The top ten cheap "bourbons", ranked. Of these, only my father's brand, Early Times, has ever passed my lips.
"Have you ever had a Boulevardier? It's like a Negroni but with bourbon in the gin's place. It's a great drink, but you have to make it at home lest you find yourself pronouncing "Boulevardier" in public."
Well, I had to let Tiki Month 2010 peter out just a bit this year. Real life intruded a bit and I couldn’t keep up the frenetic pace all month long. Still, I had a blast, and I hope you did too. So now, in a nod to my favorite late night TV host, Craig Ferguson (that’s CraigyFerg on the Tweety), and spurred on by Dr. Bamboo, PBBOTI’s own anniversary ruminations, I’d like to discuss a few of the things I learned this February.
I learned that Hawaiian shirts are properly called Aloha shirts… and men wear them to business meetings in Hawaii.
I learned that with seven Tiki posts unfinished and unpublished from this year’s Tiki Month, I have a great head-start for Tiki Month 2011!
I learned that when you do a theme month, you build up a lot of material for when it’s over, even with Tiki Timeouts.
Speaking of Tiki Timeouts, I learned that James Buchanan hod to go buy his own booze while President.
Mostly, I learned that this Tiki blogging thing is still cool, and I’ll be looking forward to next year’s extravaganza. I hope I’ll see you here next year, but with the next post, we return to our regularly scheduled programming! Please stay tuned!
This little concoction is another creation of Don the Beachcomber. The Lui Lui dates back to the pre-war Tiki era, when Don was still just constructing his wing of the Tiki edifice. It is also one of my favorites of his creation (I’m more of a Trader Vic guy, at least when it comes to recipes). This is bright and exotic, with the dryer, tangier mix of flavors that you more often find in the older recipes.
It also has the singular advantage of providing me with an excuse to crack open my last two, previously un-remarked upon here bottles from Trader Tiki, the cinnamon syrup and the vanilla syrup. Since those bottles’ arrival was what cemented my determination to Tiki out again this year, I needed to put them to some use!
1/2 part fresh lime juice
1/2 part orange juice
1/4 part Trader Tiki’s cinnamon syrup
1/4 part Don’s Spices*
2 parts gold rum
1 dash Angostura Bitters
4 parts crushed or small ice
Combine all ingredients in a blender and flash blend for about five seconds. Pour into a glass and top off with more crushed ice. The garnish should be the longest strip of orange peel you can produce, with the end hanging over the edge.
* Don’s Spices = 1 part Trader Tiki’s vanilla syrup, and 1 part pimento dram
I dug this one out of Beachbum Berry’s Sippin’ Safari. Well, actually I reminded myself of the details in Tiki+, since I can’t find my copy of Safari right now! Wahhhh!
I recently reviewed Beachbum Berry’s Grog Log for Tiki Month. I thought I’d do a little Rule 2 work and point you to a much more comprehensive homage to the Log. Pegu Blog Board of Tiki Idols member Tiare has undertaken a Bloggessy she entitles Mixing Through Grog Log. This is a bit of Rule 2 on Tiare’s part as well, as she is riffing on Erik Ellestad’s mammoth jeremiad, Stomping Through the Savoy, over at Underhill Lounge. Erik is attempting to survive making every cocktail in The Savoy Cocktail Book, in order. (Itself a riff on similar to Julie Powell’sJulie/Julia Project of movie fame).
Tiare is making a run at the much more human task of running through the Grog Log. Not only is the Log shorter, but it is a Best Of compilation. Also, Tiare has made the decision to do an original variant on each of the Bum’s entries, and you can get a nice insight into the mind of a Tiki expert on crafting drinks. Plus, it gives her a chance to post a second, gorgeous picture….
The great thing about that is it gives me an excuse to steal a couple of her pictures to illustrate! Here are the pictures from Mixing Through Grog Log 5. On the left is Beachcomber’s Punch, on the right is Tiare’s variant, Tiki Queen Punch.
