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Tiki Central Forums » » Tiki Drinks and Food » » Kohala Bay Rum
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Kohala Bay Rum
bigbrotiki
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Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11192
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2013-07-06 11:58 pm   Permalink

Quote:

On 2013-07-06 13:48, GatorRob wrote:
I spoke briefly with Stephen Remsburg at Hukilau last year about this. His opinion was that the most suitable modern replacement for Dagger would be Coruba. He wasn't saying they were equivalent but that Coruba is probably the closest substitute available in the U.S. today. He's tasted them all, so I place a lot of weight on that opinion. Dagger might have had more complexity but I suspect much of that would get lost in a snifter-sized drink like the Black Magic. For that same reason, that's probably why Kohala Bay works too.



Stephen Remsberg - he da man!



When shooting photos for "Classic Dining" in N.O., Stephen gave me and Pete Moruzzi a tasting flight of the complete history of J.Wray & Nephew, beginning with this one (I think it hails from the late 1800s ?):



Stephen always has one bottle for the collection, and one for tasting - a sensible man!



 
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A Frame
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Joined: Apr 16, 2009
Posts: 259
From: Mr. C's on the Coast Highway
Posted: 2013-07-09 2:32 pm   Permalink

Sven,
Those are three of the best photos ever posted on TC!


 
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heylownine
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Joined: Oct 05, 2008
Posts: 678
From: Agoura Hills, CA
Posted: 2013-07-12 9:20 pm   Permalink

Quote:

On 2013-07-09 14:32, A Frame wrote:
Sven,
Those are three of the best photos ever posted on TC!




Agreed. Wow.

kevin
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Quince_at_Dannys
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Joined: Mar 29, 2004
Posts: 161
From: Command Records International HQ
Posted: 2013-07-15 09:39 am   Permalink

Wow, great rum photos Sven!

Kohala Bay is not good as a sipper, but it does have some rich, complex notes that come through in a cocktail. It has a little of that almost banana-y, rough edge that you find in Smith and Cross. It's higher proof than other dark rums. Fresh fruit juice--especially grapefruit--doesn't cover it up but actually compliments it and opens up the flavor. You're not going to find Kohala Bay anywhere outside of South Florida, but if you mix Smith and Cross with Blackwell Jamaican Rum and El Dorado 15-year, you get an approximation. Still ain't going to be Dagger though.


 
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Hearn
Grand Member (first year)  

Joined: Jan 30, 2008
Posts: 91
From: Washington DC
Posted: 2013-07-19 11:06 am   Permalink

Kohala Bay has actually started to show up in Washington DC at a few stores (around Farragut North and Dupont Circle)

Kohala Bay is not good as a sipper, but it does have some rich, complex notes that come through in a cocktail. It has a little of that almost banana-y, rough edge that you find in Smith and Cross. It's higher proof than other dark rums. Fresh fruit juice--especially grapefruit--doesn't cover it up but actually compliments it and opens up the flavor. You're not going to find Kohala Bay anywhere outside of South Florida, but if you mix Smith and Cross with Blackwell Jamaican Rum and El Dorado 15-year, you get an approximation. Still ain't going to be Dagger though.
[/quote]



 
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Hurricane Hayward
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Joined: Jun 07, 2008
Posts: 655
From: 16 miles from The Mai-Kai
Posted: 2013-08-25 12:39 pm   Permalink

Wow, I'm not spending enough time on Tiki Central. I totally missed this thread. I'll try to make up for it with the full, unexpurgated story of my experience with Kohala Bay ...

First off, to address the initial question: No, unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be any online source. Though it's certainly good to see Kohala Bay popping up in D.C. That could mean movement toward more widespread U.S. distribution.

