Category: Tiki Month 2016
Recipes, Stuff, Syrups, Tiki Month 2016

Falernum Sous Vide

[caption id="attachment_11008" align="aligncenter" width="600"]Tiki in a pan! Tiki in a pan![/caption] Along with rum itself, there are two ingredients which practically define Tiki: Orgeat and Falernum. Now, vanishingly few Tiki drinks employ all three of this trinity, and indeed, there are Tiki drinks that employ none of them. But in the vast majority of recipes, there is no faster way to identify a Tiki drink than to spot rum and either falernum or orgeat. Truth to tell, of the two, I use orgeat a lot more. It is the Bartender's Ketchup of the Tiki world. Flavors too distinct? Put in some Orgeat. Mouthfeel too thin? Add some orgeat. Delicious but lacking that certain soo se mea lava? Orgeat is your special sauce. It is a bit of a passive ingredient, actually; identifiable more for its effects than for any distinct flavor of its own. Falernum is a much more assertive ingredient. It has strong, unique flavors. As a Tiki tool, it is a bit like a large band saw; employ it with exacting precision and it is fantastically useful. But if you get the slightest bit careless with it, the appeal will become... more selective. What I'm saying is, it is hard to master. Ditto for making it. In fact, falernum may be harder to make than it is to use. No one can agree what's in it. The ingredients that people do agree on require a lot of manual labor. The process is traditionally messy, gross looking, and immediately apparent to anyone in the building with a nose. And it requires a lot of time. As in, you will use your Calendar app, not your Stopwatch app. [caption id="attachment_11010" align="aligncenter" width="650"]This is the world's only known attractive photograph of the falernum process. —Kaiser Penguin This is the world's only known attractive photograph of the falernum process.
Kaiser Penguin[/caption] Fortunately, the increasing availability and affordability of sous vide technology can make this process much, much easier. Almost easy enough to do regularly.... Let's dive into the process, shall we? As I said, there is no definitive recipe for falernum. It's like cole slaw–everyone has their own. All cole slaw has cabbage and mayo. All falernum has clove and lime zest. Beyond that.... Back in the early, heady days of the 21st Century cocktail revival, there was quite a spate of blog activity in search of the definitive falernum. Two of the best results were from Kaiser Penguin (of the photo above), and Paul Clark's Velocity 9 Falernum #9. These days, much of the publishing world at least seems to settle on #9 as the default choice, probably because Paul has "connections"... and also "talent", and "a good recipe".
... aaaand after all that, you aren't going to use Paul's recipe, are you?
No, because I like a few elements of KP's, too. Incidentally, while the point of this post is to end up discussing how sous vide can make making falernum a lot more convenient, do not go and use the recipe blogged by Sous Vide Supreme, the people who make the water bath I own. It is too sweet and insipid in flavor. I realize I just spent too many bytes talking about how intimidating falernum is as an ingredient, but trying to overcome this by using a weak formulation is a bit like punching a bully lightly, or holding the stock of your 12 gauge away from your shoulder because you are afraid of the kick. It will not end well. Take a gallon Ziplock double seal bag. Put in one and a half cups of granulated sugar and three quarters of a cup of hot tap water. Seal and shake. You don't need to fully dissolve the sugar, but make sure there are no dry pockets. Set aside. Put 2 Tbsp of slivered almonds, 1 Tbsp of whole allspice berries, and 40-50 cloves in a small saucepan. Toast lightly over medium-low heat for about four to five minutes, or until your whole house smells like that gardener who smoked clove cigarettes and worked down the street when you were a kid. Allow to cool. Collect the zest of nine good, fresh limes. This is the hardest part of the process, and no sous vide will help with it. You want as much of the green from the peel as possible and none of the white pith. A peeler will probably go too deep, and you will need to finely chop the peel anyway. I use a small microplane and hold the lime with a kevlar glove (because grated Doug makes for funky falernum). It takes a long time and your fingers get sore, even if they don't get scraped. I have heard about a purpose built kitchen gadget called a Zip Zester that may no longer be made. Anyone have experience with this device? Put your toasted ingredients, the bowl of lime zest, and 5 coins of candied ginger into your bag of sugar water. Add three quarters of a cup of decent white rum (I like Cruzan aged light rum for this purpose), 3 tbsp of fresh lime juice, and a quarter to a half teaspoon of almond extract. Seal the bag and shake well to combine and to test. If your kitchen suddenly becomes sticky, you have not sealed the beg correctly. Set your sous vide oven or stick heater to 135° F. Open the seal on your bag slightly and lower it into the water right up to the top. This will force virtually all the air out of the bag. Seal it well again. Lift it out of the water and ensure all the solids are in contact with the liquid in the bottom of the bag and not trapped up above. Submerge the bag in the water and go on with your life for the next two to three hours. [caption id="attachment_11013" align="aligncenter" width="600"]Nope. Still not attractive. Nope. Still not attractive.[/caption] When you are ready, remove the bag and pour through a mesh strainer into a bowl or jar. Discard the spent, smelly, gooey crud in the strainer. Put some cheesecloth in the strainer and strain your falernum through again. Voila! Go make a Zombie. Even with the reduced mess and time of making your falernum sous vide, you still deserve a drink.abc
Cachaça, Garnish, Recipes, Rule 2, Tiki Month 2016, Whiskey

