It’s Mixology Monday today and the theme selected by Nick of the blog The Straight Up blog is anise.
For the holidays, I was invited to a Norwegian-themed party and was challenged to come up with an aquavit-based drink. I decided to bring a bottle of Jeff Berry’s Peg Leg punch. Punches are always a good idea for parties. You can pre-batch them, so you have something you can serve quickly to your guests while you enjoy the party.
I made a couple more cocktails with my homemade elderflower cordial. First I absolutely had to try Sam Ross’ Sunflower again. It’s a variation of one of my favorite cocktails, the Corpse Reviver No. 2, with elderflower replacing Lillet. I used pastis but use absinthe if you have it. I keep it in a little perfume mister which is great for drinks like this one that just call for a rinse.
The cocktail is crisp and light, but also full of flavor from the interplay of the elderflower with the botanicals of the pastis and the orange of the Cointreau. Really wonderful.
This weekend was Tiki Oasis in San Diego, the 13th edition of an annual gathering that brings together tiki fans from all over the world. Four days of tiki music, creative tiki outfits, a super relaxed atmosphere, and of course fabulous tiki drinks. These included a couple of cocktails at the Bali Hai opening night party with a classic Navy Grog and their take on the Zombie. We had a few drinks at the vendors’ booths: an excellent ti punch riff at the rhum Clement booth, as well as a refreshing punch at the Denizen booth with grapefruit and Aperol. We also sampled three delicious drinks featuring Boy Drinks World cocktail bitters at a preview of the BDW room party (disclaimer – he is a friend). Lastly, we had a chance to attend a seminar by Martin Cate during which he served several cocktails by Stephen Crane, who was not only one of Lana Turner’s many husbands (he actually married her not once but twice!), but also the owner of Polynesian-theme restaurant the Luau in Beverly Hills, and the Kon Tiki chain of restaurants.
After attending Martin Cate’s lively seminar about this unsung hero of tikiness, I could not wait to dust off my Kon Tiki bowl and prepare something for this month’s MxMo theme, Fire. Sometimes a solid classic is best, and I selected Don the Beachcomber’s Volcano Bowl. Four different rums, with a refreshing mix of grapefruit juice and lime juice, and maple syrup as the sweetener. For my rum mix I went with El Dorado 5 for the Demerara rum, Appleton 12 for the gold Jamaican rum, and Plantation 5 Barbados as a substitute for the gold Puerto Rican rum. I also used a touch of Lemon Hart 151 for my fire element, which I extinguished after the photo to enjoy the rum with the rest of the drink. A wonderful way to conclude a fun weekend.
Tiki cocktails are usually thought as complicated drinks with a lot hard-to-find exotic ingredients, various syrups, and esoteric rum mixes. While this is often true, many of them have a more accessible structure. Take Trader Vic’s Mai Tai for example, his signature drink created in 1944 and composed of six ingredients: aged Jamaican and agricole rums, lime juice, simple syrup, curaçao and orgeat. At the core it’s a daiquiri variation (rum | lime juice | simple syrup), with orgeat and curaçao added as modifiers.
It’s fascinating to see how Don the Beachcomber comes up with something completely different based on a similar structure. When I think of Don the Beachcomber I immediately think of his characteristic use of spice syrups. In his Donga Punch (1937), another Daiquiri variation, he uses lime and grapefruit juice for the citrus, similar to a Hemingway Daiquiri (~1935). This time, though, the sweetening agent, which also acts as a modifier, is the highly aromatic cinnamon syrup, an ingredient that we immediately associate with tiki drinks.