What a treat it was to spend an evening celebrating Chinese New Year with my good friends at the iconic tiki institution, Trader Vic’s.
While not the original location that started as Hinky Dinks almost a century ago in Oakland, California, the current iteration opened here in 1973, just a few miles away from ground zero.
The warm and inviting lounge made us all forget about the big rain storm raging outside. As a matter of fact, it felt like we were in Maui again, which happens to be the last place the group was together. Since Victor J. Bergeron, “Trader Vic” himself, is often credited as the original creator of the Mai Tai, it was no surprise that Dianne and 510Foodie each ordered their own Mai Tai to get the party started.
Katrina had herself a Manila Sunshine off the Featured Cocktails menu. Made with Tanduay Gold Rum, the majority of the drink was a mango puree, with the addition of pineapple, coconut cream and triple sec. The flavor of the tropics was very apparent and offered a perfect relief for the cold wet night. Imagine a spiked Jamba Juice, so yummy and easy to drink I could see someone getting into some trouble with this one.
My own drink choices were based on the menu’s depiction of the tiki mug the drink was to be served in. Definitely judging a book by its cover this time.
I started with the bar’s signature drink, the E’ville Awa, which was presented in a stunning tall ceramic vessel featuring sculpted hula dancers. Not for the faint of heart, this is the kitchen sink of cocktails, with a mix of rum, gin, brandy and orange liqueur.
My second drink was chosen for the cute ceramic pineapple it came in. Its retro look reminded me of glassware that was popular when I was growing up in the 70’s. Off the Potent Potions section of the menu, this Pino Pepe packed a punch. Given this one was made with vodka, I think I hit every major spirits category last night.
Enough about our drinks, though. The main reason for our visit was to see the lion dance performance at 7:30. We could hear the the music from the drums and gongs draw closer and closer to our dining room as we began nibbling on our pupus. The beat always creates a sense of anticipation in me as the music builds to a crescendo as the dance troupe nears. I was really curious to see how the lions would maneuver around the intimate dining room we were in. They did a wonderful job manipulating between tables and performing ceiling high acrobatics while we took selfies with them.
I came for a lion dance and ended up with all this! As I started look at recipes for tropical drinks, I realized I didn’t even own a Collins glass. I mean, if I am going to go through all the trouble, I should at least have glassware worthy of the drink, right? Trader Vic’s had such a great selection available I couldn’t help myself. Happy Valentine’s Day to me!
I had so much fun I am going to make this an annual event. Can’t wait for next year already! Gong Hay Fat Choy my friends!