A Mermaid Kiss

We here at Trader Jay’s Tiki Blog are THRILLED to bring on our first Rum Sponsor… Florida Mermaid Rum.

Florida Mermaid Rum is made by NJoy Spirits, LLC out of Weeki Wachee, FL. It is a “Gold” 3 year old Florida Sugar Cane sipping rum blended with a Caribbean pot still rum then aged in their Wild Buck Whiskey barrels for 90 days.

Natalie and Kevin were very generous to provide the Trader with a sample of their local rum for tasting and mixing.


The rum recently won a Gold Medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition so, naturally, I was excited to try it.

I poured about a half an ounce out to just sip on. First, the aroma is very flavorful, it has a nice oak barrel smell. In the initial taste you can feel the natural rum taste, slightly strong, but then the sweetness peaks through and you can sense the Florida sugar cane (important to me as a Florida native). Finally, the finish ties it up in a bow as the smooth oak from the whisky barrels stays with you as the taste fades. Overall, a really nice, hardy 3 year pot still rum.

    
After a few sips I wanted to try a simple drink. Kindly, NJoy provided a few recipes to try. I decided to keep it simple with a Mermaid Old Fashioned. I took 2 ounce of Florida Mermaid Rum and mixed with the suggested 1 ounce of simple syrup (I used my homemade Mai Tai simple syrup). I then added 2 dashes of aromatic bitters, shook lightly and poured over a big single ice cube (I like to use these tiki ones). Once again, the oak was the star as it was the highlight of every sip. The 2:1 was a little sweet for my pallet, probably would pull back on the simple syrup and add an citrus peel (as suggested) but still a good after dinner sipping cocktail.

Now that I have tasted the flavor subtleties, I have a few Trader Originals in mind. Hope to experiment right after Turkey Day and share my findings. In the meantime, please give Florida Mermaid Rum a try. It is available in Florida and Georgia (full list) or you can order online here.

A special Mahalo to Natalie and Kevin for “sponsoring” my Tiki Blog.

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”.

Hurricanes in a Hurricane

As a Florida native, I’m no stranger to Hurricanes. While we take them very seriously, we also know that “Hurricane Supplies” should include alcohol… especially at Trader Jay’s.

Right on the heals of my trip to New Orleans, the perfect drink to feature, obviously, is the Hurricane.

Created and made famous by Pat O’Brien’s on Bourbon Street, it is known for being a strong drink, traditionally featuring at least 4 oz of rum.

My Hurricane at Pat O’Brien’s in New Orleans in September 2016

The recipe on the Pat O’Brien site really is just “4 oz of rum and 4 oz of  Pat O’s hurricane mix”… this is all well and good if you buy their mix but not if you don’t want to cheat.

Another issue is that Hurricanes are a hard drink to tinker with because of the high alcohol amounts (had to keep some wits about me in case things went south with Hurricane Matthew).

After some interweb research, I came up with my owen recipes. They both have the same ingredients, just with different levels of alcohol (let’s go with “Cat 1” vs “Cat 4”; We will reserve Cat 5 for one using Overproof Rum).

For non-alcoholic ingredients I used orange juice, simple syrup, sour mix and cherry/pomegranate grenadine. For rum I went with Bacardi white rum and Kraken black rum. Finally, a popular ingredient to use is passion fruit juice or purée, however I decided to up the game by using Passoà passion fruit liqueur… that’s right, even more booze!

Trader Jay’s Category 4 Hurricane

  • 3 oz Bacardi White Rum
  • 2 oz Kraken Black Rum
  • 1.5 oz Passoà Passion Fruit Liqueur
  • 1.5 oz sour mix
  • 1.5 oz orange juice
  • 1 oz cherry/pomegranate grenadine
  • 1/2 oz simple syrup

Pour all ingredients into Hurricane glass filled with ice, give a stir and enjoy!

