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Check Out David Muhlstein’s aka Captain David Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Captain David.

Hi Captain David, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
My Story with Tiki goes back to 2007. I was living in Los Angeles at the time and I had stumbled into the famous Tiki-Ti in Los Feliz. I had been there before but this time it was different. This was the visit that just clicked. I remember ordering their Zombie and Skull & Bones cocktails during that visit and that’s when it all made sense.

The music, the decor, the drinks, the escapism… all of it. That started my journey into Tiki. Now mind you, I always knew of Tiki and had been to places similar but this particular visit has always stuck with me. Years later, I would visit Frankie’s Tiki Room in Las Vegas and that’s where I purchased my first Tiki Mug. Those two bars really sparked my interest in pursuing Tiki Cocktails and bartending.

Four years ago, I took a position with Hula’s Modern Tiki here in Phoenix as a part-time bartender in the restaurant. The Captain’s Cabin was being run by a friend of mine for its first 6 months of inception but quickly it was seen that he did not want to run that bar any longer.

So in comes me, an eager tiki bartender that wanted to take a crack at running their own tiki bar and beverage program. This brings us to today. I have had The Captain’s Cabin for almost 4 years now and I haven’t looked back.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It was difficult at first. I wanted to make sure I paid tribute to classic tiki cocktails that I enjoyed or that I didn’t see on many menus, while also showcasing a few of my own creations.

Being in AZ, we don’t have the biggest selection of Rums or products made available to us so I had to substitute rums and spirits that I enjoyed in these cocktails while keeping the cocktails affordable for people to enjoy.

It was a fun process and challenging.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I run The Captain’s Cabin in Uptown Phoenix.

This is a small intimate bar that holds roughly 25 people. I am a one-man show and I work very hard in creating an inviting and welcoming experience for not only tiki first-timers but also seasoned veterans. I try to keep my bar very well stocked with rum and spirits so I can do my best to whip up a classic tiki drink that you may not see on my menu.

I am known for my tribute to classic Tiki as well as my signature tiki-inspired drinks. I am very proud and humbled that I have been doing it for this long in the space. There are a lot of amazing cocktail bars in the Phoenix area and I am very flattered every weekend that people choose to spend their money and hang out with me.

I am one of the few Tiki bars out here in Phoenix. While other cocktail bars have Tiki or Tiki-inspired cocktails, I am one of the few doing classics on a regular basis. I think that’s what sets me apart from most other bars. Also that my bar is available to book for a private party for any occasion.

Do you have any advice for those looking to network or find a mentor?
Try not to worry about what other bars or bartenders are doing.

It’s a very competitive industry and it’s easy to get distracted and worry about what others are doing. Stay true to yourself. I am a huge advocate of “less is more”.

Let those spirits and flavors shine. Don’t bury them under too much sugar or spirits. There are a lot of great spirits out there that bring a lot to the table. Embrace them.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Nader Abushhab @naderabushhab

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