Modern Tiki Drink: Honor Amongst Thieves

Honor Amongst Thieves Honor Amongst Thieves is a modern Tiki concoction by Alex Renshaw, and can be found in the 2015 edition of Food & Wine: Cocktails. (The quality of recipes collected in recent editions of this anthology, incidentally, are far superior to what they put out in early days.) I was twigged to this particular entry by Boston's Fred Yarm.
Did you know that Apple's spellcheck does not recognize the word "amongst"? I blame Tim Cook!
To be more on point, Honor Amongst Thieves is yet another of the modern Tiki drinks I'm focusing on this year that do not feature rum as the base spirit. This one goes with bourbon and cachaça as the spirits.
HONOR AMONGST THIEVES
  • 1 oz. aged cachaça
  • 1 oz. triple digit proof bourbon
  • 1 oz. fresh pineapple juice
  • 1/2 oz. falernum
  • 1/2 oz. fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 oz. simple syrup
Combine ingredients in a shaker with lots of ice and shake well to get a good head from the pineapple juice. Strain over a large chunk of ice in an appropriate glass. Garnish prettily, but with restraint.
I have several notes on this recipe. Fred gave this the full Tiki treatment, with ceramic mug, and a huge mint and edible flower garnish, but I prefer Alex's original, modernist presentation. While the flavor profile of this drink is squarely in the Tiki zone (boozy/spicy/citrusy), the texture and the finish are less so. It lacks the unctuous mouthfeel of my usual Tiki vision, and the finish is much cleaner than is the Tiki norm. This isn't a criticism, but if you dress Honor Amongst Thieves up like a Zombie, these characteristics are actually highlighted as incongruous. The original recipe calls for 3 dashes of Peychaud's on top as a garnish, but I omit it. I don't think it is needed, and I just can never picture Peychaud's as a Tiki ingredient. A personal failing on my own, I'm sure.... Finally, Fred doubles the simple syrup. If you want to go full Tiki with crushed ice, you will need that extra sugar. Another reason to serve this in the original presentation is that it adds some nice variety when serving a bunch of different Tiki drinks. When every other drink you are serving is in in a hollowed-out pagan idol with a citrus plantation hanging over the rim, the Honor Amongst Thieves actually looks a bit exotic in comparison.abc
Bartenders, Recipes, Rule 2, Rum, Tiki Month 2016, Whiskey

Modern Tiki Drink: Lazy Bear

Lazy Bear FI The Lazy Bear is a six year old original by Jacob Grier, the only Barista/Street Magician/Blogger/Bartender/Think Tank Fellow either you or I know. He created this drink, not as a Tiki drink, but as an accompaniment for taco truck food at a wedding reception. (San Francisco, right?) I took a look at it for Tiki Month this year due to a tip from DJ Hawaiian Shirt, who blogged about it three years ago and firmly declared it a Tiki drink. Frankly, I had my doubts about this categorization when I looked at the recipe. Rye is really not a traditional Tiki ingredient, after all. But DJ is right. The Lazy Bear is quite spiritous for a Tiki Drink, but the vibe is there, especially with the tiny change The Shirt makes to Jacob's original recipe. To make sure it works as part of a Tiki presentation, you do need to amp the garnish, but the flavors are there, and pair very will with lots of traditional Tiki food flavors.
LAZY BEAR
  • 3/4 oz. dark Jamaican rum, e.g. Smith & Cross
  • 3/4 oz. American rye whiskey
  • 3/4 oz. fresh lime juice
  • 3/4 oz. honey syrup
  • 3 dashes "Spiced Bitters"*
Shake with ice and strain into smaller vessel with crushed ice. Garnish with something complex but elegant. *Spiced bitters area 1:1 mix of Angostura and pimento dram.
It really is quite good. It also can be presented as a non-Tiki drink just as easily, which is nice. It also is a great way to get someone to try rye if they have been shy of that before. All in all, another great example of modern Tiki invention.abc
Recipes, Rum, Tiki Month 2016

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.abc
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