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The Tiki Drink Discussion Topic


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#1 bmdaniel

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Posted 14 August 2009 - 09:23 AM

As a very recent newcomer to Tiki Drinks, I was a bit surprised to see how little discussion there has been in this forum about these delicious and complex drinks. There is an extremely helpful ingredients thread as well as a thread on rums for tiki drinks, but not much discussion on the drinks themselves. I think thats a pity, because not only are the drinks themselves exceptional, in my opinion, but there is quite a bit of opportunity for substitution and updating. So, I figured I'd try to get the ball rolling.

I live in Dallas, where the average temperature has been 3 digits for the past month, and so there is quite a bit of appeal in these cooling, tropical concoctions. For me, a weeknight after work is a nice time for a classic cocktail and/or a bottle of wine. But a weekend, especially a 103 degree one, is a spectacular time to make a tiki drink or 4, and be transported to a (faux-) tropical getaway. Thus, I propose (for myself at least), devoting at one day of weekend mixology to this task each week.

I recently read through Jeff Berry's excellent Sippin' Safari (which I highly recommend to anyone interested in the subject whatsoever), so I thought I'd begin working through the cocktails he shares in that book providing whatever commentary/questions/etc. come to my mind (fair warning - I know very little about this genre of cocktails, and so it's highly likely that some/all of this will be uninteresting and/or rank amateurish). At least at the start I probably won't be tinkering too much, instead working on trying to build a decent foundation for the drinks and the interesting surrounding history/trivia.

Hopefully, others will chime in with their own drinks/comments/ideas, etc. - I think this could be a lot of fun and help build up a very helpful resource on an under discussed topic on this forum.

Okole Maluna!

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#2 Chris Amirault

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Posted 14 August 2009 - 09:51 AM

I'm definitely eager to partake. I've got Trader Vic's book, the first two Jeff Berry books, and a lot of interest. Always tricky to assemble all of the ingredients just so, and I'm out of orgeat right now. But these impediments can be addressed.

Here's a starting point. I have just obtained a (vintage?) "volcano bowl" and have been wondering what drink to make in it. Thoughts?
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#3 bmdaniel

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Posted 14 August 2009 - 09:56 AM

Okay - so for my first two posts, I figured, why not get immediately out of my league and take on a couple of the classics (both surrounded by a fair bit of mystery and/or controversy). What better to start with than probably the most famous of all Tiki drinks, and the most likely to have been tried (at least in some version), by general cocktail drinkers - the Mai-Tai

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Alright, so this post is really two drinks. Trader Vic's famous Mai Tai (right), and the drink which Don the Beachcomber accused him of ripping off, the Q.B. Cooler (left).

Trader Vic's Mai Tai - Courtesy of Sippin' Safari

1 ounce fresh lime juice
1/2 ounce orange Curacao (MB orange Curacao)
1/4 ounce sugar syrup (slightly less rich demarara syrup)
1/4 ounce orgeat syrup (homemade)
1 ounce aged Jamaican rum (Appleton Estate)
1 ounce amber Martinique rum (St. James Ambre)

Shake well with crushed ice; pour into a double old-fashioned glass; garnish with mint sprig

Don the Beachcomber's Q.B. Cooler - Courtesy of Sippin' Safari

1 ounce fresh orange juice
1 ounce club soda
1 ounce Lowndes Jamaican rum (Appleton V/X)
1 ounce white Pontalba rum (Flor de Cana 4)
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
1/2 ounce Don's honey mix (equal parts honey/water)
1/2 ounce Western Pearl demerare (Lemon Hart)
1/4 ounce Falernum (John Taylor's)
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
1/2 teaspoon ginger syrup

Blend with 4 ounces crushed ice for 5 seconds; top up with more crushed ice

Jeff's take on this controversy is that Trader Vic was "inspired" by the Q.B. cooler and tried to re-create it, resulting in his Mai-Tai. Obviously, the interesting outcome is that there is hardly any similarity in ingredients or proportions between the two drinks (although one can see where he was going after the same flavor profiles - e.g. the Curacao for orange juice, etc.)