I first discovered this rum on a tour of The Mai-Kai's back bar on Nov. 12, 2011.

http://www.slammie.com/atomicgrog/blog/2011/12/28/behind-the-magic-a-backstage-tour-of-the-mai-kais-mysterious-bars-and-kitchen/
I was already six months into my project of re-creating all of the Polynesian Palace's famous cocktails, but this discovery shed a whole new light on my research. I was aware of the defunct Dagger brand and its role in key cocktails created by Donn Beach and later reconfigured by Mariano Licudine, but I wasn't sure what rum The Mai-Kai was currently using. I've heard that many of Mariano's original recipes call for Dagger by name. What were they pouring now? I wondered. Now I knew.

As bigbrotiki points out, this isn't quite the same product as Dagger. But Mai-Kai manager Kern Mattei said it comes from the same company and distillery in Jamaica (Wray & Nephew, I presume). During the tour, he also mentioned that it comes through their distributor but there's only one other restaurant in Florida that stocks it. "We have to order a lot to make sure we get it," he said. I imagined a whole back room stacked with case after case. Immediately, I knew I had to find a source beyond having Kern slip me a bottle.

Eventually, I tracked down Carriage House Imports and gave them a call. I mentioned Kern and The Mai-Kai, undoubtedly their biggest customer, and they were very accommodating. Indeed, just as Kern said, there was just one other bar in Florida that ordered the rum, I was told. What about retail?, I asked with bated breath but also expecting a "sorry, nobody carries it," response. But miraculously they said there was just one location: a store in Miami. They offered to e-mail me their account list, and on March 9, 2012, a PDF popped into my inbox. It listed The Mai-Kai, the Dorchester Hotel on South Beach (god knows what they do with it) and huh, what? A strip club in south Miami?

It was the last place anyone would look for the rare and much-sought-after descendant of Dagger rum and the key ingredient in the Black Magic. I figured out that the strip club has a package store attached that uses a corporate name that sounded vaguely familiar. Could it be? The same location was an almost famous rock 'n' roll and punk club in the 1970s and '80s. I had been there on several occasions, and my wife Susan had played there with her band. This had to be kismet.

So with Susan in tow for good luck, I headed down there in search of the Holy Grail. "We're going in the store, not the bar," she insisted. No problem. A rare rum was the only thing I wanted to feast my eyes upon. And there it was, a half-dozen 1.75L plastic bottles of Kohala Bay. (I'm told that Dagger used similar bottles.) I grabbed all I could but left one bottle on the shelf. I don't want to be a total hoarder. Might was well leave something for another vintage rum-seeker to discover. I later ordered a case and spoke to the owner, the same gentleman who owned the rock club. He said that he's stocked the rum for years and that while it wasn't a big seller, it had a cult following. Enough to keep it in stock, obviously.


My initial Kohala Bay discovery (March 2012)

I was torn between keeping this discovery to myself and posting for all to know. I chose the middle ground, letting those I trusted know and later sharing bottles and info at The Hukilau. Anyone who bothered to send a private message would get directions to the store. Hopefully this would keep it on the shelves while I figured out a way to get other stores to carry it. I overheard the owner mention "National" as his distributor and made a mental note.

But my first order of business was the Black Magic and figuring out what other Mai-Kai cocktails used this distinctive rum. Kern graciously pointed me in the right direction and I was able to compile a hit list. I eventually confirmed Kohala Bay in 10 classic drinks: Zombie, 151 Swizzle, Barrel O' Rum, Cobra Kiss, Mutiny, Jet Pilot, Yeoman’s Grog, Black Magic, Oh So Deadly and Bora Bora. Craig "Colonel Tiki" Hermann had earlier turned me on to the Smith & Cross and El Dorado 12 combo, and that does come pretty damn close. He credits Martin Cate for that suggestion. I posted my Black Magic and Mutiny tribute recipes with this suggested substitution in early April.

