Tag - trader vic

Mixology Monday “Trader Vic’s Navy Grog
Tiki Drink: Dr. Funk
SideBlog: Found, One Protegé in My Family
Trader Vic’s Grog
Boing! The Pogo Stick
Tiki Ingredient: Falernum

Mixology Monday “Trader Vic’s Navy Grog

Greetings everyone from Orlando, a land that peddles itself to have pretty much everything. Which I thought would lend itself well in discussion with my uncle Doug Winship on all forms of tiki drinks. After being humbled at the hands of the master, I had to rethink my standing in life. So I come to you as a Grasshopper, a student on the TAO, to share what the way as taught me so far.
So my first lesson was in mixology, is a recipe from one the grandmasters. Trader Vic’s Navy Grog!!! First lets run down what is in this Recipe.

1 part fresh lemon juice (Great Citrus is easy to get in Florida)
1 part unsweetened pineapple juice (Unsweetened is important)
1 part Passion Fruit Syrup (I will describe this maneuver in more detail in a sec)
2 parts dark Jamaican Rum
1 dash of Angostura Bitters per ounce in a part

So, armed with my new-found knowledge, I head to my small corner of my home bar. It is a small amount of real estate that my wife would allow me to own.
It is kinda sad compared to the mammoth sized basement size bars that some heavy weights I know have, but the little corner is mine so I love it. Anyhow, I start running down the list. Jamaican Rum, Check, Angostura Bitters, Check, Lemons, Check, unsweetened pineapple juice, Check even!! Passion Fruit Syrup??? This one stopped me in my tracks. SO reaching back out to my teacher, I wondered how I would acquire said syrup. Like the voice in field of dreams, he spoke to me. He said to make it yourself. I had my doubts, I would say that cooking would not be my strongest skill. Amazing enough, it is a simple task. First, you need to get your hands on Passion fruit puree.
I found this little gem in the ethic frozen food section of my local Publix. I mixed equal parts by volume of sugar, water, and half the passion fruit. Bring this to a boil!! When it hits a boil add the second half of the fruit. When everything is nice and dissolved. There will be some pulp left. You will have to strain it. When it is all said and done you should have something that looks like this!!! Mix according to proportions listed above and enjoy!!. I made a large batch for my super bowl party. I had to make two large batches for everyone to get their fill. This is the second one I made. It was a hit to say the least. So to all the little grasshoppers out there, welcome to the big wild world of cocktails. To the Grandmasters, WATCH YOUR PEBBLES!!! Everyone else enjoy TIKI month!!!! Good thing it is a leap year, we all get to enjoy an extra day of tropical delights. So from Orlando, I am signing off.

Tiki Drink: Dr. Funk

Phinneas and Dr. Funk
This is how my children view Tiki Month.

Since I’m on a run of Tiki Drinks with awesome names this Tiki Month, I thought it appropriate that I get down and boogie with one of the better names in music Tiki drinks, Dr. Funk. I love the name, and find it most appropriate for Tiki. Funk is a word I use a lot to describe Tiki drinks, good ones at least. It denotes a kind of entertainingly pleasant wrongness.

The good Doctor was to be had all over the place in the golden days of Tiki. Both Don the Beachcomber and Trader Vic claimed him, though he set up practice at Vic’s joints much later than Don’s, so which way the thieving went is pretty clear this time.
Except it isn’t.

Unlike most “Polynesian” Tiki drinks, which were really Caribbean in inspiration, the Dr. Funk was actually a genuine South Pacific invention, one which predated the Tiki era by some 30-40 years. Not only that, but it was named after and created by a real Dr. Funk as well. Bernhard Funk was a German ex-patriot living in Samoa. He was a popular physician, as well as a renowned mental health practitioner. And by “mental health practitioner”, I mean mixologist. Among his other claims to fame, Dr. Funk was the deathbed physician for Robert Louis Stevenson (of International Talk Like a Pirate Day Fame). The good Dr. Funk had passed away nearly twenty years before Don ever thought of Tiki.

There are a lot of Dr. Funk recipes. Names this cool seemed to have often been appropriated during the Tiki era by one bar after another, without great regard to the (often secret) recipe of the source. When there are so many choices to be had, it is usually best to turn first to the Apostle Paul of the Tiki gods, Beachbum Berry.

In Remixed, the Bum presents this version of Dr. Funk, gleaned from the Palm Springs location of Don the Beachcomber, circa 1953:
Dr. Funk


  • 3/4 oz. lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. grenadine
  • 1 tsp. absinthe
  • 1 1/2 oz. light rum
  • 1 oz. soda

Combine all in shaker, save the soda. Shake well, then add soda and stir. Pour unstrained into pilsner glass, and top with fresh ice.

