Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Tonight - it's Black Orchid Live!

Tonight is week 8 of the Black Orchid Club, and starting at 5pm Pacific, we'll be broadcasting live from Forbidden Island! Experience the mystery of the Black Orchid Club, the majesty of Forbidden Island, and the killer surf tunes of The Deadlies. Come in and be live on our broadcast!

Black Orchid Live!

I'll see YOU at 5pm sharp at the Island! And you'll see me too! Live!


Friday, December 18, 2009

Week 6 - Bavarian Yule and Video!

Alooooooooha! Wow, it has really been crazy these past few weeks. I've been dividing my time between Forbidden Island and the Christmas Revels, a show I'm performing in at the Scottish Rite Theatre in Oakland. Between rehearsals, performances, and my days at FI, sleep has been at a premium, but at least I've had a few good cocktails along the way!

Last week I was in a dress rehearsal for Revels on Wednesday, so I missed many of you who came in for your cocktails. If you were in the bar, then you got the chance to see this video in person. Very special thanks go out to Gabriel Hurley-Ramstad and Paul McMillan of Zero Coordinate, Inc. for this glorious Hi-Def video!

You can also check out Gabriel's blog at

As I mention in the video, the cards from the first 6 weeks fit together and give you the name of the first wild card, the 3am Atlantic. If you've got all 6, flip them over and fit them together, and they should look like this:

And there you have it. If you don't already have your 3am Atlantic wild card, you now have the solution to the first puzzle... come on in to FI and ask for the 3am Atlantic Wild Card and cocktail.

Lots more coming up, including details about week 7, lots more photos, and details about a second wild card... stay tuned!

I'll see YOU at the Island!


Friday, December 11, 2009

Black Orchid Club Rules - one more time

We're halfway through week 6 and I just wanted to post the rules once more, just in case anyone wants a quick review.

Beginning Wednesday, November 4, 2009, you will be treated to a unique experience... you will be initiated into the Black Orchid Club, exclusively at Forbidden Island. On that Wednesday and for 13 consecutive Wednesdays, you have the opportunity to taste an all unique, all original, all new, and totally exclusive cocktail. Each cocktail will only be available on that specific Wednesday, and will never again be available at Forbidden Island. When you come in and order the special cocktail of the day, you will also be presented with a collectible card, specific to the cocktail. At the end of the 13 weeks, if you have been present for 9 of the thirteen weeks in a row (or at least have cards to prove it) then you will win a prize!

These are the details:

One card, per person, per evening.
Cards may be traded! So, if you can't make it in, send a friend! Also, remember that you only need 9 in a row to win, not all 13. However, if you do collect all 13 cards, you will win an even more exciting prize!

Placeholder Cards: We have a magic (and secret) number of first run cards each evening specific to that evening's cocktail. Once we have exceeded that number, the next person who orders the cocktail and all subsequent players will receive a placeholder card. The placeholder card has two known functions (and perhaps more). First, it shows that you were indeed present that evening, and if you present it the following week you will be given a second run edition of the cocktail card you missed. In addition, the placeholder cards may serve as additional trading cards. Their value is not yet known (but there is certainly a value to them). Hold on to them or trade them for cards you'd rather have; they are important either way.

Wild Cards:
Should you miss an opportunity to come in on a Wednesday evening, there are several chances to earn Wild Cards. Wild Cards may be used to fill in any holes in your 9 consecutive weeks, at no penalty. Clues about how to earn the Wild Cards will come from the bar, the cards themselves, and from clues on the new blog, Shakin' Rum and Pineapples... Tales from behind the bamboo stick at Forbidden Island:, as well as the Twitter feed for the Black Orchid Club: Be sure to follow them! Once you have solved the Wild Card riddles, you will be able to come in and claim your Wild Cards, and you'll be able to then order the Wild Card cocktails... which you can only try by knowing the answers to the riddles.

Dates: The contest begins on Wednesday, Nov 4, 2009 and runs each consecutive Wednesday through Jan 27, 2010.

Prizes: Anyone who presents cards that represent 9 consecutive weeks out of the 13 in the game period at the Reckoning Party will automatically win. Wild cards may hold up to three places in the 9 with no penalty. Persons having all 13 cards (with no wild card replacements) will win an even better prize, and those retaining all 13 named game cards and all wild cards, even more so! Persons with less than 9 consecutive cards, and or persons with interesting combinations of cards may also be considered for prizes.