Time for another Rule 2 examination of work by other non-Tiki bloggers getting their faux-tropical on. After searching for an image of my own to use for this post, apparently a Rule 5 situation is going on here, too. (Look around, Smitty’s minions. This whole month is dedicated to the forgotten Tiki drinks that didn’t suck. Put on your Hawaiian shirt and rock the appropriate tunes while you are at it.)
Recently, Randy Hanson of Summit Sips took note, as I do, that the best antidote for a winter like this one is to light the torches and sacrifice a virgin make a yummy Tiki drink! his offering has one of those awesome Tiki names I just love: The Chimp in Orbit.
CHIMP IN ORBIT
1 1/2 oz. 151 rum
1 oz. Italian vermouth
1/2 oz. Grand Marnier
1/4 oz. white creme de cacao
1/4 oz. real grenadine
2 oz. orange juice
1 oz. lemon juice
Shake ingredients with ice until well chilled. Strain into a highball glass filled with crushed ice.
Randy has lots of cool stuff about the space program in his post, and some good insights on the ingredients in this sucker, so be sure to swing by!
I mixed this one up myself, and was reminded once again of an immutable fact of cocktails: Creme de Cacao is the most powerful ingredient in whatever drink its in. Like Absinthe, its presence in a mix, no matter how small the quantity, in unmistakable. In most regular cocktails, this is a bad thing, which is why my bottle of the stuff is old and mostly full. But it is a good illustration of the magic of Tiki blending that the Chimp in Orbit is really pretty good.
I took pictures of my attempt at this drink, but they frankly turned out ugly. In it’s place, I thought you’d enjoy the image above of the chimp partying down after returning from orbit. (A discontinued statuette from Electric Tiki)
UPDATE: Smitty apparently likes this creeping ex-astronaut so much, he’s linked him again this week. Probably because he found a great YouTube video of what appears to be the same malefactor. Check it out at this week’s Rule 5 roundup.
There is only one Beachbum Berry. He is the modern day’s preeminent sage on Tiki history and drink lore. And he appears to be a bit of a natural cult-leader, as most who hear him speak feel compelled to start buying Hawaiian shirts and rum in large quantities, and develop ninja-level knife skills with tropical fruit. Fortunately he employs his powers in bars, rather than in the jungles of Guyana or Washington. (UPDATE: He also uses his powers to send readers here! Welcome Idlers of March to the joint.)
He has written several books over his career that have apparently prevented him from starving to death, and my book purchase for this year’s Tiki Month was one of them, Beachbum Berry’s Grog Log. The Grog Log is a pretty little spiral-bound book that does each of its several jobs well. It begins with a tightly written history of American tropicalia, the forces that created it, and some of the personalities that shaped it. It discusses the market and cultural forces that finally killed Tiki as a commercial fad. Finally, Berry muses on how Tiki can re-emerge as more of a personal, DIY art form. The book was written in 1998, and I would say that all is proceeding as he has foreseen.
The second section is the obligatory, how-to-set-up-your-bar section of virtually any drinks book. The Bum saves this part from perfunctitude with the single best set of descriptions of rum types I have read to date. If all you need is a clear explanation of what the hell drink recipes are talking about when they specify “light Puerto Rican rum”, versus, “Rhum Barbancourt”, versus “gold Jamaican rum”, the Grog Log is worth it for that alone. I’m not saying the rest of the dissertation on measures, methods, and other ingredients aren’t well-done, but the rum section is just so darned… essential for Tiki drink making.
The meat of the book is the recipes. Unearthing and confirming these was not an easy task, and showed a lot of skill and knowledge beyond mixology. Sure, you can look around today and see all sorts of quality Tiki recipes from the old days. You can see them because most of them were unearthed by Beachbum Berry. Any complete bar library ought to have at least one of the Bum’s books. In the Grog Log, he serves up 84 of these historical artifacts.
