Tiki Winners 2017 Part I: The Expedition

Tiki Winners 2017 Part I: The Expedition

Each year during Tiki Month, I conduct a number of unlicensed laboratory experiments on human subjects have a few friends over to try out new recipes I’ve run across. This year I want to blog the ones that come up as winners, in that they are the ones that everybody is ordering by the end of the night.

Winner number one from lab session one this year is The Expedition. This beaut is a Martin Cate original, and you can find it in his insanely worthwhile book Smuggler’s Cove: Exotic Cocktails, Rum, and the Cult of Tiki. (The book is on sale as of this posting for only eighteen bucks. This is a steal.) I thought to try it out based on a post from last august by Fred Yarm, which I’ve had squirreled away in my reading list in anticipation of this day.


  • 1 oz fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 oz 1:1 cinnamon syrup
  • 1/2 oz 1:1 honey syrup
  • 1/4 oz 1:1 vanilla syrup
  • 1/4 oz coffee liqueur
  • 2 oz dark Jamaican rum
  • 1 oz decent bourbon

Flash blend with 12 ounces of crushed ice. Pour into a medium-large mug with 2 oz. of seltzer already inside. Top with more crushed ice if needed. Garnish with orchid and a restrained amount of mint. (p.140, Smugglers Cove)

This drink is a nicely balanced combination of several different strains of Tiki. It is a soft, sweet melange of flavors that goes down easy for the less adventurous drinkers. But it also hearkens back to the exotic spice flavor profile of the early Tiki period with its cinnamon, vanilla and coffee. And it is a bit of a hidden booze bomb, with a splash over three ounces of liquor. Be careful about serving these to people who haven’t had them before, as it is terrifyingly easy to misjudge the alcohol content in The Expedition.

Don’t expect, as I did from reading the recipe, for this to be a “coffee drink”. It’s not, at least not with the coffee liqueur I used. Instead, the coffee seems to be one of those “flavor morters” great cocktails often have, helping to bind disparate flavors into a single, new whole.

The Expedition is what I call a “story drink”, in that the ingredients are selected to tell a story, in this case, the career (expedition) of Don the Beachcomber. Read Martin’s book for the story. Usually, story drinks, or story pairings, or story menus don’t quite stick the landing. It is usually like selecting the instruments in an orchestra based on which ones look them most rad, but in this case the result really, really works.

  1. Chester Copperpot

    9 September

    What did you use for the coffee liqueur?

      (Quote)  (Reply)

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