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Tiki Central Forums General Tiki JOHN-O's Zombie Road Trip...
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JOHN-O's Zombie Road Trip...
JOHN-O
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 16, 2008
Posts: 2690
From: Dogtown, USA
Posted: 2011-05-13 5:04 pm   Permalink

Quote:

On 2011-05-12 23:28, Chuck Tatum is Tiki wrote:
So John-O, to date which place is the best? great thread, by the way.


Here's my new Tiki outlook on life...

There is no best (or worst).

Just different.

Everyone's a big winner on Tiki Central !!

Just like the French Zombie at Purple Orchid...



It's SMOKIN' !!

No really, it's smoking.


[ This Message was edited by: JOHN-O 2011-06-12 06:22 ]


 
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JOHN-O
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Joined: May 16, 2008
Posts: 2690
From: Dogtown, USA
Posted: 2011-05-26 4:12 pm   Permalink

Here's some Zombie updates.

Originally I said this about the Zombie at Frankie's...

"This was NOT a classic Don's-style Zombie..."

UPDATE - Go when Mike is mixing. He makes it classic style.


And originally I said this about the Zombie at Forbidden Island...

"Yes this had 3 shots of rum, including the 151 (pretty sure it was LH) but it had a more sour taste which masked the stiffness... I wouldn't say this was a classic Don's-style Zombie but it was a VERY good cocktail."

UPDATE - I was at FI this week and ordered a Zombie thinking the one I had last year might have been an anomaly. What I got however was exactly the same tasting drink. When I asked Suzanne about it, she said their house Zombie is based on the tarter 1950's recipe which she prefers. She then mixed me the 1930's version. Tasting that, I would say it ranks with the best I've reviewed here so far. Alternating sips between the two drinks however, I decided I liked the 1950's version better.



Thanks Suzanne !!

And oh yeah, the Puka Bar is now the SandBar Lounge. I haven't been in there yet, but I assume it's been de-Tikified.


[ This Message was edited by: JOHN-O 2011-06-12 06:24 ]


 
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christiki295
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 09, 2003
Posts: 3813
From: LA-2547 mls east Hawaii &5500 Easter Is
Posted: 2011-06-02 10:31 pm   Permalink

Quote:

On 2011-05-13 17:04, JOHN-O wrote:
Quote:

On 2011-05-12 23:28, Chuck Tatum is Tiki wrote:
So John-O, to date which place is the best? great thread, by the way.


Here's my new Tiki outlook on life...

There is no best (or worst).

Just different.

Everyone's a big winner on Tiki Central !!

Just like the French Zombie at Purple Orchid...




It's SMOKIN' !!

No really, it's smoking.




Does Purple Orchid serve the French Zombie on a regular basis?
About 5 years ago, I went there every Friday night, and I never saw it.


 
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JOHN-O
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Joined: May 16, 2008
Posts: 2690
From: Dogtown, USA
Posted: 2011-06-02 11:18 pm   Permalink

You have to be there when Dave is there.

He's the only one who mixes it.


 
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Chuck Tatum is Tiki
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Joined: May 12, 2011
Posts: 1674
From: Southern Cailifornia
Posted: 2011-06-02 11:43 pm   Permalink

But Daves not home?

 
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JOHN-O
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Joined: May 16, 2008
Posts: 2690
From: Dogtown, USA
Posted: 2011-06-12 06:49 am   Permalink



The Zombie at the Mai Kai was very good.

That and the Jet Pilot were my favorite cocktails.


 
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VampiressRN
Grand Member (7 years)  

Joined: Nov 23, 2006
Posts: 5714
From: Sun City Lincoln Hills (NorCal)
Posted: 2011-06-12 09:38 am   Permalink

Fabulous thread John...love the pics to accompany the drinks. Keep up the great research!!!
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Chuck Tatum is Tiki
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Joined: May 12, 2011
Posts: 1674
From: Southern Cailifornia
Posted: 2011-06-12 1:01 pm   Permalink

So a little bird told me that the Mai-Kai tried to kill you?
or was it a self inflected rum overdose?