Each drink is served up, one to a page, with a generous helping of vintage or original drawings or occasional cartoons. Along with an exacting recipe, there are specific mixing instructions and some good historical information on the origin of the drink. (Usually. As with all archaeology, some information is lost forever.)
An especially fun element of the book is the pictographic key at the top of each page. It starts with a picture of a little drunk guy, and you can tell from the extent of his disrepair how strong the drink is going to be. Next is an icon representing what the drink should be served in. Lots of drink books use icons like this, but how many use icons of flaming skull mugs? Lastly, there is an icon for preparation vessel, so you can screen for, or screen out, styles that you just aren’t feeling right now, blender drinks for instance.
At $9.95, the Grog Log is a super investment for the budding Tiki-phile, or even just the Ti-curious. If you’re a book snob and don’t like spiral-bound volumes, you can wait just a short while and buy Beach Bum Berry Remixed, which apparently compiles the recipes from the Grog Log, as well as the Bum’s other early work, Intoxica!, into a new volume. I haven’t seen it, so I can’t say whether it will keep the raw, vintage feel of the Grog Log, and whether it will retain such cool features as flaming skull mug icons. I do mention it here however, becuase it gives me an excuse to end this post with the trailer for the upcoming book.
When did they start putting out trailers for books?!?
Swizzles are a classic style of cocktail that well predate Tiki, but seem to have been adopted more or less whole cloth by the movement for a variety of reasons. Swizzles can be made with virtually any liquor, but the most popular is rum, a trend I suspect was cemented by the Tiki movement. Like grogs, swizzles use a variety of juices that further help it fit in with the Tiki movement.
Of course, the real defining feature of the drink is that it is swizzled, i.e. stirred, in the glass with the eponymous Swizzle Stick. These can be anything from little coffee stirrers, to little plastic sculptures. Materials can get quite exotic too, like Sun-Dried Aardvark-Tongue Swizzle-Sticks. The infinite variety of design you can put into swizzle sticks is what makes the style so readily adoptable by the Tiki masters, and there is a huge array of Tiki-style swizzles to be had. Another Tiki drink I’ve already profiled this month is the Pogo Stick, which uses rock candy swizzles to more than just mix the drink.
I’m pretty sure that there are more Rum Swizzle recipes out there than Carter has pills, with a variety of readings on the Tiki scale. I’m going to go with a simple one that just showed up in my email box, in a promotional email from KegWorks of all places. It is simple and straightforward to make, yet complex, refreshing, and exotic to drink. I tried it with a couple of pretty good rums. All were tasty, but Goslings Black Seal stood way out in front as the best in this formulation.
BERMUDA RUM SWIZZLE
2 oz. Goslings Black Seal rum
1 oz. fresh lime juice.
1 oz. unsweetened pineapple juice
1 oz. orange juice
1/4 oz. falernum
Pour all ingredients into an empty highball or double old-fashioned glass. Add some ice and swizzle with your stick of choice to mix thoroughly. Add more ice to top. Garnish with citrus and a real homemade maraschino cherry.
Why is there no swizzle stick in the picture?
Well, first of all, I had just crafted this little floating garnish and wanted to show it off. Second, I was using a different swizzle than any I mentioned above. Remember that when you are alone in the bar, no one sees you. The handiest swizzle of all is a clean digitus secundus….
UPDATE: Welcome Phoenix New Times readers! Please wander about while you are here. There’s lots of other great libations to try.
I’m not sure where this drink comes from originally. I found it in Beachbum Berry’s Grog Log, but that tome is unusually silent on the origin, only dating it as circa 1965. Incidentally, that is rather late in the era for a Tiki drink this good. The Boo Loo is apparently a beloved signature offering of Forbidden Island, a Tiki mecca I have never visited. (Any readers out there in the Bay Area need a friend rubbed out?)
I’ve modified this one to suit my equipment, which includes a BlendTec. If you don’t have the horsepower, substitute most of the pineapple for juice.
