We return to Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto and Tiki Terrace to check out the current menu and try a couple of new drinks. Earlier today, I reviewed dinner at ‘Ohana, also at the Polynesian Village Resort.
As you’re probably aware, Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto, the indoor portion of the bar, is located through an inconspicuous door just a short ways away from Captain Cook’s.
The Grotto and Terrace open at 4pm daily and typically close at 1am on Friday and Saturday nights and 12:30am on other nights. Inside, kids are welcome through 8pm. After that, it’s 21+ only. Kids are welcome all night outdoors at the Tiki Terrace. You can pull up what the Disney site thinks the hours are going to be for a particular date here.
The Grog Grotto is pretty neat in its own right with a lot of interesting things surrounding the seating area and a number of fun(?) gags and happenings depending on what drinks people order.
My biggest complaint about the inside is that there’s typically a wait to enter from around 4pm through around 9pm and potentially later on weekends and holidays.
And they typically let a handful more people enter the bar than there are seats, so your first 5 to 20 minutes may be spent awkwardly standing around where there isn’t a whole lot of room to loiter.
There is an area at the bar to order a drink while waiting for a table to open up and you can also bring your drinks from the Tiki Terrace into the Grog Grotto. Inside, it’s easiest to order a drink from the far left of the bar if you’re not comfortably seated.
For its first couple of years of operation, the prices for the drinks weren’t listed on the menu. Now, you’ll find them along with the price of the drink in the souvenir mug:
I’m always a bit iffy when the prices aren’t listed on the menu because I’ve always wondered what you would do if the server brings the check and it turns out your drink that would normally cost around $10 at other bars comes with a $5,000 charge. Do you dispute it with someone? Make a run for it? Try to return it in one way or another?
There are two drinks in particular that you want to key in on the first part of the menu here, the first of which is this $12.50 “Spikey Pineapple – Barbancourt Pango Rhum blended with Pineapple Soft-serve.” Your server should ask if you’d like it “extra-spikey,” which then arrives with an extra shot of Gosling’s 151 Proof Rum for about $3.
Ordinarily, I don’t have much use for the Spiked Dole Whips myself – you’ll get a very short pour of rum around the edges of the cup if you order one that way at Tamu Tamu Refreshments at Animal Kingdom or at one of the various Epcot Festivals, among other locations. You’re then in charge of trying to stir everything together yourself. But thoroughly blended together, the flavors work really nicely in tandem. With the Spikey Pineapple, the soft serve is as sweet, light, refreshing, and pineapple-y as ever and the Pango Rhum adds cane sugar, oak, and a surprising amount of mango to the drink. One final piece of advice: definitely consider dropping the extra change for the 151 Floater if you’re the one picking up the bill at ‘Ohana. It will ease your burden quite a bit. The Spikey Pineapple is typically available only at the outdoor Tiki Terrace bar because they have easier access to the Dole Whip machine just outside of the main lobby. When the indoor Grog Grotto is less busy, or you look like a particularly good tipper/not a blogger, the server may head outside to pick your Spikey drink up.
Since opening, my favorite drink has always been the “Dark & Tropical Stormy – Gosling’s Black Seal Rum, fresh Lime Juice, Ginger Beer, and Falernum.” For one, it’s always been the least expensive cocktail, and even after the recent price increases, it still comes in at “just” $10.25, which is a pretty reasonable price to pay for a drink in most bars and restaurants these days. (Right?) Secondly, it’s historically been served in a short glass, which makes it easier to drink with fewer unnecessary calories from all of the various juices that fill up the glasses of most of the other drinks here. On my most recent visit earlier this month, all of the non-souvenir drinks at the outdoor Tiki Terrace were being served in plastic to-go cups rather than the usual variety of actual-glassware that makes more sense for each unique drink. So my most recent experience was less positive with a glass full of ginger beer and lime juice. I would have asked about a much shorter pour of the mixers on a second go-around, so you might take an appraisal of what others are being served and ask about having this particular drink served in a lowball glass.
Here’s the Spikey Pineapple served in the previous glass, for example. It’s a lot more fun to sip out of a hurricane glass than a plastic cup.
Something else potentially worth noting is the fact that the Souvenir Zombie Head drink is now blue. This is “Gosling’s 151 Black Seal Rum, Appleton Estate Reserve Rum, Bacardi 8 yr Rum, Tropical Juices, Falernum, and Cinnamon with the souvenir Shrunken Head for $26.25 or without it for $13.25. This version of the souvenir mug should be identical to what’s currently served at the Disneyland version of Trader Sam’s, at least until you look at the stamp on the bottom.
Here’s the original look, which I think I personally prefer. Otherwise, the Shrunken Zombie Head tastes like the majority of the other drinks served here with subtle rum flavors that are almost-entirely washed away by all of the fruit juices and a heavy pinch of cinnamon.
Here’s the other half of the cocktail menu:
The Spiced Island is a drink that’s new this month and the HippopotoMai-Tai takes on a different look than we’ve previously seen.
