Category: blogging
Ice, Rule 2, Tiki Month 2016

Ice, Ice, Baby!

[caption id="attachment_10925" align="aligncenter" width="550"]That hair looks almost like a fez from this angle... That hair looks almost like a fez from this angle...[/caption] To do Tiki right, there has to be a conversation about ice. Relax. I'm not suggesting that you are going to have to throw on a white lab coat and go all di-hydrogen monoxide thermal engineer like you are Camper English or anything. Nor do you need to establish an elaborate ice program with custom chunks from Manchester, either. But ice is a bigger issue with Tiki drinks than with most others, and for reasons that are not always the obvious. Humuhumu wrote an excellent piece last November that I've kept in my browser since, in anticipation of this post during Tiki Month. Entitled An Easy Fix for Your Tiki Drinks: Tweaking Your Shake, it has some cool Tiki history and an excellent primer on what the word "blend" actually means in most historic Tiki recipes. It's all a good read, so make sure you follow the link. The part I want to focus on is that in order to produce the desired effect of a Tiki recipe that says "flash blend for about five seconds", the bar tool you need is not a blender of any kind at all. The bar tool that you need... is ice. The majority of the work done on a drink is not by the shaker itself, nor the person agitating it. The changes to the ingredients come from the ice trapped in the shaker with the liquids. Ice is perhaps the most universal element of any bar, professional or amateur. It is, of course, a refrigerant. But it is also an ingredient. And it can be a garnish. Most people comprehend these three elements of ice's usage, if only subconsciously. It is also good to keep in mind that sometimes these effects of ice on a drink can be a little counter-intuitive. The fourth element of what ice does to a drink is mechanical action, and it is this effect that is generally more important in Tiki drinks than in any other cocktail genre. While being shaken, ice does two things. It shatters itself, and it aerates the liquid. The more you agitate it, the more it does these. And both have similar effects on the texture and flavor of the drink. A slurry of tiny ice shards lightens a drink, and a lot of tiny bubbles does the same, in flavor and in texture. That lightness is important to most Tiki drinks. Next time you make one, have a good full sip before you introduce any ice. The flavors may be great, but the texture will be nearly undrinkable. [caption id="attachment_10970" align="aligncenter" width="550"]The results of a really good shake. The results of a really good shake.[/caption] A Tiki shake is not a regular shake. It is longer. The ingredients will often not mix as readily as more common bar ingredients, will be able to retain a lot more air that usual, and will benefit from that air. When mixing a SideCar or a Daiquiri, I usually shake just until the tin starts to bite my hand from the chill. At that point, 90% of the chilling possible from your ice has taken place. But in a Tiki shake, you keep going and endure the pain. You need those shards and that air, and it is a case of the longer and harder it is, the better the results.
That's what she...
Shut. Up. Of course, if you use a blender of some kind, be it stick or carafe, you can get even more agitation in much less time. If you have the means and can take the noise, that's great. But be careful about the recipe's instructions! There are two traditional modes of employing a blender in Tiki drinks, the flash blend and blending smooth. Don't mix them up, because a recipe balanced for one will almost never taste good if you do the other. Blending smooth, as with a drink like the Missionary's Downfall, can really only happen in a blender. You want a final texture like an Icee, with uniform tiny ice particles distributed evenly throughout the liquid. A smooth blend introduces a ton of dilution, a ton of air, and makes for an extremely cold drink. And the drinks that employ a smooth blend need all that. Don't bother with these drinks unless you have a blender, or a lot of time and booze to pour out while you rejigger the ratios. Drinks like the Jet Pilot call for that magical "flash blend for five seconds". The result here is a frothy slurry, rather than a smooth drink. And you don't need a blender to achieve it at all. As long as you use cracked ice (more surface area, more edges makes for more slivers/dilution), you can achieve in a thirty-plus second vigorous shake what you did in five seconds in the blender. In a professional Tiki bar, the electric blender means realistically fast service and fewer repetitive-motion injuries to your staff. At home, it is a lot of noise and a lot of extra clean up. As you gain experience making Tiki drinks, it is worth it to put a little thought into what workflow you want to employ. But the most important thing is to know what your resulting texture should be, so you can employ whatever method to get you there.abc
Lime Juice, Rule 2, Syrups, tiki, Tiki Month 2016, Whiskey

