Best Tiki Bar: A place to drop anchor
Everyone knows the East Bay is the birthplace of the tiki bar (more or less), so it takes a pretty exceptional watering hole to capture the elusive blend of island kitsch, pure spectacle, gaudy cocktails, and festive mood that signals a typhoon of tropical excess in these parts. The new Forbidden Island on a quiet stretch of Lincoln Avenue in Alameda has all those ingredients and more - a nautical wood interior garnished with a Leeteg-facsimile painting, a jukebox crammed with vintage Martin Denny and Frankie Laine tunes, a topical lanai for outdoor guzzling, and a back bar left over from 1962, when the place was known as Lincoln's Address. But the true test of a tiki bar is in its cocktails, something manager and master mixologist Martin Cate (who previously tended bar at Trader Vics in SF) and affable owner Michael Thanos (he also operates the Conga Lounge in Rockridge) obviously take seriously. Ideal picks from the long drink list include the Royal Hawaiian (a gin and pineapple juice concoction for those who dont like sweet drinks, $6), the jumbo-rummy Sidewinders Fang ($8), and the dependable Navy Grog ($10).