Winter Tiki

It’s winter, but that’s not a reason to not enjoy tiki cocktails. When the weather is colder, spice-forward cocktails are especially appropriate.

Here are a couple of tiki drinks that I have enjoyed recently. The first one is the Winter Diamonback that was created at the El Dorado lounge in San Diego. It is based on the template of Harry Craddock’s Rattlesnake, one of my favorite cocktails that combines rye with lemon, simple syrup, egg white, and a rinse of absinthe. Changing the sweetener from simple syrup to a combination of cinnamon syrup and orgeat is the basis for the Winter Diamondback. With its cinnamon and absinthe flavor, it is unmistakably a tiki drink in the vein of Don the Beachcomber’s best creations, even though it’s rye-based. The blanket of egg white softens the flavors and helps blend everything harmoniously.

Winter Diamondback: rye, lemon juice, homemade orgeat, cinnamon syrup, bitters, egg white, absinthe rinse, nutmeg
Winter Diamondback | 2 oz rye | 3/4 oz lemon juice | 3/8 oz orgeat | 3/8 oz cinnamon syrup | 2-3 dashes black walnut bitters* | egg white | dry shake | shake with ice | strain into absinthe-rinsed cocktail glass | grated nutmeg

The Turkey Legs, a creation by Jon Santer, is a swizzle that relies on a brandy/cognac and rum combination. The rum is blackstrap which tastes rich and molasses-forward (think maple syrup). To this base, lime juice is added, together with honey syrup as the sweetener. Last but not least, a very generous dose of allspice dram is mixed in, 3/4 oz, which is probably the highest amount I have ever seen in a cocktail. The cocktail is served on crushed ice, topped with Peychaud’s bitters, and garnished with fresh mint.

Turkey Legs (Jon Santer): cognac, blackstrap rum, allspice dram, lime juice, honey syrup, Peychaud's
Turkey Legs | 1 oz cognac | 1/2 oz blackstrap rum | 3/4 oz allspice dram | 1/2 oz lime juice | 1/2 oz honey syrup | build in Collins glass | add crushed ice | swizzle | top with crushed ice | Peychaud’s bitters and mint garnish

The flavor is rich and spicy, with a tannic aftertaste from the allspice dram. Tart, warming and exotic.

*In a pinch, substitute Fee’s whiskey-barrel aged bitters

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