Modern Tiki Drink: Permanent Holiday

As I said in my Opening Post for Tiki Month, I want to focus to a large extent this year on the new creations that illustrate the strength of the current Tiki revival. The first drink I want to examine this month also illustrates how modern Tiki is expanding upon the previous array of commonly used ingredients to find new ways to create the feelings that somehow define Tiki. [caption id="attachment_10891" align="aligncenter" width="550"]Permanent Holiday Permanent Holiday, by Trey Jenkins via The Hardest Working Blogger in the Cocktailosphere[/caption] Here's the recipe. You'll see that it follows the Tiki formula of a bunch of different boozes, some citrus, and some syrup that defines the overwhelming majority of Tiki drinks. But the alcohols are all out of whack to the traditional eye.
PERMANENT HOLIDAY
  • 1 part bourbon
  • 1 part Averna
  • 1/2 part Licor 43
  • 1 part (pink) grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 part fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 part passion fruit syrup (Homemade or BG Reynolds')
Shake with ice until well chilled, then strain over crushed ice in a Tiki vessel. I used an orange peel wrapped around a spent tattooed lime husk. Depending on who's drinking it, a sprig or even a bunch of fresh mint would not go amiss.
I was seriously curious how this collection of ingredients was going to come out feeling Tiki. When you think upon the genre, bourbon (though a certain prominent exception applies), Italian amaro, and a Spanish liqueur that did not reach American shores until well past Tiki's formative years are not the ingredients that leap to mind. But it works. First of all, it is a good drink. It tastes good. It is interesting. It has a whole lot going on. Secondly, it has that exotic, somewhat undefined flavor profile that triggers all sorts of different flavor impressions in different people which I associate strongly with the best Tiki drinks. This is just the sort of new creation that will help keep Tiki in the craft's consciousness. Drinks like this one expand the "artist's" palette and creative options, while at the same time expands the Tiki market to that guy thinks Tiki drinks sound great, but "who really only drink (Spirit X which isn't rum)".abc
Rule 2, Tiki Month 2016

