This is the first new Tiki drink I made in the calendar Tiki Month, so I’ll blog it first, even though it is hardly the best I’ve tried so far.
Don’s Special Daiquiri is on first examination a near perfect Tiki variant on the Gospel of Rum, the classic Daiquiri cocktail. It uses multiple rums, the sugar is replaced with honey, and Tiki standard passionfruit is added to the mix. Very Tiki. Also, not very good.
Here’s the recipe as presented by the Bum in Remixed:
DON’S SPECIAL DAIQUIRI
1/2 oz lime juice
1/2 oz honey mix
1/2 oz passionfruit syrup
1/2 oz light rum
1 1/2 oz gold Jamaican rum
Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.
I didn’t read the background, or really look at the ratios here before making it, or I’d have been expecting the near cloying sweetness we encountered at the first and subsequent sips. If you deconstruct the recipe, you end up with a strong, sour, sweet ratio of roughly 4-1-2, with fairly gentle strong, and pretty robust sweet elements. My default for Sour-type drinks is 3-1-1, which may or may not be a bit much for some of you, but I wager that this recipe’s balance will feel off for most everyone.
The recipe is of 1970′s vintage, which could explain the severe sweetness two ways:
People in the 70′s had awful taste in cocktails. I doubt I will get much of a fight on this one.
These proportions were actually meant to be served as a smooth-blended Icee style drink. The addition of a ton of blended ice would cut the sweetness a lot.
Could the Bum have missed something in his research? More likely, the ratios were constructed because #2 was intended, but the staff was mistakenly told it was to be served Up, and no one noticed because… #1.
But underneath all that gooeyness, the flavors are trying to dance a good figure. I tried again, closer to my usual preferred balance, by changing both the honey mix and passionfruit to generous quarter ounces instead of halves. It is better. Much better.
But it still has no business wearing Don the Beachcomber’s name. Anyone else worked over this one, and come up with the right proportions? I’m sure they are in there to be discovered, I just have to move on. Lots to do this Tiki Month!
And hey! This post is part of Tiki Month 2013 here at the Pegu Blog! Be sure to look around for LOTS more Tiki stuff all February!
Excuse the crude Photoshop, but there are literally no photos from the manufacturer of this product that I can use, even on this blog.
It will come as no surprise to any sentient adult that makers of alcoholic beverages have used sex from time to time to sell their product. Rule 5 is more often employed with selling booze (especially beer) than even in in blogging. Sexually charged images of attractive people draw attention. I guess I should be surprised it has taken this long for the industry to strap on water skis and jump that shark, but jump it it has. I’ve thought it had done so before, with Cabana cachaça, then again with Ron de Jeremy, but I was wrong.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you G Spirit rum, whisky, and vodka. That link goes to the website, but be warned it is not remotely safe for work.
What distinguishes G Spirit spirits, beside naked pictures of topless women showing off the, ahem, product? Well, below is a picture from the company. Understand, this photo depicts the production process!
And yeah, I cropped hell out of it. Click for a bigger, but still cropped version. If you visit the G Spirit website, you will not be able to avoid seeing it uncropped.
Yup, the thing about G Spirit is, every drop was poured over the naked body of the master distiller you see above before bottling. Actually, just the rum is poured over Miss Amina Malakona there. There are equally, um, qualified young ladies who sluice off the whisky and the vodka. And yes, each bottle comes with a photograph to authenticate the process!
I have no chance to see what any of these spirits taste like personally, as they are not yet available in the US. I can tell you that, for instance, G Whisky No. 1 boasts that its “versatile flavours range from roasted almonds, dried fruit, and toffee, to honey, vanilla, baked apples and cinnamon”, as well as the breasts of 2012 Hungarian Playmate of the Year, Alexa Varga. Part of her prize for winning that honor was to be immediately flown to Germany to have 5000 bottles of scotch poured over her boobies.
I confess that even if I had access to a bottle of this stuff, I could probably pick out and confirm the vanilla, apples, and cinnamon flavors, but I could not vouch for Miss Varga’s breasts. Well, I’ve been to their website, so I can sure vouch for them, but I mean I could not vouch for the taste of…
Oh God, never mind.