Looking forward to your East Coast bar reviews John-O
once you sober up!


 
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bigtikidude
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Joined: Aug 10, 2004
Posts: 8875
From: Anaheim,Ca.
Posted: 2011-06-12 7:54 pm   Permalink

I think John was actually a Zombie by mid last week.


Jeff(btd)



 
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JOHN-O
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 16, 2008
Posts: 2690
From: Dogtown, USA
Posted: 2011-06-13 6:47 pm   Permalink

So here's Part 1 of my Mai Kai (and Hukilau) review...

Having spoken with several Mai Kai veterans here in So Ca, I got this bit of Tiki advice: "Do you know when's the best time to get good drinks at the Mai Kai?"...

"When it's NOT Hukilau !!" ( )

That said, I elected to fly in two days early to experience things without the hordes of drunken, um I mean celebrating Tikiphiles.

The Mai Kai has long been a mythical place for me, my first awareness of it being its inclusion in the Book of Tiki. I never really thought that much about Tiki prior to BOT, my only adult "Tiki" experience being the infrequent visit to Tiki-Ti starting in the early 1990's. Also the (2nd) Bahooka opened when I was a student across the street at Rosemead High School, but I don't recall the word "Tiki" ever being associated with the place at the time. And oh yeah, my sister and I had a whole shoebox full of those Tiki Surfer Moai pendants in the late 60's, you know the ones with "diamond" eyes (where did we get them ??).

I initially purchased BOT in 2000 to learn about all the cool Tiki places that (like the Tiki-Ti) I could visit in LA and throughout the country. After quickly thumbing through the book my first reaction was "What a gyp, most of these places don't even exist anymore. ". Obviously since that time, I have come to appreciate Tiki-style for its rich history as well as the pop cultural anchor it provides for some of my other interests like Exotica, high-end mixology (the drinking part), and mid-century dive bars (and yup early 60's Surf music to a lesser degree).

Over the last decade, I've continuously enjoyed the BOT, marveling over images of the great Tiki temples that are no longer with us. Kahiki, gone. Kona Kai, gone. Etc, etc. None of those documented BOT places existed anymore, and if they did not with the same glory of their 1960's heydays.

All with the exception of... the Mai Kai.

(And I'm leaving the Tiki-Ti out of this comparison since that place might have fit into the storage rooms of the some of the larger Tiki palaces.)

Over the last several years, I've engaged in the following Tiki bar conversation:

Me: "I'm afraid to go to the Mai Kai, at this point there's no way it can meet my Tiki expectations. I'm only going to be disappointed. Better to have it exist only in my dreams."

Them: "You won't be disappointed JOHN-O, it's really that fantastic".

This only served to heighten my (admittedly unreasonable) expectations.

So with that, after a 5+ hour flight from Los Angeles, I headed straight to the Mai Kai. So based on my first impressions, did the Mai Kai live up to the high Tiki ideal that I had formed since that chapter in BOT ??

The honest answer... NO it didn't. Actually how could it? (At least not initially...)

OK let's get this part out of the way. What exactly was the Mai Kai of my imagination?

1. Expectation: It was a Tropical Oasis in the middle of nowhere, situated along a barren patch of Highway 1, lost in time. My most excellent visit to the Hale Kahiki last month only served to reinforce that ideal. Reality: The Mai Kai might have been in the middle of nowhere back in the late 1950's but now it was surrounded by generic shopping malls and a Gentleman's Club just down the street.

2. Expectation: I always imagined the Molokai bar as being really really dark, like the deepest hold of the HMS Bounty. Reality: When I first entered, there was significant natural light which to me is the bane of my ideal Tiki experience. Afterward I realized the trade-off was worth it since the windows with the cascading water were all super cool.

3. Expectation: The Molokai Maidens looked exactly like the girls in the vintage Mai Kai calendars. Reality: The Molokai Maidens were all very beautiful young women, affable and attentive servers, but they radiated more middle America wholesomeness than exotic foreign mystery (and some of them were Blondes !!)

