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Over the years, one thing has instigated my trips to Bali Hai—mai tais. Umbrella drinks may harken to a bleaker period of culinary history, but there’s a reason they’ve stuck around as the American culinary scene has evolved around them. They’re pretty damn good and, unlike other alcoholic libations, palatable enough to appeal to just about anybody except discerning alcoholics who prefer they’re liquor straight up, and their intoxication biting and lightning-quick.

Sweet tropical fruit juice is what makes all the rum in this classic cocktail go down so smooth and easy. As such, the majority of bartenders tend to overdo it in their efforts to mask the booze. It’s tradition, after all. Nowadays, consumers want to taste their liquor—especially the finer varieties—but mai tais originate from a time in the drinking culture where the point was to get ripped on standard issue hooch while having to endure the taste of the firewater as little as possible.

One thing I really appreciate about the mai tais a Bali Hai is that when you take the first hit off one, you know the punch you’re downing is anything but virgin. It’s the kind of potent adults-only concoction where you at first think you must have tapped into some pool of bottom-settling alcohol, but find after working your way to the end the drink, it has that high grade octane all the way through.

Call me crazy, but the point of drinking cocktails is to get lit…or at least buzzed well beyond normalcy. Nobody orders Martinis and mules in hopes of maintaining an everyday level of control over their behavioral faculties. This one gets the job done while still providing a myriad of tasty island flavors.

On my last trip to Bali Hai, a mai tai left me in a state where I needed to wait things out before hitting the road for the mainland. I opted for dessert to help pass the time. This turned out to be a splendid move for soon I was digging into a quartet of ice cream sandwiches representing a contemporary take on good ol’ PB&J.

They come with dessert forks, but the best method for downing these petite Chambord ice cream and peanut butter cookie delights is to pick them up and go to town. Since raspberry liqueur makes up the ice cream base, it doesn’t taste quite like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but the flavor combo works and who doesn’t love the interplay of textures presented by an ice cream sandwich?

Like those mai tais, this dessert is another specialty of the house worth jaunting to Shelter Island for. Bali Hai is located at 2230 Shelter Island Drive.

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Awesome article! Super right on! I am happy to have discovered your stuff, and continue as a fan...

July 9, 2012

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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