The rum is an 11 year blend, the whisky a 12 year single malt, and the vodka is a sextuple(har!)-distilled barley distillate. I managed with great effort to discover that there are words on the website as well as all the pictures, and those words are all the right ones to use to describe these types of spirits. Caveat emptor.
I would usually embed G Spirit’s product video here at the end, but it is every bit as Not. Safe. For. Work. as the rest of their website. Here is the link should you wish to research the unique details of their actual production process. The apparatus includes a big hose and a glass basin, and it can be seen after the 4:10 mark, if you want to skip all the tedious footage of the photoshoots with the models…. I suspect there were fist-fights at the Heath Department over which inspector got assigned to supervise the production.
I gotta ask, have any of my European readers tried this yet?
When I was revving up for Tiki Month this year, I put out a call on the Tiwtter Machine for some favorite Tiki recipe’s that I had not blogged already. (For a limited time only, you can still follow me on Twitter for free at @dawinship!) One of the more promising results among the suggestions was the Lei Lani Volcano, a genuine Walt Disney World Polynesian Village Resort recipe from the 1970s.
Okay, the recipe looked promising, and I didn’t read it’s background until after I made the first round of these. I’ve blogged about drinking at Walt Disney World a couple of times before. The long and short of my experience is that while (almost) all bartenders at Disney World are pleasant and efficient, and a few bars, notably the one at the California Grill atop the Contemporary Resort, are outstandingly equipped and staffed, the world’s most successful creativity company is not known for it’s brilliance in creating original works of cocktailian art.
Further, as I’ve already documented this Tiki Month, the 1970s were not the height of Tiki mixology either….
But all that aside, the Lei Lani Volcano did come recommended by more than one person, and it does feature an ingredient I had not previously used in cocktails of any kind, Guava Nectar. More on that ingredient after the recipe.
Shake well with ice cubes and pour unstrained into a ceramic coconut Tiki mug. Garnish like it is Carmen Miranda.
Guava nectar isn’t exactly the most common beverage out there, and I was warned that most available bottled stuff was so goopy or over-sweetened with HFCS that it would ruin, well, anything you put it in. Fortunately, my Twitter buddy and fellow Tiki Month blogger, Joe Garcia gave me a great way to produce premium Guava Nectar cheaply and swiftly.
“Cheaply” and “swiftly” are adjectives not often associated with scratch ingredients described on the internet by foodies or cocktail geeks….
That’s very true, but why are you inserting yourself into this fairly straight-forward recipe post?
No reason, I just wanted to make that point.
Oh, that and I wanted to say that you can follow me on Twitter, too!
He’s shameless, folks. I apologize.
Anyway, Goya, the Hispanic foods giant, makes a line of frozen pure fruit pulp pureé called Fruta. Among the fruits offered in the line is Guava. It comes in 14 oz. bags and is awesome. Your regular grocery store likely does not carry Fruta, but your nearby large Mexican grocery store does. To make Guava nectar, simply place one 14 oz bag of frozen guava pulp in a saucepot with an equal volume of water (about 12 oz.). Stir as you bring it just to a low boil, then immediately remove form the heat. Let cool, and bottle. It’s delicious all by itself.
The resulting Lei Lani Volcano is… damn good! The guava lends it an immediate tropical essence that is unusual, even if you’ve been spending a month or longer immersing yourself in faux Polynesian potables. Neither is it overly sweet (the usual first complaint about Disney Drinks™). It is an excellent use of coconut rum, which provides a nice, noticeable underlayer to all the fruit, without standing out so much that you are forced to deal with its rather mediocre quality.
This is a fruity drink, and offers little for the spirits connoisseur to appreciate. But it is nicely balanced, the flavors clear and identifiable, and delicious. It’s probably good for you, too. I think that you’ll like this one if you try it.
The Sneaky Tiki is a fairly good example of a later Tiki-era cocktail. It is quite tasty, but isn’t terribly balanced, leaning a bit to the sweet side.
And the flavor profile is muddled!
Gabe pretty much dismisses all Tiki drinks this way, folks. But in this case, he’s right. You can’t really pick out individual nuances in the Sneaky Tiki. You wouldn’t order one of these to appreciate the drinking experience, you would order a Sneaky Tiki to enjoy while you are doing something else.
