Archive for los angeles

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.

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.

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!

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:

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.

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