Archive - February 2009

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The Last Drink of Tiki Month: Puka Punch
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Tiki Miscellanea: Vessels
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Tiki Miscellanea: Apparel
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Tiki Ingredient: Orgeat

The Last Drink of Tiki Month: Puka Punch

Well folks, Tiki Month draws to a close, and I am drinking my last Tiki drink of the festivities. Not my last Tiki drink, of course. This stuff is too damn much fun to let go off permanently. But I have little kids and a wife. I don’t have time to be a Tiki blogger. Besides I love my classic cocktails too much to have more than an occasional fling with the tropics.
I wanted to go out with a bang, so I went searching with some criteria. I had to have read about it from one of the Board of Tiki Idols members’ blogs. It had to use either falernum or orgeat. It had to have pineapple. And it had to be a rum drink. And it had to have a long list of ingredients. In short, it had to be a Tiki drink!
Rick had the answer—a drink he wrote about back in the summer of 2006, when he was first falling permanently under the spell of the volcano gods. I decided to assemble a….
Puka Punch!
Rick got it from Intoxica!,by Beach Bum Berry. You can tell how old this post is by the fact that Rick calls him Jeff Berry. Also, he writes the following words:

In general, I find garnishes to be pretty boring.

Times change, people. That’s all I’m saying. Oh, and I made a few small changes, to suit my lack of passionfruit juice.

PUKA PUNCH

  • 1 oz. lime juice
  • 3/4 oz. warm, runny honey
  • 1/4 oz. my homemade falernum
  • 3/8 oz. blueberry syrup
  • 3/8 oz. cold-process grenadine
  • 3/4 oz. orange juice
  • 3/4 oz. pineapple juice
  • 1 oz. Mount Gay Eclipse Silver rum
  • 1 oz. Appleton V/X
  • 3/4 oz. Matusalem Gran Reserve rum
  • 1 good dash Angustora Bitters

Blend ingredients with eight ounces of ice for five seconds. Pour into a fun glass and top up with crushed ice. Float 3/4 ounce 151 rum on the surface.

Rick calls for a fun glass. Okey dokey Tiki Idol, gotcha. This last drink had to be Over The Top Boys, hard core Tiki. I went with a hollowed out fresh pineapple for the vessel. Then I put a sugar cube in a lime shell, soaked the cube with 151, and floated the shell like a boat in the drink. Then I plunked a huge chunk of dry ice down into the drink.
Whadda ya think folks? Did I learn well this month?
puka-punch

Oh, and I learned one other thing. If you put dry ice in a drink, then try to light a garnish on the surface…..

Tiki Miscellanea: Vessels

wannabe4inch
OK, among the things that I really wanted to get into this month, but couldn’t much for budgetary reasons, was Tiki mugs. If there is one thing that always signified Tiki for me in the past were all the fabulous ceramic vessels that are inspired by or inspired Tiki drinks. They are damn near impossible to find in any quality these days in any but the largest cities, however. And they are not cheap. The web is filled with some great looking finds however, for the avid collector and the casual Tiki-phile both. I managed to order a single totem mug, a fake ceramic coconut, and a nice volcano bowl, but my time and money ran out after that. But I darned sure had fun looking.
Tiki vessels are a significant danger to anyone who is susceptible to the collector’s bug. They’re fun, they’re a little crazy, and they fit easily on narrow display shelves. A site called Tikiroom.net is a repository of images from collectors all over. It has more than just mugs, but home Tiki bars, and Tiki memorabilia as well.
ooga-moogalogo
An even more advanced, and seriously fun, site is Ooga-Mooga! This site allows collectors and makers to catalog their collections online for all to enjoy, as well as facilitating a vigorous sales and trade market. I missed Ooga-Mooga! until this week, for which I’m sure my financial advisers are heaving great sighs of relief.
Did I say Tiki vessels were fun? Oh yeah. In the event you have some time to spare (you’ll need it), try out this Photoshop thread on Tiki Central: World Leaders and their Tiki mugs. Here’s a taste.
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and here’s one for Gabe.
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board-of-tiki-idolsBOTI member, Craig Hermann has a fascinating post (with far too many pictures to steal) on making these things. Go read it here. Go now, or Colonel Tiki will cause the volcano to rumble in anger. I’ll wait.
Cool, huh? I confess I had never grasped how easy these things must be to make, but only if you have the right infrastructure. It’s a good way to understand why these vessels are so expensive.
Let me finish with some pictures of the mugs that most caught my fancy. Click the pictures to go to where they are available for sale.
zombie272
I love this Zombie mug. It just kind of screams Tiki, Zombies, and general retro fun with a modern sensibility. Plus, I found it originally on a blog entitled, Skulls & Bacon. Some people are such geniuses at scrounging internet traffic….
fu-manchu
This mug is just a bit different from most tall totem-style Tiki mugs. I like it because you can instantly tell it’s different, even from a distance or with Scorpion Bowl-blurred vision.
moai-suave-pop
I’m going to get one of these when I get the chance. I love the sleek, black look. It’s a Tiki vessel that will go with the modern, black and silver look of my own Basement Bar.
volcano-bowl_pop
If you are going to make Tiki drinks, and want a truly over the top Tiki vessel to occasionally serve them in (and let’s face it, when it comes to Tiki, you should start with over the top!), you need a volcano bowl. As I said, I have already bought one, but I wish I’d gotten this one. The bowls let you put several straws in at once for communal sipping, and the little volcano in the center is a great place to light a fire. Huka Pele!