This is a pleasant little cooler, really. The flavors are light and the color an iced pink. The funk of the absinthe is kind of a background beat that underlies the main citrusy melody. This version is actually pretty delicious, with just a hint of a “what the Hell is that?” undertone to make it Tiki.

Now in general, I prefer Vic’s drinks to Don’s, the Mai Tai being a notable example. So I also wanted to see what kind of medicine the good Doctor practiced when he hung his single in a Trader Vic’s. Here is his recipe which I believe to be from Vic’s 1948 Bartender’s Guide:
Doctor Funk


  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/4 oz. grenadine
  • 1 whole lime
  • 1/4 oz. absinthe
  • 2 1/2 oz. dark Jamaican rum
  • 1/4 tsp. simple syrup

Combine all liquid ingredients in a shaker with crushed ice. Juice lime into shaker, and add the spent shells. Shake well and “pour the whole mess” into a highball glass. Top with seltzer and garnish with a fresh geranium leaf.

I have no geraniums right now, so I used mint.

In this case, Don beats Vic like a rented mule. Vic’s version is overwhelmingly tart. I went back and added a ton more simple syrup, which made it drinkable and let some of the underlying flavors come out. You could then taste that there was rum in the drink. But the funk is practically dead here as you essentially cannot detect the absinthe at all. Indeed, Vic appeared to know this one wasn’t his best, as he seems to have monkeyed with this recipe a lot. Later recipes show it without absinthe or Pernod at all.

So as to the question of Don versus Vic, the Bum makes the right call, and silly me for doubting him!

But neither of these cocktails, it’s pretty clear, holds much resemblance to the real Dr. Funk’s prescription. In this excellent thread at Tiki Central, much anthropology has been done on the Dr. Funk, and on its namesake. And while there is no written exact receipt for it even there, the various accounts of the original drink are at least primary sources. Consolidating all their hardwork, here is what I’m going with as the original recipe:
Doctor Funk Cocktail


  • 1 1/2 oz. absinthe
  • 1/2 oz. grenadine
  • 2 small limes
  • 8 oz. soda water

Combine is a glass on the rocks. Consume to “restore self-respect and interest in one’s surroundings”.

I was hesitant to actually mix up this guess at the authentic Dr. Funk because:

  1. I’m not a huge absinthe fan.
  2. I already have a more than healthy share of self-respect.
  3. My current surroundings are Ohio in the Winter. Why should I want to take an interest in them?

But, birds gotta sing. Fish gotta swim. Bloggers gotta blog….

First off, that is a helluva lot of water up there. I’m not sure if ice was a precious commodity on Samoa and the surrounding isles in the late 19th Century. Perhaps it was, and this drink was meant to be made without it. In any case, I used lots of crushed ice myself, left the lime shells in, and used only a bit more than 2 ounces of actual soda.

And damn if this isn’t a much better drink than either Don or Vic’s effort! Much better. It is perhaps not so approachable as theirs, because at 1.5 ounces there is no mistaking the fact that this is an absinthe cocktail. The character of that spirit is right up front. In most cocktails I make using the stuff, it is doled out in drops, so that much absinthe is a helluva lot for me.

But the grenadine and lime and water do a beautiful job of changing the punch in the snoot of absinthe, transmuting it into a refreshing splash in the face. My immediate thought was to compare it to one of my favorite drinks, the Gin Rickey.
Dr. Funk’s concoction seems likely to be just as thirst-quenching as Colonel Rickey’s. And while it may not be quite so easy drinking as the Rickey, for a man with a sour mouth or stomach from over-indulgence, post-indulgence, or just general tropical crud, this drink would likely be much more cleansing to the palate.

Lastly, should you be wanting to initiate a hesitant guest into trying absinthe for the first time, this might be your drink. The cool name, and pleasant pink color, should get them to accept the drink in the first place, and the muted nature should get them to take the time to appreciate the depth of the absinthe without being assaulted by its usual brash nature.

Dr. Funk’s Funky Trio of Funk
Don, Doctor, and Vic (L to R)

I’ll leave you with two entertaining tidbits found in my Stanley-esque search for Dr. Funk. This first is the comforting news that there were snotty booze snobs long before there were hipster bars and cocktail blogs for them to spout off in. Apparently Robert Louis Stevenson himself was somewhat of one, and another occasional patient of Dr. Funk, Paul Gauguin (the guilt-free sex guy) was even more of a pissant about drinks. He (and Stevenson) are described fabulously so in this quote from Wanderings; A Book of Travel and Reminiscence.

