For those of you new to the Grog Log, it's a year-long challenge to drink 78 tiki drinks off a very specific list at the Tonga Hut in North Hollywood. The list of recipes was compiled by Jeff "Beachbum" Berry in his published book: Beachbum Berry's Grog Log. He's a tiki historian & mixologist who went around to a slew of tiki bars and hunted down bartenders from some of the originals (many of which are no longer in existence) in an effort to preserve some of the old recipes of the past. He also added some newer recipes (even some of his own) to the book. Most of the drinks are very good but a few are just...off. So completing the Grog Log is a bit like eating a box of chocolates, you never know what you're gonna get!
So What's the Whole Point of It All?
- You become an official member of the Loyal Order of the Drooling Bastard and along with that you get to choose an official D.B. Name (ours are Gossling and Zamo - largely based on our last names)
- You get to make a plaque with your D.B. Name that will be permanently posted up on the wall of the Tonga Hut (pictured above, center)
- You get a $1 discount for the rest of your life off of most drinks at the bar (excluding specials)
- You can buy an optional Loyal Order of the Drooling Bastard fez (pictured above, right) to wear to add some festivity to your attire at upcoming social events
- You feel more in touch with the tiki community now that you've completed a rite of passage that seemingly every tikiphile in the SoCal area does at some point
- You embark on a year long adventure of cocktail exploration (which quickly informs you which ingredients you do and don't like in your drinks)
- The Tonga Hut becomes your new "local" bar
- You meet an amazing community of tiki and cocktail enthusiasts
- You may or may not become addicted to complex drinks and get disappointed when you go to standard bars and they don't have any clue how to mix up some of your tiki favorites
SHOULD YOU COMPLETE THE GROG LOG?
You Should Try Completing the Grog Log If:
- You're interested in learning more about tiki drinks (or just cocktails in general).
- You don't mind drinking lots of rum and fruit juice (you'll find these in just about every drink on the Grog Log).
- You're adventurous.
- You live relatively close to the Tonga Hut.
- You can commit to heading to the bar about once a week for a year.
- You don't mind being constrained to a set drink list every time you're at said bar.
You Shouldn't Try to Complete the Grog Log If:
- You're trying to finish as quickly as possible. This is a year-long marathon, not a sprint!
- You really don't like rum or fruity drinks. This will NOT be a fun experience for you if you don't remotely like tiki drinks to begin with.
- You can't tolerate getting a random drink that you may or may not like every time you go to the bar.
- You lack patience. These drinks have a lot of ingredients and take a while to make so don't expect to order right when you get to the bar or for the bartender to magically whip up your drink in a matter of seconds.
- You can't stomach handing over about $1000 (including tips) to explore the 78 drinks on the list over the course of the year.
- You don't live in Southern California. [You can, however, try to complete the challenge by buying the Grog Log recipe book. You're most likely going to need to buy a TON of new ingredients to stock your bar, though.]
our toP 11 TIPS TO COMPLETING THE GROG LOG
Thinking you might be up to the challenge? If you decide that the Grog Log is for you, you can imagine that, after a year of doing this, we've got some tips!
- Try to drink two drinks a week. That'll set a good pace to make sure you finish in a year. If you miss a week, you can try to make up for it by getting three drinks in one sitting but make sure they're not all super strong! (Drive responsibly or Uber)
- If you can, buy the Grog Log. It's really good to gauge how much alcohol is in each drink so you're not having two super strong drinks back to back (the bartenders can also help guide you or you can download our Grog Log Checklist that groups drinks based on intensity). It's crazy how some of these drinks have three shots of rum or more in them! Having a Grog Log of your own is also good for reference if you really like (or dislike) something you've tried. You can read up on all of the ingredients or even try to recreate your favorites at home.
- On that note though, try not to research the drinks before you have them. It's more fun to be surprised with what whatever you choose off the menu! Look them up after the fact if you're curious.
- Try not to stack all of the good or bad, weak or strong drinks together. We made the mistake of leaving too many super strong drinks for late in the game (P.S. There are a ton in the last column).
- Early on, choose your last drink (the one that you will finish on) so that you don't accidentally order all of the awesome ones before the end. If we could turn back time, we might have finished on something more epic, but we don't mind that we ended on the Hurricane.
- Try to head to the Tonga Hut on weeknights. The bar is least crowded then and they often don't allow guests to do the Grog Log on Friday nights, Saturday nights, holidays, or just when the bar is too crowded for the bartender to be able to mix up these super complicated drinks. Oh and avoid Grog Logging on Sundays when the Rum Rhum Club is meeting at the Tonga Hut (it usually happens once a month).
- Document your journey. Take notes, takes pictures, have fun with it! I regret not getting notes and pictures for everything we tried!
- Complete the Grog Log with a friend, significant other, or a group of friends. I couldn't imagine doing this whole thing solo! Greg & I had fun making our Tonga Hut excursions our weekly date nights.
- Take a picture of your Grog Log before you stow it away at the end of each night. If it ever goes missing (which actually happened to us once), you'll be able to show the bartenders proof of how far you've gotten. You wouldn't want to get almost to the end only to lose your sheet of completed drinks!
- Put some sort of marker on the edge or corner of your Grog Log so it's easily visible when you're flipping through the box. We drew pineapples and cocktails on ours. Took no time at all to spot those suckers!