There is a very similar overall flavor profile to these drinks, but a large difference in intensity (at least as made by me). Between blending the crushed ice (consider, 4 oz of crushed ice in essentially 6 ounces of room temperature liquid - quite a lot of melting), and the club soda, the Q.B. Cooler is considerably watered down compared to the relatively intense Trader Vic Mai-Tai. There is also a much more "in-your-face" sour component to the Mai-Tai brought by the relatively high proportion of lime juice.

Donn Beach might have been the original, and by all accounts superior Tiki mixologist, but in this battle I'd have to give my preference to Trader Vic. Made with homemade orgeat, this is drink is at once, bracing, tropical, and complex (especially the interplay between the two rums and the orgeat). I'd be interested if anyone has more luck than I did with the Q.B. cooler - I'm tempted to play around with the citrus ratios and see if I can create something more attuned to my palate.

ETA: I would be remiss not to note, however, that my wife preferred the Q.B. cooler (and I do agree with her that although more subtle, there is probably more overall complexity in Donn's mix of drink, if not as overall as pleasing of a cocktail for me).

Edited by bmdaniel, 14 August 2009 - 09:58 AM.


#4 bmdaniel

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Posted 14 August 2009 - 10:14 AM

I'm definitely eager to partake. I've got Trader Vic's book, the first two Jeff Berry books, and a lot of interest. Always tricky to assemble all of the ingredients just so, and I'm out of orgeat right now. But these impediments can be addressed.

Here's a starting point. I have just obtained a (vintage?) "volcano bowl" and have been wondering what drink to make in it. Thoughts?

View Post


Interesting that you should ask - one of the things I was struck by in the great photographs in Jeff's book were the different tiki glasses/servingware. I've been poking around on ebay looking at bowls in particular.

The bowl drink in Sippin' Safari that jumped out as the most interesting was the Tiki Bowl. If it's not in Grog Log or Intoxica, I'm happy to pm you the recipe.

#5 Wild Bill Turkey

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Posted 14 August 2009 - 06:04 PM

Here's a starting point. I have just obtained a (vintage?) "volcano bowl" and have been wondering what drink to make in it. Thoughts?

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The intended use for the Volcano Bowl is the Volcano, which calls for the small volcano in the middle of the bowl to be filled with 151 and set ablaze. ( also requiring extra long straws so your drunk friends don't singe their eyebrows )

There's also the Scorpion Bowl, from Grog Log, and I see no reason why you couldn't do the same flaming rum trick in the volcano bowl when you make this drink.

#6 Yojimbo

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Posted 15 August 2009 - 06:34 PM

Here's a starting point. I have just obtained a (vintage?) "volcano bowl" and have been wondering what drink to make in it. Thoughts?

View Post

The intended use for the Volcano Bowl is the Volcano, which calls for the small volcano in the middle of the bowl to be filled with 151 and set ablaze. ( also requiring extra long straws so your drunk friends don't singe their eyebrows )

There's also the Scorpion Bowl, from Grog Log, and I see no reason why you couldn't do the same flaming rum trick in the volcano bowl when you make this drink.

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Ah, the Scorpion Bowl! I'm trying to remember whether the scorpion bowl at Trader Vic's in NYC had flames or not, but given I was about 16 at the time and rather intoxicated, I'm not sure I'd bet anything on my recollection. The bowl did look nice, though.
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#7 Chris Amirault

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Posted 15 August 2009 - 08:24 PM

Is there any particular reason why a Volcano or Scorpion Bowl would be served in a big bowl? If not, would one anger the gods by serving, say, a Mai Tai in one?
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#8 Wild Bill Turkey

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Posted 15 August 2009 - 10:33 PM

The legend is that if you make a large batch of Mai Tai and serve it in a Volcano Bowl, Trader Vic will rise from the dead (ironically turning him into a Zombie, a Don the Beachcomber creation) and come to take you to your grave.

I used to scoff at this, like anyone would, until the night I tried it when some friends came over. I had just poured the drink into the bowl and was adding the big straws when we all heard heavy footsteps coming down the hallway. Well, more like one footstep alternating with a sound like a heavy club hitting the floor and being dragged. I realized with a growing sense of horror that it was Trader Vic's wooden leg.

I quickly poured the drink into the sink, and the noise stopped, replaced with a deep rumbling laugh, and then nothing. I ran into the hall to find it empty.