Blow me! cried Pincher, the skipper of the Morning Star. ‘E was a bleedin’ ijit. I fetched ‘im absinthe many a time in Atuona. ‘E said Dr. Funk was a bloomin’ ass for inventin’ a drink that spoiled good Pernod with water. ‘E was a rare un. ‘E was like Stevenson ‘at wrote ‘Treasure Island.’ Comes into my pub in Taiohae in the Marquesas Islands did Stevenson off’n his little Casco, and says he, Ave ye any whisky. ‘e says, at ‘asn’t been watered? These South Seas appear to ‘ave flooded every bloomin’ gallon. ‘e says. This painter Gauguin wan’t such good company as Stevenson, because ‘e parleyvoud, but ‘e was a bloody worker with ‘is brushes at Atouna. ‘E was cuttin’ wood or paintin’ all the time.

I think this passage lends two valuable pieces of advice. First, if you are too much of a booze-snob, then old bartenders, especially crusty old sailor bartenders (Ed Hamilton, anyone?) will think you are a “bloomin’ ass”. Second, regardless of how you act, for God’s sake don’t be French.

And hey! This post is part of Tiki Month 2012 here at the Pegu Blog! Be sure to look around for LOTS more Tiki stuff all February!

SideBlog: Found, One Protegé in My Family

Found at last, my protegé within my family.
I was dictating Vic’s Navy Grog to him for a Superbowl punch. “How do I chill it?” he replies, “I have both liquid nitrogen and dry ice!”

Trader Vic’s Grog

I’ve written about Grog before, outlining Don the Beachcomber’s contribution to the genre during the last International Talk Like a Pirate Day (September 19th. Mark your calendars!). What I alluded to back then, I’ll say flat out now: Grogs and Bumbos were the first Tiki drinks. Maybe that is why so many of us refer to the Tiki Elders, especially Don and Vic, as pirates.
At any rate, here is Trader Vic’s version of Grog. I used a single rum here, rather than following Tiki tradition and blending several, because it was late, I was tired after chopping fresh sugar cane swizzle sticks, and I wanted to give this new bottle of Appleton Estate 12 I bought a workout.


  • 2 parts Appleton Estate 12 year old rum
  • 1 part fresh lemon juice
  • 1 part passion fruit syrup
  • 1 part fresh (unsweetened) pineapple juice
  • 1 dash Angostura Bitters

Combine ingredients in a shaker with plenty of crushed or small ice. Shake to combine and pour, ice and all, into a battered mug or favored Tiki drinking vessel. Garnish with a fresh stick of sugar cane and a sprig of gently rubbed mint.

Recipe found in Trader Vic’s Tiki Party!

Boing! The Pogo Stick

Trader Vic's Pogo Stick tiki cocktail
The popular perception of Tiki drinks is that they are all rum all the time. While rum is certainly the central spirit to the movement, the Ancient Tiki Masters did not hew to it exclusively. Today’s Tiki drink is a gin-based concoction originated by Trader Vic.


  • 2 oz. gin
  • .75 oz. unsweetened pineapple juice
  • .75 oz. grapefruit juice
  • .25 oz. lime juice

Combine ingredients in a mixer with small or cracked ice. Blend very briefly until combined and you get a good froth. Serve in a double old-fashioned glass, adding more ice as needed. Garnish with a wheel of lime or a sprig of mint. (See below)

More sour than your average Tiki drink, the Pogo Stick is nonetheless delicious. And it is the first gin drink of any genre I’ve encountered that uses a blender.
swizzle sticks made from rock candyThe name comes from the alternate garnish option that the Trader came up with. As I said, this drink is brighter in flavor than most Tiki concoctions, but rather than just hit it with some simple syrup, he would set a rock candy swizzle stick next to it when serving. It you want it sweeter, just stir the drink with the stick. The longer you stir, the sweeter it gets. It’s a cool idea, and I hope to find time to experiment more with it later this month. For my taste, this drink is delicious as is, without the stick, but for many, I can definitely see the appeal.

Welcome to Not Martha readers! It is Tiki Month here at the Pegu Blog, so please look around while you’re here!

From: Trader Vic’s Tiki Party!

Tiki Ingredient: Falernum

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:

  • almost any Tiki drink

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.


  • 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)

Combine lime zest, cloves, ginger and rum in a sealed container and allow to marinate for at least 24 hours. Strain and squeeze through cheesecloth, discarding solids. Add almond extract and simple sugar. Shake thoroughly to combine. Add fresh lime juice when used, at a ratio of 1:4 juice to falernum, to replace the omitted juice.

Rick 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):


  • 2 oz. dark or gold rum
  • .75 oz. fresh lime juice
  • .25 oz. Cointreau
  • .25 oz. your freshly made falernum

Shake over ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with lime zest.

If 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.

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