Tiki Month, 2016

PanAmChinaClipperPoster Seven years.... February, 2016 is the eighth Tiki Month, and that means I have been assembling these annual explorations of Tiki drinks and related culture for seven years. I have always concentrated mostly on the history of Tiki and it's golden and silver ages of the 30's and 40's, and the 50's and 60's. That made sense back in 2009, nine years after the closure of the last great Tiki Palace, the Kahiki (right here in Columbus, OH) had signaled the bitter, ignominious "end of the Tiki era". All that was left of commercial Tiki bars were a few fossilized Trader Vic's. There were just the two lonely outposts of original Tiki drink menus, the boutique joint, Tiki-Ti and the beautifully preserved but then almost entirely tourist-ridden Mai Kai. A few other survivors lurked in obscurity. In the industry, Tiki was a dead letter, The home Tiki bar in 2009 was, to all but the drinks equivalent of professional cosplayers, this: img_8428 And the only such set-up likely to be encountered by a normal American was more this: Tiki-Bar In the online world, Tiki's presence was largely limited to a few of the online forum-type websites that flowered (and still exist) in the brief period between the fall of Usenet and the rise of Reddit. But that culture was more about cars, music, clothes, and artwork than it was about drinks. I'd bet that more of this community would have identified beer and bowling in aloha shirts as a celebration of Tiki culture than would have so much as recognized a properly made Mai Tai. I'm not hating here. Where would we be without the monks who preserved Plato and Aristotle during the Dark Ages? The large number of people that are now rediscovering Tiki in commercial bar culture would not and could not be enjoying it without them. [caption id="attachment_10731" align="aligncenter" width="525"]Full sized prints available at Mahalo Tiki Full sized prints available at Mahalo Tiki[/caption] In the blossoming world of the early Cocktailosphere, there were a few, fantastic fanatics in their fezzes and flower leis, who did yeoman work illustrating what had once been for all the rest of us three-ingredient, elegant sophistication-types who made up the majority in the early days of the Cocktail Renaissance. In those days, paring knives, flower pots, and saucepans were almost exclusively the province of the Tikibloggers. It was these explorers, the group I appointed the Board of Tiki Idols and a few others, whose example drove me to start Tiki Month. I viewed Tiki Month then, as now, as a chance to trade the gray, frozen mud of Ohio's winter depths for those glorious pictures of crazy concoctions and a world of imagination. And to encourage absolutely everyone I reached to at least to some extent to do the same. And as I prepare for this year's Tiki Month, transforming my ultra-sleek, modern basement bar into the volcano-ravaged, bamboo jungle it becomes each winter, finding new recipes to try and essaying a few originals of my own, it strikes me how fundamentally transformed is the world of Tiki in the eighth year of this experiment. [caption id="attachment_10734" align="aligncenter" width="550"]Smuggler's Cove in San Francisco Smuggler's Cove in San Francisco[/caption] Ten months after the first Tiki Month, Martin Cate opened Smuggler's Cove, which is to this day, the most amazing cocktail bar I have even been to. My friend Blair "Trader Tiki" Reynolds had his personal brand struck down by dark forces, but soon became more powerful than they could have possibly imagined. His line of Tiki syrups has saved me from making orgeat, making Mai Tais a year round part of my repertoire, and now he presides over the mighty Hale Pele, a true exemplar of the modern destination Tiki bar. [caption id="attachment_10735" align="aligncenter" width="550"]Blair Reynolds, looking all successful and stuff. Blair Reynolds, looking all successful and stuff.[/caption] Anthropologist Jeff Berry, the combined godfather and wet nurse of modern Tiki, has progressed from vagabond attic scrounger and trade show star to proprietor of the world-famous Latitude 29 in the Bienville House in New Orleans, which was world-famous even before it opened simply because the Beachbum was going to own it. Operating Tiki-themed bars are no longer the lone passenger pigeons they were in the Nineties and the Naughties. Indeed, most every major city now sports at least one Tiki den, and it is a measure of the culture's broad appeal that even those who are less than stellar seem able to make a go of it. [caption id="attachment_10736" align="aligncenter" width="550"]Gotta look at least a little more scruffy, or at least hungover, if you want to keep up the “Beachbum” moniker there, Jeff… Gotta look at least a little more scruffy, or at least hungover, if you want to keep up the “Beachbum” moniker there, Jeff…[/caption] The home Tiki bar has gone from pretty much exclusively kits you buy in a plastic bag from Party City or Amazon, to five or even six-figure edifices with fully plumbed fire pits, real jungles, or even water features with real bridges constructed by charmingly psychotic former rap stars.... [caption id="attachment_10725" align="aligncenter" width="550"]A massive swimming pool lagoon that has a lazy river as well as an island and tiki hut. A massive swimming pool lagoon that has a lazy river as well as an island and tiki hut.[/caption] And the drinks... eight years ago, you took your self-respect as a cocktailian into your own hands if you were to order a Mai Tai most places on Earth. Order a Three Dots and a Dash or a Suffering Bastard anywhere and what the bartender would serve you would be an uncomprehending stare. Today, every self-respecting high-end bartender has a set of Tiki favorites embedded in his or her mental index of showoff recipes. And most every craft bar has a Tiki classic and/or an original or two of their own on the menu. It is no longer surprising to see Tiki mugs or a piece of Tiki artwork tucked away as part of the drinkware or decor of even them most classical of modern dens of mixology. So, as you can see, the Tiki world has changed immeasurably since I inaugurated Tiki Month all those years ago...
And Doug takes credit for all of it!
No I don't! I...
Yes. Yes he does. Really, he is simply too modest to say it himself.
Listen. You are embarrassing me...
Lucky for him, he has me here to make sure you know the pride that swells his breast at his single-handed shepherding of Tiki culture back into the public limelight!
The Management of this blog takes no responsibility for the outrageous things that Guy blathers on about, folks!
That's right folks! It's called plausible deniability, and it's a wonderful thing.
...! Indeed, Tiki's resurrection is complete. We can now be sure it is not a zombie (har!) but a phoenix. The only question is how long the drums will roll and the lava flow this time round. Given that, while Tiki Month has always been primarily an historical exploration, I intend to focus this year on the state of the modern art of Tiki. I hope you will stick around and journey with me, and if you have a particular favorite modern Tiki drink, let me know; I want to try it. You can subscribe to the feed here. My posts are linked in my Facebook feed, and if you don't mind all manner of silliness mixed with political polemics, you can also keep up via my Twitter feed as well. Have some Spam, it's delicious! [caption id="attachment_10726" align="aligncenter" width="550"]Yum Yum[/caption]abc
Recipes, Rule 5, Whiskey

