I have a horrible admission to make. I’m now willing, without intervention, to come out off the shelf and spill my guts on it. I revealed in the Coconaut post my love of Tiki Mugs. But, I must tell you true. I am not only a fan, and a collector, but I am an ADDICT.
Short, tall, colorful, classic, modern, bring them all the heck on! I’d sell my soul for a Volcano Bowl, play the kazoo for a Fugu for Two, or even enter a blind Foosball tournament for one of Rum Demon’s classics. I’ve got a personal collection well over 100, most of which are listed on my Ooga-Mooga account. I even bought about a few dozen mugs from Tiki Farm for folks what came to Tiki Tuesday at Teardrop! but my li’l collection pales in comparison to the man in the video below. That is none other than Duke Carter, author of Tiki Quest, a sort of Collector’s Guide with a LOT of pretty pictures, and not so many of those damnable lists.
Here’s a video interviewing the author and showing off his rather stupendous collection. I’m sure some day I’ll have a collection like his… when I open a new wing of the Galley, maybe… and happen to find a unicorn in a compromising position with Bill Gates… maybe.
What about when life hands you a watery, low on flavor but not sure I’d want to taste it anyway liqueur? Well, in this case you make a cocktail. Much like the speakeasy bartenders making Alexanders out of Bathtub Brandy during Prohibition, a bit of creativity was called in to clean up the goop in this bottle.
Thanks a sponsored a little between-the-blogs contest, I received a few bottles of some Holiday themed spirits, namely Hiram WalkerGingerBread Spice and Pumpkin Spice liqueurs. I appreciate the idea, but I have yet to see something on the shelf that gets these right (remember BOLS Pumpkin smash? uggh). Sadly, these are no exception.
Now mind you, I appreciate the bottle, and that attempt at this flavor, but nonetheless, I question how this ever got past quality control. This is a marketing sprung product that feels cheaply flavored and developed, a “mix Neutral Spirit A with Flavoring X and water down until underproof”. Thank goodness the contest called for the Gingerbread, which is salvageable. The Pumpkin Spice… well, I’ll wait ’til he’s done posting something, but Craig has got something homemade and to damn-well die for. Stick with the homemade.
So, like I say, time to make something out of this. The best thing to do in this case, for my creative palate, anyway, is to just go with it. The initial thought is to use this as a replacement for Pimento Dram in a Lion’s Tail or something similar, but the flavor is just not present, and gets washed away into the aftertaste rather quickly. So, I bring in Allspice and Molasses to really bring out the Gingerbread aspects of the liqueur. The Half and Half makes it a nice creamy rich dessert drink, and the Fee Bitters punch out that clove/cinnamon thing I expect from anything with a holiday flavor. The rum? Well, it’s just delicious. I recommend Cruzan Dark, but Coruba or Goslings could make a very interesting, if not even richer flavor (and probably darker than good tea).
1 oz Hiram Walker Gingerbread Liqueur
1 oz Dark Rum
1 oz Half & Half
1 oz Allspice Syrup
1 tsp Molasses
2 dashes Fee Bitters
Shake without Ice for thirty seconds. Add Ice to the shaker and shake until well-frosted. Strain into a Coupe, garnished with Spice Drops.
8 oz Water
16 oz Sugar
2 Tablespoons Allspice Berries
1/2 tsp Ground Allspice
Set water and Allspice in a pot over high heat until boiling. Add sugar and reduce heat to medium, stir until sugar is dissolved. Let cool for 30 minutes covered, and strain into jar or bottle. Makes about 2 cups.
Trader Vics Emeryville, it’s not quite where it all started, but this is certainly the epicenter of the Trader Vic’s Tiki empire.
Seated at the bar or dining in the restaurant, the emphasis is on scintillating suppers and delightful drinks. Walking in between large Tiki statues, the diner is immediately greeted with a picture of Trader Vic himself, as well as a Mosaic portrait of the Trader. The decor is festooned with true classics of PolyPop decor, a signed sea turtle shell from World War II, fish traps and glass floats. The real prizes on the wall though are the original Leetegs, paintings from the premier tropical velvet painter, Ed Leeteg of Tahiti.
The drinks are all quite lovely, and virtually unchanged (well, a formula here and there) since the initial opening. If you want a real treat though, be sure to ask for a San Francisco Style Mai Tai. That’ll get you a Mai Tai made fresh, with no mix, though a little extra on the tip might be in order for the extra busy bartender. A true Mai Tai at a Trader vic’s is a thing of beauty, and worth the trip.
If you’re looking to recreate the feel of Trader vic’s Emeryville, well, don’t bet on it, unless you happen to have the Oakland bay conveniently handy. But you can get a glimpse of the drinks and food in Trader Vic’s Tiki Party!, a book authored with the support and coordination of the Trader Vic’s staff.
If you do get down there, a fun thing to do is scavenger hunt for a few items scattered here and there. Some of the trasures include the pot belly stove from Hinky Dink’s (what Trader Vics was prior to the great South Seas movement), the chair Queen Elizabeth II sat in during her visit (her first to a commercial restaurant!), and a few bottles of some very, very old booze that Vic used to play around with.
So next time you’re looking for another notch off of your book of tiki travels, be sure to think of Trader Vic’s Emeryville.
The Third stop on our crawl through the East Bay was the Kona Club on Piedmont Ave.
A few good hours were spent in this place, soaking in some of the most awesome decor I’ve seen in the “new wave” of tiki bars opened in the past decade. From the Tapa print entrance to the smoking volcano behind the bar, and even the signature Tiki mugs, this place spells tiki bar all the way from front to back.
The Kona Club was opened in 2005, just about a mile from the final resting place of Trader Vic. The owner, Doug Miller, has a few other places in his East Bay empire, each with at least a hint of tiki in the theme, such as the Club Mallard in Albany and Thalassa in Berkeley.
The decor is amazing, the drinks, not so much, but they do come in a signature mug that, if asked nicely, can become a part of your collection. The decor was an effort between Bamboo Ben (who also built Forbidden Island), and Crazy Al Evans, and features some of the most unique items I’ve ever seen, including a Volcano that erupts with smoke periodically, a lifesize hula lamp, and some great south seas shell art near the back.
And of course, being in Oakland, we were subject to a familiar local attraction, the Drive by! Thanks to whatever that it was just an airsoft gun, I understand real bullets hurt a helluva lot more.
Posted by TraderTiki on October 16th, 2008 — Posted in Events, Places
Over on College, just above Rustica sits the Conga Room, a real urban paradise. They offer porch seating, lovely punchy libations, and some of the best bar bites, including Rustica’s famous pizza.
The Conga Room has been around for about for years now, having opened in 2003. The owners had some tiki dreams, and seeing the excitement of the crowds and heavy concentration of Tikiphiles on Tikicentral, decided to move forward in developing a new watering hole for the thirsty of the East Bay.
The decor is as packed with paraphernalia as a tiki bar should be, though a few sombreros on the walls can distract from the PolyPop. Some may be appalled, blaming the influence of the Tijuana Brass on stealing the limelight of paradise away from Tiki. However, kept in cultural kitsch these kooky collectibles are quite the classic.
At the Conga Lounge, Exotica plays over the loudspeakers, and a TV shows constant clips of tropical locales, and tiki or Hawaiiana based shorts and films. There’s even room (well, not really, but don’t tell Mike) for a DJ to mix up a few beats from Martin Denny and Les baxter.
It’s a lovely place I look forward to going back to every year.