For those of you looking for a few gifts for the Tikiphile in your life (even if it’s just yourself), Trader Vic’s Online Store is now offering $10.00 off Orders $50.00 or more (excluding shipping). Just enter promo code “MaiTai” at checkout.
I’m not too hip on the drink mixes anymore, but the spices and condiment offerings are always great. What I really like (and have around a dozen of) are the Trader Vic Mai Tai Glasses. They’re 15 oz. biggies, and you’ll see them all over my site here. Sadly, two have already made their way with Trader Vic, but the survivors live on to hold my Mai Tais, Aku Akus, and Navy Grogs.
And of course, if you’re looking for a gift for your favorite internet Tiki Aficianado (*A-hem*), a set of Tiki Cufflinks or a Rum Barrel or two could get you free admission for life to the Galley, all the Nui Nuis you can suck down.
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!
When you’re thinking about tiki drinks, and rum, one of the things that comes to mind is how Donn and Vic were able to blend rums to make such potent potables. Everyone else surely had a rum or two up their sleeve, why didn’t they think to grab the rum off of the shelf, and make the next great Rum-dinger?
One of Donn’s secrets was reaching for the unknown categories of Rum, bringing in different flavors to each blend. Probably his most used secret was Rum coming from Guyana, known as Demerara Rum. In the past, there were a number of distilleries operating under various labels, but nowadays the sole distiller on Guyana is Demerara Distillers, Ltd. Their signature line, El Dorado, boasts one of the largest product lines in Rum today, including a 151 proof, a dark, gold, white, and five different aged rums. This doesn’t even include the numerous rums they produce for other labels, and the products from the distillery that go into numerous other brands, including Pusser’s and Lemon Hart. At production rates of 26M Liters per year, that’s a lot of rum!
This smokey, rich molasses-based Rum was the secret sauce behind a number of Donn’s most famous creations, such as the Zombie, Coffee Grog, and the Demerara Dry Float. Vic had this to say about the stuff in his “Book of Food and Drink:”
“Demerara rum… has its own class. It is similar in some respects to dark Jamaica, but it has a dry burned flavor along with the aromatic and pungent flavor of the Jamaica rum. The makers of Demerara rums take great pride in obtaining distinctive flavor in their products and it is interesting to try to detect their flavoring agents.”
One of the biggest contributing factors to the unique flavors brought about from Demerara Distillers has to be the use of a 200 year old Coffey Still that’s been in continuous operation for around 150 years. The products of this still go into their finest rums, and is a particularly high selling point for Pusser’s, which gets a lot of its flavor from the unique combination of Demerara and Jamaican Rums.
Now, I couldn’t tell you precisely what brands Donn or Vic were using (Lemon Hart, Lamb’s Navy, and Hudson’s Bay were available at the time), though there are some hints in this Rebirth of the Zombie post on TikiCentral. These days though, the Demerara most available (and highly recommended) for mixing is Lemon Hart, which is available in 80 and 151 proof. The 151 can be distinguished solely by a red triangle in the upper left side (while facing) of the label denoting “151″. After a few rather sloshy mistakes, I now put a bright red speed pour on the top of my 151 bottle to distinguish the two.
I was given a few samples of the 12, 15, and 21 year rums by the folks at Demerara Distillers, and had imbibed plenty of the stuff down at Tales of the Cocktail. I am very pleased to have such good stuff generally available, if not locally, online, and am proud to boast almost the entire collection now at the Galley.
The 12 year rum starts off with a bit of a punch of smoke to the nose, but calms down after a few minutes in the glass. The taste is a bit of butterscotch, honey, and vanilla, with a sweet floral bite on the end. The viscosity of this rum is just pure joy. The 15 year is a touch dryer than the 12, still with a lot of the honey flavor. The nose is noticeably calmer, and almost floral. It is only slightly viscous, and has a gorgeous woody cinnamon finish to it. The nose on the 21 year old is almost transparent, with only the vaguest hints of a floral cologne, and honeycomb. The flavor is sharp, with a hefty alcoholic punch at the front, making way for cedar and citrus notes on the tongue. The 21 year is definitely one to try, but I don’t think you’ll be too disappointed with the younger rums. Now if only I could get my hands on a bottle of the 25 year, wouldn’t that be a treat?
While the higher aged rums can be a touch pricey to mix with, like Gary Regan says, crap in, crap out. The 12 year actually falls around the same price point ($24) as the Lemon Hart 80, and is quite a bit smoother, while maintaining that same sharp smoke note at the front. The biggest intial tell between the two is the rich, syrupy viscosity of the 12 year compared to the Lemon Hart 80. After sitting a few minutes, the notes of the 12 still stand strong, while the Lemon Hart 80 has lost a bit of its initial punch, but still packs a bit of burn on the end.