Reckoning Party: Prizes will be awarded at the Reckoning Party, Feb 3, 2010.

Good luck!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Wild Cards! Wild Cards! Wild Night on Wednesday!

What a night at Forbidden Island! Wednesday was a blast, with Otto's turntables spinning Herb Alpert and all the best Feliz Navidad, and Black Orchid Week 5. I couldn’t stop making drinks even for a few seconds!  Quite a few people figured out the first Wild Card Wednesday night.

Wednesday’s cocktail was the Bora Bora Tea Punch.  The cocktail is based on a 1960’s Hawai’ian cookbook recipe for a non-alcoholic punch, which was very vague and called for “brewed iced tea” and various “tropical juices.” It gave a list of suggestions and basically just told you to pick a few and toss them into the punchbowl.  I took it a step further and picked some of my favorites, then added the potent part – rum, naturally (in this case Goslings Black Seal and Cruzan Aged White) - and decided on African Roobios Tea in lieu of your plain ol’ orange pekoe.  I like Roobios tea quite a bit.  It has no caffeine but retains that nice light tannin tea quality, and it’s fantastic with some vanilla and almond in it.  Apparently one Hukilau villager agrees; I served this punch as part of the first annual Room Crawl at the Hukilau in Ft, Lauderdale, FL in June, and one fellow thanked me for the cocktail, walked out of the room, then came back in two minutes later, got down on his knees, took my hand and declared that it was the very best cocktail he had tasted in his life…  and asked for another.  Life is good at the Hukilau!

Here is the card for the Bora Bora Tea Punch:


Web_Bora_Bora_Tea_Punch_frontFor those of you who didn’t make it in, be sure when you come next Wednesday that you bring all of your cards.  Quite a few Black Orchid Club members solved the first puzzle this week, and earned themselves a wild card AND the first Wild Card Cocktail!  Join the ranks of the Wild Card Cardholders! 

Special thanks to Crease Monkey, once again, for awesome photos!  Check him out on Flickr at:

I’ll see YOU at the Island!

-- Suzanne

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Remember to bring all of your cards tonight!


Remember to bring all of your cards in to Forbidden Island tonight for week 5 of the Black Orchid Club!  Tonight is the night that many of you have been waiting for… you’ll see what I mean when you get there.

I’ll see YOU at the Island!


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Pumpkin Delight

Pumpkin Delight
Originally uploaded by Crease Monkey
Another killer photo by Crease Monkey. Thanks for stopping in before the Sharks game, CM!

I'll see YOU at the Island!


Tomorrow Marks Week 5 of the Black Orchid Club!

Thank you to all of you who are continuing to make the Black Orchid Club a success… I’m having a blast sharing these cocktails with you, and sharing my game with you.  I hope you’re having as much fun as I am!

IMG_6934 This week’s Black Orchid Club coincides with Otto’s Grotto, Otto Von Stroheim’s DJ night at Forbidden Island, and Otto is going Latin for the Holidays.  He promises to play lots of Herb Alpert (my favorite!) and get December swingin’ with only the best Mid-Century Latin grooves.  

In addition, this week is a very special week for those of you working on the puzzles, so be sure to bring in all of your cards.  Trust me, you’ll be glad you did!

I’ll see YOU, TOMORROW, at the Island!


Pumpkin Delight – week 4 of Black Orchid Club!

pumpkin_delight Week 4 of the Black Orchid Club fell on the day before Thanksgiving.  In honor of the holiday, the featured cocktail was the Pumpkin Delight.  My inspiration for the Pumpkin Delight was simple… a trip to Trader Joe’s and a jar of pumpkin butter on the shelf, and I thought, “Hmm.  I’ll bet that would be fantastic with rum!”  I have a series of cocktails called Delights that feature creamy jams, like Lemon Curd, Lime Curd, and other fruit butters.  About a year ago back in Boston, my friend Randy Wong (of the Waitiki 7), gave me a few jars of Hawai’ian Lilikoi butters (Passion Fruit) and in Guava, Lime and Pineapple as well, and wow, were some of those cocktails amazing!  Creamy and delightful desert drinks, which is how they became known as “Delights.”  The tradition lives on with this cocktail, made with Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Butter, Lemon Hart Demerara rum, dry sherry, and dashes of nutmeg and allspice.