Approx 1/4 small pineapple, peeled and cored
1 1/2 oz. fresh lime juice
1 oz. honey
2 1/4 oz. Lemon Hart Demerara Rum (make 3/4 oz. of this 151 demerara if you can get it)
1 1/2 oz. gold rum
1 1/2 oz. dark rum
1 1/2 oz. club soda
Place fruit, honey, juice, and rum in a burly blender. Blend until only small shreds of pineapple are left. Add a small amount of ice and blend for five seconds. Add club soda. Pour into a large hurricane glass or shell from the pineapple filled with ice. Get cheesy with the garnish.
This delicious, remarkably balanced drink rolls in at over five ounces of liquor (effectively six if you have the 151), so may I recommend two straws?
Not every Tiki drink is a Zombie. Not every one has four liquors, five juices, crushed ice, a need for a blender and a wild vessel, and a hard to find or produce garnish. Some are simply classic-style cocktails that are nonetheless somehow ineffably Tiki.
Today’s Tiki drink is such a beast: The Demerara Cocktail.
Well and truly shake all ingredients with lots of ice, then strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish or not, as the extend of your Tiki (or non-Tiki) mood takes you.
This is Maggi’s and my top new drink of Tiki Month so far. On the face of it, it is essentially a Rum Sour. But a Tiki drink it is folks. Have a sip, and you’ll sense the volcano gods rumbling in the background. I’ve been fiddling with this bottle of Lemon Hart for a while now, without hitting upon a real great use for it. But its unique twang, in combination with the very Tiki ingredient, passion fruit, will sting the back of your jaw and leave you open to thoughts of warm Pacific breezes.
The real beauty of this drink is how un-Tiki it is in production. The only fresh produce you need are limes, and preparation is no different from a Sidecar or a Pegu. Serve this up to your friend the umbrella-phobe when you are in a mood to make a convert. And frankly, it is a great drink whether you are in a Tiki mode or not.
This one goes into the regular rotation around here.
As for the rest of you, my cocktail-blogging friends, where are you on this drink? The only mention I can find of this sip anywhere on the web is by Darcy who wrote about it in 2007, while under the influence of Beachbum Berry’s Tales lecture. It is also to be found in the iPhone App, Tiki+, as well as in the Utter Tiki essential, Sippin’ Safari.
It is a common enough Tiki gambit: Cut the top off of a pineapple, hollow that sucker out, and fill it with delicious liquid goodness. Add a couple of straws and Bob’s your uncle, you have a serious Tiki offering. I did it once or twice during last year’s Tiki Month. But at the recent Columbus Iron Bartender event, I noted a technique by Zak Renzetti-Voit that literally turned this old standard on its head. (picture of Zak’s work here)
Zak halved the pineapple closer to the bottom and cut off the leaves about halfway up in a single chop. After he hollowed out the inside, he had a pineapple drinking vessel that was a nifty goblet, rather than just a big cup. It was amazing to me how cool this was. I for one have never seen it anywhere else. Have any of the Tiki aficionados out there encountered this before, or has Zak hit on something original and special?
A drinking vessel this cool needs a Tiki drink to serve in it, of course. So today’s Tiki drink is the Tiger Shark, adapted by me from Beachbum Berry’s Sippin’ Safari.
1 part gold rum
1 part light rum
1 part 151-proof rum (Lemon Hart Demerara preferred)
1 part fresh lime juice
several chunks of fresh pineapple, mined from your goblet
1 part simple syrup
Put ingredients in a blender and blend briefly to juice pineapple. Add small or cracked ice and blend again for about five seconds. Pour into your pineapple goblet and serve with a large caliber straw.
Just a few words of warning about these pineapple goblets, which you can take as coming from the Voice of Experience: Be careful to cut the top leaves absolutely level, and don’t trim off any of the leaves remaining, or the vessel will be unstable—trust me. Also, if you decorate it with some decor (like, oh let’s say a pink flamingo), don’t push the stick so far into the pineapple that it comes all the way through! This will leak….