- Plan on finishing on a Sunday. That's when they've got a DJ, photographer, and the largest concentration of the tiki crowd at the Tonga Hut.
Don't want to buy a copy of the Grog Log but do want to know more about the intensity of the drinks? Want to keep track of your progress at home? We've got a free printable Grog Log Checklist just for you!
General Tonga Hut Tips
These are more about navigating your way around the Tonga Hut more than dealing with the Grog Log itself...
- If you're not sitting at the bar, order your drinks at the "Order Here" sign. It makes the bartenders' lives a million easier (and many will not take orders unless you head over to that spot or are seated at the bar).
- The bartenders are all super talented and awesome. Get to know them (sit at the bar as much as possible) and tip them generously. They put a lot of effort into these drinks! Also, remember to finally try out the awesome drinks they've each personally created once you finish completing the Grog Log!
- Know that the biggest concentration of the tiki crowd will populate the bar on Sundays.
- Order Barbacoa tacos from the taco lady (Durangos Tacos) who sets up in the parking lot behind the bar (usually around 8pm most nights). Life changing. Thank me later. P.S. She's not there Mondays.
The best and the worst
As we worked our way through the Grog Log, we came upon some clear favorites...as well as drinks we'd really never like to try again. Some got lost in the mix because we forgot to take notes/pictures. Everyones tastes are different but here are our bests & worsts (as far as we can remember...):
Chief Lapu Lapu: orange juice, sweet & sour mix, passion fruit syrup, dark Jamaican rum, light Puerto Rican rum
Jasper's Jamaican: fresh lime juice, Pimento liqueur, sugar, gold Jamaican rum
Lani-Honi: Benedictine, fresh lemon juice, light Puerto Rican rum
Painkiller: unsweetened pineapple juice, orange juice, coconut cream, 95 proof Pusser's rum, powdered cinnamon, ground nutmeg
Palace Court: fresh lime juice, sugar syrup, Five-star Rhum Barbancourt
Spindrift: orange juice, lemon juice, passion fruit syrup, sugar syrup, vanilla extract, dark Jamaican rum, Demerara rum, light Puerto Rican rum
Volcano House Hot Buttered Rum: fresh lemon juice, Maraschino liqueur, sugar, hot tea, butter, cloves, Myer's rum
Thanks, Grog Log, We're Never Trying These Again
Beachcomber's Gold: French vermouth, Italian vermouth, Angostura bitters, Pernod, light Puerto Rican rum
Cruzana: grapefruit juice, syrup from maraschino cocktail cherry jar, Cruzan Gold rum
Fog Cutter: fresh lemon juice, orange juice, orgeat syrup, light Puerto Rican rum, brandy, gin, sweet sherry
Hell in the Pacific: fresh lime juice, Maraschino liqueur, grenadine, 151 Demerara rum
Lychee Nut Daiquiri: whole canned lychee nuts, fresh lime juice, Maraschino liqueur, rock candy syrup, light Puerto Rican rum
So What Happens Once You Drink All 78 Drinks?
It's recommended that you do a few things:
- Save a fairly good/epic drink for last so you can really celebrate your accomplishment.
- Drink your final drink on a Sunday since the largest concentration of other tiki enthusiasts will be there (many of whom are either already Drooling Bastards or are still working on their Grog Logs).
- Get dressed up for the occasion - it's a celebration of course!
- Have a good D.B. Name ready (you've had all year to think about it, after all!). You can find inspiration in tiki drinks/culture, your own interests, your name...the sky's the limit! I chose Gossling because my last name is Goss and because Gosling's rum is a thing and it's used in one of my favorite (non-Grog Log) drinks - the Dark & Stormy.
- Bring in your plaque for the wall once you've made something good (you don't need to have it ready the day you finish the Grog Log, by the way).
- Finally enjoy all the great drinks on the standard Tonga Hut bar menu and the bartenders' specialities - all at $1 off!
Would We Do It Again?
Definitely. This was an awesome experience for us and we can't wait to revisit some of our favorite drinks at home! We learned so much over the course of the year and it's really helped us define what ingredients we do and don't like in our cocktails. We have to be honest, though, we're SUPER excited to try some of the bartenders' drinks now that we're not confined to our single list. The bartenders are all amazing and we've already tried a thing or two off the Grog Log (Lisa-Marie's Nutty Chi Chi, Syd's Kraken the Dole Whip, and Syd's Tiki Masala). They were all great so we can't wait to try some more of their speciality drinks this coming year!
And just because we're done Grog Logging, doesn't mean that the Tonga Hut has stopped being our "local" (also, favorite) bar. We'll see you around - cheers!
Kelsi & Greg (AKA Gossling and Zamo)
Thinking of completing the Grog Log or want to track your progress at home? Download our free checklist that groups the drinks by intensity!
OUR DOCUMENTATION OF All the Drinks
Don't keep reading if you don't want our scattered summary of our experience with these drinks!
The following is a list of all of the drinks and the documentation (if any) of the experiences we had with each of them. Everyone is different so these written descriptions just represent our own opinions at the time of tasting! This may be interesting to some and boring to others but mostly it's just our way of permanently gathering all of the random notes and pictures we took over the course of the past year. Without further ado, here are all of the drinks that we experienced while completing the Grog Log...
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Anyone else out there complete the Grog Log? We'd love to hear what you thought of it! What drinks were your favorites and what did you like the least?
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