I suppose you could make a scaled down Fish House punch for one glass, or you could make a punch-sized Mai Tai. Logic dictates it shouldn't matter. But if you try it and you hear that step-bump-drag in your hall, for God's sake pour it out.

Edited by Wild Bill Turkey, 15 August 2009 - 10:43 PM.


#9 Vieux Carré

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Posted 17 August 2009 - 04:27 PM

Made my day Wild Bill!

#10 bmdaniel

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Posted 25 August 2009 - 04:08 PM

Dick Santiago Cocktails

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(Clockwise from top left: Rum Cow; Rum, Gum, and Lime; Donga Punch; Golden Stag; Port Au Prince; Coola Culla Don)

If I haven't made it clear already, I think Sippin' Safari is a great book for anyone interested in tiki cocktails, or even moreso, the people behind their creation and formative years. Jeff does a great job of bringing to life the colorful characters who made and served these drinks, and the extent to which they were really front and center in the Hollywood culture of the 1930s and 40s. It wasn't just that stars like Barbara Stanwyck, William Holden, Bob Hope, and Ava Gardner were all frequent guests of Don the Beachcomber's - even Donn's employees themselves became part of the Hollywood set. The best example is probably Leon Lontoc, who despite amassing 53 TV and Movie credits (according to IMDB), never stopped working as a the waiter for tables 12, 14, and 16.

Another interesting character Jeff features in the book is Dick Santiago. Dick's duties at Don's included burning the names of celebrities into their own personal chopsticks (stored on-site), weaving palm-frond hats, and driving Ava Gardner home after she had one too many. Jeff uncovered his personal notebook* and in his honor, my wife and I dedicated a Saturday to trying recipes from Dick's personal collection.

Rum Cow

1/2 ounce sugar syrup
1 ounce dark Jamaican rum (Cruzan Blackstrap)
1 1/2 ounces milk

Shake and strain into cocktail glass - serve with grated nutmeg (I didn't have any nutmeg and replaced with a mist of angostura bitters on top)

This was a nice take on a typical New Orleans milk punch - if you served this to me blind, "Tiki" might not be the first word that came to mind, but it was undoubtedly delicious (if sweet). If you like milk punch, I would definitely recommend this variant (you could probably leave out the syrup if using the Blackstrap)

Rum, Gum, and Lime

1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
1 ounce soda water
1 teaspoon sugar syrup
1 1/2 ounces Infierno (A defunct 20 year aged Cuban rum)

Stir together in old-fashioned glass with orange and lime peels.

Jeff suggests this cocktail as a good way to enjoy an aged sipping rum. I didn't have anything particularly special, so made it with Appleton Extra. I thought it ended up tasting pretty bland, like a watery daiquiri, but would like to revisit with a more worthy rum.

Donga Punch

3/4 ounce fresh lime juice
1 1/2 ounce Don's mix (2 parts grapefruit juice to 1 part cinnamon infused sugar)
1 1/2 ounce aged Martinique rum (St. James Extra Old)

This was kind of like a smokey Hemingway Daiquri with cinnamon stepping in for the Maraschino - would probably be even more interesting if the cinnamon was more pronounced than it turned out in my version.

Golden Stag

1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
1/2 ounce sugar syrup
1 ounce golden stag rum (Appleton V/X)
1/2 ounce aged dark jamaican (Appleton Extra)
1/2 ounce Louisiana rum (Flor De Cana Gold)
Dash Angostura Bitters

I think this drink is a great example of what you can achieve blending rums that you don't get with single rums drink - this is basically just a 4:1:1 daiquiri, but comes across as a wholly different drink than if it was just made with 2 oz of white rum. Perhaps not as clean as your standard Daiquiri, but I'd prefer it anytime.

Port Au Prince

1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
1/2 ounce unsweetened pineapple juice
1/2 ounce Falernum (Taylor)
1/4 ounce sugar syrup
3/4 ounce Barbancourt Five-Star Rum
3/4 ounce amber Virgin Islands rum (Flor de Cana gold)
Dash Angostura bitters
6 drops grenadine (homemade)
4 ounces crushed ice

Blend everything for 5 seconds and serve in a Pilsner glass

This drink is pretty straightforward (in that it tastes about like you'd expect), but is still very enjoyable. The blend of rums works nicely with the pineapple juice to create a tasty drink.

