Tiki Drink: Opaka Raka


In casting around for some new recipes to try, I found myself in a section I have left pretty much unexplored in Beachbum Berry’s Remixed: the second appendix (modern creations). As I perused this area of the book, I stumbled upon the Opaka Raka, from Brian Miller of Manhattan’s Death & Co.

OPAKA RAKA

  • 1 1/2 oz navy strength gin
  • 1 1/2 oz Donn’s Spices #2*
  • 3/4 oz lime juice
  • 1/4  oz simple syrup (omit)
  • 1 dash Elemakule Tiki bitters

Shake all with ice, and strain into an elegant old-fashioned glass with fresh crushed ice. Garnish exotically….

Berry notes in his recipe the importance of the gin in this drink, and how it needs to be at least 94 proof to stand up to all the heavy Tiki flavors. For my taste, that wasn’t quite enough, and I think the cocktail benefits from a full navy strength bottling. I used Hayman’s Royal Dock, which is far and away my favorite gundeck-compliant gin. I also omitted the quarter ounce of simple syrup. I don’t think it is necessary, but be aware if the drink is too tart for your palate at first taste, you can splash it in.

As you might expect with an ounce and a half of Don’s Spices #2*, allspice is the Mick Jagger of this little band, with vanilla as it’s Keith Richards. You end up with a rich, dark, exotically unctuous sip that is right at home with the 30’s and 40’s era drinks that are my personal favorite in the Tiki oeuvre.

* Don’s Spices #2 is one of Don the Beachcomber’s premixed ingredients that he made as a way to speed drink production, and more importantly to slow down recipe theft. Today it is well known to be a simple 1 to 1 mix of vanilla syrup and allspice dram. Should you have or have access to both, it is simple to make. Should either be difficult to obtain, Portland Tiki god and member of the Board of Tiki Idols B. G. Reynolds makes a commercial version that has the added virtue (?) of being non-alcoholic.


  1. Tiare

    10 February

    That drink looks really beautiful!

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  2. Frederic

    11 February

    When I made this, I was told that it was supposed to be Don’s Mix and apparently the editors of the Death & Co. book screwed up the two throughout. I enjoyed it with Don’s Spices but I became leery of making any Don’s Mix/Spices#2 recipes from that book since I didn’t know what to believe or trust.

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