The Pumpkin Delight was a smash… we ran out of everything to make the cocktail, working our way through an entire case of pumpkin butter!  The evening was a smash too – everyone was jolly with Thanksgiving coming the next day.  The bar was packed right until closing.  Here are the very few photos I managed to snap of Wednesday’s revelers:



After a busy Wednesday (we stayed open later than usual!), long time FI cocktail waitress Melissa was ready to let her hair down and rock out to a little Def Leopard (yes, even we listen to Def Leopard after hours, folks).  Rock on Melissa!


Tomorrow is Week 5 of the Black Orchid Club… and a very special one for those of you working on the puzzles.  Be sure to bring all of your cards.  You’ll be glad you did!

I’ll see YOU at the Island!


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Black Orchid Club Cards – Weeks 1-3

Here is a recap of  the first three Black Orchid Club cards, for you puzzlers out there:

Week One:  Song of Delilah

Week 2: Valmont



Week 3: Rhapsody in Blue

 Rhapsody In Blue200frontI’ll see you TONIGHT, for Week 4, at the Island!


Week 3 Recap: Rhapsody in Blue

Thank you, everyone, who came out for week 3 of the Black Orchid Club, and to those of you following and playing along with us on Twitter!

Rhapsody in BlueThe featured cocktail was Rhapsody in Blue.  Rhapsody is a twist on 1920s style gin cocktails, with the addition of fresh ginger and muddled fresh blueberries, and a ginger simple syrup, which I make with fresh juiced ginger (try squirting that in your eye – ! ).   I use Martin Miller’s Dry Gin, one of my favorite gins.

It was also International Flight Lounge, with DJ Jab – so along with our cocktails we had the swingin’ 60s sounds of lounge, Ye Ye, French Pop and go-go fabulousness!

For those of you who missed it, this is the card from week 3:

Rhapsody In Blue200back

Rhapsody In Blue200front

Tonight is week 4, so I’ll see YOU at the Island!


Friday, November 20, 2009

A few photos of Black Orchid Club, week 3 - Rhapsody in Blue

Thanks, Crease Monkey, for the excellent photos!

A lovely photo of the sign outside Forbidden Island

Suzanne (me!) with 5 Rhapsody in Blue cocktails and Fezzilla

Rhapsody in Blue

Rhapsody in Blue, with card and fortune!

More details about week 3 coming up!

I'll see YOU at the Island!


A Kosher Thursday: Meshugga Beach Party

And then along comes Thursday… and Meshugga Beach Party at Forbidden Island.  What a blast we had!  These local to Alameda fellas (and one lovely gal) were hands down fantastic, as usual.  I really love this band.  If you’re not familiar with Meshugga Beach Party, they play surf versions of traditional Jewish tunes.  Too much fun!  Of course, I was making cocktails like crazy, but I did manage some photos:



Meshugga Mel asked me to create a cocktail for him with Slivovitz for their appearance at Forbidden Island… I took the challenge and came up with the Suffering Shlemiel (shown below), with Slivovitz Kosher Plum Brandy, more Brandy, Cherry Heering, Bourbon, and Ginger Ale. Mel’s comment on the cocktail:

“I had a chance to preview the Suffering Shlemeil last night, and I have to say, not much suffering involved - an amazing feat of mixology. Of course, I suspect the true suffering comes from drinking too many!”  --Mel Waldorf


We also had a special guest in the house, MiMi Le Meaux, burlesque dancer extraordinaire.  Here she is pictured with Melissa, cocktail waitress at FI:


Next up – details about week 3 of the Black Orchid Club, and photos of the Rhapsody in Blue!  Stay tuned!

I’ll see YOU at the Island!


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Photos of Week 2: Valmont Cocktail

Here are a few photos of the Black Orchid Club last week.

The Valmont Cocktail:

Valmont Cocktail

As we mentioned last week, our very first person in would get something extra special… in this case, the first person was actually a couple!  Here they are with their two Valmont Cocktails, and the special treat they earned for being first in… a sneak peek at one of our Holiday specials, a cocktail I call St. Nick’s Whiskers:


A partially enjoyed St. Nick’s Whiskers (fresh rosemary, fig preserves, Flor de Cana 5 year and St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram):


A few more:

DSC00852   cramer

DSC00856 DSC00858DSC00867

I’ll see YOU at the Island!


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Tomorrow! Week 3 of the Black Orchid Club!

Tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow...

We've got something very special planned! If you're interested in earning your wild cards, tomorrow is a day NOT to miss! Not only that, but we'll have cookies. Yes, really.

I'll see YOU at the Island!