Tiki Miscellanea: Apparel

UPDATE: If you happen to run across this now, for Tiki Month 2010 I’ve done a lot more research about Aloha shirts and summarized my findings in this post. The post you are reading is still a good one, too.
There is a case to be made that all of Tiki is miscellanea. But in the case of me, as I round up Tiki month, I thought I’d gather together some links to areas of Tiki that I haven’t been able to get to. In all seriousness, I thought I’d run out of stuff to write about before twenty-eight days were up, but not a chance!
Let’s start off with your Tiki chef’s wear.

Like this?

s888

Don’t be ridiculous! Tiki chef’s wear. Like this!
331lzfd

Really?
The Magnum P.I. shirt?
Really?

Damn right, I have every shirt in this collection. Had them for years. When one wears out, I replace it. They are well-made, comfortable, good looking, and affordable. These days, most people won’t recognize them as the Magnum, P.I. shirts, but they will (if they are the right age) get a cheesy cool vibe from them. They are made by a company called Paradise Found, and can be also bought many other places.
Of course, as I said at the outset of this month, I own a lot of hawaiian shirts. I have plenty that aren’t the daily wear of the Pacific’s greatest crime fighter and general free-loader.
tommy-bahama

Tommy Bahama makes a wonderful line of hawaiian shirts, as you know. Of course, the problem is that everyone knows. Their shirts are very well-made, come in a variety of patterns to meet most tastes… and are instantly recognizable to everyone as a T.B. shirt. To be blunt, they lack exoticism. I have a couple, but only wear them when I’m in a fun mood, yet want to be reputable.
If you are looking for Tiki wear online, I just found a great site called Aloha Shirt Shop. They have the last two brands I mentioned, as well as many others. I haven’t ordered from them, yet, so I can’t vouch for customer service. But they have a great selection.
6a00d83453dee469e200e553f48ca08833But don’t limit yourself to these kinds of places to find your gear. A really good hawaiian shirt is often a vaguely worn-out, disreputable garment. (i.e. not Tommy Bahama). Shop for them in vaguely disreputable places. Consignment or resale shops, especially in areas where customers are tracking sand in the door, are a great place to hunt.
So hawaiian shirts are cool and fun. Wear them as part of your complete Tiki experience, and enjoy. But remember that all things, even all good things, can go wrong. Just be careful out there. I’m just saying….
stallon

Tiki Ingredient: Orgeat

I’m running out of time in Tiki Month here at the Pegu Blog. But I cannot let the month expire without going over one of the most interesting and useful Tiki ingredients: Orgeat.
I first encountered a need for Orgeat way back during Mixology Monday: Limit One, when I made the very much non-Tiki Chatham Artillery Punch. Actually, I’m not sure The Punch isn’t a Tiki beverage in it’s soul. Let’s list its qualifications:

  • Large amounts of multiple alcohols, including rum. Double-plus check.
  • Lots of fruit juices. Check.
  • Lots of different fruit in a garnish-like capacity. Check.
  • Pain in the ass and time-consuming to make. Check, and check.
  • Leads to silly dress and behavior, even before the drinking commences. Check. If you have not experienced drunken, upper-crust southerners in full throat, under the influence of The Punch, you need to uncheck Experienced Silly from your life list.

