There are those days where you have a technique you've been using, where you are reasonably pleased with the results, and then someone else comes along that reduces your pitiful efforts from Gold Medal to 3rd Grade Participation Trophy. This is one of those days, and the Artesian bar in the The Langham hotel in Hong Kong is that someone. Their "Seasonal Promotion" this Spring is a series of three cocktails evoking classic, very recognizable works of art. The one pictured atop this post sounds delicious, with saffron gin, Chartreuse, lemon, and grenadine, among other ingredients. But let's be honest, regardless of how it tastes, Holy Jehoshaphat, look at it! The surface is based on Mondrian's Tableau series, one of those modern pieces you look at and say, "I could do that," before realizing that you didn't think of it. The other two, expressions of Dali and Van Gogh, at least as impressive. You can read more about Artesian and see a slideshow with these images, counterposed with the original works of art at Blouin Art Info. [caption id="attachment_11157" align="aligncenter" width="863"] Van Gogh's Starry Night[/caption] [caption id="attachment_11158" align="aligncenter" width="863"] Salvador Dali's The Persistence of Memory[/caption] Honestly, I want to try approximating this, but I genuinely don't have the first frigging idea how they pull this off. First off, you would need to make the drink very exactingly. Just to make the "canvas" for these garnishes, you need a perfect foam. It has to have just the right density and durability, and (the hardest in my experience) be formed by perfectly uniform and tiny bubbles. But that's the easy part. I could manage that. How on earth does Rajenda Limbu execute those details at that scale? If it is a decal, it's a technology I've never encountered before. I don't think you could do this with a stencil, or series of stencils rather. It has to be done by hand. By hand? The Dali one extends down the outside of the glass. The Mondrian uses a straight edge. And I'm not sure which would be harder to execute, the zillion little brush strokes in various color of the Van Gogh, or the solid blocks of uniform color in the Mondrian. And they sell these for 158 Hong Kong Dollars! (About $21 US) That is an expensive cocktail, sure, but each looks like it has at least 45 minutes of work in it. How do they afford to sell these drinks with so much labor cost? And how do they execute them without the drink getting warm by the time the garnish is done? And I repeat, how do they do the garnish in the first place? No really, I'm asking.abc
[caption id="attachment_10903" align="aligncenter" width="700"] The Lit Flamingo[/caption] This Tiki Month, I stumbled across a cool little way to power-up your garnish game for your Tiki drinks. Beyond engraved limes, orchids, dry ice, or sprays of pineapple leaves, how about garnishing your cocktail with... light? This trick finally clicked in my brain when trying to jazz up my Tiki drink photographs, as it increases contrast when using glass vessels. The next time I had guests over, I shrugged and tried it while serving. It is ridiculous how childlike a smile a glowing drink brings to people. (Disney does this at Walt Disney World with various drinks from time to time, but the product I use is both much cheaper and provides a better Tiki effect.) Simply buy a pack of submersible tea lights. They come in different colors, but the ones linked glow a nice flame orange and flicker. They are water-proof, and wash easily for re-use. (Don't let them go down the disposal!) You twist them to turn on and off. Place a lit one at the bottom of your glass, add ice, then the drink. Voila! [caption id="attachment_10906" align="aligncenter" width="700"] It's Blue-Tea-Full![/caption] Interestingly, they also work well in many ceramic Tiki mugs. The light doesn't shine through, of course, but the glow pouring out the mouth of the vessel is awesome in the dark. (Your Tiki party is in the dark, right?) The form of your mug may make the effect particularly effective. [caption id="attachment_11048" align="aligncenter" width="700"] Volcano's Mouth[/caption]abc
Mixology Monday One Hundred and Six! This month's theme is "Spring Break". One of my favorite Twitter follows, Joel DiPippa, is hosting the rodeo this time around at the Southern Ash blog. The reasoning behind Joel's theme this month is similar to my rationale for having Tiki Month in February: We are done with Winter. Even a mild one like this one. (Shut up Washingtonians! You had it coming.) We are invited to present a liquid interpretation of what Spring Break means to us, to hurry along that blessed celebration of the return of Spring. So what does Spring Break mean to me? The classic, Hollywood-approved image of the holiday is of beach parties with people like this. [caption id="attachment_11022" align="aligncenter" width="750"] Sadly, all the ice in her Navy Grog seems to have melted...[/caption] Or these fine beach party goers... [caption id="attachment_11025" align="aligncenter" width="750"] You didn't think I'd get through a Tiki Month without a Rule 5 post, did you?[/caption] One more image of the classic Spring Break, because rule 5 posts at the Pegu Blog always serve up something for everyone: [caption id="attachment_11026" align="aligncenter" width="750"] I apologize to the ladies for that girl who is in the way...[/caption] Do these images work for me? No. (Well...) By "no" I mean that I grew up on the beach. In the South. Beach vacations in March always seemed a bit silly to me, so I never partook in the whole "Mardi Gras outside Miami" thing. For me, the actual arrival of Spring is more associated with being able to get outside and (try to) hit the tennis ball. [caption id="attachment_11027" align="aligncenter" width="750"] Not pictured: Me[/caption] And my tennis drink, the single most refreshing sports beverage there is, is the venerable Gin Rickey. Gin, ice, soda. Done. It quenches thirst, drives away cramps, and softens the memory of that overhead you just butchered (possibly because this is your second Gin Rickey). But this MxMo comes in the middle of Tiki Month, so I've spent quite a bit of time figuring out how to make a Tiki Gin Rickey. (And figure out a good name that wasn't already cruelly plagiarized from me four years before I myself thought of it.) It is harder than it looks. Crossing a Rickey with a Tiki drink is a bit like crossing a peach with an aardvark. There isn't a lot of common ground. Rickey's are simple, clean, and strident. Tiki drinks are complex, indefinable, and melodious. I ended up keeping most of the clean simplicity of the Rickey, added a few classic Tiki background notes, and for judging purposes gave it the most ridiculously over the top presentation I could come up with.
RICKEY'S DUGOUT DELUXEYes, it's ridiculous. But I couldn't shake the image of playing tennis in an Hawaiian shirt, then casually sipping from a pineapple half on changeovers... [caption id="attachment_11028" align="aligncenter" width="675"] "Man, could I use a Rickey's Gin Dugout right about now!"[/caption] Now, the thing is, I succeeded beyond my expectations. This drink really kind of works, so I had to go back and do a practical version that you might make as something other than a lark.
- 2 oz. Bombay Sapphire Gin
- 1/2 oz. fresh lime juice
- 1/2 oz. homemade falernum
- 4 oz. Perrier
RICKEY'S DUGOUTIt's my first MxMo in ages, folks! I'll try to not be such a stranger. abc
- 2 oz. Bombay Sapphire
- 1/2 oz. fresh lime juice
- 1/2 oz. falernum
- 1/4 oz. pulpy fresh pineapple juice
- 4 oz. Perrrier
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 THIEVESI 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
- 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
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