It’s been a great time here in sunshiney Portland, welcoming in some of the greatest bartenders and imbibulous personalities in the cocktail realm for the first Portland Cocktail Week.
I had the great opportunity to be part of a bartending team keeping the imbibers imbibing during the Shipwrecked with DonQ Rum Party at Glowing Greens here in Portland. Glowing Greens is certainly one of the most unique places to host a group of mezcal and rum filled rabble rousers, being a mini-golf course deep in the basement of a building in SW Portland. If that weren’t interesting enough, it’s entirely lit with blacklights, to show off the dayglo pirates and skeletons that haunt its realm. I set up a station in the middle of the course… it wasn’t the first time that my makeshift bar was two barrels set together, but it was the first time that they were glowing orange.
I was offering tall drinks to refresh the mini-golfers, and those who might’ve wandered over from the wonderful cocktails being offered by Allan Katz of Caña and Esteban Ordonez.
The first drink on offer at my station was just a combination of DonQ Añejo, Falernum Bitters, and Fentiman’s Tonic. It’s been on my mind lately that I often just want a nice tall refreshing drink. In this day of classic cocktail recreations and new cocktail developments with such full-flavored and booze-heavy ingredients, the focus on drinks being actually thirst-quenching has been lost. Plus, did you know that tonic water glows under blacklight? It’s kind of awesome.
Second, well, this being an opportunity to promote the syrups, I thought I’d offer my favorite drink, the Nui Nui. If you haven’t had one, you really ought. It’s one of the first drinks I had that introduced me to the spicier aspects of tropical cocktails. The combination of lime, orange, cinnamon, allspice, vanilla, bitters and some good rum was just incredible. Since I’ve been making Nui Nuis, I’ve been searching for just the right rum. It’s amazing how much the rum, even good rum, can fall flat in this drink. The drink, per Jeff Berry’s Sippin’ Safari, calls for gold puerto rican rum. I’ve used DonQ Gold before, and found that it worked, but wasn’t necessarily astounding. Even some of the finer Jamaican rums coming out these days, such as Appleton Extra, just didn’t work with the spice components in the drink. Well, I got a chance to make a Nui Nui trying each in the DonQ line, and I am finally extremely happy with the use of DonQ Añejo as the rum. It supports and encourages the flavors to come out of the syrups, and provides that rummy goodness that completes the drink.
- 1/2 oz lime juice
- 1/2 oz orange juice
- 1/4 oz Don’s Spices #2
- 1/4 oz Cinnamon Syrup
- 2 oz DonQ Añejo
- dash bitters
Put ingredients into a mixing tin with 1/2 cup crushed ice. Use top-down mixer or quickly pulse in a blender. Pour into a tall glass and garnish with an orange horseneck.
Both drinks were very well received. They have to be when they’re this simple and tasty! Do you have a favorite tall refresher? Talk about it in the comments!
It’s Derby time once again. Now, this won’t be the first time I’ve discussed the Mint Julep, and certainly won’t be the last. It’s such an iconic and classic drink, in some cases argued to pre-date the cocktail. I plan on enjoying a few of them today, and here’s one variation in particular. I came up with this Julep for a recent competition here in Portland, hosted by Maker’s Mark. It didn’t win the contest, but it did win on the palates of a number of the attendees. I think it’s pretty darn swell myself.
- 6-8 Kentucky Julep Spearmint Leaves
- 2 small chunks pineapple
- 1/2 oz Small Hand Pineapple Gum Syrup
- 1/4 oz Allspice Dram
- 6 drops Herbsaint Original
- dash Angostura bitters
- 2 oz Maker’s Mark bourbon
In a 10 oz collins glass, muddle mint, pineapple, pineapple gum and allspice dram briefly and gently. Release the oils but don’t break the mint too harshly. Top with crushed ice to 3/4 of the glass, add Bourbon. Stir or swizzle until a frost begins to form on the glass, and top with more crushed ice until the glass is overflowing with ice. Garnish with a leafy mint sprig and pineapple wedge.
The drink’s name is King Julep as the pineapple is known as the King of fruits. Inspiration for the drink comes from my want to put a tropical spin on the classic Julep. Now, this might also play well with an aged Rhum Agricole, or strong Jamaican rum such as Smith & Cross, but I find the Maker’s Mark added an interesting nuttiness to the drink that played well with the sweetness of the pineapple gum. The Allspice dram, well, that’s just fun. I also utilized the 1-2 punch of bitters and herbsaint to add complexity, using the new formulation of Herbsaint, which I find enhances the mintiness of the concoction, which can get muddled amidst the other flavors.