Which is why this was a perfect cocktail for its role, which was as house cocktail for a Lake Tahoe casino, Harvey’s, featured theme bar. It was served in some variation of the souvenir mug below, which you could take home with you for free. That way you got something to take home to show your wife after a weekend at the tables.
You’ll note that my mug at the top of this post seems a bit more appropriate for this drink and its name. Just look at that leeettle Tiki girl! She would never have any alcohol in her! She’d never sneak up behind you, make you double down on nine with an Ace showing, and then rub dead mice all over the inside of your mouth the next morning….
1 part fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 part unsweetened pineapple juice
1/3 part orange curaçao
1/4 part hot-process grenadine
1 part Puerto Rican light rum
1 part dark Jamaican rum
Mix in blender with 8 ounces ice until almost smooth. Serve in an innocuous Tiki mug.
I found this recipe in Beachbum Berry’s Taboo Table, and Bum’s background on the Sneaky Tiki features the kind of writing that is the reason you should buy, and read, all his books. From his description of Tiki jackal, Dick Graves, who kept the Sneaky Tiki alive after Harvey’s closed its Tiki bar:
Graves proudly admitted stealing the recipe from Harvey’s; he also copped to ripping off his dinner menu from Trader Vic, who hated Graves with a passion he normally reserved for communists and check-dodgers.
Once upon a time, there was a sailor. For twenty years he voyaged around the Caribbean as the winds took him. Living on an anchor, he saw an awful lot of the world, and from a very different perspective than you and I. And as a man is wont to do, when afloat on the seas of experience, he took time for introspection. And since such men are likely to deepen their thoughts with whatever spirit others around him enjoy, this man found himself awash in the mysteries of the spirit of the Caribbean, rum. The man found that rum wasn’t just a useful aid in processing his experiences into wisdom, but that wisdom of rum was a wondrous thing in and of itself. And his wisdom grew….
The sailor’s name is Ed Hamilton, and when his life’s journey at last carried him to the shore, his knowledge and love of rum took him there. Now Ed is a spirits consultant and an importer of various rums and complementary products. He also is the proprietor of one of the premier repositories of rum wisdom, The Ministry of Rum.
In the last two years, Ed has taken on a great task, one that makes him important to many cocktail lovers in America, whether they know him or not. And it is why I want to tell his story here during Tiki Month.
You see, there is a magical elixir, utterly unique in the rum world. It is an essential ingredient in the drink that made the Tiki revolution happen back in the past. This ingredient is Lemon Hart 151 rum. For most people, 151 proof rums are rocket fuel, in taste as well as potency. If they think of such rums at all, they view them as Everclear with a Caribbean accent. But Lemon Hart is a rich, flavorful rum in the demerara vein, very pleasant to nose, and not quite impossible to sip… while still being quite capable of getting your jet off the ground.
This combination of complex flavors and (somewhat) hidden potency makes Lemon Hart 151 an iconic Tiki drink ingredient, reflecting the characteristics of such standard concoctions as the Zombie, which are also delicious and deceptively powerful.
But as a brand navigating the cold open oceans of the international liquor business, Lemon Hart was, and is, but a small ketch. Since the heyday of both it and Tiki, it has been kicked around from one owner to another until it landed in the portfolio of Pernod, which eventually dropped the brand to concentrate on such products as the Malibu Coconut Rums. (Ed stands behind no man in his admiration of Malibu. Really. Just ask him….) At last, Pernod found a buyer in Montreal-based distillers, Mosaiq, makers purveyors of Flor de Cana, among many other types and brands of liquor. Mosaiq searched for the right man to bring Lemon Hart back to the US market, and through the Ministry of Rum, they found our sailor.
Since then, Ed has been laboring to work this funky product back into our market. Since his efforts are responsible for my now having a good supply of Lemon Hart 151, and I’ll be featuring it several times this Tiki Month, I called Ed to ask him about Lemon Hart, and other things.
In the photo above, you see two bottles, both Lemon Hart 151. The one on the left is the classic label that Lemon Hart aficionados were used too. It is readily distinguished form the old Lemon Hart 80 only in the little red corner on the upper left that says “151″. The design, while iconic to those who know the product, is frankly dated and has a tired, 70′s look to it. It is also the label that buyers saw when we excitedly bought our first bottles when Ed brought back Lemon Hart to the States.