Then, in late April, The Mai-Kai dropped a bombshell with the re-introduction of Lemon Hart Demerara rum after its removal decades ago. That's a different story for a different day, but let's just say I now had my work cut out for me updating my reviews and recipes. I happened to drop by The Mokokai just days after its return, and Kern offered up the official list of 11 drinks. It was no surprise that 6 of the 10 Kohala Bay cocktails also now contain Lemon Hart. The two rums pair excellently together. I posted my full list and review links in May 2012:
http://www.slammie.com/atomicgrog/blog/2012/05/08/rums-of-the-mai-kai-legendary-lemon-hart-returns-to-the-promised-land/#dagger


The original Dagger Punch

Kohala Bay is 87.6 proof, so any drink also containing Lemon Hart 151 will pack quite a punch. Note that the original Dagger was 97 proof. This likely accounts for its more robust flavor profile. Now, as bigbrotiki reminds us, Kohala Bay is nowhere near the original Dagger in depth of flavor, but it's still distinctive enough to be useful if you're as obsessed with duplicating Mai-Kai cocktails as I am. When I first mixed it in the Black Magic, Barrel O’ Rum and Cobra Kiss, I had that familiar "ah ha!" moment. There's no doubt that other dark Jamaican rums (such as Coruba or Appleton), would make an equally great cocktail. They just would not give it that subtle flavor that defines these Mai-Kai cocktails. But it's not just the rum. You have to acknowledge the "extra magic" that makes Mai-Kai drinks spectacular even with inferior rums. (You don't even want to know what white well rum they use). There are so many other factors, like the unique fresh juices, house-made syrups and special mixes, and precise techniques that follow Mariano Licudine's original recipes.

As for Coruba, I don't doubt Professor Remsburg's statement that this is a suitable replacement. I was actually using Coruba in my Black Magic tribute before I discovered Colonel Tiki's suggested blend, then Kohala Bay. It's quite a bit sweeter than Kohala Bay, however, and lacks both the higher proof punch and subtle funkiness. For now, I'm sticking with the original sub suggestion of Smith & Cross and El Dorado 12. But if I ever pick up a bottle of Blackwell, I'd like to try Quince_at_Dannys's suggestion above (Smith & Cross, Blackwell, El Dorado 15). I also hope to some day taste Dagger to compare. As it stands now, Kohala Bay is No. 12 on my list of favorite rums, but I'm obviously biased toward The Mai-Kai.
http://www.slammie.com/atomicgrog/blog/2013/08/20/99-bottles-of-rum-on-the-wall-the-atomic-grog-rates-some-of-the-top-cane-spirits/

There are plenty of suggestions regarding how to make Kohala Bay more closely resemble Dagger. In a comment on my blog, arriano suggested slowly infusing Kohala Bay with Wray & Nephew Overproof to bring it up to 97 proof. I'm afraid the distinctive flavor of that overproof rum would alter Kohala Bay's flavor too drastically, but it may be worth a try. On Tiare's blog, Joe G. (a fortunate South Floridian who lives near the south Miami store) suggests a 4:1 blend of Kohala Bay and El Dorado Special Dark. This would reduce the proof but perhaps bring the flavor closer in line.

After I posted my initial stories about Kohala Bay, I asked a few local stores to carry it but none came through. But my readers came through big time. I figured out the distributor was Republic National Distributing:
http://www.rndc-usa.com/about/map/florida.asp
As I shared the Miami location with folks via e-mail and private message, I suggested they lobby retailers in their area to carry it. I've heard the Miami store now often sells out of its weekly allotment. GentleHangman was particularly helpful and even managed to get Total Wine to place a special order, though they wouldn't put it on the shelf. But he was able to convince Star Liquors III in Stuart to stock it. I've shopped at quite a few of the Star stores in South Florida. It appears to be a regional family-run chain that carries a robust rum selection, though it varies from store to store. Not a bad option if there's one in your area. And I can't really bash Total Wine since they do carry Smith & Cross and lots of the El Dorado products.

I'm not sure who persuaded Roy's Liquors in Fort Pierce to carry Kohala Bay (perhaps it was Sunny&Rummy), but I'd like to thank them.
http://www.roysliquors.com
It's a great store, a bit off the beaten path but as he describes above, it's well worth the trip. It's become my go-to source for Kohala Bay since it offers so much other great product. And on a recent visit I even found Kohala Bay in glass bottles, which I've never seen before ...


