Jason Littrell’s Almond Brother in the Death & Co Cocktail Book has good things going for it. The combination of a base spirit (aged tequila) with lime and orgeat reminds me of one of my favorite drinks, the Army & Navy. Also I happen to have obscene amounts of coconut orgeat that I made a few weeks ago and love using whenever I have a chance to. Its coconut flavor is subtle enough that it works well in cocktails calling for regular almond orgeat, while adding something a bit different.
The cocktail ingredients also include apricot liqueur and amaretto, which gave me pause and some concern (I use amaretto very rarely, and am not a big fan of apricot liqueur in general). Add maple syrup to the mix, and I was really skeptical. Too much going on on the sweet end of things, maybe? So I ended up only mixing a 1/2 size cocktail, which is my typical procedure for testing new cocktails I am not sure about.
I was so terrified that this might be too sweet that I reduced all the sweet elements very slightly. But it was fine in the end. It felt like a fancy version of Tommy’s “Margarita” (which is really a tequila sour). It worked great with the aged tequila, and I noticed that the pepper notes in the Siete Leguas añejo were highlighted by contrast with the other ingredients.
After attending Martin Cate’s fascinating seminar at Tiki Oasis about tiki restaurateur extraordinaire Stephen Crane (Intrigue! Adventure! Hollywood! Tiki!), it is not difficult finding inspiration for new tiki drinks. The other night I made Don the Beachcomber’s Volcano Bowl, a flaming tiki drink which has the particularity of using maple syrup as a sweetening agent. I was looking for drinks from Stephen Crane’s restaurants, the Luau and the Kon Tiki, but ended up finding a swizzle recipe by Martin Cate that looked interesting and also used maple syrup. He named it the Kaieteur Swizzle, after the waterfalls in Guyana.
What is great about swizzles is that they are built directly in the glass. You just add all of your ingredients, then the crushed ice, you swizzle preferably with a swizzle stick made of bois-lélé or a bar spoon, top with crushed ice, add your garnish and a straw, and you are done. Easy and very refreshing in the summer.
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.