It does bring up a constant issue I've been having witht he recipes in Jeff's book; Including the ice, you've got a total volume of 7 1/2 ounces max (actually probably substantially less, based on the density of crushed ice and accounting for melting). In the book, they show this served in a pilsner glass filled to the brim. Did people really have 7 ounce pilsner glasses back then? I'm hard pressed to find one available smaller than 12 oz today. As you can see in the picture, it barely came halfway up my old-fashioned glass. This hasn't just been this one drink either, but pretty consistent so far in making these drinks - any thoughts? Are modern glasses just huge, or are Jeff's recipes scaled down? Is it just a function of adapting from the more specialized glassware Don employed? Would love to hear anyones thoughts/experiences.

Coola Culla Don

1 teaspoon Coola Culla mix (equal parts sweet butter and honey)
1/4 ounce Donn Spices #2 (equal parts vanilla syrup and pimento liquor)
1/4 ounce cinnamon infused syrup
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
1 1/2 ounce gold Puerto Rican rum (Flor de Cana gold)
3 ounces crushed ice

Blend for 20 seconds and strain into a specialty glass (like a small, straight-sided brandy snifter)

This recipe brings up an oddity among Don's recipes (to me at least) - the use of butter in cocktails. It's a relatively common theme, and in this cocktail ended up with a visually unappetizing result (I don't know if you can see in the picture, but the butter didn't fully integrate and produced an odd-looking drink). Unfortunate, because the drink was delicious - rich from the butter with an interesting interplay of spices from the vanilla, allspice, and cinnamon.

Is there anyone in modern-day mixology incorporating butter (or any fat for that matter) into their cocktails? It's something potentially worth playing with, if anyone has tips for getting past the unfortunate appearance.

--------------------------------------------------------------------

Stepping back from the individual cocktails, I think this sampling gives an interesting view of the diversity that was available in the tiki scene. Before starting this, I had a tendency to think of Tiki Drinks as a relatively uniform family (and even among these, every drink but the Rum Cow includes Rum, Sugar, and Lime). However, even with these similarities, the 6 drinks are remarkably different in their final outcome. For me, it has created an increased appreciation for the large role that the "supporting elements" in a drink can play in completely reshaping a cocktail, as well as just how diverse and versatile a group of spirits get lumped together as Rum.


*Incidentally, Dick's notebook also provided a breakthrough in Jeff's quest to uncover the authentic Zombie - an issue for a future post.

#11 Kent Wang

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Posted 25 August 2009 - 05:00 PM

That tiki cup is great. Where did you get it?

#12 bmdaniel

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Posted 25 August 2009 - 06:28 PM

I wish I had an interesting answer to that, but I just ordered it from KegWorks. I'd like to add some interesting tiki-ware to my glassware collection - bowls in particular.

Chris. - where did you get your bowl?

#13 Chris Amirault

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Posted 25 August 2009 - 06:48 PM

Yard sale. All the best stuff I have is from thrift stores, yard sales, you name it.

Meanwhile, I'm tempted to dump a quadruple Test Pilot into that bowl, knock the whole thing back myself, and see if Vic visits. I'd like to talk to the guy about his current distribution limitations....
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#14 thirtyoneknots

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Posted 26 August 2009 - 12:00 AM

It does bring up a constant issue I've been having witht he recipes in Jeff's book; Including the ice, you've got a total volume of 7 1/2 ounces max (actually probably substantially less, based on the density of crushed ice and accounting for melting). In the book, they show this served in a pilsner glass filled to the brim. Did people really have 7 ounce pilsner glasses back then? I'm hard pressed to find one available smaller than 12 oz today. As you can see in the picture, it barely came halfway up my old-fashioned glass. This hasn't just been this one drink either, but pretty consistent so far in making these drinks - any thoughts? Are modern glasses just huge, or are Jeff's recipes scaled down? Is it just a function of adapting from the more specialized glassware Don employed? Would love to hear anyones thoughts/experiences.


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The Pilsner glasses I have are conical and hold 10 oz, perfect for blending about 3-3.5 oz of liquid with crushed ice with an immersion blender and then topping up (as most recipes call for) with a touch more of crushed ice. I bought them for a song at a thrift store in Denton, Texas, but I've seen the same or very very similar ones since and I think they may still be in available.

