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Friday, May 11, 2012

Drink of the Week: Chinese Mai Tai at Li Po Lounge

Posted By on Fri, May 11, 2012 at 12:00 PM

click to enlarge LOU BUSTAMANTE
  • Lou Bustamante
"Feel pretty good. I'm not, uh, I'm not scared at all. I just feel kind of ... feel kind of invincible." -- Jack Burton, Big Trouble in Little China

The infinite mulitverses concept was developed to mathematically reconcile both quantum mechanics and Einstein's theory of relativity, but I like to think it may help solve other baffling mysteries. Like why silver and turquoise jewelry looks so good only in the high desert state of New Mexico, why it feels right to wear loud floral shirts in Hawaii, or why spontaneously marrying someone random in Las Vegas is apparently a fun and compelling thing to do.

The answer is that all these locations are simply little portals to alternate multiverses, indistinguishable from ours save for a few small rules.

Add the Li Po Cocktail Lounge and their Chinese Mai Tai ($9, Whaler's Rum, Castillo Light Rum, Bacardi 151 Rum, "Chinese liqueur," pineapple juice) to that list of mysterious portal locations and "up is down" situations.

The bar itself is cove-like, with a kitschy Chinese knick-knack decor that is so deeply worn in, it's become part of the bar, like when your college roommate never took off that hippie costume from Halloween. Somehow it manages to feel comfortably divey, with a wild mix of locals and a few tourists.

Order a Chinese Mai Tai and watch the bartender add an unlisted splash of bottled sweet and sour mix, while your inquiries about the unidentified "Chinese liqueur" will only yield curt "Chinese liqueur" replies. Served in a plastic hurricane glass, there is no reason why this drink should be good, and chances are that if you attempted to make it anywhere else, it would be terrible. Here, as if by some odd time-space displacement, the drink is fun and surprisingly tasty, the flavor of massive amount amounts of alcohol dampened in a "silencer on a shotgun" kinda way, and the faintly tropical drink all too easy to sip.

Our recommendation? Take it slow. This drink carries a surprise attack wallop -- one is enough, and two is simply asking for big trouble in Chinatown.

Li Po Cocktail Lounge, 916 Grant (at Washington), 982-0072

Lou Bustamante tweets at @thevillagedrunk. Follow SFoodie at @sfoodie, and like us on Facebook.
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