Vintage Don Q Puerto Rican 151 Rum – A Tasting

I knew Don Q Rums mainly as the rum inside my vintage Mai-Kai decanter. It was in ads that touted the Mai-Kai‘s Derby Daiquiri.

Ms. Swanky got me this sealed vintage bottle for Christmas this year and I was eager to try it. Rums of today just don’t compare to those of 40 years ago I am told. The rums they used to mix with then, we would consider only for sipping on the rocks today.

And anyone who has spent much time mixing drinks knows that Bacardi 151 is essentially best served on fire. Lemon Hart 151 is the only thing out there with a good flavor for mixing. Want to test that? Try a “151 Swizzle” using each, side by side. Look at the ratings on the Grogalizer and you see clearly who used what as the grades for the drink are all 1’s and 10’s!

So, with that backdrop, I wanted to see where this 151 stood.

I started with the Lemon Hart as a baseline. It has an immediate and strong caramel flavor. Oo, and there’s the burn! Yep, that’s 151 proof! A hazardous material you can’t send via plane. But, compared with the Bacardi, it’s mighty tasty.

Now to the 40 year old bottle of Don Q. A much milder flavor. Yes, a flavor! And not moist socks. It’s light and nice. Sort of like a really smooth and yummy gold rum. Better than Appleton Gold. And then I swallowed. Ouch.

It’s in between the strong flavor of the Lemon Hart and the blech flavor of Bacardi. That is, it won’t give the powerful punch of Lemon Hart. But it is good. It’s nice. I may have to get out the aluminum cups and cinnamon sticks and mix us some “151 Swizzles” to get an even better idea.

Thanks Santa!

Leilani Hawaiian Rum

Many years ago at the World’s Longest Yardsale, an empty bottle of Leilani Hawaiian Rum turned up. Sven Kirsten said he has a display that held the bottle and was looking for a one to put in it. That put me on a search.

Tiki TI

At the Tiki Ti you may have seen this. It’s an “adapted” display. A few years ago I happened upon the display in mint condition. Now I was in the spot Sven was. Until last week…


Behold the Leilani Hawaiian Rum display, with a vintage, unopened bottle of Leilani Hawaiian Rum!


Yes, that state tax seal is intact. Beach Bum Berry ranks it as one of his favorite white rums. I have tasted it via a few airline sized bottles over the years. I think I will keep this seal unbroken for a long time. I love having this perfect display in the bar!

Crushed Ice Made Easy: Redux

I brought up getting bags of crushed ice before in preparation for a luau. Crushed ice is as much a part of a proper tropical cocktail as fresh mint and rum. But when you are mixing for 40, it’s hard to get that much proper ice.

I found a new solution. Sonic Drive-Ins. They are not in all the country, but they are pretty widespread. And that fine ice they use for their drinks is available by the bag. That is a great solution.

Basement Kahuna Recipes on the Grogalizer

BKI have not gotten Basement Kahuna to post here yet, but he has agreed to let me be the first to publish his cocktail recipes. Besides his great carving skills, he has a great pallette and has recreated some recipes from tasting them, like the Mai Kai’s “Black Magic,” as well as created new ones of his own.

But here is the catch. You don’t just get to see the recipes. They are now integrated into the Grogalizer. So, when you use the Grogalizer to find recipes to make, you will find a few extras that come from BK’s private recipe book…

The Grogalizer is here. Enjoy.

UPDATE: I have also included the top three recipes from the Tiki Central Drink Contest in the Grogalizer.

Girls of the Islands via Hawaii Kai Menu

Via vintage Hawaii Kai Menu:
Virgin Islands

Hmmm. Now I want to go to Trinidad and Haiti!

Tropical Cocktails – The Demerara Dry Float

Thanks to Traitor Vic bringing me a bottle of Maraschino Liqueur, I have a new batch of drinks to try from Beachbun Berry’s books. I checked the Grogalizer and the big favorite of the bunch was the Demerara Dry Float. That was my first choice.

2.5 ounces of lime juice. Wow. That’s a lot. I squeezed my limes and looked at the recipe again. Wow. No freakin way I am making this by the book. I was making two of them for me and the missus to sample, so I put in just 3 ounces of lime juice, along with the Lemon Hart rums and other ingredients.

