With its blissfully romanticized vision of island culture, never has there been a more fitting setting for a tiki bar than Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. In 2015, Disney rose to the challenge opening up Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto- an homage to Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar at the Disneyland Hotel. With its delightful combination of classic tiki trimmings, delectable nibbles, enough rum to sink a ship and a big dose of Disney magic, Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto has quickly garnered a reputation as one of Walt Disney World’s most entertaining watering holes.
What makes this tropical hideaway a truly standout experience is a backstory with accompanying cocktails so steeped in Disney lore and little details that they will have you coming back for more! Legend tells us that Trader Sam’s takes its name from the shady head salesman of ill-repute that we encounter during the Jungle Cruise who gladly offers us two of his heads for one of ours. As the story goes, Sam, invigorated by his success making head shrinking potions, decides to use his talents to master the art of mixology and has come up with a crafty combination of cocktails imbibed with mystical powers that can alter surroundings and conjure up the tiki gods.
Next time you’re paying a visit to the Mouse, saddle up to Sam’s, find a skipper (that’s what bartenders are called around these parts) and order yourself one of these bewitching brews. You may be surprised by what ensues. Not sure where to begin? Here’s 6 cocktails at Trader Sam’s worth losing your head over.
1) Polynesian Pearl– For those of you that like a little rum with your Pick-A-Pearl, this Grog Grotto exclusive is sure to impress. Your skipper hand-plucks your pearl shaped souvenir mug from a giant oyster and fills it with a delicious mix of RumChata Cream Liqueur (rum, cream, and island spices), Grand Marnier, cinnamon and fruit juices. If ye be feeling lucky you may even receive one of the very elusive black pearls- Jack Sparrow eat (I mean drink) your heart out. Cocktail with souvenir mug is $16.25.
2) UH- Oa! – No tiki bar would be complete without a communal cocktail and in this department, the Uh-Oa! certainly delivers. Brought to your table in a ceremonial bowl, this combination of Myers’s Original Dark Rum, Bacardi Superior Rum, orange, passion fruit, guava, pineapple and lime juices with cinnamon and Falernum (a Caribbean sweet syrup), will have you both playing with fire and courting disaster – literally. Complete with pyrotechnics and a tiki goddess of disaster who offers to “squeeze-ya” (and not in a good way) the presentation of this cocktail is Trader Sam’s at its best. Just make sure you bring some friends along as this libation is best enjoyed by parties of 2 or more and will set you back about $40.00.
3) HippopotoMai- Tai – This sweet little concoction of Coruba Dark Rum, Bacardi Superior Rum, Bols Orange Curaço, Orgeat (almond) syrup, Organic Agave Nectar and lime juice comes in a glass mug featuring that cute little critter, the Maui Tikiman who’s statue can be found in the Great Ceremonial Hall of the Polynesian. At around $15.00 for the glass and drink- it’s a great little souvenir that won’t break the bank. And despite what you may have “heard” no hippos were actually harmed in the making of this cocktail.
4) Krakatoa Punch – An “eruption” of flavor among other things- ordering the Krakatoa will definitely make you mindful of your surroundings. It’s heady combination of Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum, Pyrat XO Reserve Rum, Orgeat syrup, Sam’s Gorilla Grog (Trader Sam’s “special sauce” that is reportedly a mix of fruit juices and spices) and Hibiscus Grenadine, make this a fan favorite at Trader Sam’s West Coast location. Get it with the souvenir mug, depicting a stressed out tiki and a whole lot of lava, and it will set you back about $18.00.
5) Nautilus – Loose lips sink ships and so will this colossal cocktail. This intoxicating mix of Barbancourt Pango Rhum, Appleton Estate Reserve Rum, Combier Crème de Pèche de Vigne Liqueur, tropical juices and Falernum, comes with a lot of bells and whistles and will have you finding Nemo in no time- Captain Nemo that is. To avoid a descent into the abyss, this is a drink best shared. Since your drinking vessel for this excursion is exactly that, a vessel (in the form of a giant submarine), this not-so- little libation will set you back a good $52.00.
6) Shrunken Zombie Head– Dabble in the supernatural with Trader Sam’s take on the classic Zombie cocktail. This otherworldly mixture of Gosling’s 151 Black Seal Rum, Appleton Estate Reserve Rum, Bacardi 8 yr Rum, tropical juices, Falernum and cinnamon comes in its own shrunken head. Rumor has it that a few sips from Sam’s potion and you could become reacquainted with some long lost relatives members from your “East Coach Branch” of your family tree. Hang on to your heads by taking home one of the souvenir mugs for about $20.00.
Trader Sam’s is open daily from 4:00pm to 12:00 am.17
Cocktails can be purchased without the souvenir mugs at a reduced cost. In addition to the libations listed above, Trader Sam’s also offers other alcoholic options including pineapple wine, Kona beer and pineapple hard cider. Rum flights are available for those who like their rum sans the mixers. Non-alcoholic drinks are also available with accompanying souvenir mugs. Sam’s also boasts a varied food menu with a series of shareable platters including Kalua Pork Tacos, Pan-fried Dumplings and Headhunter Sushi Rolls.
Trader Sam’s is a bit on the cozy side which means that waits can be expected particularly during peak times. The neighboring Trader Sam’s Tiki Terrace offers the same menu and features live entertainment. However, for the full immersive experience, waiting for a table in the Grotto is strongly recommended.
For those travelers with children in tow– Kids are allowed in Trader Sam between 4pm and 8pm. For Parents who want a date night, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort has a children’s activity center, Lilo’s Playhouse where kids can enjoy fun activities while you take advantage of some alone time. The cost is $55.00 per child for the evening (including meals) and advance reservations are strongly recommended.
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