Author: Doug Winship
Rule 4
Tiki Month 2018

Tiki Drink: London Sour

The London Sour and I were born in the same year. What year? Never you mind, buster. Suffice it to say that it was a tumultuous year, where American military aggression stained our souls and the rest of the world was damned ungrateful for what we did for them, civil rights were torn by controversy over whose inalienable rights were more inalienable, there were violent clashes in the streets between groups of citizens who for the most part didn't know what the hell the other (or indeed, their own) side was talking about, and the Russians were making trouble.
So, you were born in 2016?
1965. Jerk. Anyway, the London Sour is a Trader Vic original, which you can find in Beachbum Berry's Intoxica. I want to blog about it for two reasons. One, it is a Tiki drink that uses scotch as the base spirit. Scotch! And two, it is instructive about the progression of Tiki historically. Please note that neither of those reasons is that the London Sour is good. Because, spoiler alert, it isn't terribly. It is quite drinkable, of course. Vic didn't make crappy drinks. But by 1965, he seems to have clearly been coming to the end of his powers. The Tiki drink oeuvre was similarly reaching its senescent phase as well. The dark, exotic, unctuous... unfamiliar profile of the early work was sliding into a more modern, lighter flavor palate.
  • 2 1/2 oz orange juice
  • 3/4 oz lemon juice
  • 1/4 oz orgeat
  • 1/4 oz simple syrup
  • 2 oz blended scotch
Shake well with small ice, and pour unstrained into a lowball glass. Garnish with leftover citrus.
This is a pleasant, utterly unchallenging drink. The scotch comes through, sure, but manages to be blandly unremarkable, despite being scotch in a Tiki drink. There is far more orange juice than should be present in any drink beyond a screwdriver, which the London Sour tastes mostly like. What is missing in this drink is the flavor alchemy that I so love in early Tiki drinks. You can pick out every ingredient in this drink from the sip. That's not a bad thing in many cocktails, but I think an important part of a Tiki drink is the creation of new, unidentified flavors. abc
Other Liqueurs
Rule 2
Tiki Month 2018

Tiki Drink: By Way of the Dodo

Here is another drink that I found via the Cocktail Virgin blog: By Way of the Dodo. It is a creation of Matthew Rose of the Boston Area, and I've been saving this link for months to write up now. The By Way of the Dodo is an excellent example of a "Tiki version" of a non-Tiki drink. In this case, it is a Last Word of sorts. This process of Tiki-fying classics is a pretty common one today, as more and more craft bartenders come to appreciate the great opportunities the genre offers, be it the exotic flavor palette or the excuse to go over the top with a garnish. But just because this happens more and more these days, it doesn't mean it always works. You can't just swap in some pineapple juice and add cinnamon to a recipe and get a Tiki drink. For my own part, I will apparently never learn that you can't just add pimento dram and expect to get a Tiki drink.... When a Tiki reconstruction does work, however, it is glorious. The Last Word would seem to be an unlikely candidate for tikification, but this transformation is one that succeeds comprehensively.
  • 1 oz navy strength aged rum
  • 1 oz Green Chartreuse
  • 1 oz lime juice
  • 1 oz passion fruit syrup
Shake well, and strain into an old-fashioned glass. Fill to brim with crushed ice. Garnish must include 3-4 dashes of Angostura.
The resulting drink adds a tropical tang and mouthfeel to the crisp herbaceousness of the Last Word. It is quite at home in dark, colored lighting, with Martin Denny on the Hi-Fi (substitute Bose soundbar or Apple HomePod....)abc
Tiki Month 2018

Original Tiki Drink: How to Train Your Dragon

Here's the first original Tiki drink of my own that I'm posting for #TikiMonth 2018. It is a riff off of the Montego Bae, a delicious cocktail from the Detroit Bar, Standby. I had some changes I wanted to make, especially in that I wanted a slightly crisper profile. I changed a variety of ingredients, removing a lot of sugar, while keeping the base flavors until I reached a kind of plateau in the drink. It was where I wanted to go, but sadly wasn't as good as the original. I had figured out early on that I wanted to use Dragon Fruit as a garnish, and I hit upon the idea of using some in the drink, and I think that nails it.
  • 2 oz dark Jamaican rum (Blackwell's)
  • 1/2 oz ginger liqueur (King's Ginger is much better here than Canton)
  • 1 oz pineapple juice
  • 1/2 oz lemon juice
  • 1/3 oz cinnamon syrup
  • 1/2 oz POM Wonderful pomegranate juice
  • 3 dashes Elemakule Tiki bitters
  • 1" cube, dragon fruit
Muddle dragon fruit with juice and syrups. Add remaining ingredients, and shake well with large ice. Strain into cocktail coupe or Nick and Nora glass. Garnish with a slice of dragon fruit.
First off, this drink does not photograph well. It looks a lot better in person, though I still wish I could find a way to keep the dragon fruit seeds in suspension. They tend to settle in the bottom of the glass before the drink is finished. I haven't found a solution. I am open to ideas. The texture on this drink is awesome, in my humble opinion. The flavor is that rich, exotic Tiki melange, but with a crunchy, light edge that is a bit unusual. I like it. I'm proud of it. Do try it. abc

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.
  • 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. abc
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