All bets are in, hope you enjoy your own Derby Day!
Once again, I face the slings and arrows of the internet and made a video for the Oregon Bartender’s Guild, in which I prepare a Zombie, 1950 style, aka – The Spievak Zombie.
I tend to favor this variation when I’m bartending, as the consistent 1 oz measurement makes it real easy to put together in a hurry.
Zombie, 1950 (from The Barbecue Chef, by Louis Spievak, submitted by Donn Beach)
- 1 oz Fresh Lime Juice
- 1 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
- 1 oz Fresh Pineapple Juice
- 1 oz Passion Fruit Syrup
- 1 oz White Puerto Rican Rum
- 1 oz Gold Puerto Rican Rum
- 1 oz 151 proof Demerara Rum
- 1 tsp Brown Sugar
- dash Angostura Bitters
Stir sugar in Lime juice until dissolved. Shake ingredients in a cocktail shaker with lots of crushed ice and pour into a tall chimney (Zombie) glass, usually 14 oz. Garnish with a mint sprig.
During a recent talk here in Portland at the Great American Distiller’s Festival, I shared a few stories and told of the time when Stephen Crane’s Luau coming into town began the “Big Showdown” of the Exotic restaurant chains. Stephen Crane’s Luau had been a big hit in Beverly Hills, and when he joined forces with the Sheraton to help them compete against Hilton and Trader Vic’s Outrigger chain, he found himself opening restaurants in Montreal, Chicago, and here in Portland.
With this chain, known as Kon-Tiki Ports, Stephen brought all his best bartenders and their recipes to help open each location. One of the drinks developed and served at the Luau was their own version of the famed Scorpion Bowl from Trader Vic’s. One of the first known communal tropical drinks, Vic had been slinging this “thing” since at least the early 1940s, having written about it in his Book of Food and Drink. Stephen Crane’s version takes a few liberties, changing Lemon to Lime and omitting one of the ingredients from Vic’s version, an ounce of white wine.
A single-serving Scorpion these days is a bit… okay, a lot like a lightly tamed FogCutter, with a bigger dollop of Orgeat and omitting the Sherry Float. This version from the Luau, circa 1958 is… well, one of the best. It was served at the recent Tiki Night at Teardrop Lounge, and I see little reason not to serve it again at the next one! The Volcano effect wasn’t on the original recipe but… hey, if Stephen Crane can embellish his restaurant with $1,240 door handles, I think I can embellish the drinks with a splash of 151.
- 1oz Lime juice
- 2oz Orange juice
- 2oz Gold Puerto Rican rum
- 2oz Gin
- 1oz Brandy
- 3/4oz Simple syrup
- 1oz Orgeat
- 8oz Crushed ice
Donate everything to a blender. Spin up like the devil for 3 seconds. Pour, unstrained, into a wisely sized bowl. Drink by yourself or with friends.
When one is serving tropical and exotic libations, as one is wont to do, it is best to have a “safe bet” on the menu. For all the Zombies and Jet Pilots we know and love, the idea of a potent blend of rich and funky rums doesn’t always appeal to every customer (just our favorite ones).
I’ve been putting this drink on my Tiki Night menu for the past few years, and it’s always an easy sell. Fruity, elegantly sweet, and a beautiful shade of pink, it’s one of the few drinks I always get asked “What’s that!” that doesn’t come with a backscratcher or in a flaming volcano bowl.
- 3 oz Guava Nectar
- 1 ½ oz Pineapple Juice
- ¾ oz Lime Juice
- ¼ oz Rock Candy Syrup
- 1 ½ oz Coconut Rum
Combine ingredients in mixing tin and shake with 1 cup crushed ice, or use a handy dandy top-down mixer for 3 seconds. Pour into your nearest coconut shell or chimney glass.
As I like to say on the menu, despite being developed at Disney’s Polynesian resort, this ain’t no Mickey Mouse cocktail. For all the fruit juice and flavored rum, that lime cuts through like a knife, adding balance to all the flavors. It’s certainly still on the sweeter side, but will certainly please even the most refined tropical palates.