4. Expectation (and the key one for me): The Mai Kai was dripping with the age of its 55 years, evident in crumbling Tikis, dusty forgotten corners, and an deteriorating interior in need of renovation. (Yes, this is the stuff I love). Reality: The Mai Kai is in fantastic shape !! (More on this later).

OK, so what else happened on that first visit...

Well I was there just in time for the dinner show, so I asked to be seated for that. The area around the stage looked to be only one-third full that Tue night but the maitre d' (appropriately dressed in old-school blue blazer and white slacks) seated me in the farthest reaches of Siberia. At first I took this personally but then I observed a single young woman come in also being seated far from the stage. "Can't I get something closer?" she asked pointing to all of the empty tables. The maitre d' asked "Have you been here before?". She replied yes and then was told "Then you know how it works". (!!) Ha, ha. The Mai Kai is certainly true to its mid-century dining roots when single dining was discouraged (and/or tipping your maitre d' was encouraged).

So how were the drinks? Well I started out with a Jet Pilot which true to its Mai Kai reputation was a stiff and complex drink. Very very good. My next drink was the Black Magic. Now this was the one I was looking forward to as it's the Mai Kai's signature drink and contains coffee (which I love). Now I know I will be in the minority here, but this cocktail just didn't do it for me. I think it was the bitterness. Later I had a 151 Swizzle which was great (Is this what it's supposed to taste like? I've only had Tiki-Ti's.) and then one of the non-Strong drinks which I forget the name.

Other noteworthy drinks that I enjoyed over the next several nights included the Yeoman's Grog (which had a cool upside down snow cone thingy), Grandfather's Barrel O' Rum (thanks for that advice Marty Lush but yikes a $22 cocktail?), K.O. Cooler, and many more Jet Pilot's. Since this is my Zombie thread let me focus on that cocktail. It was one of my favorite drinks at the Mai Kai but I did not initially identify it as a Zombie. Conferring with CalTiki, who's mixologist's palate I respect, he also acknowledged it was a great drink but wouldn't have thought it was a Zombie unless I told him. It's probably due to all of the Sunset Beach DTBC's Zombies we drink. It wasn't until the end of the weekend when I realized I was spending too much time on the "Strong" end of the drink menu. The "Medium" Shark Bite I had was really good and I sipped a "Mild" drink which was complex and flavorful (Mai Kai Special?). All those nights and I had only scratched the surface.

OK, so back to Tue's meal. For dinner I had the Chinese oven filet which was excellent and had a unique flavor. It's too bad you can't get the full dinner menu in the Molokai bar. I was spending most of my Mai Kai time there for the remainder of the trip and would have liked to sample some of the other entrees. (Here's the true secret to the Mai Kai, bring a date for a proper sit-down dinner .) And as for the show, I was expecting something along the lines of mid-century kitsch but enjoyed a performance that rang very authentic (more on that later).

Coming up next is Part 2 where I come to realize the true magic of the Mai Kai (and Hukilau).


[ This Message was edited by: JOHN-O 2011-06-13 21:32 ]


 
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Chuck Tatum is Tiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 12, 2011
Posts: 1674
From: Southern Cailifornia
Posted: 2011-06-13 7:29 pm   Permalink

Yes.........Yes.........waiting........more..more...

 
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christiki295
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 09, 2003
Posts: 3813
From: LA-2547 mls east Hawaii &5500 Easter Is
Posted: 2011-06-13 10:35 pm   Permalink

Quote:

On 2011-06-02 23:18, JOHN-O wrote:
You have to be there when Dave is there.

He's the only one who mixes it.



Did I ever see Dave behind the bar actually mixing drinks?
I think the only time was him carrying bottles from the storage room.


 
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HB TIKI
Grand Member (first year)  

Joined: Dec 12, 2008
Posts: 675
Posted: 2011-06-13 11:06 pm   Permalink

Ok John-o, Read Part 1, I am waiting for part 2. We read what you wrote in TC.





