if you haven’t noticed, it’s been a bit quieter around these parts lately. Nothing but the internet version of tumbleweeds rolling across the screen. Well, my apologies for that, it’s been quite a bit busy here at Trader Tiki headquarters. So I’m sure you’re wondering, in your dreams and during the day, just WHAT have I been up to? (and seriously, if you’ve had any Trader Tiki related dreams, don’t blame me, blame the Rum!)
Lately, I’ve been working on a cocktail consulting project, where I was able to assist my friend David with menu and ingredient development for a new restaurant location. After many weeks of work, today, I’m beyond pleased to announce the Grand Opening of Tommy O’s in Camas, WA on Friday, December 5th!
If you’ve ever been to Tommy O’s in downtown Vancouver, you know the quality of the food and service to be barnone. The cocktail menu though, maybe not so much. The drinks were decent, but a bit behind the times. Well, times have changed, and the cocktail menu for the Camas restaurant is now robust with cocktail classics, and bold new drinks, and a few seasonal delights. Beyond the standard cocktail menu, the bar staff is armed with 30 classic and modern drinks to please any palate. If you thought that was enough, the bartenders are also being trained in classic technique, stirring and shaking and jiggering, taught by one of the best bartenders I know, David Shenaut of Teardrop Lounge.
Here’s a look at the new cocktail menu.
Rum, Lime, and Gomme Syrup
Vodka, St Germaine Elderflower Liqueur, Lemon and Egg White, garnished with a Housemade Hibiscus Tincture
Tequila, Chambord, Passion Fruit, Freshly made sour mix, and a Li Hing Mui rim
Rye, Sweet Vermouth, and Housemade Macadamia Bitters
Gin, Sweet Vermouth, Maraschino Liqueur, Orange Bitters, garnished with Lemon Zest
Dry Fly Gin, Chartreuse, Sweet Vermouth and Campari. Misted with a Flamed Housemade Old Wood bitters
A Housemade Tonic made for winter weather, served with your choice of base spirit.
Tommy O’s Mai Tai
A blend of aged rums, Lime, Curacao, Orgeat, and Falernum.
Hot Buttered Rum
Cider, Rum, and Housemade Hot Buttered Rum Batter
Lime, Lemon, Pineapple, Passionfruit, Bitters, and a blend of three aged rums.
You may be able to point out a few particular points of influence I had there. Yes, the Mai Tai is branded. Changing the name of a classic to suit a recipe tweak is fine by me. Feel absolutely free to order it Trader Vic style.
The new Tommy O’s is located in Camas, Washington, at SE 34th and SE 192nd. Hope to see you there sometime!
This was my drink entry for the recent Drambuie Den contest here in Portland, where David Shenaut of Teardrop Lounge took home top place with his Desert Wanderer, a variation on the Bee’s Knees featuring Drambuie.
No awards were lauded for this little number, but it’s a tip of my hat to the drinks and liqueurs that stand the test of time. Simple, refreshing, and just a bit different. I blame the salt addition on Darcy’s Sensory Perception seminar at Tales. The salt cuts out a few unsavory bitter elements in the Grapefruit and Drambuie, and makes it extremely smooth and sippable. It’s a bit out of season for a tall sparkler, but I think there’ll be more than a few rounds of these made next time the sun starts up.
- 1 1/2 oz Fresh Grapefruit Juice
- 1 1/2 oz Drambuie
- 1 oz Simple Syrup
- 2 dash Angostura Bitters
- pinch Salt
Shake with Crushed Ice, pour into Chimney Glass, top with Soda, garnish with grapefruit peel.
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.
This is the last entry in the tour of the Bay Area for the Tiki Central Tiki Crawl. You can check out more pictures at this Photo Thread on Tiki Central. See you next crawl!
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.
The next and final stop, Trader Vic’s Emeryville, is coming up! Wish I were still there!
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.