Now, the bottle looks like the one on the right. It combines such modern tech as embossing and gilt lettering, with an ancient, pre-colonial design that probably does a better job conveying the sort of spirit that is in the bottle. But it is radically different looking. I wanted to know what was up, as did a whole bunch of fans.
It turns out, so did Ed. The first bottles sold in the US upon the spirit’s return were leftovers from Pernod’s old inventory, which Ed bought lock, stock, and barrel. With that gone, he started obtaining the newly produced stuff. Mosaiq, he told me, had elected to change the production stream for Lemon Hart. It is and was distilled in Guyana. But whereas it used to be blended, colored, and bottled in Ontario, it is now blended and colored in Guyana, before being bottled in Newfoundland, in the same place that makes bottles Crystal Head Vodka. Any time a liquor changes its production chain, some alteration in the product is almost inevitable. In some cases, the change can be so great as to make it an entirely new product. Ed told me that Zaya is a recent example, and that it has happened more than once with products in the Matusalem line. So he was itchy about what would happen with this product in which he has invested so much of his time, credit, and prestige.
He was especially antsy when they told him it was going to be “better”.
“Listen, you or I don’t get to say whether it is ‘better’ or not,” he told them. “The bartenders out there across the country, and their customers who know this spirit, will want to try the new version, and see if it works for the special uses they have for it. They will tell us if it is acceptable, let alone better.”
Ed took a new bottle of the LH151 to San Francisco. He sat down with Martin Cate, rum god of Smuggler’s Cove (one of the single most entertaining bars of any kind I have ever entered), and one of those people who will likely be most responsible for deciding the whole “better” thing. They tasted the new against a bottle of the old. They videotaped their discussion, and you can watch them evaluate the new versus the old yourself.
That video is not a marketing exercise designed to puff up expectations about the product, but two old pros really trying to evaluate whether a new version of a tool is still going to be good for the job it in which it is to be used. The bottom line, if you don’t want to watch the whole thing, is that both men feel that Mosaiq has managed to keep the character, aroma, and flavor of Lemon Hart 151 essentially intact. Whatever minor variances from the example bottle of the old stuff they compare it to are the sort you would expect anyway between runs of a small batch product like this.
In the language of sailors everywhere, they didn’t f**k it up.
Now, I had never had Lemon Hart’s 151 until Ed brought it back, but I was quite fond of the regular, 80-proof stuff. The 80 also stopped entering the US inventory stream at roughly the same time. Since stocks finally ran out, I have from time to time seen grumpy cocktail geeks fanatically trying to track down reported rumors of remaining bottles of LH80 as if they were shouting, “Hast thou seen the White Whale?”
I asked Ed about the status of getting the 80 proof Lemon Hart back, and he confessed to having no good answer. Mosaiq does in fact make the 80, and sells it as far away as Germany, but has chosen not to offer it here for the time being. Buy lots of the 151, Americans, and perhaps they’ll get off the dime.
So what should folks like me who have favorite recipes that use LH80 do to employ LH151 in its place, I asked Ed. While the 80 is supposedly nothing but the 151, more heavily diluted, he replied, it isn’t as simple as just pouring (just over) half a bottle of 151 into a new bottle and filling it up water. It takes time to add the water slowly, in steps, to allow the liquor to marry up and the flavors to remain balanced. The characteristics of the water would also matter. Bottom line is that if you want to sip good Lemon Hart 80 in the US, see if you can get the Kennedys to make themselves useful again and go back to bringing in hooch from Canada under cover of darkness.
In an individual cocktail, you can get away with using less of the 151 than you would of the 80, and adding a little still water. In fact, Ed points out that this is likely to be considerably more economical than if you just bought the 80. In my own experiments with this LH80 cocktail, a favorite of ours before the dark days of its disappearance from shelves, I’ve found you get the best results from using a ratio of 2 parts LH151 to 1 part water to make up the required volume of LH80 in the original recipe. I’m willing to accept the hardship of a slightly higher alcohol content to reach the flavor I remember….
Lemon Hart 151 is available in close to half of US states now, including the big ones like Texas, New York, and California. Sorry, my fellow Ohioans, if we want it, we can mail order it or drive to Kentucky.