In general though, I do in fact think that modern glasses are larger than their predecessors.
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#15 bmdaniel

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Posted 26 August 2009 - 06:58 AM

The Pilsner glasses I have are conical and hold 10 oz, perfect for blending about 3-3.5 oz of liquid with crushed ice with an immersion blender and then topping up (as most recipes call for) with a touch more of crushed ice. I bought them for a song at a thrift store in Denton, Texas, but I've seen the same or very very similar ones since and I think they may still be in available.

In general though, I do in fact think that modern glasses are larger than their predecessors.

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This is definitely a problem for me in general - I love the Riedel highball and old-fashioned glasses we got as wedding gifts, but they are huge (22 7/8 and 15 1/8 respectively). It's either huge cocktails or mostly empty glasses (I don't mind so much on the old-fashioned glasses, but it's a real problem with swizzles, fizzes, etc.)

One thing that's nice about the KegWorks tiki glasses is that they are only 10 oz - these work great for the drinks, but not as well for photos that let you see the cocktails.

#16 thirtyoneknots

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Posted 26 August 2009 - 08:17 AM



The Pilsner glasses I have are conical and hold 10 oz, perfect for blending about 3-3.5 oz of liquid with crushed ice with an immersion blender and then topping up (as most recipes call for) with a touch more of crushed ice. I bought them for a song at a thrift store in Denton, Texas, but I've seen the same or very very similar ones since and I think they may still be in available.

In general though, I do in fact think that modern glasses are larger than their predecessors.

View Post


This is definitely a problem for me in general - I love the Riedel highball and old-fashioned glasses we got as wedding gifts, but they are huge (22 7/8 and 15 1/8 respectively). It's either huge cocktails or mostly empty glasses (I don't mind so much on the old-fashioned glasses, but it's a real problem with swizzles, fizzes, etc.)

One thing that's nice about the KegWorks tiki glasses is that they are only 10 oz - these work great for the drinks, but not as well for photos that let you see the cocktails.

View Post


Wow those are gigantic! Almost to the point where they are impractical for making mixed drinks of any kind, it would seem. Of course my cabinet and a half of assorted glassware isn't winning any marks for practicality, either :wacko:
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#17 bmdaniel

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Posted 26 August 2009 - 08:19 AM

Wow those are gigantic! Almost to the point where they are impractical for making mixed drinks of any kind, it would seem. Of course my cabinet and a half of assorted glassware isn't winning any marks for practicality, either  :wacko:

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Well - I don't mind the look of an old-fashioned glass with rocks and the drink only going 1/3rd to 1/2 of the way up (especially with the cool spherical ice balls). The highball glasses are a problem though.

#18 bmdaniel

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Posted 24 September 2009 - 07:56 AM

A Tale Of 3 Zombies

IMG_0472.JPG

(Left to right: Spievak Zombie, Cabaret Zombie, Dick Santiago Zombie)

For a variety of pleasant and unpleasant reasons I have been sadly negligent in my Tiki adventures over the last weeks. Fortunately I was able to get back into the saddle last weekend, and had a great time making and tasting Zombies.

I know I'm starting to sound like a shill, but Sippin Safari is really a great book. Even if you aren't that interested in the tiki cocktail scene of the 30's and 40's, or the great photos, the chapter on the Zombie is worth the price of admission. Since it's creation by Don in 1934, the Zombie was probably his most famous drink (both for its taste and it's legendary potency). Because of this popularity, Zombie imitations quickly spread to cocktail bars across the US. However, due to Don's system of secrecy (ingredient bottles labeled with strange names that the bartender's didn't know what contained), no one really knew how to make one. This created Jeff quite a bit of trouble in trying to find the true Zombie recipe as well, because lame imitation recipes abounded. However, he eventually cracked the case in the form of a 1950 cookbook by Jeff Spievak called Barbecue Chef, which contained a delicious, balanced Zombie recipe with an attribution to Don himself. This is the recipe Jeff published in Intoxica, and seems to be the most commonly seen one in cocktail circles these days.

