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!
Well folks, hopefully you’re hearing it here first.
Tuesday, October 21st will be the Final Tiki Tuesday at Teardrop Lounge.
With the summer sun dwindling mighty fast, the time has come to let it set on the monthly fun. But this is no time to mourn! No time to weep into your rum barrels! If it’s going to be the last one, it’s going to be the best one!
Tiki Drinks will be available from a special menu all night, from 4pm to closing. Here’s a sneak preview of the menu.
The Don the Beachcomber classic, inspired by his travels to Montego Bay. It’s a potent and well frosted punch of 151 Demerara, tempered with Donn’s 1-2 of Bitters and Pastis.
By Craig Hermann, of the NW Tiki Kon. This is his riff on a Mai Kai Classic, the Black Magic. Coffee and Passion Fruit play to tingle your tastebuds with this tasty tempter!
Golden Monkey Grog
A new classic from Patrick Callahan, forged for a recent Forbidden Island Cocktail competition! A real traditional tiki tippler with lots of spice, and an out of this world texture.
Lei Lani Volcano
This drink hails from Disney’s Polynesian Village resort. A balanced sweet and sour combination of Guava, Lime, Coconut Rum and Pineapple juice is no Mickey Mouse cocktail.
Trader Vic’s most famous creation, and easily the most recognized tiki drink in the world. This lightly sweet combination of aged Rum, Lime, Curacao and Orgeat put Trader Vic’s on the map.
That good old Don the Beachcomber classic, with a mix of aged rums, grapefruit, and agave nectar.
Don the Beachcomber’s spicy classic, with Aged Rum, Orange and Lime juices, and Don’s Spices #2, a secret only recently unearthed by Jeff “BeachBum” Berry.
A Trader Tiki original, this one’s a sweet treat with 12-year Aged Demerara Rum, Ginger, Orange, and a touch of Vanilla Extract and spice.
Trader Vic’s sweet and complex original, recently unearthed for Tales of the Cocktail 2008.
Taken from the Bum’s own notebook, this is our tribute to Beachbum Berry, author, lecturer, and one helluva guy. Slightly Sweet and Cinnamony.
The most infamous of all Don the Beachcomber’s creations, any more than two and you’ll be joining the living dead with this combination of tropical juices, passion fruit, and plenty of dark and light rums.
Zombie Punch, 1934
Unearthed from the depths of an old Don the Beachcomber bartender’s notebook. This is the original Zombie, the inspirer, the downfall, and the resurrecter! This is a potent one.
If that’s not enough to drag you in, there will also be a few special surprises… you may just be taking home a new Tiki Mug or Beachbum Berry Book! What else could you want, a 96 oz. Volcano Bowl? A live Ukulele act? Well, we’ll see about that.. meanwhile, get ready for a tropic escape from the autumn weather! See you there!
Teardrop Lounge is located at 1015 NW Everett Street, in the Pearl District of Portland, OR.
Orgeat, fashionably French soda sweetener, or one of the best ingredients ever set behind the bar?
First, for a quick peek at how to properly pronounce the word, see this pic by Humuhumu from Martin’s recent presentation on the subject.
Here is a classic recipe from 1835. It’s quite a bit simplified, and I’ve got a bit more detailed modern method below it, with plenty of pictures.
Orgeat has been around since somewhere around the dawn of time. Originally a barley based syrup flavored with almonds, eventually the barley was ditched for the far more flavorful, but still oily and wonderful almonds. Most of the commercial product is made as almond flavored syrup, and can be purchased from Fees, Torani, and Monin. They all just have a bit of something missing though, and the effort to make real orgeat is well rewarded with some of the best flavors possible. Real Orgeat, as made below, is a thing of beauty. It is an aromatic enhancer with rose and orange flower water, and acts not to purely sweeten the drink, but really changes the profile to something entirely different, neutralizing a lot of the bitter and sour flavors. It’s what made the Mai Tai, so there’s gotta be something to it!