I asked Ed what was his favorite Tiki cocktail that used the 151. He first noted that he actually isn’t a big cocktail guy at all, preferring to sip his rum neat to really appreciate the unique character of each. But he was quick to point out that in the case of Lemon Hart 151, this isn’t really practical, as sipping straight 75% ethanol is a short trip to a long night…. He makes plenty of Zombies, of course, though he has no set recipe.
Instead he offers us this suggestion for a cocktail we may not have tried: A Lemon Hart 151 Old-Fashioned. He carefully pointed out that you do need to actually use some water in this version. His unspoken contention being an agreement with me, and David Wondrich, that real men, and real broads, don’t put no stinking soda water in Old-Fashioneds other than this one. To sweeten, he suggests using Petite Canne Sugar Cane Syrup, a rich, raw sugar syrup that brings a lot of character of its own.
By the by, Petite Canne is imported by Carribean Spirits, Inc., Ed Hamilton, proprietor. Our Sailor is also a Salesman….
Talking rum with Ed is like drinking from a fire hose. I learned a helluva lot more about rum from him than I’ve been able to put in this post. I’ll try to share more as the opportunity presents itself during this and future Tiki Months. Should you want to learn more from Ed and his merry crew of rumophiles, I urge you to visit the Ministry of Rum, read the articles and explore the message forum.
Midcentury exotica didn’t just cater to suburban fantasies of work-free islands and guilt-free sex. There was also the call of adventure, epitomized by these classic “dangerous” drinks: if the sharks didn’t eat you, the cannibals would.
—Beachbum Berry Beachbum Berry Remixed, Pg. 86
There is quite a bit going on in that quote. Expect to see it several times this Tiki Month.
I want to kick off Tiki Month with a pleasant little cocktail with a scary name, the Sidewinder’s Fang. Berry’s words, and the Sidewinder’s characteristics bring to mind other scary things, like rollercoasters.
Everybody likes scary stuff, but while some of us like to really be scared, others just like the idea of being scared. As the Bum notes, the Tiki oeuvre is replete with scary names and images, designed to make you almost fear the drink. Some cocktails, like the Zombie and the Hurricane are as devastating as their monikers imply, others not so much.
The Sidewinder’s Fang is such a drink.
1 pt. dark Jamaican rum
1 pt. demerara rum
1 1/2 pts. fresh lime juice
1 1/2 pts. orange juice
1 1/2 pts. passionfruit syrup
3 pts. soda water
Combine all but soda water with ice and shake. Pour unstrained into scariest looking vessel you have. Top with soda water to taste and stir. Garnish as the Tiki gods inspire you.
In a glass, this guy looks pretty much like a washed-out Screwdriver. The taste, assuming you use good juice and syrups, is surprisingly complex and bright. As you can see, it isn’t all that scary, if you know the ingredients. But for a culture built around the deceptive power of the Zombie… And the Sidewinder’s Fang tastes like it might be one of those roll of quarters in a sock-type drinks.
You may think, since it is so relatively weak already, you can omit the soda water. Don’t. Without the soda, the juices totally overwhelm the drink and none of the rum comes through. Undiluted, it tastes too sweet, and you might just as well use have used cheap well rum instead of the interesting stuff. That said, I think 3 parts of soda water may be too much, so use your own judgement as you mix.
Regardless, this drink is an easy and delicious mix to serve to guests as an evening extender. It maintains an existing buzz without advancing it too much. And if you use big ice cubes (which you should, if available) it is a drink you can drink fairly slowly without it losing its appeal.
Virtually all major alcohol manufacturers have some form of responsible drinking campaign. It is good corporate citizenship and better politics. One of mega-distiller Bacardi’s efforts in this vein is Champions Drink Responsibly.
In conjunction with this year’s US Open (Tennis, of course… though I understand there is one for Golf, or elevator repair, or some such as well), the new face of the program is Raphael Nadal.
I’m posting about this here for a couple of reasons. I want to say a few things about my own opinions on responsible drinking, and how to achieve it with the maximum enjoyment. I also love Tennis, even more than Baseball. And finally, well… Rule 5 isn’t just for guys…
A little while ago, I wrote a post about a new aged rum, Ron de Jeremy.
Yes, named for that Ron Jeremy.
Oh dear, I have a bad feeling about this post….
Anyway, the Liquor Fairy rolled up this week with a bottle of Ron de Jeremy for my review! There really is a lot to go over, fun and serious, with this rum, and it is hard to decide where to…
Heh. You said, “hard”!
