Tiki Drink: Sidewinder’s Fang

Drink: Sidewinder’s Fang
Mug: Dynasty Skull Mug
Available at BarSupplies.com and elsewhere.

Midcentury exotica didn’t just cater to suburban fantasies of work-free islands and guilt-free sex. There was also the call of adventure, epitomized by these classic “dangerous” drinks: if the sharks didn’t eat you, the cannibals would.
—Beachbum Berry Beachbum Berry Remixed, Pg. 86

There is quite a bit going on in that quote. Expect to see it several times this Tiki Month.

I want to kick off Tiki Month with a pleasant little cocktail with a scary name, the Sidewinder’s Fang. Berry’s words, and the Sidewinder’s characteristics bring to mind other scary things, like rollercoasters.

Top Thrill Dragster. (via: SodaHead)
Scary name. Pants-wettingly scary ride. See SodaHead for proof.

Only scary because it is found at Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch.

Everybody likes scary stuff, but while some of us like to really be scared, others just like the idea of being scared. As the Bum notes, the Tiki oeuvre is replete with scary names and images, designed to make you almost fear the drink. Some cocktails, like the Zombie and the Hurricane are as devastating as their monikers imply, others not so much.

The Sidewinder’s Fang is such a drink.


  • 1 pt. dark Jamaican rum
  • 1 pt. demerara rum
  • 1 1/2 pts. fresh lime juice
  • 1 1/2 pts. orange juice
  • 1 1/2 pts. passionfruit syrup
  • 3 pts. soda water

Combine all but soda water with ice and shake. Pour unstrained into scariest looking vessel you have. Top with soda water to taste and stir. Garnish as the Tiki gods inspire you.

In a glass, this guy looks pretty much like a washed-out Screwdriver. The taste, assuming you use good juice and syrups, is surprisingly complex and bright. As you can see, it isn’t all that scary, if you know the ingredients. But for a culture built around the deceptive power of the Zombie… And the Sidewinder’s Fang tastes like it might be one of those roll of quarters in a sock-type drinks.

You may think, since it is so relatively weak already, you can omit the soda water. Don’t. Without the soda, the juices totally overwhelm the drink and none of the rum comes through. Undiluted, it tastes too sweet, and you might just as well use have used cheap well rum instead of the interesting stuff. That said, I think 3 parts of soda water may be too much, so use your own judgement as you mix.

Regardless, this drink is an easy and delicious mix to serve to guests as an evening extender. It maintains an existing buzz without advancing it too much. And if you use big ice cubes (which you should, if available) it is a drink you can drink fairly slowly without it losing its appeal.

{This recipe can be found in Beach Bum Berry Remixed and in Beachbum Berry’s Tiki+ app.}

And hey! This post is part of Tiki Month 2012 here at the Pegu Blog! Be sure to look around for LOTS more Tiki stuff all February!

About the author


I am 48 years old, married with two young daughters. My interests are tennis, reading, computers, politics, and of course cocktails. I run a murder mystery party business that caters to both corporate and private events, Killing Time, murder consultants.


Leave a comment
  • I cannot be overemphasized that the easiest — not the only — way to ruin this drink is with the passionfruit syrup. You simply HAVE to make your own, which, outside of a bit of a shopping adventure is pretty easy. The hard part is finding frozen passionfruit pulp. If you live anywhere near a Latin market of any description, they WILL have it.

    Once you’ve scored some, thaw it out and dilute it with simple syrup and you’re good to go.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  • I’ve found that passionfruit nectar is a good starting point to make passionfruit syrup. Add some sugar (not much) and boil it down until you get the consistency that you want. Had to make tons of the stuff while playing around with the rumrummer recipe for last year’s Hukilau cocktail competition.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  • Blair remains the man. Can’t wait for him to develop a weird-ingredient-free Cream of Coconut. If finding a Latin market is outside someone’s orbit — not EVERYONE lives in an area with a large Brazilian/Mexican/Dominican population — his stuff can be recommended enthusiastically. (I suggested making your own because for those of us who have pretty easy access to the frozen pulp, it’s crazy easy and there are a trillion other uses for all that passionfruit. Say, a tub of Hurricanes.)

