costume.

Burnt Hawaiian (39 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , on April 28, 2010 by Trader Vince

The Burnt Hawaiian is like the Blue Hawaiian, only uses orange Curacao and grenadine instead of Blue Curacao. It’s big, sweet, fruity, delicious, with two awesome garnishes. (By the way, if you ever see me in the Ti and don’t want your garnish, let me know and I’ll take it off your hands.)

Well, my expedition through the Various Liquors section of the menu has finally reached its end, and man was it amazing. Challenging, yes, but I feel stronger and more seasoned, and ready for my final destination: Rum. The Rum section of the menu boasts an impressive 53 of their 92 drinks and dammit I can’t wait. LAND, HO!

Jim’s Special (38 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , on April 28, 2010 by Trader Vince

Per Jim, the gentleman whose name graces this drink, the Jim’s Special is basically a Mai Tai on steroids. Tequila, dark rum, the Ti’s proprietary Mai Tai mix, fresh squeezed lemon and lime juices, and two garnishes, this sucker does indeed pack a wallop. In Jim’s recipe tequila is the dominant alcohol, but he says if you prefer rum you can invert their ounce ratios. He also recommends a glass of water afterwards, which is a terrific recommendation.

Tropical Itch (37 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , on April 21, 2010 by Trader Vince

The Tropical Itch is sweet and on the thinner side, with Myers’s rum, brandy, passion fruit, orange Curacao, fresh squeezed lime juice, club soda, and a dash of bitters. It’s very refreshing and one of only a handful of drinks to feature a mint garnish along with the pineapple and cherry. Soothe your summer itch and order one while tropical supplies last!

Skip & Go Naked (36 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , on April 21, 2010 by Trader Vince

The Skip & Go Naked is comprised of vodka, sweet & sour, lemon juice, club soda, and a beer float. I recommend getting naked before skipping, as trying to go naked while skipping is very dangerous when intoxicated.

Sweet Lelani (35 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , on April 21, 2010 by Trader Vince

The Sweet Lelani is very similar to the Black Widow (rum, cherry brandy, lime juice, a champagne float) but it’s brandy-based. The drink takes its name from the song Sweet Leilani, which won the 1937 Best Original Song Oscar for the film Waikiki Wedding. Leilani is also a popular Hawaiian name meaning “heavenly garland of flowers”.

Black Widow (34 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , on April 21, 2010 by Trader Vince

If you like your tropical drinks dry, the Black Widow might be up your alley. Rum, cherry brandy, lime juice, a champagne float, I hear this drink is big in France. Merci beaucoup, c’est délicieux!

Blue Hawaiian (33 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , on April 16, 2010 by Trader Vince

This Blue Hawaiian is green, big, sweet, fruity, and will kick your butt. Rum, vodka, pineapple juice, blue Curacao, with a float of Galliano, it also comes standard with a double garnish. The Blue Hawaiian is a variant on the original 1957 Blue Hawaii cocktail, invented at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki by renowned bartender Harry Yee. Apparently he was approached by a sales rep from the Dutch distiller Bols, looking to design a drink that would showcase their blue Curacao liqueur. So there you have it, a Dutch salesman and Hawaiian bartender working together to concoct faux-tropical drinks for mainland tourists!

Fog Cutter (32 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , on April 16, 2010 by Trader Vince

Originally a Trader Vic creation, the Tiki-Ti’s Fog Cutter packs rum, gin, and cherry brandy as its three base spirits. The mixers also include orange and lime juices among others. Sweet, wet, a vague taste of cloves, something tells me I’ll be having a few more of these in the not to distant future—although Vic suggested not having more than two in one session, which I believe to be a devilish marketing trick. I’ll find out soon enough.

Blood & Sand (31 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , on April 16, 2010 by Trader Vince

The Blood & Sand (taking it’s name from the 1922 Rudolph Valentino bullfighting film) comes complete with the entire Tiki-Ti bar yelling “Toro! Toro! Toro!” (not to be confused with the 1970 Pearl Harbor film Tora! Tora! Tora!) while it’s being made. They give you three options for your primary booze: bourbon, scotch, or tequila. The original recipe calls for scotch, which is a unique choice for a mixed cocktail, but in this instance I chose tequila. Other ingredients include orange juice and cherry liquor. Overall, it tasted vaguely like an orange margarita and was pretty dang tasty.

Note: Bullfighting and antiquated machismo theatrics suck.

Tiki Tea (30 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , on April 16, 2010 by Trader Vince

The Tiki Tea is a Tiki take on the Long Island Iced Tea. Gin, vodka, rum, tequila, sweet & sour, lemon juice, cola, and a float of brandy. The Long Island Iced Tea was first served in the mid 1970s by Robert (Rosebud) Butts, a bartender at the Oak Beach Inn, Long Island, New York. The original recipe also didn’t contain tequila.