If you’re looking to bring it down a notch…

Trader Jay’s Category 1 Hurricane

  • 2 oz Bacardi White Rum
  • 1 oz Kraken Black Rum
  • 1 oz Passoà Passion Fruit Liqueur
  • 1 oz sour mix
  • 1.5 oz orange juice
  • 3/4 oz cherry/pomegranate grenadine
  • 1/4 oz simple syrup

Should fit in Collins glass with ice.

Enjoy, Cheers & Aloha! 🍹🌺🗿

Review: Latitude 29 (NOLA)

I will admit that prior to planning a trip to New Orleans, I didn’t know much about Beachbum Berry but after reading a little it seems I should give him a HUGE “THANK YOU” for having a big hand bringing Tiki back.

Head over to his site to learn more about him, and I urge you to read about his mission to find Don the Beachcomber’s original Zombie recipe.

But I’m here today to talk about a visit to his bar/restaurant, Latitude 29 in New Orleans, LA…

I’ll start with the decor which was fantastic and amazing! It was a very clean, crisp bamboo build with a good number of interesting tikis. My favorites, of course, were the duel tiki drummer replicas from Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room (I only have 1). The way they utilized different bamboo and paneling really gave me some good ideas for my bar. The other item that really stood out was the map of tikis behind the bar, full with limited edition tiki mugs. And, finally, my wife and I were trying to figure out how to hijack one of the Tahitian fish trap lanterns to repurpose as a Trader Jay’s centerpiece.

latitude29_2152  fish-trap-lanterns

The decor is all well and good, but most people go to a tiki bar for drinks and Latitude 29 does NOT disappoint. I started with the drink that Berry spent 20 years searching for the original recipe… Don the Beachcomber’s Zombie (seriously, read about his hunt here).


It tasted just like I feel like it should… strong without hurting, mixed very well and the final secret ingredient (cinnamon syrup) really shined.

My wife ordered a Paniolo which was also very delightful. It has Macadamia Nut liquor in it which is a Trader Jay’s house favorite.

#cocothumbsup for our first round of drinks – Paniolo & Zombie

For our second round I went with the Banshee… it was delish with the coconut, banana, lime and, of course, rum (plus I really needed a Latitude 29 coconut mug for my bar). My wife went old school with a Navy Grog. She is finding that she is a Grog fan and this didn’t let her down (she especially enjoyed the cone ice and Union Jack).

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Round 2 – Navy Grog & Banshee

Which brings me to maybe my favorite thing about Latitude 29… the garnish station! They take garnishing their drinks to a whole new level! All their signature drinks have at least 1 special garnish, and many have more. Everything from their signature stirrer to plastic snakes, mermaids and monkeys. A drink arriving is an event and I loved watching all the different ones go by. (Side note: thank you to our waitress who let me raid the garnish station!)

 

The garnish on my Banshee, a coconut milk tiki ice cube

A quick word about the food… Obviously the drinks are the star, but the food should never be a side thought here, it was exceptional! We started with Taro Chips (order them just for the siracha mayo alone) and Rumaki. I’m not a big chicken liver guy but let’s say that the Rumaki were so good that my wife had a second order as her dinner. I went with the Hawaiian Cuban Sandwich and it was also fantastic. I enjoyed the Hawaiian pulled pork mixed into a traditional Cuban… very flavorful and a good portion.

Finally, as if all this wasn’t enough, our appitizers were brought to the table by none other than Mrs. Beachbum! She was very nice to take a few minutes out of her evening to talk about my Tweeting the restaurant earlier, discuss the decor (and my tiki bar-work-in-progress) and Berry’s Zombie recipe mission. It was very much a pleasure meeting her!

So, there ya go, the overarching theme is that if you are in New Orleans, you MUST make Latitude 29 a stop! The location is great… it’s not in the middle of Boubon Street madness but also close to everything. Stop in for a Zombie… Without the Beachbum we would still all be drinking imitations!

Behind the Bar: Mai Tai Roa Ae!

In my first post about mixing my own exotic cocktails I figure there is no better place to start than with the most famous tiki drink ever… The Mai Tai!