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  • I know when this drink was originally developed Don the Beachcomber used Fassionola. Since for a long time it was a very hard ingredient to source, I know the Beachbum and other have gone to substituting passion fruit syrup. I have sourced and used true Fassionola in this drink and I can say it makes a big difference and adds a special something to this drink. The makes of the makes of the syrup pretty much only sell to food industry, but now someone is actually selling the stuff through ebay now. Give it a try I think you may be please.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  • jmgiii,

    You are correct, I had procured a sample of the original stuff and shipped it off to him for him to use anbd test against. So it is one of the many brands in his raging fire of exotic syrup development.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  • If i could i d buy Blair´s passionfruit syrup since what he makes is awesome and it´s a treat to have them ready on hand, but the shipping (and costumes) to me is prohibitive, so i make my own but i always use fresh passion fruits because it´s always available here, maybe i`m lucky with that at least??

    Anyway the result is good, here´s a link if anyone feel like doing it and have fresh fruits available – http://www.amountainofcrushedice.com/?p=4941

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  • Had this brief discussion w. Beachbum today:

    BBB: Aloha JM, don’t bother trying to resurrect fassionola. It was not a very good product — basically a highly artificial passion fruit syrup with an orangey taste. If you use a good passion fruit syrup, you’ll be much happier 😉

    JMG: Is that what fassionola is supposed to be? So, say, if I make an orange-infused simple syrup, and use THAT (1:1?) on some thawed out frozen passionfruit pulp, would that do it? Or am I just better off w. making straight passionfruit syrup?

    BBB: Straight passion…

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  • I´ve tried Tiare´s recipe and it´s pretty delicious.

    I have the same problem here with Blair´s delicious stuff, shipping kills me, so I make my own from fresh fruit too. The fruit grows in my front yard, but it´s very affordable anywhere all year around here in Brazil.

    When we make it for events we use a 10L slow blender that can strip out the flush and juice from the seeds without breaking them. After strained just add sugar and you are good to go. When out of season the fruit might be a bit too sour so baking soda dissolved in water helps a bit.

    If you have one of those juicer/centrifuges i´d give it a try, it might work the same as our blender.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  • Yeah T, i use the baking soda trick quite often.

    Sometimes the passion fruit I get is a bit too sour. When you add the baking soda it reacts with the acids resulting in salt + water (neutralizing the harsher acid notes). Mixing the baking soda with water will help it dissolve more evenly.

    You only need a tiny bit of baking soda, and be aware of the vigorous foaming.

    If you add just the right amount you have a small salty finish that can even be quite pleasant. A dash too much and you will mess it up.

    (a pinch of salt can do wonders for sour drinks – read bonus tip here: http://www.cookingissues.com/2010/09/08/cocktail-science-in-generalpart-2-of-2/)

    This might be a bit more useful for making passion fruit nectar than syrup, but good to know anyways.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  • I have all 3 flavors JE Tropical Gold Fruit Mix (Fassionola)
    available. I’ve had a huge run on this stuff in the last
    couple months. It’s made by Jonathan English, and yes it’s
    made in the original fassion of Fassionola and may not
    be the healthiest of all drink mixes, but it’s perfect for
    vintage recipes specifically requiring fassionola.
    The stuff is very thick, candy like syrup and quite tasty
    if you have a palate for these types if sickeningly sweet
    products. As far as I know, I’m the only one offering this
    product in less than case quantities, besides wholesale food
    distributors. This post is not meant to be a sales pitch, but FYI that the fassionola product is currently available and being produced by the Jonathan English company and if you want to stick to the original tiki cocktail recipes, there is no substitution

      (Quote)  (Reply)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>


Copyright © 2014. Douglas A. Winship. Powered by WordPress.