As I have said before, Ms. Swanky is a tart liker. She gave the drink a solid 8 out of 10 vote. Me, I am a sour hater, so I gave the drink a solid 2. Neither of us would have added in the extra ounce of lime per drink however.

I am surprised to see this on several Tiki Central Top 10 Drink Lists. Maybe when Pablus comes over again, he and Ms. Swanky can tweak the recipe into something great for them. I’ll just watch thanks.

Market for Trader Vic’s Cuban menus soars

Trader Vic's message to CastroI blame it on tiki newbies. About a week ago, one of the Trader Vic’s menus from the Havana location came up on Ebay. These were printed with a note inside, supposedly “hand written” by Vic himself, saying something about that stinker Fidel. I am guessing the buyer thought it was really written in Vic’s hand. The auction went for over $75.

So, then this one just sold. And, suddenly everyone is trying to unload this rather common menu for huge profits and so you have this one, and this one, and this one.

This menu is similar to the Don the Beachcomber menu that is so common because it was printed as a souvenir, and not actually used. They made them in large quantities.

My suspicion is there is a lot more to the Trader Vic menu. Was he trying to make a case for ousting Fidel? Did he want that rum back in his restaurants? There must have been an agenda in that message on that menu. I’d love to know what he had in mind.

And I’d love to unload one of these menus for $75!

UPDATE: The trend is continuing to go up! $121! Clearly people are not reading my blather… This one I can understand. It is not the reprinted menu with the Vic anti-Castro slogan. It’s a real, 1958 menu from the Habana Trader Vic’s. Given that the official date of the end of the Castro overthrow was January 1st, 1959, that makes this an interesting piece of history.

“Thunder Road” rum runners alive and well

Here in Knoxville is the place of death there near Bearden Hill, when the moonshine runner lost control. “Thunder Road” is a legend. There still (forgive the pun) is plenty of moonshine around these hills. But I have enlisted the aid of a buddy of mine, Traitor Vic, to run rum over the Appalachian mountains for me.

For whatever reason, you can’t ship liquor to Tennessee for personal use. And for other reasons, you can’t get Demerara rum anywhere in Tennessee I have ever found with the exception of the pricey Plantation rum. My normal mule in Florida may not be up here before my luau at the end of the month, and you can’t ship it to Georgia either. So, it’s my luck that Vic is coming over the mountain for the luau. And he is bringing a bottle of Marischino Liqueur with him that he had managed to get his local store to carry. That fills a hole in my liquor cabinet. We had found a bottle of the stuff in Indiana on a buying trip for Hale Tiki decor and let it go to their bar. I made one round of cocktails with it for us on the return trip. It turns out Basement Kahuna could use a bottle of Demerara as well.

We’ll load that mule up for the trek over the hills and have him avoid Bearden Hill. I’m pretty sure this is semi-legal…

Vintage Trader Vic’s Flaming Rum

A few years ago, Ms. Floratina traded me a bunch of music for this incredible bottle of Trader Vic’s Flaming Rum. She found it as old stock on a shelf in a California liquor store. Brand new … er old. Has the old style tax label across the top.

Don’t tell her I broke the seal and have actually used it to fire up some volcano bowls…

I assume any rum specifically made for burning is specifically not much for drinking. I have not dared taste it.

Polynesian Paralysis

Last night we decided to take another step on the march to make every drink in Beachbum Berry’s books. So, we pulled up the Grogalizer and see what we could make. A little searching found I was out of light rum of all things, but a fresh supply of Saint James Royal Ambre Martinique rum. A favorite. So I chose to make page 64 of the Grog Log, Polynesian Paralysis.

This is to be served in a tiki bowl, and I chose my Aku Aku Las Vegas Surfer Girl bowl. It’s a very easy and straightforward recipe when you double it, as I usually do.

We sipped on the first bowl (6 ounces of rum) and worked on the invitations and web site for our luau coming up in a month. It was pretty good and went down easy, so I made a second. This time it was a little harder as I drank more than my fair share. You can lose count of your pours if you’re not careful!

So we knocked back a second bowl as we started watching “Wedding Crashers.”

It was not as good at this point. It sure started well, but that much citrus just got to be too much. I think Ms. Swanky may be citrus intolerant as well as lactose.

So, I ended up giving it a grade of 8. This is a good one to serve to newbies and at a bar, but, it holds no depth and gets old.