Week 2 Recap: Valmont Cocktail

It has been a whirlwind week! Last Wednesday was week 2 of the Black Orchid Club, and the featured cocktail was the Valmont Cocktail. The Valmont is a sparkling cocktail, made with Square One Cucumber Vodka, fresh muddled cucumber, lemon juice and orange flower water, with a Demerara sugar cube soaked in Forest Floor bitters and a champagne top. My inspiration for this cocktail came from the wonderful delicate aroma of the Square One Cucumber Vodka... that with a dash of orange flower water left me dreaming of the decedent halls of Versailles and the intrigue of a play that I adore, Les Liaisons dangereuses. The irresistible and wicked character of Valmont only seemed a fitting namesake for the cocktail.

Last week, we tweeted about some special extras for week two of the Black Orchid Club. The first person through the door got a special surprise... in addition to the Valmont and the collector card of the evening, the first person in (well, in this case, the first couple in), also got a special exclusive taste of an upcoming holiday cocktail special of mine called St. Nick's Whiskers. Everyone who came in last Wednesday also got a special sneak preview view of the collector card for week four.

Even more fantastic secrets will be revealed tomorrow, for week 3 of the Black Orchid Club! Don't miss it!

I'll see YOU at the Island!


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Week 2: Tonight!

Tonight is week 2 of the Black Orchid Club. Don't forget that if you have a placeholder card from Week 1 (i.e, you didn't get a Song of Delilah card), you can come into the bar tonight and pick up your second run of the first week's card - just show me your place holder when you order. Also, along with tonight's cocktail and card, you will get a special sneak peak of the card for Week 4! Don't miss it!

I'll see YOU at the Island!


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Vampires, Bananas, and the world's only Theremin lounge band

Like none other! I spent another Saturday cocktailing, and Saturday nights
are unlike any other night at Forbidden Island. A totally different crowd comes
in on the weekends, and it's fun to see many people discover the place for the
very first time. After about 9pm it picked up and we were slammed until after 1am.
The best part of Saturday, though, was the fact that there was another event happening on the island - a dance sponsored by PEERS called Le Bal des Vampires (The Vampire Ball), that is an annual event for PEERS, and happened to be taking place in Alameda. The beauty of it was that after the dance, several of the vampires decided to take a quick side trip over to FI before the sun rose... in all of their multi-century finery (I saw vampires in every sort of costume, from medieval to 18th century French to modern), the vampires remained to drown themselves in the Two Crazy Redheads Bowl (Click here to see video), and about three rounds of Banana Mamacows. Note to self: When expecting vampires, be sure to have extra bananas on hand.

As we rolled into Sunday, it was time for an afternoon with Project Pimento, the world's only theremin lounge band! I really love Project Pimento, and it was a great treat to see and hear them while I was working shakin' up that rum. We were busy (no surprise with a great band like this), but I was glad I did have a chance to shoot a few quick photos.

You know you're working in the right bar when one of your regulars produces bongos and starts jamming with the band:

Even more mania is coming up for week 2 of the Black Orchid Club... stay tuned!

I'll see YOU at the Island!


Friday, November 6, 2009

Week One: Song of Delilah

…and we’re off!  Week one of the Black Orchid Club features the Song of Delilah.


The Song of Delilah is a cocktail featuring Licor 43, (a delightful Spanish liqueur with vanilla, spice and citrus notes), pomegranate, honey and fresh banana nectar.  My inspiration for this cocktail came to me one evening while listening to one of my favorite albums, Rains in the Tropics, by the incomparable Gene Rains.


Our very first card holding member of the Black Orchid Club is Tracey Lee, who arrived just after opening.  Here is Tracey with her card, cocktail, and as you can see, she’s number one!tracyleenumber1    The evening went on with lots of excitement and many participants.  We now have 61 card holding members of the Black Orchid Club…  scroll down through the blog to see photo of the Initiates!

If you are not yet following the Black Orchid Club Twitter, be sure to add it.  There will be special perks and prizes for those who follow the Twitter feed (and clues and inside information will be there too).


For those of you who didn’t make it in on Wednesday, this is what card number one looks like:




Photos of some of the first night members of the Black Orchid Club:

DSC00679  DSC00680


DSC00684   DSC00689



DSC00691    DSC00696






Mai Tai (Bill Graff, on the left above), brought up the rear as the LAST person to order the Song of Delilah on Wednesday.  Rock on Mai Tai!

I’ll see YOU at the Island!