Kohala Bay from Roy's Liquors in Fort Pierce, Fla. ... $27.99 for a 1.75L plastic bottle, $14.99 for a 750ML glass bottle.

So that's the story so far. I'm sure this forum is the only pace it could be appreciated so I had to share.

I've placed a link on my blog to this thread, so everyone please share your Kohala Bay sightings.

[ This Message was edited by: Hurricane Hayward 2013-08-25 23:57 ]

[ This Message was edited by: Hurricane Hayward 2013-08-26 08:03 ]


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djmont
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Joined: Aug 03, 2011
Posts: 374
From: Potomac Falls, VA
Posted: 2013-08-25 1:16 pm   Permalink

Can anyone confirm the DC sightings of Kohala Bay? I'd like to get a bottle to try and am unlikely to make it to Southern Florida anytime soon!
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Sunny&Rummy
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Joined: Jun 13, 2013
Posts: 513
From: Melbourne, FL
Posted: 2013-08-25 1:26 pm   Permalink

Nice wrap-up of your Kohala Bay Odessey. Yes, I was the one who got Keith to stock it at Roy's. he has so brought Smith&Cross, St. Elizabeth, Taylor Velvet Falernum and several other indespensible Haus Alpens products in after I politely asked him to do so. Interestingly, I didn't have to ask him to start stocking LH151, someone else must have beat me to it.
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Dr. Coruba
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Joined: Jun 02, 2008
Posts: 188
Posted: 2013-08-25 4:04 pm   Permalink

I too hope that Hearn shares with us the DC locations. It's too long a trip to south Florida just for a rum run

 
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Little fragrant Tiare
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Joined: Oct 12, 2007
Posts: 200
Posted: 2013-08-26 03:36 am   Permalink

Wow!! what a great post!! now how am i gonna get this rum (living in Sweden)? is anyone perhaps going to the UK Rumfest in october who can bring a bottle?:-)

The combo Smith and Cross and ED12 sounds good and also it sounds interesting to mix with Blackwell.


 
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Little fragrant Tiare
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Joined: Oct 12, 2007
Posts: 200
Posted: 2013-08-26 03:38 am   Permalink

Quote:

On 2013-07-09 14:32, A Frame wrote:
Sven,
Those are three of the best photos ever posted on TC!




I agree!!
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Hurricane Hayward
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Joined: Jun 07, 2008
Posts: 655
From: 16 miles from The Mai-Kai
Posted: 2013-08-26 08:29 am   Permalink

I wish I was going. My Havana Club supply is getting dangerously low :<(

Quote:

On 2013-08-26 03:36, Little fragrant Tiare wrote:
Wow!! what a great post!! now how am i gonna get this rum (living in Sweden)? is anyone perhaps going to the UK Rumfest in october who can bring a bottle?:-)

The combo Smith and Cross and ED12 sounds good and also it sounds interesting to mix with Blackwell.



 
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GentleHangman
Grand Member (7 years)  

Joined: Jun 23, 2006
Posts: 464
From: Stuart, Florida
Posted: 2013-08-26 12:04 pm   Permalink

Printed up this sheet and took it around to all my area liquor stores. When I was done, the rums were carried by my local stores - just not ALL of them in ALL the stores - but now when I go out on a liquor road trip I know who has what,



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[ This Message was edited by: GentleHangman 2013-08-26 12:05 ]


 
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Hurricane Hayward
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Joined: Jun 07, 2008
Posts: 655
From: 16 miles from The Mai-Kai
Posted: 2013-08-26 11:29 pm   Permalink

Great job, GentleHangman! I have a circuit of about 12 stores I like to visit to find everything I need.

 
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Sunny&Rummy
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Joined: Jun 13, 2013
Posts: 513
From: Melbourne, FL
Posted: 2013-08-27 03:39 am   Permalink

I'm glad to hear it's not justt me. Oh, if only one grog shop could stock everything I use my life would be so much simpler.

 
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