Nearing our destination, nestled deep within residential Alameda, Adam looked into the rear-view mirror. There was a glint in his eyes, not too unlike the shimmer of flaming rum-soaked croutons. He cracked a smile, clearly knowing the answer to the question he was about to ask. “Can you feel it?”
I could. The tingle in my stomach continued to grow with each passing palm tree, and it was clear that Adam felt it too. Gretchen, who we’ll call “the tiki of responsibility” gave us both a sly look before asking if she’d be driving home, but I was too betrothed to my joy to notice anything but potential “for sale” signs jammed into the yards of nearby houses. The walk to Forbidden Island was short – I don’t even remember it. The outside had an unassuming quality to it – a simple sign announcing it as a tiki lounge. The door opened, and we plunged into the warm glow of the gods.
Thatch and bamboo covered every surface of the sunken ship that make up the hull of Forbidden Island. Glowing orbs wrapped in netting hung with seeming precariousness from the ceiling while an ominous tiki presided over a pool of green in the corner. A grand woven chair that deserved only the bum of a king was sat upon by anyone lucky enough to find a seat.
Walking into Forbidden Island felt like walking into my family’s living room. Everyone I met was fun and welcoming. I must admit that I was surprised to have complete strangers coming up to me telling me that I should “update my bilge-loving blog,” but it was well-deserved and apparently quite motivating. I’d like to carve a tiki to honor Adam for introducing me to everyone and showing such good form. HumuHumu even had a gift for me from this year’s tiki tour! It was all just so exciting.
I left myself in the hands of Adam to guide me through the menu. My first drink was the Forbidden Island, which I can only describe as a beautiful conglomeration of all the best tiki drinks I’ve ever tasted (relocate me to a house nearby and I’ll have the recipe down to the 1/4oz in a matter of months … ok, maybe not). Adam got the Coronado Luau Special, which will be featured in an upcoming post because it’s so damn delicious.
To my great distress, Adam informed me that he would have to work the next day (it was a Tuesday) and that our time was growing short. Glancing over the specials, I saw one of my great loves: Chartreuse. The Declared Treuse was the drink, named after its creator, one of the finest waitresses in tiki history. How she managed to pack more flowers in her hair than live around my house, I’ll never know. A combination of Chartreuse, Falernum, lime juice, and other things I’m completely forgetting, it was divine and reminded me much of the Green Ghost.
Though short, my trip to Forbidden Island was magical. I only regret not being able to visit more during my trip to the west coast. Everyone was grand, and the drinks were better than I could have imagined. Even the decor in the bathroom was fun. Next time I visit San Francisco, Forbidden Island is going on the schedule every night.
I didn’t want to leave you without a tasty drink, so here is the Boo Loo, featured on Forbidden Island’s menu. I am not sure if they use Berry’s dug-up recipe from 1965, but if you are lucky enough to visit weekly, give it a try and compare with this recipe.
- A few small chucks pineapple
- 2 1/2oz pineapple juice
- 1 1/2oz lime juice
- 1oz honey (use the good stuff)
- 1 1/2oz club soda
- 1 1/2oz Demerara Rum
- 1 1/2oz gold Purto Rican rum
- 3/4oz dark Jamaican rum
- 3/4oz 151 Demerara Rum
Heat honey until liquid and blend with the juices and pineapple. Stir in the rest of the ingredients and top with a pretty flower, preferably one that’s not poisonous.
Source: Grog Log Jeff Berry
Sweet pineapple and luscious rum make this tiki stand proud and just. The honey dangles in the background while the lime juice balances everything out. A fine experience made for only your finest tikis.