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Seeking Tiki Ingredients and Worthy Substitutes


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#1 Chris Amirault

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Posted 07 March 2008 - 02:05 PM

Over in the Rums for Trader Vics (and others') drinks topic, Toby got the following exchange started:

Is it safe to say that at this point in Tiki culture that there is a stable of names and you can try the originals and then make your own interpatation.  Like a Margrarita, no two are the same.


Tell that to Jeff Berry!

I know a **lot** of purists when it comes to tropicals, people who are as uptight about promoting and sticking to the 'real' recipes as any martini snob is.

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I think the point Alchemist was making is that many of the products called for in the older 'tiki' recipes are no longer available in the form they were when the recipe was created, and so one must interpret the recipe to find something suitable on the market today. Jeff Berry does the same thing. ... In all facets of mixology, substitution and improvisation has a long and distinguished history, it's not always a bad thing.

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We've hashed well this issue regarding classic cocktails in a variety of topics, but we've never gotten past rum regarding tiki drinks. I'll start with some info and two questions that focus on a drink I've made a few times lately, (Don the) Beachcomber's Punch that Jeff Berry describes in Beachbum Berry's Grog Log. The recipe is simple enough:

1/2 lime
1/2 grapefruit
1/2 apricot brandy
1/2 simple
dash Angostura
1/8 t Pernod
1 1/2 demerara rum

Blend with 6 oz crushed ice for 5 seconds; add to tall glass and fill with more crushed ice.

Here's two bits of relevant info. When I've made Beachcomber drinks in the past, I've used Pernod as indicated by Berry. However, in the note to this drink, he writes,

By Don the Beachcomber, circa 1937. The Angostura/Pernod combination was the Beachcomber's "secret ingredient," used in drinks with dark run as the base flavor. (Back then Herbsaint was used instead of the similar-tasting Pernod; we've made the substitution because Pernod is far easier to find now.)


I'd read before about the Angostura/Pernod "secret" before, but this was the first place I'd seen that the real secret was Herbsaint, and I made the drink with the NOLA tipple last night. The differences were subtle but notable: Herbsaint tends to show more restraint than Pernod does, giving the bitters/anise combination more subtlety. Given everything else going on in this drink, that's a plus, believe me. It seemed worth sharing this point given that Herbsaint is, at least around here, a lot more available nowadays, and thus worth seeking out by those interested in tiki drinks.

The second bit of info is rather particular. If anyone else has actually made this version of the Hess house bitters, it is ideal as an Angostura substitute in this tiki drink, and in many others as well. If you haven't, well, now's your chance to use up that extra gentian lying around.

Here are my two questions from last night's Beachcomber's Punch.

First, what with the MB Apry and the Lemon Hart demerara, I cut back on the simple syrup, down around 1/4 oz or so. Adjusting the sweetness of this and a few other tiki standards made me wonder whether those drinks, when properly balanced by a tiki mixologist, tended to be more sweet on the whole than a lot of classic cocktails.

Yes, I realize that they are primarily fruit-based punches, which always lean toward sweet anyway, but a lot of the 1930s and 1940s recipes demand that I cut back. For a while, making lots of Test Pilots, I had assumed that part of my problem were overly sweet falnerums or what have you, but now I'm not so sure. Of course, my Apry may be sweeter than Don's apricot brandy back in 1937.... So: thoughts?

Second, am I the only person who tends to find the "blend with ice for X seconds" a depressing instruction? Even though I have a workhorse old-school Waring blender that makes remarkably smooth frozen drinks, I've taken to making a lot of tiki drinks calling for this step by crushing 2X the ice I need, shaking with half of it, and then straining the drink into a glass containing the other half. I find that the lower dilution produces a much better drink (on my tongue, anyway). Of course, I also am better able to avoid brain freeze. Does anyone else have this peccadillo?

Do others want to talk the particulars of tiki ingredients?
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#2 Lapin d'Argent

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Posted 07 March 2008 - 05:31 PM

Chris,

I'm afraid I have no information to impart, but as far as Tiki drinks go, I am all ears, so please continue talk away!

- L.

#3 thirtyoneknots

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Posted 07 March 2008 - 08:35 PM

I've a hunch that the original blending instructions were perhaps for immersion-type blenders, perhaps like the ones used for milkshakes and the like. In that case I think the shaking with crushed ice is perhaps more appropriate than a carafe-type blender (although I normally just dump it into the empty glass, not bothering to pour it over fresh ice).
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#4 Chris Amirault

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Posted 08 March 2008 - 07:43 AM

Interesting. I guess the question is: what sort of blenders did Trader Vic's, Don the Beachcomber's, etc. have on their bars? I had assumed that it was professional steel-blade Waring-styled blenders and not immersion blenders. That'd sure be a big difference -- and it would suggest that the Slurpee texture of current frozen/blended drinks is way off.
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#5 thirtyoneknots

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Posted 08 March 2008 - 09:30 AM

Interesting. I guess the question is: what sort of blenders did Trader Vic's, Don the Beachcomber's, etc. have on their bars? I had assumed that it was professional steel-blade Waring-styled blenders and not immersion blenders. That'd sure be a big difference -- and it would suggest that the Slurpee texture of current frozen/blended drinks is way off.

