Tiki Mugs: More than a Drink Vessel

Brought to you by Trader Vic’s Flagship Restaurant (Emeryville, CA)

So you’ve taken the time to read about my private Tiki Bar… and maybe you’ve even taken that next step to experience one of the amazing Tiki Bars I’ve mentioned or reviewed but how will everyone know that you really went?  The TIKI MUG, of course!

No one knows exactly what the first tiki mug was but it is estimated it dates as far back as the late 50’s.  Since then collecting Tiki Mugs has been a pastime of many a Tiki Fan.

Here is what Wikipedia has to say about Tiki Mugs:

Tiki mugs are large ceramic cocktail mugs which originated in tiki bars and tropical themed restaurants. The term “Tiki mugs” is a generic, blanket term for sculptural drinkware that depict Polynesian, mock-Polynesian, or tropical themes. Tiki mugs are not commonly seen outside tiki bars and restaurants, but are also a kitsch collectors item.

 In building an at home Tiki Bar, having a good Tiki Mug collection is important.  They are not only vital to the bar’s décor but they also serve as great conversation pieces.  I won’t pretend that my Tiki Mug collection is the most extensive out there… BY FAR… but I think it is well on its way.  (Now, if you ask Mrs. Trader she will say that I’m almost at Tiki Mug capacity, but I say you can always add more shelves.)

My first Tiki Mug was actually a gift from my lifelong friend, Andy.  Following our first trip to the famed Mai Kai he bought me a pair of the famed Barrel O’ Rum barrels.  They probably are closing in on 15 years old by now and still an important part of my Tiki Mug collection.

Things just taste better in a barrel! – Andy


Following my barrels, the Tiki Mug collection grew very little until my first trip to the magical Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto.  This was the point in which I decided to build my Tiki Bar (read about it here) and I knew the mugs would be an important part of this new journey.  After only two visits to Trader Sam’s (and thanks to the generosity of two more lifelong friends, Rick and Goat) I had all the Grog Grotto Tiki Mugs.  The collection was well on its way!


Next came trips to other tiki establishments, including Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar in Anaheim, Smuggler’s Cove in San Francisco, Three Dots and a Dash in Chicago and Latitude 29 in New Orleans.  And, to prove I went, drank and enjoyed, I made sure that at least one mug came back to Trader Jay’s with me.


Another thing that I’m finding about becoming a known “Trader” to friends is that I’ve also been fortunate to be gifted Tiki Mugs and tiki barware along the way.  Mugs from Smuggler’s Cove were gifts and there is a great story surrounding one of my mugs from Three Dots and a Dash.  Also, the friend who convinced me to start this blog was kind enough to gift two tiki glasses from Lost Lake in Chicago (a bar I have yet to experience).


Other big additions to my Tiki Mug collection are not from a Tiki Bar at all.  Some might say that they aren’t TRUE Tiki Mugs but with how awesome and unique they are I don’t particularly care.  They are the first release of Geeki Tikis by Beeline Creative (sold on ThinkGeek).  Being such a HUGE Star Wars fan, these Tiki Mugs are the perfect way to bring a little modern pop culture into Trader Jay’s (plus the kids love using them).


Finally, the most recent addition to my Tiki Mug collection (and chief reason for this blog topic)… Tiki Mugs directly from the home of the “Creator”, Trader Vic’s.  This is the Tiki Bar at the VERY TOP of my “must visit” list, however the wonderful and generous staff at Trader Vic’s was kind enough to provide Trader Jay’s with three of their iconic Tiki Mugs.  I plan to one day visit and order a drink housed in each mug (as well as an Original Mai Tai, of course).


So there is my Tiki Mug collection story.  I’m happy with how it has grown and plan to continue to grow it.  If you want to help me add to it, I’ll always allow that… The Trader isn’t picky.  And if you are in the San Fran area or Atlanta, be sure to visit my friends at Trader Vic’s!

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Behind the Bar: The Black Pearl

A few months ago I came across a video for a drink called The Black Pearl that is made at The Cove Bar at Disney’s California Adventure theme park in Anaheim. I’d never had one but with the Pirates of the Caribbean movie reference I knew I had to give it a try.

It is fairly straight forward… half an ounce of gin, vodka and rum then add sour mix and “black berry liqueur”. Two things that made gave this a little trial and error… 1) I don’t really keep Chambord in stock and 2) they didn’t provide measurements for the chambour and sour mix. So I tucked the recipe away for some point in the future.

Last Saturday rolls around and some friends are at Trader Jay’s for the Florida Gator football game. I’m telling my buddy, Golden, about the Black Pearl and he offers to run back to his house to get… wait for it… his bottle of Chambord! And the mixing was on!

I decided that the Chambord was the key ingredient so I made it an equal pour to the other liquors (1/2 oz). Then I thought the sour mix should be enough to fill a rocks glass (1 oz combined with 2 oz of booze). To stretch it, you could add more sour (in the video it seems like at least 3 ounces), but where is the fun in that? Vodka and gin are pretty straight forward but the final decision was “type of rum”. Once again the video showed a white rum (probably Bacardi). There was some debate in the bar but The Trader ultimately decided that the BLACK Pearl should have Kraken Black Rum! (*See variation with Bacardi below)

The taste testing (and over a bottle of Chambord) confirmed that the mix was true! (Shout out to Justin for taking us to liquor store halfway through taste testing!)

Here is the full recipe that Trader Jay’s will be serving:

  • 1/2 oz Kraken Black Rum
  • 1/2 oz Bombay Sapphire Gin
  • 1/2 oz Grey Goose Vodka
  • 1/2 oz Chambord
  • 1 oz sour mix

Pour all ingredients into shaker, shake and strain into rocks glass with ice.

All who partook in the taste testing agreed it was a flavorful, fresh drink but can really pack a punch. So give it a mix and a pour and let me know what you think in the comments.

Cheers and Aloha!

*Golden claims that he’s had a similar drink called a Grateful Dead with Bacardi replacing the Kraken. After some research, the Grateful Dead also include Tequila. The Trader will use Bacardi upon request via the Secret Menu. We will call that “The Black Pearl’s Dinghy”.