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.
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.
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 apricot brandy
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?