The 12 year El Dorado, while a lovely sipping Rum, absolutely shimmers and shines in this adaptation of a Trader Vic original, the Rum Pot.
- 1 1/2 El Dorado 12 year
- 1/4 oz Vanilla Syrup
- 1/2 oz Passion Fruit Syrup
- 3/4 oz Orange Juice
- 3/4 oz Lemon Juice
Shake well and pour into Double Rocks Glass.
The depth and sweetness of the Demerara Rum and the light citrus notes from the Lemon and Orange clash in mysterious and surprisingly complex ways. This is one of my favorites as of late, and has even been added to the permanent selection for the Tiki Third Tuesday at Teardrop Lounge menu.
For more info the fine rums of Demerara Distillers, be sure to visit the Demerara Distillers site, or their page on the Ministry of Rum.
“I’m tired of Gin, I’m tired of Sin, and after last night, oh boy, am I tired.“
Yes, ladies and/or gentlemen, another month has passed, and the next Mixology Monday is already nigh past! This month’s, hosted by Jay at Oh Gosh!, leads us through the very exciting world of Gin.
My personal favorite, other than the only 1/4 oz sampled Bluecoat, has to be the locally made Aviation Gin. This is just fantastic stuff, very aromatic and delicately balanced, but still man enough to put some hair on your chest, or wherever you might find yourself in need of warmth. Changed my Gin Fizzes for life, I can tell you that much.
Now, being that this is could be considered a primarily Tiki drink site, Gin, well, didn’t find itself a primary liquor in too many, or, pretty much any drinks. It’s in the Fog Cutter, Colonel’s Big Opu, Suffering Bastard… oh, wait a moment. It is the primary in a Trade Winds cocktail (Grog Log, p. 84). Well, seeing as the drinking’s done for the night, I may have to do a second post on that one later. For this MxMo, I decided to roll with a Trader Vic original, the Gilded Lily.
- 1/2 oz. Modern Dry Gin (Aviation Gin recommended)
- 1/2 oz. Puerto Rican Rum (sub. Cruzan White)
- 1/2 oz. Peach Brandy
- 1/2 oz. Orange Juice
Shake and strain into cocktail glass.
It’s a nice light cocktail, and I love the fact that it’s a good two ouncer, not so much of the tipple as not to be able to put together sentences, but just enough to think the ones you do put together are quite charming indeed. If you can make any sense out of that last sentence, you may need another drink. Yes, the umbrella with the orange twist may be a bit much, but for this drink I think there’s no harm in gilding the lily.
One issue with the above drink though, the Gin shares an equal part with the Rum! Vic, ever the Rum fetishist, has failed me in trying to make a nice, entirely gin-centric write-up. Oh well, guess I may have to roll my own on this one. I must admit, inspiration had struck from the blogosphere today… and if I ever type that word again, slap me upside the head with a Gin and Tonic. Craig had a recent post on Ceylon Cinnamon, and Scottes somehow forced me out of the bar to pick up some Ginger Beer. Well, why not have the two shake hands over a nice bit of Gin? So I whipped up this little concoction, the Gin and Cin.
Gin and Cin
- 2 oz. Aviation Gin
- 1 oz. Ceylon Cinnamon Syrup
- 1/2 oz. Lemon Juice
- 2 dashes fee bitters
- 1/4 tsp Fresh grated Ginger
- Ginger Beer (Ginger People STRONGLY advised)
Shake all ingredients except Ginger Beer in a shaker, strain into ice-filled chimney glass. Top with Ginger People Ginger Beer. Garnish with ginger slices and powdered cinnamon.
This is a great digestive, and damned tasty drink, with the spicy ginger giving a sharp spike of flavor, while the Ceylon cinnamon keeps the taste buds active. The lemon provides a touch of a sour note, and the gin and bitters wrap all the notes together. Oh, and you might want to get some Ceylon syrup together, here’s the deal:
Ceylon Cinnamon Syrup
- 1 part water (16 oz. by volume)
- 1 part organic cane sugar (16 oz. by volume)
- bag (4 sticks) Ceylon Cinnamon
Put all ingredients in a pot on the stove. Let simmer covered for 15 minutes or so, cool, strain and bottle.
That stuff will go fantastic in any Nui Nui, Jet Pilot, so on an so forth. Hell, pour it on some waffles, it’s just damned good.