There are verying stories about the creation of the Mai Tai but the most widely accepted one is from the Original Trader, Trader Vic…

“I was at the service bar in my Oakland restaurant. I took down a bottle of 17-year old Jamacian J. Wray Nephew rum, added fresh lime, some Orange Curaçao from Holland, a dash of Rock Candy syrup and a dollop of French Orgeat, for its subtle flavor. A generous amount of shaved ice and a vigorous shaking by hand produced the marriage I was after. Half a lime shell went in for color, I stuck in a branch of fresh mint and gave two of them to Ham and Carrie Guild, friends from Taihiti, who were there that night. Carrie took a sip and said, ‘Mai Tai – Roa Ae’. In Tahitian this means ‘Out of this World – The Best’. Well that was that. I named the drink ‘Mai Tai’.”

Unfortunately the popularity of the Mai Tai created a run on the 17-year Wray and it is no longer in existence. Martin Cate of Smuggler’s Cove believes that to create a taste similar to Vic’s original you should use a “blended, aged” rum (meaning of blend of the pot and column distilling methods and aged between 4 and 14 years). I experimented with a few different rums but found my favorite to be Appleton Estate Reserve Blend from Jamacia.

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Tiki Drummer guarding the Appleton Estate Reserve Rum closely!

Prior to this journey I’m not sure I would have said this but Fresh Fruit Juice makes a HUGE difference! So I now only use fresh squeezed lime in my Mai Tai. I also make my own Simple Syrup to keep as many ingredients homemade as possible. (I have not tackled my own Orgeat yet, but maybe in the future.)

My Homemade Mai Tai simple syrup (demerara suger, water and a dash of vanilla extract) and Fresh Lime.

Below is my adaption of Vic’s Original Mai Tai using guidance from Smuggler’s Cove… Give it a go and let me know what you think or put your own adaptation in the comments.

  • 3/4 oz FRESH lime juice
  • 1/4 oz Mai Tai simple syrup
  • 1/4 oz orgeat
  • 1/2 oz Orange Curaçao
  • 2 oz Appleton Estate Reserve Rum

Shake all ingredients vigorously with ice, pour over crushed ice and garnish with mint and/or lime.

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Finished product in the HippopotoMai-Tai tiki mug from Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto

Looks like Mai Tai Roe Ae to me! (Tastes like it too!)

Mahalo, Trader Vic

E Komo Mai

Welcome to my Tiki Blog!

A little over a year ago I embarked on my Tiki Journey.  It was really two events that got me started and one additional event that really lit a Pele’s fire under me…

The first two happened very close to each other… one being the opening of and my first visit to Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort and the other was the purchase of a new house.

I’ll write an entire post on Trader Sam’s soon, but our new home had a bonus room that needed a theme and Sam provided the inspiration.

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Trader Jay’s post-renovation, obviously during moving time. My boys already bringing the relaxing vibe in.

With a blank slate sometimes it is hard to know where to start, but a bamboo bar as a housewarming present from my parents is never a bad place!

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The first piece of Trader Jay’s… showcasing some early tiki mugs and rums.

With the bar in place, the tiki theme was solidified!  And the Tiki Journey started.

As anyone knows, building tiki is never a fast process and in future posts I will definitely highlight the decor that has been added as Trader Jay’s grows and evolves, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Smuggler’s Cove in San Francisco.

A visit to Smuggler’s Cove earlier this year opened my eyes even wider to the world of tiki, especially as it comes to creating exotic drinks and mixology.  Entering into the bar is an amazing experience and reading through the menu can be overwhelming but it is a MUST for any tiki enthusiast. The atmosphere is spot on and the drinks are AMAZING.

The experience immediately prompted me to purchase the new Smuggler’s Cove book. Martin Cate’s philosophy on tiki is spot on, in my opinion, and the book has become my “Tiki Bible”.

So, that’s where I’ll stop for my first post. In the coming weeks I hope to showcase the bar build and evolution, share my thoughts about the amazing tiki bars I’ve had the opportunity to experience and highlight my exotic drink mixology.  Until then, a hui hou (until we meet again).

Mahalo