- 1oz lemon juice
- 1oz five spice syrup
- 2oz aged amber rum (Cruzan Estate Dark, Appleton Estates V/X, Brugal Anejo, Lemon Hart 80 pf, or Pyrat XO)
- Lemon twist, for garnish
Shake with ice, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish.
Source: Forbidden Island
Five Spice Syrup
Combine 1 rounded teaspoon of five spice powder with 2c of sugar and 1c of water. Heat on low until the sugar is dissolved. Squeeze through a cheesecloth into a bottle. Keep in your refrigerator for about a month… as if it will last that long.
Tiki culture has always been close to my heart. Whether it was Greg Brady falling prey to a tiki curse on reruns of The Brady Bunch or the unsettling saccharine song of the animatronic birds in Walt Disney World’s Enchanted Tiki Room, the spark of tiki magic has always ignited a bonfire in my loins heart.
Rickâ€™s recent love affair with tiki drinks, showcased here, has fed that fire, and recently, the spirits of tiki granted my heartâ€™s wish and relocated me to San Francisco, the mecca of tiki culture, and just in time for the sixth annual â€œTiki Weekendâ€ bar crawl.
The Tiki Weekend is a manifestation of the ancient power flowing through another venerable webspace, TikiCentral.com. This year, the bar tour spanned three days (Thursday through Saturday) with a Sunday brunch. While I do not yet possess the necessary fortitude to attempt such an undertaking, I threw myself into the anchor leg of the crawl, and spent twelve hours on Saturday drinking my way across the East Bay.
The original meeting point was Trader Vicâ€™s in Emeryville. This is the flagship of the Trader Vicâ€™s chain of restaurants. Of course, the traditional drink here is the Mai Tai, but Iâ€™ve had a Trader Vicâ€™s Mai Tai before, and I was looking to try something new. Defying reason and logic, I had two drinks here, a tasty TV Grog, and another drink who’s name has escaped me. Of course both were fabulously mixed, but I was also pleased to see that the presentation was everything youâ€™d expect. The ratio of ice to drink was perfect, and each drink was garnished with a generous sprig of mint and fresh fruit impaled on a tiki swizzle stick. Unbelievably, even the maraschino cherries tasted good. The second drink was served in a classic coconut mug, which I also enjoyed. The sense of touch is often unsatisfied in the course of imbibing cocktails, but groping a tiki mug greatly enhances the sensory experience.
Now, after a pair of tiki-strength cocktails in a short span, (to say nothing of those who had been drinking more or less nonstop since Thursday afternoon) no one was in any shape to drive. Enter the Tiki Bus! Fifty or more tiki aficionados traveled in high style throughout the day, with the occasional sing-along breaking out in the back. I think there was a ukulele.
Ere long we arrived at stop number two on our tour, Forbidden Island. To quote one of the tiki people: â€œThis is where youâ€™re going to want to do most of your drinking.â€ Indeed, Forbidden Island is the newest and best tiki bar on the scene in the Bay Area. Though inconveniently located off the beaten path, this bar is a tiki-lover’s dream. A custom-carved tiki presides over the bar from its perch above a green-lit pool of water. The interior looks like they hollowed out a pirate ship and snuck a tiki bar inside (and indeed, a fanciful tale outlining the mythical origins of the bar on the back of the menu would lead you to believe as much). Rattan furniture and partitions are paired with pufferfish lamps, and the jukebox in the corner is populated almost solely by surf music. A heretofore unheard of number of rums are visible behind the bar, along with some spiffy mugs, including Muktikiâ€™s luscious fugu bowl. The bathroom is a retro fantasia of all things tiki.
While Iâ€™m guessing youâ€™d be hard pressed to find anything undelicious here, the barâ€™s eponymous signature drink, “The Forbidden Island” is a tropical treat worth making the trip for. Additionally, it is served in a miniature replica of the barâ€™s patron tikiâ€”a mug that can be yours for an additional five dollars. The Scorpion Bowl, a tiki staple, achieves a new level of excellence here where rum-soaked croutons are sacrificed to the bowlâ€™s volcano to provide a pleasing aroma while you sip. The aforementioned fugu bowl is utilized for the â€œFugu for Two,â€ which more than one brave soul attempted to solo. In all cases, the libations were quintessentially tiki, smoothly blending unknown fruit juices with a joyous quality of rum. This was essentially the highlight of the day.
Additional bars were visited and patronized, but none matched the quality of the first stops, and at some point, the nine or ten straight hours of drinking began to take its toll on your intrepid reporter. Nonetheless, at least a few dozen of the hardiest partiers remained at our final destination of the evening: Oaklandâ€™s Kona Club, located just down the street from Trader Vicâ€™s final resting place. With bamboo interiors by the renowned Bamboo Ben (who was among the revelers), and a life-size brass hula dancer with gyrating hips, the dÃ©cor here was sufficiently pleasing, but, the music had a decidedly Top 40 slant that left a bitter aftertaste. A fabulous tiki raffle rounded out the evening.
Thus concluded the sixth annual Tiki Weekend, with promises to return next year, bigger and better than ever. Until then, the rum enjoyed on this evening shall suffice to keep the tiki torch in my mind blazing brightly. Mahalo!
- Adam, Tiki Reporter
Many thanks to Kaiser Penguin’s brave reporter, Adam. If only penguins did not crave the frigid temperatures of central Pennsylvania, I would indeed join Adam weekly to plunder and drink at the Forbidden Island. So entranced was I by his description of the hollowed out pirate ship of a bar, I dared to email Martin, the owner of Forbidden Island, for a few of his original drink recipes. He responded with flair offering up the recipe for the drink pictured above, the China Clipper.
I was told rather gently that their signature drink, “The Forbidden Island,” is top secret and that there was little chance of me ever finding out what it contains. It’s so secret in fact, that in true Trader Vic form, not even his own bartenders know the recipe. They, indeed, pour from numbered bottles.
Thanks again to Adam, and find out more about Tiki Weekend so you can join us next year!