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I don't know about way off, if it works for the drink then it's fine. Even if it's the case that they were using immersion blenders in the 30's and 40's, certainly by the height of popularity in the 60's they had carafe blenders? Some of the recipes in Berry's books are clearly meant to be "slurpee" textured frozen drinks, and in others it's more open to intepretation. Unfortunately a cold front blew in here the other day (snow in Texas in March!) so probably won't be doing any tiki punch experiments this weekend.
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#6 Dave the Cook

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Posted 08 March 2008 - 11:28 AM

The blender as we know it today -- a tall jar with a bottom-mounted blade -- didn't exist until 1937. The price was an extravagant $29.75, at a time when a basic Chevrolet cost less than $700, meaning that the Waring Blendor (as it was orginally called) would run you roughly 900 of today's dollars. It didn't become popular until after World War II -- Waring didn't sell a million units total until 1954.

All of that to say that through the war, the likely machine would have been a variation on the Hamilton-Beach Single Spindle Drinkmaster (something like this, though the original was hand-held) -- as Andy suggests, a milkshake mixer.

Read more in the Daily Gullet article The Birth of the Blender (by Margaret McArthur and, erm, myself).

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#7 Chris Amirault

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Posted 08 March 2008 - 12:12 PM

Excellent, Mr. Scantland. So here's the question, then: what does 5 seconds do to crushed ice in one of those immersion things? Spin it around and make it cold? Or does the ice significantly change texture?

No opinions, meanwhile, regarding the question of sweetness?
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#8 thirtyoneknots

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Posted 08 March 2008 - 12:19 PM

The blender as we know it today -- a tall jar with a bottom-mounted blade -- didn't exist until 1937. The price was an extravagant $29.75, at a time when a basic Chevrolet cost less than $700, meaning that the Waring Blendor (as it was orginally called) would run you roughly 900 of today's dollars. It didn't become popular until after World War II -- Waring didn't sell a million units total until 1954.

All of that to say that through the war, the likely machine would have been a variation on the Hamilton-Beach Single Spindle Drinkmaster (something like this, though the original was hand-held) -- as Andy suggests, a milkshake mixer.

Read more in the Daily Gullet article The Birth of the Blender (by Margaret McArthur and, erm, myself).

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I should note that while perhaps not quite common, the Waring Blender wasn't unheard of in prewar mixology -- The Gentleman's Companion, for one, is quite hip to it (published 1939).
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#9 thirtyoneknots

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Posted 08 March 2008 - 12:27 PM

No opinions, meanwhile, regarding the question of sweetness?

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Old recipes, particularly ones calling for syrups, are tricky. I know how sweet I like my drinks and how rich my syrups are and can typically look at a recipe then adjust it to suit me while making it. I must admit that this often entails dropping the simple syrup completely from many of the recipes in Mr. Berry's books. Without access to contemporary samples of syrups, the best we can do is guess. If, as indicated in Sippin Safari, the recipes are using a 1:1 syrup, I know that since I use a 2:1 syrup, I can, at the very least, safely cut the amount of simple syrup by 2/3 in most recipes. Of course again the crushed ice question comes up: In a Mai Tai, for example, the greater dilution afforded by crushed ice not only makes the drink extremely cold, inhibiting perception of sweetness somewhat, but stretches the flavors and textures of the ingredients enough that a relatively hefty dose of syrups are needed to ensure the right mouthfeel and flavor balance. I, for one, skip the simple entirely when making Mai Tais and instead use a full half-ounce of Orgeat (1883 is my favorite). This makes out of 4-4.5 oz of ingredients, 2 oz of rich, sweetish rums, a half ounce of liqueur, and a half ounce of very thick, rich syrup. Even 1.5 oz of lime (my preferred amount) can't quite balance that right. That's where the crushed ice comes in, adding just the right amount of water.
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#10 tikibars

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Posted 09 March 2008 - 12:03 PM

I agree with most of the above post.
Melted ice is definitely a key component here - shaking for *just* the right amount of time is key.

One bit of trivia: I have always been under the impression that modern Ogeat is sweeter than what was used in Bergeron's era. rather than 1/4 oz Orgeat and 1/4 oz simple in my Mai Tais, I have always used 1/2 oz Orgeat - the sugar is already in there.

