Since living in the U.S., there are a few holiday traditions that I have adopted. While I refuse to be involved with turkey in any shape or form, I can certainly appreciate a nice holiday punch. I’ve noticed that it tends to make family reunions a little more pleasant for everyone. And some, like the Fish House Punch, are so tasty that they get requested year after year.
There is a little place from out of town
Where, if you go to lunch,
They’ll make you forget your mother-in-law
With a drink called Fish-House Punch.
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.
The French are not known for their cocktails. It’s true that there is the kir, a French creation which is simply cassis (blackcurrant liqueur from Dijon) with white wine (aligoté, a dry white wine from Burgundy), and its regal version, the kir royal (*). But it would feel a little strange enjoying a libation that references the king on Bastille day. Looking for cocktails with a connection to France, the French 75 immediately comes to mind. Created in Paris, it is a very nice drink, especially with gin. The cognac version has the advantage of combining two French ingredients, cognac and champagne. But I did not feel like opening a bottle of champagne, so I searched for something else.
Continuing with the cognac theme, I picked the Maid in France (**). The Maid is a family of drinks based on the following formula:
Muddled mint & cucumber | lime | simple syrup | base liquor | (soda water optional)
With the cognac + citrus combo, you could say that it is a relative of the Sidecar (also thought to have been created in Paris). But it has a much lighter feel due to the fact that simple syrup, rather than orange liqueur, is used as the sweetener. The muddled mint and cucumber add another element of freshness. And it’s served on ice with a fragrant garnish.