OK, it’s not really a Tiki drink, but it belongs, baby. It belongs.
The Punch would be a cinch for Tiki-dom if the orgeat were an ingredient in the punch, but it was needed for the maraschino cherry recipe instead. (Note to self: Add orgeat to next batch of Chatham Artillery Punch)
I remember looking at the recipe and asking myself, Self, what the hell is Oar-geet? I looked all over town, and at last found it in a gigantic bottle from Finest Call. I needed about two ounces, so I hesitated to buy this big honking bottle, until I saw it was about five bucks and had the unrefrigerated shelf-life of plutonium. I made the cherries, and stuck the bottle in Reserve Liquor Storage Cabinet #2, with the Campari, Amaretto, Godiva, etc. and forgot about it.
As Tiki Month was taking form, I fell in love with real Mai Tais (careful following the link, there be controversy there!) and suddenly orgeat became an important part of my first line mixing loadout. But there was much still to learn.
slivered-almondsFirst off, what the heck is orgeat anyway? Essentially, it is a syrup made from almonds, primarily the almond oil. Originally it was made with barley and almonds, or even just barley. It’s first use was in cooking, as a pre-refrigeration era ingredient that served much the same function as milk or cream in modern cooking. The long shelf-life of the orgeat made it a practical way to deliver fats to a recipe. One of these days, I’ll experiment with it in baking, just to see how it goes; though I’m guessing I’ll make it with less sugar for that use.
Second, how do you pronounce it? My first guess was, as I alluded to above, Oar-Geet. Then some wag made the comment, in relation to orgeat, hey, where’s the orgy at? Credulous me thought that this was an actual mnemonic for pronouncing it, and went around saying Orgy-At for months. Thanks, whoever did that to me!
The actual pronunciation is more like Oar-zha. Got trouble with that? How about these two pictures? (They come from Gumbo Pages, who saw the image at Tales of the Cocktail seminar on making things like orgeat, the lucky bastard.)
oar-zha
Now, we know how to pronounce the name, and what it is. But is the stuff readily available, and is commercial orgeat any good?
The answers are probably not, and surprisingly enough, probably so. Most liquor stores and supermarkets won’t have orgeat. If yours does, good on ya. My bottle of Finest Call is quite serviceable. There are no off flavors, and while the flavor is a little bit thin, it does the job it’s supposed to do quite adequately.
But I did have to find out how fresh, scratch made orgeat would taste. Here’s how you can make it with relative ease (This recipe is derived from Darcy O’Neil’s post on the same subject at Art of Drink):
Almonds are obviously the base of this syrup, so make sure you get the best quality, freshest ones you can get. I buy my nuts from an outfit called Sunnyland Farms in Georgia. They are first and foremost a pecan grower, but all their nuts are top quality. You need almonds that are slivered and blanched. You could even do this part yourself, but you could also build a bridge each time you want to cross the river to get to work. Buy your almonds ready to use. For illustration purposes, we’ll use one pound.
First, clean the almonds by soaking them in cold water for about half an hour, then discarding this first batch of water. Transfer the damp nuts to your food processor and chop coarsely, not to a meal. Now it’s time to extract the oils from the almond.
Put three cups of warm, filtered or distilled water in a non-reactive bowl and add the nuts. Allow to soak for about half an hour to forty five minutes. Now strain the liquid into another similar bowl through several layers of cheesecloth. Squeeze the cloth to get all the liquid out of the crushed almonds. Now take all that crushed almond that you just carefully strained out of the water, and put it right back in the same water! If the water isn’t warm any more, put it over a pot of simmering water (as if making a double boiler) until it warms back up. Strain the nuts through your cloth again, back into the first bowl, and then dump the nuts back in again, and soak some more. You should let the nuts soak in the warm water three times, though the second and third rounds only need to be for about fifteen minutes.
snowy-starlingsNow strain the liquid one last time into a pan, and you can discard or compost the leftover almond solids. Birds will also eat them.
Add 22.5 ounces of white sugar, by weight, to the liquid and stir over low heat until completely dissolved. Turn off the heat, and allow to cool for about fifteen minutes.
Now stir in 3 ounces of cognac or decent brandy. You could use vodka too, but I’d go with the brandy for a little extra character. Also, if you can get it, add 2 tablespoons of orange flower water. Let fully cool, and store in a clean bottle. This recipe will render you about two 16 ounce home brew bottles of orgeat.
The orgeat is not technically a syrup, but an emulsion. This means it will separate over time. No biggie, just shake well before using. That said, it does not look great when separated, so shake it up good before guests arrive.
This orgeat is delicious stuff, much more rich and flavorful than the commercial stuff I’ve tried.
Finally, what do we do with all this syrup?
Orgeat performs two very useful functions in a cocktail that make it especially valuable in Tiki drinks. First, it adds a richness to the drink, a sumptuous, exotic mouthfeel. Yes, I just used the word mouthfeel without irony or sarcasm. And second, orgeat, this almond emulsion, acts as a sort of flavor emulsifier. Tiki drinks tend to have a lot of ingredients and thus lots of flavors. Orgeat sort of smoothes out the gaps and overlaps where all these flavors come together, leaving a more robust, smoother taste. In fairness, I think this is the sort of thing that leaves what one blogger (who shan’t be linked here because he’s such a pooty-head about Tiki) calls, occluded flavor profiles. Also, many great Tiki drinks have wonderfully harmonious flavors without employing orgeat. But orgeat can do some magical things, and your own homemade stuff will bring its own interest as well.
Of course, I can’t do a post like this without a cocktail and a picture to carry it through. Since I got my orgeat recipe originally from Darcy, I’ll go with a cocktail he posted as well. Apparently, last February, he was feeling the winter blahs, and like me felt the prescription was some Tiki. He proffered this silly, little, (probably) late-model Tiki concoction from Beachbum Berry’s Intoxica!:
marlin

THE BLOO MARLIN (or just the Marlin)

  • .5 oz. lemon juice
  • .5 oz. lime juice
  • .5 oz. maraschino liqueur
  • .5 oz. delicious, homemade orgeat
  • .5 oz. blue curacao
  • 1 oz. Matusalem Gran Reserve rum
  • 1 oz Mount Gay Eclipse Silver light rum

Shake with ice, then strain into a glass with crushed or small cube ice. Garnish with homemade maraschino cherries on a silly pick.

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