Here’s a lousy pictures of the $13 Spiced Island:
This is “Knob Creek Disney Select Single Barrel Reserve Bourbon, St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram, Orgeat (Almond), and Pineapple Juice.” I liked seeing a drink that wasn’t based around rum, but thought the flavor profile wasn’t much different than the majority of the other drinks with the emphasis on the tropical flavors of the Pineapple Juice and the cinnamon and nutmeg inherent in the Allspice Dram. Still, the tropical flavors didn’t overwhelm the drink, which I appreciated. I’m still saving the ~$3 on the Dark and Tropical Stormy, though I wonder if the drink tastes more concentrated when served inside in a proper glass.
The Spiced Island replaces the Castaway Crush, which consisted of “Leblon Cachaca, Cream of Coconut, Pineapple, Cinnamon, and fresh Lime Juice.” I originally deemed it “the strangest drink on the menu” and if I’m not really into a cocktail, you can be reasonably sure that most other people are going to have an even greater negative reaction. Hopefully it wasn’t a favorite.
Here’s the current look of the “HippopotoMai-Tai – Coruba Dark Rum, Bacardi Superior Rum, Bols Orange Curaçao, Orgeat (Almond), Organic Agave Nectar, and fresh Lime Juice including the souvenir Tiki Glass for $22 or by itself for $13.25. Paying an extra $8.75 for the fun ceramic mug seems to make a lot of sense if you have a way to transport it home. As in the past, if you opt for one of the souvenir cups, you’ll take your receipt inside to the Grog Grotto and pick up a new, nicely-packaged mug inside of a brown cardboard box. This makes transporting the mug in a suitcase a lot easier and you don’t have to worry about carrying some sort of loose, sticky mug around with you for the rest of the night either.
Here’s the glass version that you’ve probably seen before. Without all of the pineapple and orange juices, this is a strong and well-balanced cocktail that’s maybe a little too easy to drink. It comes recommended, particularly if they’re serving everything else out of a plastic cup. Even if you don’t elect to buy the souvenir mug to take home, your drink will still come served in one unless you expressly request it to-go.
While it might look unexciting in the plastic cup, Erin’s favorite of the bunch is the $14.25 “Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Rum – Pyrat XO Reserve Rum, Cream of Coconut, and Pineapple and Orange Juices dusted with Cinnamon and Nutmeg,” though the Spikey Pineapple is a close second. Creamy and refreshing with a subtle spice, it balances the aromatic quality of the rum with the tropical flavors a little better than some of the juicier offerings. Very tasty, particularly as temperatures cool a little bit.
Of the other souvenir cocktails, the Uh-Oa! is my favorite, consisting of “Myers’s Original Dark Rum, Bacardi Superior Rum, Orange, Passion Fruit, Guava, Pineapple, and Grapefruit Juices, Falernum, Cinnamon, and fresh Lime Juice.” It’s “recommended for two or more guests and comes served in a souvenir Tiki Bowl.” It arrives with sugar cubes doused in 151 proof rum that are then set on fire. What could go wrong?
A live look at me getting the bill after eating dinner at ‘Ohana.
The Tiki Terrace is one of my favorite spots on property to grab drinks with its relaxing island vibe. The Grog Grotto gets a little noisy for me, but it’s worth heading inside for at least one drink to check out all of the cool artifacts and to experience a little bit of the tropical hijinks. It’s likely that you are also at least slightly less crotchety than I am. I’m not adverse to fun. It just makes me uncomfortable.
The outdoor area is particularly pleasant as the sun sets. This picture was taken from a table overlooking the water.
Beer and wine round out the alcoholic offerings:
They also stock a number of whiskies, vodkas, tequilas, and such, so if you’re in the mood for a double Canadian Club or Vodka Soda then you can head in that direction. It probably isn’t particularly bloggable, though.
At the bottom of the menu, you’ll find a variety of appetizers, none of which I’m particularly wild about, though it’s been a while since I’ve reordered anything.
The Salmon Oshizushi had been my favorite, but it’s long gone.
The $15 Headhunter Roll, which is salmon, tuna, and cucumber with a hibiscus syrup served on the side along with ginger and wasabi remains. It’s just fine if you don’t want to visit another establishment, but Kona Island upstairs serves the majority of its sushi to-go and is probably fresher and better-tasting.
If you’re enjoying the Terrace outside, I’d suggest carrying over an order of the $9.29 “Pulled Pork Nachos topped with Onions, Cheese, Spicy Mayo, Tomatoes, and Pineapple Salsa” from Captain Cook’s. It’s a huge portion of fried wantons and chips topped with a creamy, spicy mayo, sweet pineapple, and tangy barbecue island pork and it costs less than just about anything served at Trader Sam’s. Everyone working at Trader Sam’s will understand why you do this.
Overall, Trader Sam’s is a lot of fun and a smart stop for any couple looking to enjoy a couple of drinks inside or out. I like to go after 10pm when the indoor area is typically much less crowded, which improves service and reduces some of the annoyances from your fellow tourists. The kids will probably get a kick out of the Grotto through 8pm, though there are probably several hundred spaces across property that they would enjoy more, such as the resort pool or swinging from the bar on the monorail. Earlier in the evening, you’ll usually find me outside enjoying the sunshine, particularly in what should finally be something resembling fall.