Back in 2010, Trader Vic’s in Emeryville sponsored an online mixology contest to help celebrate the grand reopening of the chain’s oldest surviving location, after an extensive remodeling closed the restaurant for several months.
I entered under my tiki pseudonym “Ken Kanaka” with this drink, “Mike’s Hawaiian Eye,” based on the lovable green Mike Wazowski character from Pixar’s 2001 film, “Monsters, Inc.” and the very brief scene during the climatic door chase where he and Sully are seen running from hut to hut on a tropical island. With Pixar and Trader Vic’s both calling Emeryville home, it seemed like the perfect match. I won the contest.
The trickiest part of devising the recipe, besides making it delicious, was finding the right mix of blue caraçao against the other ingredients to create the perfect shade of green to match the character’s skin tone. The video below explains the reasoning behind the ingredients in the drink, but for those of you who are ready to get mixing, here’s the recipe:
Mike’s Hawaiian Eye
- 3 oz. unsweetened pineapple juice
- 1/4 oz. lime juice (fresh, reserve lime shell)
- 1/2 oz. Seven Tiki rum
- 1 oz. Malibu rum
- 1/8 oz. blue caraçao
- 1/2 oz. passion fruit syrup
- Dash (6 shakes) bitters
Shake all ingredients with ice in a shaker, strain into a 6 oz. rocks glass filled with a scoop of crushed ice. Garnish with a lime shell floating on top of the drink, turned inside-out, to create the gnarly eye.
Mike’s Hawaiian Eye was added to the restaurant’s cocktail menu for one evening and Trader Vic’s set up a special bar for me to mix the drinks as they were ordered. As a disciple of Victor Bergeron’s rum libations, it was a honor to have my creation available alongside the works of the master. The staff was exceptionally gracious and I couldn’t have felt more welcome and comfortable. If you get a chance to eat and drink at a Trader Vic’s, do. You’ll never regret it.
The next day, after spending the afternoon in San Francisco, my family and I returned to Trader Vic’s for dinner on a whim. During the meal, my then year-old son spontaneously started playing peek-a-boo with a couple out with friends at a nearby table. As that group was leaving, the couple, who had recognized my picture from Twitter, introduced themselves. It was Dan Scanlon, the director of Monsters University, and his wife Babe. My son got double-dessert that night.