High Maintenance Loves: Whiskey Sour

[caption id="attachment_10915" align="aligncenter" width="447"]"This old thing? Just something I threw on..." "This old thing? Just something I threw on..."[/caption] There is a pretty wide range of hassle in making drinks. For every Jack and Coke, there is a seven ingredient monster that calls for a tincture of mistletoe harvested with a golden sickle and caught in a oaken bowl before it could hit the ground. At midnight. During a Full Moon. I don't care how transcendent the latter is, I'm not making it at home. Not to be all heteronormist here, but you marry the one and you date the other. Briefly. But, while at home I strongly favor drinks that make my life easy to make (there is a reason it is only Tiki Month once a year), there are a few high-maintenance gals that make the effort worthwhile. Exhibit A, in what I optimistically plan to become a series, is the Whiskey Sour. To much of the populace the Whiskey Sour is the sort of faceless drink that leathered old men in dive bars might nurse while watching the results roll in on closed-circuit from Aquaduct. And the Whiskey Sour in that mental picture is indeed no Kim Kardashian. You just slip some Jim Beam into a glass with some ice and a splash of sour mix and call it a day. And while this is a perfectly serviceable drink, it is not going to be a common tipple for the portion of the human race who have the knowledge to appreciate a really good cocktail. I am talking about this Whiskey Sour. Whiskey Sour This here is a high-maintenance cocktail, folks. Check out the recipe I use to see why.
WHISKEY SOUR
  • 2 oz. low-premium bourbon (Four Roses Small Batch)
  • 1 oz. fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 oz. not-quite-rich simple syrup (1.5:1)
  • 1 fresh egg white
Combine ingredients in an empty shaker. Insert the spring from a worn-out Hawthorne shaker, or the wire ball from a protein smoothie shaker. Seal well and shake vigorously for thirty to forty five seconds. Be careful, as the shaker can develop substantial pressure during this step as the foamy head forms out of the egg proteins. When using a Boston Shaker, it will often leak a little. Once you have formed the foam, open the shaker and add ice. Shake again until chilled. Strain into an old-fashioned glass with fresh ice cubes, or better yet a large chunk of ice. Garnish with a large strip of lemon zest.
For the home bartender, making a round of proper Whiskey Sours means a lot of cleanup. Eggs make a mess, and if you are smart you will clean the counters and your bar tools immediately, before you get to enjoy your cocktail. If you don't, you will have a royal pain of a cleanup. You also ought to take into consideration the tiny chance that those raw egg whites could make you sick. Wash your hands. Thoroughly. It takes at least twice as long to make one of these, than it does to whip up, say, a proper Daiquiri. [caption id="attachment_10918" align="aligncenter" width="236"]2130ed3af806629591d4d715e3f1abeb But is this high-maintenance beauty worth it?[/caption] Oh Lordy, yes. As you saw above, it is gorgeous. If "mouthfeel" was not a term already, you'd have to pretty much invent it to talk about the unctuous, rich texture of each sip on your tongue. The flavors last beautifully. You can easily adjust the ratio of ingredients to suit your personal tastes. (Mine runs to the sour side.) For spirits aficionados, the Whiskey Sour has the virtue of both making mediocre bourbon taste great, but still retaining the ability to showcase that much nicer bottle you got from your brother at Christmas.
Disclaimer: The Pegu Blog is not advocating making Whiskey Sours with that bottle of Pappy Van Winkle....
Make the Whiskey Sour a part of your regular rotation. It is worth hauling all those packages.abc
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