Stealth (29 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , on April 14, 2010 by Trader Vince

The Stealth is the first of 11 drinks on the Various Liquors section of the menu. Per Bartender Mike Jr., it’s also the strongest drink they serve because it contains no juices or mixers whatsoever, just pure booze. Kahlua, Baileys, Grand Marnier, amaretto, 151 rum, and a touch of milk, all add up to a creamy and powerful concoction. The Stealth does indeed sneak up and silently bomb you.

Tiki Side Kick (28 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , , on April 14, 2010 by Trader Vince

The Tiki Side Kick is the last of the 8 drinks on the Liqueurs & Liquors section of the menu, and you have to be a whiskey fan to enjoy it, because Jim Beam features prominently. Other ingredients include Kahlua, Baileys, and milk. Per bartender Mark, the Tiki Side Kick is kind of like a baby version of their drink the Stealth, because it has no 151 rum.  Next, I head to the Various Liquors section of the menu and can’t wait to see what devilish tricks the Tiki-Ti has in store for me.

Tiki On Acid (27 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , , on April 14, 2010 by Trader Vince

The Tiki On Acid is literally a trip. Unsweetened pineapple juice, coconut rum, green chartreuse, and a Jagermeister float. On paper that recipe looks insane (especially to someone who’s burnt out on Jager), but it really adds up to something surprisingly delicious, refreshing, and quite unique. If you’re looking for something different, this is a great candidate.

Puka Bar

Posted in Puka Bar with tags , , , on April 6, 2010 by Trader Vince

Swabbie Tim and I heard rumors of an unexplored Tiki bar in Long Beach, and being born in LBC ourselves, we immediately departed LA and sailed south down the 5 freeway to check it out. We arrived at 4pm and were the first customers in. In fact, the bartender wasn’t ready with her prep and told us that nobody ever came in that early. She was clearly dealing with professionals. Initial impressions were that Puka was a nice dive, divided into 3 main areas: a large bar, a large lounge with a stage for bands, and a hallway/bathroom. The Tiki decor was very authentic and well integrated, and the music posters had a rockabilly-goth-punk-Ska-biker-Social Distortion vibe—in a word, Tiki.

In the foreground, my Mai Tai which I liked okay. In the background, Swabbie Tim’s Chi Chi which he says wasn’t nearly as good as the Tiki Ti’s or Damon’s.  He then proceeded to down the whole thing.

2011 Update: After 5 years of Tiki drinks and copious local bands, the Puka Bar has closed its doors to become what I hear is now a bikini bar. Swabbie Chadd has offered to check it out and give a full report. Puka Bar RIP, 2006-2011.

Between the Sheets (26 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , , on April 1, 2010 by Trader Vince

The Between the Sheets is strong, sour, and not for the timid. Brandy, rum, orange curacao, and club soda all sucker punch you and you don’t see it coming. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, odds are you won’t care for this one. However, if you’d like a fuller head of hair this is better than Rogaine.

Swamp Water (25 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , , on April 1, 2010 by Trader Vince

The Swamp Water is sweet, mild, and simple in it’s recipe—which is pineapple juice and Green Chartreuse. Green Chartreuse is a French Liqueur that’s been made by Carthusian monks since the 1740’s. It’s 110 proof, contains 132 plant extracts, and is naturally green from the chlorophyll. It also comes in yellow.

Firefly (24 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , , on April 1, 2010 by Trader Vince

If you’re like me and prone to cliches, the first thing that might come to mind when looking at this drink is Pepto-Bismol—but looks are where the similarities end. The Firefly is in the same family as the Milky Way, Alpine, and Halley’s Comet, only it uses crème de almond and is topped with delicious cinnamon. If garish flamboyance is what you seek in a beverage, look no further than the Firefly.

Halley’s Comet (23 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , , on April 1, 2010 by Trader Vince

The Halley’s Comet is very similar to the Alpine (vodka, Kahlua, crème de coco, milk), but with several more mystery ingredients that make it stronger and 2 dollars more expensive. Yes, the 2 bucks are worth it.

Fun Fact: The next predicted perihelion of Halley’s Comet is July 28, 2061. The Tiki-Ti will hopefully be celebrating it’s 100th anniversary that year and I’ll be front and center! Oh wait, nevermind. Hopefully my tropical homies tip a Halley’s Comet in my honor.

Alpine (22 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , , on April 1, 2010 by Trader Vince

Similar to the Milky Way, but much slushier. Made with vodka, Kahlua, crème de coco, milk, and 7Up. I really like the addition of 7Up, which is the first drink on the menu I’ve come across to use it. It not only gives the drink a little snap, but helps in creating an overall unique sweet quality.

Note: You may have noticed there was a month gap between this post and my last. That’s because I took March off from my drinking adventure to finish training for another adventure: the 2010 LA Marathon. It took place on Sunday, March 21st and we ran from Dodger Stadium, through Echo Park, Silver Lake (past the Tiki-Ti!), Hollywood, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Century City, and ended at the pier in Santa Monica. I finished in 4:52 and was so sore afterwards I couldn’t walk for 3 days.