On the blender issue, I personally don't prefer slurpee drinks.
I usually do Beach and Bergeron blender drinks with crushed ice and just blend on a rather low setting for a few seconds to fully integrate all of the ingredients, but to still leave discreet bits of ice floating around.
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#11 thirtyoneknots

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Posted 09 March 2008 - 01:33 PM

One bit of trivia: I have always been under the impression that modern Ogeat is sweeter than what was used in Bergeron's era.  rather than 1/4 oz Orgeat and 1/4 oz simple in my Mai Tais, I have always used 1/2 oz Orgeat  - the sugar is already in there.

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This is very possible, though I always interpreted it as an attempt to balance out the very strong flavor of the syrup. Most modern orgeats have a relatively delicate flavor: at 1/4 oz of it it's nearly lost. I really like orgeat so I use the full 1/2 oz as noted and use a very powerfully-flavored brand.
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#12 Chris Amirault

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Posted 14 March 2008 - 06:35 PM

Do modern orgeats have a delicate flavor or do they lack flavor? I speak from finding that Fee's orgeat fades into the background nearly always in tiki drinks.
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#13 thirtyoneknots

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Posted 16 March 2008 - 11:57 PM

Do modern orgeats have a delicate flavor or do they lack flavor? I speak from finding that Fee's orgeat fades into the background nearly always in tiki drinks.

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I have tried about 3 or 4 brands and all found them wanting when put up against the 1883 Orgeat.

You guys must be starting to think I'm some kind of shill for them or something. I swear I'm not :wink:
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#14 Scott S

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Posted 17 March 2008 - 10:21 AM

I speak from finding that Fee's orgeat fades into the background nearly always in tiki drinks.

Fee's remains the worst Orgeat I have ever tasted. The first time I ever compared it to home-made Orgeat caused to to pour the entire bottle of Fee's down the drain. Terrible taste, and nothing like "real" Orgeat.

It's a lot of work, but I'd suggest making the recipe below at least once, just so you can get an idea of what Orgeat is supposed to taste like (well, a modern interpretation).
http://fxcuisine.com...resolution=high

#15 Tiare

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Posted 18 March 2008 - 07:52 AM

I can vouch for that recipe, its the recipe i`m currently using.The orgeat you get is worth the effort.
www.amountainofcrushedice.com

Tiki drinks are deceptive..if you think you can gulp them down like milk you´re wrong.

#16 Chris Amirault

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Posted 18 March 2008 - 08:06 AM

I think I'll be making my own using a tweak of the Art of Drink recipe. Most of the almond powders I'm finding have additional flavors added, and I'd rather not get 5 kg of the stuff just yet.

What about passion fruit liqueurs? What brand do people use? And where do you find it?
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#17 mkayahara

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Posted 18 March 2008 - 08:15 AM

What about passion fruit liqueurs? What brand do people use? And where do you find it?

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I assume you mean passion fruit syrups? I have a bottle of the Fee Brothers one, and it's alright. I don't really have anything to compare it to and don't use it that often. In Sippin' Safari, Berry recommends Finest Call, and explicitly advises against Fee Brothers, Monin and Torani. He also suggests getting frozen passion fruit pulp (from "Latino [or] gourmet markets") and mixing it in equal parts with simple syrup.
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#18 bostonapothecary

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Posted 18 March 2008 - 08:24 AM

What about passion fruit liqueurs? What brand do people use? And where do you find it?

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I assume you mean passion fruit syrups? I have a bottle of the Fee Brothers one, and it's alright. I don't really have anything to compare it to and don't use it that often. In Sippin' Safari, Berry recommends Finest Call, and explicitly advises against Fee Brothers, Monin and Torani. He also suggests getting frozen passion fruit pulp (from "Latino [or] gourmet markets") and mixing it in equal parts with simple syrup.

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i use the very tart "pulp" which has become a staple of the bar... i'd never pre add sugar. i think you'd blow the max sugar content thats palatable too quickly and then you wouldn't have as many options in your mixing...

i bet it just too often ends up in the form of a syrup as a canning method. the pulp can change to vineger in a matter of weeks...

my favorite way to mix the stuff was with the elusive clayton's kola nut tonic and lemonheart 151...
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#19 Chris Amirault

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Posted 18 March 2008 - 08:32 AM

Yes, syrups, not liqueurs -- please forgive the typo.