Don’t you start in, too!
I’ve got no problem with any of the subject matter, just the way you two are going to wallow in….
Sigh. If you two keep interrupting me, this is going to be one long post.
You said, “long”!
Ron de Jeremy is the brainchild of two Finnish guys, Ollie Hietalahti and Jouko Laune. Sitting one evening in a bar in Amsterdam, they were congenially perusing the rum offerings. They were struck by the group of rums which use the Spanish word, “Ron”, in their names. Soon, they were boozily riffing on made up rums that sounded like people’s names, until one of them uttered the fateful words, “Ron de Jeremy!”
For the heroes of our tale, this was one of those cocktail napkin ideas that was too good to discard upon regaining sobriety, and they resolved to make the brainstorm a reality. Neither had ever met The Man before, but Olli was undaunted and picked up the phone to make his pitch. “Talk about a cold call!” he remembers.
With buy-in from Ron, who had been upset for years at all these booze manufacturers who were “using his name” to market their rum, One-Eyed Spirits was born. They even tell this story (slightly embellished) in one of their many videos:
The company has made a number of good choices in getting their rum to market.
First, being advertising men, they created a lush, gorgeous ad campaign. It has fantastic still imagery…
(You can enjoy a silent video of how they made that picture here.)
Second, they also created some awesome video and one of the more entertaining product websites you will find. (And yes, it is perfectly safe, if a bit suggestive.) I suggest, no I require, that you go in particular to the How to Mix Drinks Ron Style section. In it you can choose which of Ron’s three comely bartenders will make one of three drinks. Each has their own style of very unique “flair” for each drink that you won’t want to miss. Neither Gaz Regan nor Tom Cruise has anything on these ladies’ routines.
Third, they indulged themselves in just the right amount of juvenile humor. I won’t steal anymore of their jokes than I did in my first post. Just poke around the website and…
Heh. You said, “poke”!
Fourth, and most importantly, they realized that as great spirits makers… they made great ad men. (Ad men are awesome at consuming great spirits, but it is important to know what you don’t know.) So they contracted with an established distillery in Panama (Alcoholes y Rones de Panama) to produce their molasses-based product, and hired an old pro, Francisco “Don Pancho” Fernandez to create it. The 72 year-old Don Pancho is a second-generation Cuban rum maker whose other rums include Zafra and Havana Club’s 7 Anos.
So, how’d he do with Ron de Jeremy?
It is hard to know what to expect with celebrity-connected products of any kind. Drinkhacker was a bit bemused by Ice-T’s brandy. Many of us were pleasantly surprised by Dan Aykroyd’s Crystal Head. In this case, I think they’ve got a winner. While they tout Ron de Jeremy as both a sipping and mixing rum, I think it leans more toward the former. It has a lovely vanilla and orange aromas and flavors. It’s quite smooth, even neat. It reminds me in many ways, stylistically and olfactorally, of a nice Cognac.
Few rums with any character are all purpose mixers, of course. Ron de Jeremy makes only a decent Mai Tai by itself. I got better results by blending it with other rums, but I never found a perfect match. Perhaps the Dood will come up with something. For me, I found it blends better with herbal or spice elements than fruits, so I’ll likely look elsewhere for my Tiki needs.
But where the Ron de Jeremy really shines is in a dead simple Old-Fashioned.
(All Ron de Jeremy drinks must be named like this)
2 oz. Ron de Jeremy
1/2 oz. simple syrup
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
Stir ingredients with ice to chill. Place a big chunk of ice (if the ice isn’t big, it ain’t a Ron-Fashioned) in a glass and strain the drink over it. Slowly strip peel an orange and wrap a strip around the ice.
A properly made Ron-Fashioned Click to engorge enlarge
I am completely serious. This is about the best Rum Old-Fashioned I’ve made yet, and I make a lot of Rum Old-Fashioneds.
As Craig Ferguson would say, I look forward to your letters….
I can think of some great entertainment to enjoy while having one of these!
Oh, you can think of that entertainment all you want….
You almost certainly won’t find Ron de Jeremy in your local liquor store yet, but you can find it in the US from DrinkUpNY. European readers should try Masters of Malt. Let me know if you try it, I’d love to hear your take.