One of the greats returns to cocktail blogging. Kaiser Penguin was the very best, back in the early, heady days of the cocktailosphere. His camera skills were exceeded only by his creativity with garnishes. His first post in years shows that he's lost none of either.abc
If you read any number of cocktail blogs regularly, you will note that I am one of the few such bloggers who is not currently pickling him or herself in New Orleans right now. Fear not, intrepid reader, I'll just have to put up enough content to take up the slack until they sober up (Check back in October). I've been in a new drink funk for a while, so I'm touring Talesbloggers' houses while they are out, and stealing their drinks. In the interests of sending you to their blogs, I'll leave out one critical item from recipes I repost here.... This post details the Jasper's Rum Punch, which I am stealing from Rick of Kaiser Penguin's liquor cabinet while he is in NOLA. Interestingly, Rick stole the Jasper's from Ted Haigh's new edition of Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails: From the Alamagoozlum to the Zombie 100 Rediscovered Recipes and the Stories Behind Them. Whomever Jasper was, he made a mean Rum Punch. Most of my experience with rum punch comes from the mean streets of the Jolly Rodger Pirate Cruises in the Caribbean. Such potables were certainly potent, but lacked subtlety, finesse, and, um, good taste. Jasper's is a delicious cocktail that you can make one at a time. You'll enjoy yourself in far greater taste and sophistication, right up until you are flat on your back. The Rum Punch Express has only one destination, folks, no matter who's driving! Anyway, here it is:
JASPER'S RUM PUNCHObviously, what I left out is the recipe for Jasper's Secret Mix. You can buy Ted's book for it, or visit Rick's for a version tailored for an individual drink. Incidentally, the first time I whipped one of these up, my nutmeg was all gone. I used a dash of cinnamon instead. It works nicely, but isn't as good as it is with the nutmeg!abc
- 1.5 oz. Wray and Nephew Overproof Rum
- 1.5 oz. Jasper's Secret Mix
- 1 Brandied Cherry
- freshly grated nutmeg
As part of rounding up Tiki Month, I'd like to discuss some ingredients I've discovered that are integral to Tiki. The first is Falernum. I had honestly never heard of this stuff until the last year, and had absolutely no idea what the heck it was. I will say the name evoked some unpleasant imagery in my mind. I somehow transmuted it to a mish-mash of Faust and Infernal, or some such mental breakdown. The result was that I instinctively rejected any recipe with falernum in it for quite a while. There seems to be no definitive position on the etymology of this word, but Darcy has a good story, while NationMaster has a drier idea. But as I started ramping up for Tiki month, it became clear that if I wanted to do a complete job on the subject, I was going to have to deal with falernum. In fact, Wikipedia has the following thing to say about it:
Famous drinks including Falernum include:While this is yet another good example of why you should never trust Wikipedia, it does hold some grain of truth. Falernum is a very important ingredient in Tiki. It's common, but by no means omnipresent. I looked around and found a small bottle of falernum made by Fee's. I bought it, but was confused. What little I had read about the stuff before shying away from the weird name led me to believe it was a liqueur, not a syrup. What is this stuff anyway? The long and short of it is, falernum is a... a... an ingredient. It combines a number of flavors, including clove, lime, ginger, and almond into a pungent, exotic, viscous fluid. It was originally a liqueur, and many falernums are still manufactured that way. But in most modern applications, it is an accent ingredient, so the alcoholic content is less important. It does not take much falernum in a drink to make its presence known. In most recipes with it, (that I have tried at any rate) falernum fills the same kind of function as bitters, when bitters wouldn't be appropriate. It adds a sharp, bracing undertone to other flavors, adding interest and complexity to a drink. In several Tiki recipes, including a lot of Zombies, the falernum is what turns the drink from a nasty sweet punch, into a cocktail. I speculate that falernum's increasing rarity may have been a contributing factor to Tiki drinks' latter day reputation as goopy, lifeless messes. Assuming you want your tiki drinks to not be sweet, bland messes, you'll occasionally need falernum. It is not easy, but you can buy it. As I said already, Fee's has a non-alcoholic version, which works quite nicely, at least to my uneducated tastes. The drinks I tried sure benefitted from its presence. Or you can get liqueur versions such as this one, at places like BevMo. It is not available in Ohio in alcoholic form, FYI. But, as a Certified Cocktailian of the New School™, I of course wanted to know if I could make it myself. The answer, equally of course, is yes. And it is simple to do—not easy, but simple. In fact, though there seems to be no mention of falernum as a cocktail ingredient in bar books before the 1930s (birth of Tiki, anyone?), it seems to have existed long before that as one of those things, like ketchup, where everyone made their own, from their own recipe. I kicked around the web a bit, looking for advice, before going back to where I knew I'd end up all along: Paul Clarke's Falernum #8. This recipe seems to have become the de facto standard within the Cocktailosphere, so I went with it. I made one alteration, upon the advice of BOTI member, Rick at Kaiser Penguin, whose falernum post I am ninja-ing here. Here's the link, where you can see a photo of his entirely unrealistically attractive falernum in progress, as well as a drink garnish that is a bit over the top, even for him. Oh, and he has a contest, too.
- almost any Tiki drink
PAUL CLARKE'SRick and others have found that Paul's original #8 does not keep well. The juice rots, regardless of the preservative powers of 151 and 2-1 simple syrup combined. Add it back in, if needed, at mixing time. I said this was simple, not easy. Zesting the limes so as to keep the pith to a minimum is a huge pain, in more ways than one. I recommend the microplane, with plenty of Neosporin standing by for when you are done. The resulting alcoholic syrup is a muddy color, much greener than the Fee's. It is very fragrant too, in a pleasant-but-not-delicious-on-its-own kind of way. I tried it in a Jet Pilot, my favorite falernum-based tiki drink, and I felt it made for a subtle but noticeable improvement. Generally, the home-made was cleaner. The flavors were the same, perhaps a little floral, but there just were fewer uninvited hangers-on. I'll leave you with an early Trader Vic cocktail that really puts this stuff front and center (tip o' the hat to Slashfood):
LOVE POTION FALERNUM #8
- 6 oz. 151 proof Rum (Use white overproof if you have it. I went with Bacardi)
- zest of 9 medium limes, removed with a microplane grater or sharp vegetable peeler, with no traces of white pith
- 40 whole cloves (buy fresh ones — not the cloves that have been in your spice rack since last Christmas)
- 1.5 oz. (by weight) peeled, julienned fresh ginger
- 1/2 tsp. almond extract (Paul calls for a quarter)
- 14 ounces cold process 2:1 simple syrup
- 4.5 oz. fresh, strained lime juice (This is the ingredient I omitted. See below)
THE ROYAL BERMUDA YACHT CLUB COCKTAILIf you want an example of how robust falernum is, and how easily it takes over a cocktail, try this one. It isn't really to my taste, as it is far too pungent for me. If you like strongly flavored drinks, and are making falernum, it is definitely worth a try.abc
- 2 oz. dark or gold rum
- .75 oz. fresh lime juice
- .25 oz. Cointreau
- .25 oz. your freshly made falernum
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:
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.
Ah ha! 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
THE JET PILOTThere is a lot to talk about with this drink.
- 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)
- .5 oz. Fee Brothers Falernum (Homemade Falernum is so on the list)
- 1 dash Angostura Bitters
- 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
- 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.
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