The Monkey Pilot is a quite new Tiki cocktail, as in last month new, from Fred Yarm of Cocktail Virgin Fame. Fred has begun to present a problem for me the last year or so of Tiki Month. The chance of re-blogging someone else's drink can be expressed in the following formula: Chance = Frequency of Posting X Percentage of Posts about Tiki Drinks. If you plug in the values for the Cocktail Virgin Blog, you get: Chance = Yarm's Work Ethic X Fred's Increasing Interest in Tiki. Chance is a big number, folks.
Any way, I'm leaning into the issue by choosing the Monkey Pilot today. Not only did Fred blog it, he created it. If you want to learn about his development process and the drink's ancestry, click the link. I was wasting time on Twitter today, and saw Fred mention his recent post on the Monkey Pilot.
What happens when you mashup the 1920s Monkey Gland with the 1930/40s Jet/Test Pilot? Yes -- the Monkey Pilot! https://t.co/X5SfWAZA2O
Now, I already had Fred's Monkey Pilot recipe sitting downstairs in my Basement Bar, waiting for me to make cinnamon syrup. The exchange got me off of my computer and into the kitchen. This evening, first on agenda was this drink.
It's lovely. A truly traditional Tiki drink, in all the best ways.
1 oz dark Jamaican rum (I used Blackwell's)
1 oz London Dry gin
1 oz orange juice
1/4 oz grenadine (I used POM Wonderful straight)
3/4 oz lime juice
1/2 oz Velvet falernum
1/2 oz cinnamon syrup
7 drops absinthe
1 dash Angostura bitters
Combine in a shaker with ice and put your monkey shoulder into it. Open pour into a whimsical mug and top with crushed ice. I for one am always one to follow garnish instructions like Fred's, "garnish with Tiki intent." I went with a lime wheel, homme-made brandied cherry, and a custom engraved orange zest.
As I said, this is a classic Tiki-profile cocktail. The aroma is exotically redolent. As you first draw on the straw, it feels but doesn't quite taste sweet. There is quite a bit of acidity, even into the finish. But the finish is mostly aromatics from absinthe, gin, and cinnamon, all of which linger beautifully. It is refreshing, but in no way thirst-quenching, leaving the drinker wanting something else to sip immediately after. If you were serving it in a commercial establishment, I think that would make Donn Beach smile.
If it wasn't Tiki Month round these parts, I would not have made this cocktail... ever. Just take a single look at the Jet Pilot's recipe and the Tiki-ness will practically poke your eyes out. It's got wads of liquors in it, multiple juices, and stuff that I either don't like (Pernod), or don't know what the hell it is (Falernum).
Oh, and it's a blender drink. I do not do blender drinks. Well, Doug the Pegu Blogger doesn't do blender drinks. For Tiki month, my trusty but dusty blender is getting twenty-eight days of continuous counter time.
So, why is this rather baroque drink my first deployment of said blender? Well, I've read about it several times in the past from BOTI members Dr. Bamboo and Kaiser Penguin, as well as one of my very favorite bloggers, Robert Heugel, who I'm glad to see back blogging a bit more. He writes great stuff, but apparently he has some side project that has been pushing aside important stuff like blogging....
The Kaiser seemed to like the Jet Pilot so much that he forgot to go ape-sh*t with the garnish, so it has to be good.
Finally, Dr. Bamboo really caught my eye with this illustration:
So you just made this drink in order to rip off more of Doc's awesome pictures, didn't you?
I resent that. It's not true, and besides, it's on the Internet so it's free, right?
Actually, I did have the Jet Pilot on my list, but I only remembered to try it after thinking about a certain very level-headed jet pilot who has been in the news lately. (The following tape may or may not be completely accurate....)
I sailed down to the Pegu Tiki Lounge with the recipe clutched in my hot little hand and immediately realized that I was going to have to exercise some calm improvisation myself if I wanted to drink this right away. I had not made up any cinnamon syrup yet, and I was missing, well, all three rums in this concoction. Here's my recipe, along with what it supposedly should have in parenthesis.
THE JET PILOT
1 oz. Appleton VX (dark jamaican)
.75 oz. Mount Gay Eclipse Silver (gold puerto rican)
.75 oz Bacardi 151 (151-proof Lemon Hart Demerera)
.5 oz. fresh squeezed lime juice
.5 oz. fresh squeezed grapefruit juice
.5 oz. Simple Syrup
1 hearty pinch powdered cinnamon (.5 oz.Cinnamon-infused sugar syrup for these two)
1/8 teaspoon LaFée Absinthe (Pernod. I actually had Pernod, but I like mixing with Absinthe better. It makes me feel... dangerous.)
4 ounces crushed ice
Combine in the blender and let her rip for about five seconds. Serve up in a double old-fashioned glass. Garnish with a tiny model of a USAir jetliner.
(Recipe was originally from Beachbum Berry's Sippin' Safari)
There is a lot to talk about with this drink.
It is really delicious.
It is a prime example of Tiki-ness in that it shows how amazingly well some very different flavors will blend together. The result is a drink where all sorts of flavors seem to actually line up in orderly fashion for a chance to entertain you. Each sip goes through about three or four distinct taste profiles, and they are all in harmony.
The Jet Pilot was Robert's MxMo: Limit One entry; if you plan on mixing two, alert the authorities.
If you don't have the cinnamon syrup already made, and divert to the powdered cinnamon, you have to drink this fairly quickly, or the cinnamon will precipitate out.
There is not enough ice, and you don't blend it long enough, to get what I expected in a blender drink. Instead you get a frothy, slushy layer on top that you sip the cocktail through. From pictures and descriptions, I think this is what I will get with a lot of classic Tiki presentations. Whether you like this or not is a matter of taste. I found it very pleasant, the PeguWife was less enchanted. This summer, I think I'll try upping the ice content considerably and go for the Fat Tuesdays plastic cup filled from a slurpee machine texture. If you hear about a case of spontaneous human combustion and odd, carved wooden idols seen fleeing the scene, you'll know what happened.
Tiki Month is a lot of fun, folks. Stick with me. And join me in lifting a Jet Pilot up to Cap'n Sully.abc