I'm getting the sense that making your own is the way to go with much of these products. And if I can just use 1:1 simple:pulp, around these parts it shouldn't be too hard to concoct some good stuff.
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#20 JerseyRED

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Posted 18 March 2008 - 08:53 AM

I've used Trader Vic's in the past as they have real Passion Fruit in their Passion Fruit syrup.
I haven't replaced my bottle because the cost of shipping is quite expensive, so I don't know if the quality has changed.
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#21 thirtyoneknots

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Posted 18 March 2008 - 09:32 AM

The 1883 Passion Fruit Syrup lists 10% passion fruit juice from concentrate among the ingredients, and sweetened only with real cane sugar, no HFCS. I find that I prefer it for intensity and mouthfeel reasons even to the revered old formula of Trader Vic's.
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#22 bostonapothecary

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Posted 18 March 2008 - 10:41 AM

Yes, syrups, not liqueurs -- please forgive the typo.

I'm getting the sense that making your own is the way to go with much of these products. And if I can just use 1:1 simple:pulp, around these parts it shouldn't be too hard to concoct some good stuff.

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just beware that passion fruit is an acid... a 1:1 will balance some of its own sugar content... or nearly all of it...

in my experince in a 1:1 ratio, passion fruit balances haus alpenz liqueurs perfectly and st. germain... when i use something like cointreau:creole shrub which has more sugar, i have to add a spoonful of lime juice to keep within the average of peoples tastes...
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#23 tikibars

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Posted 21 March 2008 - 09:44 PM

Trader Vic's has changed their recipe, and they now use the EVIL high fructose corn syrup in their passion fruit syrup.

I recommend discontinuing use of it.

I have tried the mentioned home-made version, which is super easy to make and very good.

Just get Goya brand passion fruit pulp ($2.50 at Harvest Time foods in Chicago), and mix it 1:1 with your simple syrup. Shake like mad and maybe add a bit of 151 clear rum or vodka as a preservative.

After trying this easy recipe, I never will go back to commercial syrup again - and it is cheaper!
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#24 Chris Amirault

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Posted 22 March 2008 - 09:19 AM

I've been meaning to do a summary of non-rum ingredients for the ne plus ultra tiki bar drawing from recipes in books by Beachbum Berry and Trader Vic. I've starred what seem to me to be the most common ingredients. Comments encouraged:

Generic Spirits & Liqueurs applejack
apricot brandy*
aquavit
blue curacao
bourbon
brandy
cherry brandy*
creme de banana
creme de cacao*
creme de cassis
curacao*
gin
macadamia nut liqueur
maraschino* (especially in Trader Vic's recipes)
okolehao
parfait amour
pimento dram
port
sherry
sloe gin
tequila
triple sec*
vermouth (sweet & dry)
vodka
Branded Spirits & Liqueurs Barenjager
Benedictine
Campari
Cointreau*
Galliano
Grand Marnier
Herbsaint* (see discussion above)
Licor 43/Cuarenta Y Tres
Pernod*
Syrupsdemerara
falernum*
grenadine*
honey
maple syrup
orgeat*
passion fruit syrup*
Rose's Lime Juice
simple*
Juices & Nectarsgrapefruit
guava nectar
lemon*
lime*
orange*
papaya nectar
passion fruit nectar
pineapple juice*
EtceteraAngostura bitters*
coconut cream*
coconut snow*
coffee
half n half/heavy cream
sweet & sour mix

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#25 Scott S

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Posted 22 March 2008 - 03:05 PM

Syrupsdemerara


Demerara Syrup? Is this just a simple syrup with Demerara Sugar?

#26 Chris Amirault

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Posted 22 March 2008 - 06:01 PM

Yes, though I (and most others I know) make it 2:1 and not 1:1. That's more my addition than something listed in Berry or Bergeron, though; I've found that it makes more sense than simple syrup in a few tiki drinks.
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#27 Scott S

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Posted 22 March 2008 - 06:28 PM

I definitely agree. I keep turbinado- and demerara-based simple syrups around at all times, and some turbinado-based rock candy syrup for the extremes. I haven't used white over-processed sugar for SS in quite some time.

#28 tikibars

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Posted 28 March 2008 - 10:04 AM

This list is pretty comprehensive and will get you through most of the classic Trader Vic and Donn Beach drinks, as well as the drinks by those two gentlemen and others as printed in the four Jeff Berry books.

One note, Okolehao is no longer made.

And (perhaps it was such a given that you didn't feel the need to list it) you skipped the single most important thing possible on this list: RUM.

Now, the various varieties of rum needed are a whole other list in themselves...!
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#29 Chris Amirault

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Posted 28 March 2008 - 11:15 AM

As I mentioned here, I thought we could focus on non-rum ingredients, given that there's a rum topic on the subject.
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#30 Chris Amirault

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Posted 13 April 2008 - 09:26 AM

Found some ripe papayas, so I made some papaya "syrup": -- not exactly nectar: 1:1 fruit pulp:simple syrup, strained, a bit of overproof rum. It's not the most flavorful syrup I've ever tasted, but the texture is very interesting.
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