Milky Way (21 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , , on February 24, 2010 by Trader Vince

The Milky Way is the first of 8 drinks on the Liqueurs & Liquors section of the menu. Kahlua, Amaretto, Baileys, and a little milk make for a creamy good time. If you’re a fan any of the ingredients, they come together very nicely over crushed ice to create a frothy masterpiece.

Note: not a wise choice for the lactose intolerant.

Squeaky Tiki (20 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , on February 24, 2010 by Trader Vince

The Squeaky Tiki, which is the last of the 4 tequila drinks on the menu, is made with Cazadores tequila (acquired by Bacardi in 2001), lime juice, and Squirt—which is a carbonated, caffeine-free, citrus-flavored soda created in 1938. This drink is light and snappy and sent me off on a tequila high note.

The next leg of my Adventure takes me to the Liqueurs & Liquors section of the menu, where I’m told many strong drinks await. Let’s hope I survive this one and make it to my ultimate destination, Rum.

Blue Margarita (19 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , on February 24, 2010 by Trader Vince

The Blue Margarita is pretty straightforward, made with tequila, sweet & sour, lime juice, blue curacao, and a salted rim. In other news, there’s a guy who swings by the Ti every Wednesday night selling chicken and vegetarian tamales. I sometimes get the vegetarian ones, which go nicely with the tequila drinks and enable me to walk to the cab.

Tequila Sunrise (18 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , on February 24, 2010 by Trader Vince

The popular Tequila Sunrise recipe calls for orange juice, tequila, and grenadine. The Tiki-Ti, however, harkens back to the original recipe of tequila, creme de cassis, lime juice, and soda. Even though the Ti version is mixed and doesn’t have the colorful layer separation that gave the drink its name, I like the their recipe better as it’s slightly more tart and complex.

Kactus Kula (17 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , on February 24, 2010 by Trader Vince

The Kactus Kula, a Tiki twist on the Cactus Cooler, is the first of 4 Tequila drinks on the Tiki-Ti menu. First off, I should say I’m not a tequila person. It makes me weird. Sometimes angry. No other alcohol affects me in quite the same way, except for Vodka, Rum, Gin, Whiskey, Brandy, Beer and Wine. Anyway, the Kactus Kula is a semi-sweet drink made with tequila, pineapple, orange, and passion fruit juices, making it very drinkable for the non-tequila person. Oh yeah, any type of Liquors or Liqueurs make me weird as well.

Diki Diki (16 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , on February 18, 2010 by Trader Vince

The Diki Diki is the last of the 4 Gin drinks on the menu. The passion, lime, and orange juices bring the sweet, the gin brings the sour. Per bartender Mike Jr., the original Tiki-Ti recipe also called for apple juice, but now uses Apple Schnapps. The next leg of my expedition takes me south of the border to Tequila, so hasta luego, amigos tropicales!

Rangoon Gimlet (15 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , on February 18, 2010 by Trader Vince

The Rangoon Gimlet is a Gin Gimlet with a dash of Rangoon. For those of you who might not know, Rangoon (Yangon) literally translates as “End of Strife” and is the former capital of Burma in Southeast Asia. It has a current  population of over four million and is the country’s largest city and most important commercial center. It’s also dry and semi-sour from the fresh squeezed lime juice—the drink that is.

Dr. Funk (14 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , on February 18, 2010 by Trader Vince

The Dr. Funk is similar to the Singapore, but sweeter and not as dry. One distinction is that is uses the anise-flavored liqueur Pernod, giving it a black licorice aftertaste. Per bartender Mark, it’s one of the least ordered drinks for that very reason. I guess most people prefer red licorice, ironically the color of this drink. Perhaps the Ti should concoct another drink that’s black and tastes like red licorice?

Singapore (13 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , on February 18, 2010 by Trader Vince

The Singapore, the first of 4 gin-based drinks on the Tiki-Ti menu, is their version of the classic Singapore Sling. Made with gin, lime juice, grenadine, brandy, and club soda, it’s a little on the tart side with a dry aftertaste. Per cocktail lore, the Singapore Sling was developed by Ngiam Tong Boon, a bartender who worked at the Long Bar in the Raffles Hotel Singapore pre-1915. The original recipe says to serve it up, but I prefer on the rocks.

Bloody Tiki (12 of 92)

Posted in Tiki-Ti with tags , , , , , on February 18, 2010 by Trader Vince

It was a great adventure, but the Bloody Tiki concludes my journey through the Tiki-Ti’s 12 vodka-based drinks, which on the whole I really enjoyed. Now, I’m not a fan of Bloody Mary’s per say, but I actually liked this one. The dashes of Hot Sauce make it really spicy, and the salt rim is a winner. It also boasts a very impressive garnish which includes an olive, tomato, onion, radish, asparagus, and celery. Also, it’s not part of the recipe, but they stock Garlic Tabasco behind the bar and will add a few dashes by request. My next leg of the Tiki-Ti menu journey takes me to Gin. There’s only 4 drinks in all, so it won’t take me long. Until then.