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Swanky
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Joined: Apr 03, 2002
Posts: 5038
From: Hapa Haole Hideaway, TN
Posted: 2011-06-14 08:46 am   Permalink

As for the Zombie...

When I had it the first time in 2003 I thought it was way off. Not like any Zombie I ever had before. Then when Jeff Berry gave me the 1934 Zombie Punch a few years later, the original and until then lost recipe for the Zombie, I immediately realized it was what they serve at the Mai-Kai! Only, not as kick-butt strong.
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congawa
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 11, 2008
Posts: 356
From: Long Beach, CA
Posted: 2011-06-14 4:49 pm   Permalink

Since John-O mentioned my reaction to a taste of his Zombie (for the record, after making the comment that it didn't taste like the Zombies I was used to, I ascertained that it was delicious as well), I'll interject some of my own first Mai Kai experience. Though I arrived only two days after John-O, I want to thank him for being my advance scout, tour guide and chauffeur (we rode down to Miami in his rental car Thursday for some lunch at Versailles in Calle Ocho/Little Havana, and some other sightseeing). We arrived at the Mai Kai rights at 5pm opening Thursday.

Most of the people who had described the Mai Kai to me, did it with the preface that as much as they built it up, their descriptions would not do it justice. I found this to be quite the case. There is absolutely no surviving polynesian palace on this level (as has been said time and time again). John-O received a tour from Swanky the day before, and then imparted the same tour to me (as well as Tiki Ray & Cindy, and probably a few others). Knowing John-O's attention to detail, I'm pretty sure all of the relevant and salient features were pointed out, right down to the location of the genuine shrunken head. I hadn't even thought about the presence of windows until you mentioned it John-O. However, because of the rain in the Molokai bar, and the surrounding Tiki gardens, this is a case where windows enhance the mood rather than detract (and one does not escape the vibe). In fact, for those of us in SoCal (and no doubt those in most other regions as well), there was a refreshing absence of two commonplace mood-altering factors present in many modern day Tiki establishments: the presence of a visible bar/working bartenders, and the presence of brightly-lit big screen TVs broadcasting sporting events (and I say that as someone who enjoys watching sports--just not in a Tiki palace).

As for drinks the first day, John-O recommended I start with a Jet Pilot. I did as suggested, and discovered it was not only delicious, but also the strongest drink on the menu. Friday I had a 151 Swizzle which I found to be as delicious as the Jet Pilot in its own way. However, the 151 Swizzle is served in a chilled metal cylinder, which--due to its coldness--is placed over a folded napkin in short glass for holding. Halfway through, I got up and committed my only Mai Kai faux paux of the weekend. I forgot about the bottom glass, picked the metal container up by the top and the small glass hit the floor. It was then I discovered that the Molokai Bar floor allows small glasses to bounce three times before breaking. Later, when someone else in my proximity did the exact same thing I did, I realized that this might happen with some level of frequency for 151 Swizzle newbies.

Over the course of the rest of the weekend, besides trying several drinks others ordered (including the Shark Bite and Yeoman's Grog--both quite delicious), I had a Black Magic and a Mutiny--I'm not usually big on coffee flavored drinks, but both had enough different flavors other than coffee that I enjoyed them (the Black Magic a little more than the Mutiny). I also had the Barrel O Rum, but found it too heavy on citrus (particularly grapefruit) for my tastes (and digestive system).

On Sunday, knowing it was my final day at Mai Kai (thanks to Chris B. for the ride that day, and to TikiTomD and his wife for hanging out and talking outside before the Mai Kai opened), I had to decide whether to try more new drinks I hadn't yet had, or go with another dose of those I liked the best before catching the cab for the airport. I decided on the latter, and had another Jet Pilot and 151 Swizzle (actually my third time on the latter). Though I don't think I would ever tire of the Mai Kai, living about 2700 miles away may be a secret blessing to help maintain the mystery and keep me from becoming a Jet Pilot addict (that's what I'm telling myself anyway!).

Caltiki Brent





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[ This Message was edited by: congawa 2011-06-14 16:52 ]


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