The story doesn't end there though - after publishing Intoxica, Jeff stumbled upon a 1956 issue of Cabaret Magazine that claimed to publish for the first time Don's Zombie recipe, with his consent. To make matters worse, the recipe produces an almost completely different drink than the Spievak version, but an equally delicious one. At this point, it almost seemed that the Zombie mystery was going permanently back to unsolved status, until (as discussed in the previous Dick Santiago post), Jeff got his hands on Dick Santiago's bar book, complete with a recipe for Zombie Punch. After a great bit of detective work to crack the code on the ingredient "Don's Mix" (2 parts grapefruit juice to one part cinnamon syrup), he had a third recipe.

Mostly because I'm a big nerd, I went ahead and put all three recipes in a table that makes the relationships between the three drinks pretty clear (to me at least):

Zombies.jpg

It seems pretty obvious that the Cabaret Zombie is a mild evolution of the Dick Santiago version, with the maraschino funkiness replacing the cinnamon syrup spice, and subbing dark Jamaican rum for lighter. The Spievak Zombie (which many of you probably know and love) is a wildly different drink, mainly about passionfruit instead of a balancing of rum, pineapple, and funkiness/spice. So what on earth is going on here? Well, I don't think anyone knows. Jeff's hypothesis is that either Don came up with the Spievak version to be easier to make for home mixologists than the actual version (which are pretty cumbersome beasts) or that Spievak is just a great liar and darn good tiki mixologist.

If you have only tried the passionfruit version in Intoxica, I highly recommend making the Cabaret version (the Santiago version in interesting for historical context, but I think the latter one is an improved drink). To me, it is a significantly better cocktail, with a very interesting interplay between the pineapple, maraschino, and rums. Even better, do what I did last weekend and make all three - you won't regret it (although you might regret drinking 3 zombies in the morning).

#19 John Rosevear

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Posted 24 September 2009 - 10:22 AM

Interesting conclusion, more so because it differs greatly from my own. Having made quite a few examples of all three Zombies, I (and those I've served them to) are unanimous: The Santiago recipe (aka the '1934 Zombie', as it is known in some quarters) wins hands-down. But: This only holds when the drink is made with fresh white grapefruit juice. Subbing pink grapefruit juice (even fresh) or anything from a bottle or carton degrades the drink significantly, and throws it into something of a tie with the 1950 Spievak version. It's amazing how much of a difference it makes.

I don't much care for the later Cabaret iteration -- the Maraschino always seems out of place to me (edited to add: ...and I wouldn't be surprised to someday learn that Don made it up on the spot for the magazine.)

Edited by John Rosevear, 24 September 2009 - 10:24 AM.

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#20 bmdaniel

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Posted 28 September 2009 - 07:53 AM

Interesting conclusion, more so because it differs greatly from my own. Having made quite a few examples of all three Zombies, I (and those I've served them to) are unanimous: The Santiago recipe (aka the '1934 Zombie', as it is known in some quarters) wins hands-down. But: This only holds when the drink is made with fresh white grapefruit juice. Subbing pink grapefruit juice (even fresh) or anything from a bottle or carton degrades the drink significantly, and throws it into something of a tie with the 1950 Spievak version. It's amazing how much of a difference it makes.

I don't much care for the later Cabaret iteration -- the Maraschino always seems out of place to me (edited to add: ...and I wouldn't be surprised to someday learn that Don made it up on the spot for the magazine.)


I used fresh pink grapefruit juice for everything - if/when I can get my hands on a white grapefruit, I'll try it again. I did think, to my taste, the maraschino-pineapple combination was a surprisingly good one. I will probably try riffing on it in some other drinks (maybe a pisco punch variation)?

#21 Chris Amirault

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Posted 29 September 2009 - 02:16 PM

That white/pink grapefruit pointer applies to just about everything, imo, especially stuff that dates back to the 1950s and 1960s.

So here's a question for the tiki crowd: you are teaching a course on cocktails and you are planning to make one tiki drink (not sure about the other two drinks, but leaning Daiquiri for one and something with arrack/Swedish punsch for the other). What drink do you make?
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#22 thirtyoneknots

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Posted 29 September 2009 - 03:30 PM

That white/pink grapefruit pointer applies to just about everything, imo, especially stuff that dates back to the 1950s and 1960s.

