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Revisited Tiki Drink: Nui Nui

Revisited Tiki Drink: Nui Nui

Nui Nui

I have actually blogged the Nui Nui before, back in 2011. A Don the Beachcomber invention from the 30’s, it is an excellent cocktail that I had lost track of. I won’t forget it again, as for someone who is just getting interested in old-school Tiki recipes, it is an absolute winner. I went back to it in the wake of my last post about flash blending, cracked ice, etc. Interestingly, I’m blogging the Nui Nui because it actually undermines the point I was making in the prior post!

NUI NUI

  • 2 oz. gold rum
  • 1/2 oz. lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. orange juice
  • 1/4 oz. cinnamon syrup
  • 1/4 oz. Don’s Spices No. 2*
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 4 oz. ice

Shake all ingredients well and pour into an Old-Fashioned glass. Garnish with a citrus-heavy presentation.

* Don’s Spices No. 2 is equal parts vanilla syrup and allspice liqueur. We think….Don was the cagiest.

The actual instructions for the Nui Nui are the Beachcomber’s favorite “flash blend for five seconds.” If you do this, especially with cracked ice, the drink gets too diluted, to my taste at least. The Nui Nui is both delicious and fraught with issues, and over dilution makes those issues worse.

The flavor profile of the Nui Nui is absolutely stereotypical of the core drink style of 30s and 40s Tiki. It is a delicious juice bomb with undefinable flavors. It is well-balanced and not overly strong in flavor or booze content, and that is why it is so vulnerable to over-dilution, which turns those strengths into a weakness. The second issue is that it needs not just one, but two specialty syrups, which places this drink squarely in the wheelhouse of special occasion or hardcore Tiki-phile use.

For a new Tiki drinker, it is a great introduction to the core “Tiki Vibe” of what I associate with the classic catalog. Once you have tried a score or so of Don’s other recipes, and a score of Trader Vic’s, and some others, the Nui Nui seems a bit like eating an ice cream custard base. Sure, it’s delicious, but where is the point of the exercise?

I’m tempted to make a huge batch of Nui Nui, minus ice and call it Doug’s Mix No. 1. I’ll try adding one or two other ingredients to three ounces of mix and see if I get a good new cocktail each time. I’m betting I will.

In the mean time, if you haven’t given the Nui Nui a try, and the ingredients are to hand, give it a try. Just don’t over-dilute.


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  1. Dagreb

    15 February

    The Navy Grog is another great base

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  2. Swanky

    15 February

    Nui Nui is also on my short list. I invested in some fancy vanilla syrup for it and found it flat ruined the drink. The cheap stuff worked best. The right amount of Allspice is the real secret.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  3. Doug Winship

    15 February

    Swanky,

    Vanilla syrup is easy and cheap to make yourself, but ( mine at least) varies from batch to batch, which can be a pain.

    And Allspice dram is the king of better get it just right Tiki ingredients! It’s like a hotel shower control that has one millimeter of play in between cryogenics and plasma…

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  4. DJ HawaiianShirt

    16 February

    Uh, is that a friggin prickly pear garnish!?

      (Quote)  (Reply)

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