The origin of the below recipe comes from the fxcuisine recipe, such as Erik used, but I’ve done a few twists here and there for my own purposes, mostly in measuring by volume.
I’m not going to push too heavily that you should blanch and chop your own almonds, but it seems to give it just a little bit more flavor and texture. There’s something about that fresh oil just under the skin of the almond that works wonders.
The following recipe yields around 1/2 gallon
You will need:
- 1/2 lb. blanched whole almonds
- (approximately) 3 Quarts Sugar
- 1 Quarts Water
- Bitter Almond Extract
- Rose Water
- Orange Flower Water
|To blanch the almonds, set the almonds in a large bowl. Bring 3 cups of water to a boil, then cover the almonds with the boiling water. After 2 minutes, strain the almonds from the water, return the almonds to the bowl, then cover the almonds with cold water. The almonds should now slide easily from their skins.
||Roughly chop the whole almonds. A food processor at a low speed is highly recommended.
Add the roughly chopped almonds, and pour an equal amount of sugar to almonds (by volume) into a large pot.
|Add 1 quarts water to the pot and bring to a boil.
One it has hit boiling, take the pot off of heat, and leave to rest for 12 hours or overnight.
After 12 hours, strain the liquid through a cheesecloth. Repeat a few times if greater clarity is desired. Me, I strain it once as I like to preserve a bit of the almond powder for each bottle, but to each their own.
Measure the strained liquid by volume. Add sugar in a 3:2 ratio the strained liquid (for example, 16 oz of strained liquid would require 24 oz of sugar). Put the pot on a low heat to carefully dissolve the sugar.
|DO NOT let the mixture BOIL. You’ll ruin the batch and give yourself one helluva cleaning job for the pot. Like I recommend for any syrup, a combination of agitation, low heat, and an alert cook in the kitchen should do just fine.
Once the sugar is dissolved, and no more granules are present, remove the pot from heat.
Leave to cool before adding the extra flavorings. Just a few drops, 3-6 each, of bitter almond extract, rose water and orange water seem to add plenty of aromatics and flavor. If you add them while the syrup is hot, their flavor might evaporate.
This makes a big batch of Orgeat, somewhere around 1/2 gallon. Hit up your local brewing supply (mine is F. H. Steinbart) for a case of 375 mLs with twist on caps. A case of one dozen usually costs you just under a dollar per bottle, and it makes a great hand out once your friends are hooked on Mai Tais and Japanese made with the real deal.
Real orgeat syrup will split after a few days in a thick, solid white layer of almond powder on top and syrup below. This is normal and happens with real orgeat syrup, all you need is insert a skewer in the bottle to break the top layer a bit, close and shake.
If you’ve made the above recipe one too many times, you can try varying it here and there. For example, try using natural cane sugar, such as Zulka, for a bit of a richer flavor. Just be sure to give it a turn in the food processor so it dissolves easier. I recently took some Cane Sugar I had mixed some Vanilla Beans in and made a rich Vanilla Cane Orgeat, which is getting a good reputation as Liquid Heaven.
If you haven’t seen them yet, it would be entirely in your best interest to check out the Small Screen Network’s Cocktail Spirit, featuring Robert Hess of Drinkboy fame. Being a fellow Pacific Nor’wester, I’ve seen Robert from time to time at events. The man is a walking treasure trove of information, with his Old-timey Doctor’s bag filled with bartending tools by his side.
Robert is heavy on the informative in these shows, so they’re worth a second viewing and a notepad. I have him to thank for knowing how to make a Champagne Cocktail right when some were recently ordered at the bar.
Here are some of my favorites… I think you’ll sense a pattern quickly.
Dr. Funk, featuring Beachbum Berry
Some of the newer videos include a Videoclix player, which allows you to click on any item in the video and learn more about it. It’s sort of like an adventure game about cocktails. Watch, learn, and enjoy!