So here's a question for the tiki crowd: you are teaching a course on cocktails and you are planning to make one tiki drink (not sure about the other two drinks, but leaning Daiquiri for one and something with arrack/Swedish punsch for the other). What drink do you make?


The most essential, most perfect, most misunderstood, abused, and bastardized:

The Mai Tai, of course. And if you are going to be able to compare it to a Daiquiri it shows what happens when you start tweaking classic formulae.
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#23 bmdaniel

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Posted 29 September 2009 - 03:34 PM


That white/pink grapefruit pointer applies to just about everything, imo, especially stuff that dates back to the 1950s and 1960s.

So here's a question for the tiki crowd: you are teaching a course on cocktails and you are planning to make one tiki drink (not sure about the other two drinks, but leaning Daiquiri for one and something with arrack/Swedish punsch for the other). What drink do you make?


The most essential, most perfect, most misunderstood, abused, and bastardized:

The Mai Tai, of course. And if you are going to be able to compare it to a Daiquiri it shows what happens when you start tweaking classic formulae.


I tend to agree, although the Zombie (non-Spievak version) is an interesting example of a really great drink coming from throwing 11-12 ingredients together. I doubt your students will see many (if any) drinks so good with so many different ingredients playing together.

#24 John Rosevear

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Posted 29 September 2009 - 04:02 PM

I would also vote for the Mai Tai. It's recognizable as a classic sour, but a relatively complex one, and (assuming you're using Berry's recipe) it's a great place to introduce the critical-to-Tiki idea of layering rums. You could have students substitute ingredients with different nuances -- vanilla syrup for the simple, say, or a Demerara rum for the Jamaican -- and note the changes to the overall drink.

And yeah, then at the end of the class do a 1934 Zombie, IMO the only other real candidate for "most essential, most perfect, most misunderstood, abused, and bastardized."
John Rosevear
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#25 Chris Amirault

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Posted 29 September 2009 - 06:09 PM

If I'm going with a Mai Tai, I'm making a Surf Room Mai Tai from Intoxica!, which I believe is the ne plus ultra of Mai Tais:

1 oz light PR rum
1 oz dark Jamaican rum
1 oz demerara rum
1/4 oz curacao
1/4 oz simple
1/4 oz orgeat
1/4 oz lemon
1/2 oz lime
1 oz pineapple
1 oz orange

Damn, I gotta make some orgeat....
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#26 John Rosevear

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Posted 29 September 2009 - 06:19 PM

The Surf Room Mai Tai is indeed amazing. My wife has me make them by the (gallon!) pitcher for parties. Very, very popular.

FWIW, I think the Monin almond syrup makes a decent orgeat, if you don't feel like making it from scratch. It lacks a bit of nuance, but it's not bad.
John Rosevear
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#27 Chris Amirault

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Posted 29 September 2009 - 06:24 PM

I would rather die than serve the Monin, and we've got some simple, killer orgeat receipts over here.
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#28 John Rosevear

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Posted 29 September 2009 - 06:29 PM

Oh c'mon, you could do a lot worse... try the Fee's, for example. (Actually, don't.)

Edit: I did try the Art of Drink recipe a couple of years ago and it seemed more work than it was worth. But perhaps I'll try it again...

Edited by John Rosevear, 29 September 2009 - 06:33 PM.

John Rosevear
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#29 Chris Amirault

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Posted 29 September 2009 - 06:41 PM

Try Sam's small batch version.
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#30 thirtyoneknots

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Posted 29 September 2009 - 09:10 PM

And yeah, then at the end of the class do a 1934 Zombie, IMO the only other real candidate for "most essential, most perfect, most misunderstood, abused, and bastardized."


I'd have to respectfully disagree with you there...the Zombie was only misunderstood, abused, and bastardized due to the overzealous secrecy of its creator. Vic published his Mai Tai recipe to the eternal betterment of all Mankind and so deserves a place among such luminaries as Jerry Thomas and Henry Charles Ramos for making public the secret recipes on which his livelihood depended.

I'd also be very hesitant to serve as a "Mai Tai" any recipe containing pineapple or orange juice. Just doesn't seem right, especially as exposure to the uninitiated.
Andy Arrington

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