Hey folks! No, I’m not quite dead yet, I still have coffee.
In all seriousness, after working the Cocktail Apprentice Program at Tales, coming back to Portland and hosting a Grand Marnier tasting, then finding myself wrapped in the opening of a new lounge & bar (not my own), I’m a short leap from locking myself down in the galley with my stash of rum and a bar knife in case of intruders. I’ve got a few little nifties up my sleeve though, for example…
Tiki Night at Vessel! The fine folks at Vessel in Seattle, WA and I will be behind the stick there Sunday August 2nd, whipping up a fine selection of Tiki Drinks for the Seattle Crew, and anyone else who might care to join. The event is open to the public, doors open at 2pm! Come on down (up for me, in this case) and have a Nui Nui, or a Pearl Diver’s Punch! It’s going to be fun!
Is that not enough Tiki excitement in the PNW for you? Well, the weekend after that, August 7th – 9th is the annual Northwest Tiki Kon! This year’s theme is Tiki-Speakeasy, keeping the lowdown on the rum! Join us in Portland for a tiki bar crawl, the classic home bar crawl, and a big swanky event at… well, you’ll find out, if you’ve got the right password. Buy a ticket now and get clued in!
In other other news, Tiki mayhem is picking up again in Portland. Besides the Tiki Kon, there may be a return of the Tiki Nights at Teardrop Lounge! Stay tuned for more info as things pick up steam!
Summer, is it here? Who knows here it Portland. In a matter with Nature’s cruel irony, the June Tiki Tuesday just happened to be on the one cloudy day after a weekend of sunny weather. Luckily, the NW Tiki Crawl was bright and sunshiney, making the pool (and basement bar) at the final stop feel all that much better.
Hot weather brings about inspiration for the Tikiphile in all of us. What better than a full complement of tropical weather and drinks to make ones feet feel lifted, out of the office chair and into a hammock, slung with leisure, and some care, between two native palms. A chilly tropical drink in one hand, and not a damned care in the other.
This drink, as printed in the pages of Trader Vic’s Book of Food and Drink, is the first in his tall ones section. Though listed alphabetically, I think it’s a damned dandy drink to start of a tour of Tropical Tall Ones.
Barbados Red Rum Swizzle
All that stuff about fifteen men on a dead man’s chest, yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum, isn’t just so much hokum. There was more swashbuckling in and around the Barbados Islands, and in all the British West Indies in general, than anyone will ever be able to write about. The natives down there developed a terrific red rum and this little potion is a great way to enjoy it.
- 1/2 lime
- 2 ounces Barbados Rum
- 1 dash Angostura Bitters
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
Squeeze lime and drop in 10-ounce glass; fill glass with shaved ice; add rest of ingredients and swizzle.
Of course, the trader had quite a bit to say about the technique this drink is named for.
Before we go any further, a word about swizzling. I think it’s a hell of an idea. You get your drink and you stir it with a spoon but you don’t get the proper dilution to make it taste good. With your pet swizzler you work it up and down in the drink between the palms of your hands and you get a good chill on the drink and the proper dilution of any strong drink.
The original swizzle sticks, a natural product of the West Indies, consisted of a dried stem of a planty having radiating branches. When the stem is twirled rapidly between the palms of the hands, the forked branch ends induce a perfect mixture.
To give you an idea of the indicated result, here’s a nice little close up of a well-swizzled drink.
If you were to ask this Trader’s opinion (and you’ll get it, asked or not), swizzling appears to be out of fashion. Why that is, who is to say. The Swizzle Stick has been knocked down from bar tool to novelty-wear, a blunt cocktail pick with a doofy flamingo sporting a corporate logo on the top. Perhaps once the muddling of the Mojito madness dies down, this simple but elegant method (and the drinks it is named for) will come back into its proper place in tropical libations.
If you’re looking for a good (and inexpensive) swizzle stick designed in the classic functional fashion, well, best of luck to you. There are a good number of Cocktail Stirrers that have a nice wide shape which work well when swizzling with an up and down technique. A bar spoon can do fine, if the handle is round and not straight. And if you do find a bewitching swizzle stick in your travels, I be willin to share, I be!
After a few full reads of Sippin’ Safari, tonight was the night to syrup the night away!
Still having a few of the leavings from Tiki Kon V, I was ready to mix, boil, muddle and strain. Good thing is, I only had a few things to do!
So, now with Vanilla Syrup, Donn’s Mix, Donn’s Spices #2, Cinnamon Syrup, Pimento Dram (a bit immature still), and Hanalei House mix, I am ready for my own personal Sippin’ Safari!
The first adventure began tonight. Well, almost. It began with an awful stumble. Too late into the night, and weary from the syrups, I mixed a rather off Nui Nui. I’ll just say this. Mason Jars, while fine for storing, are no pouring devices. Still, a lot of the flavors coming out in it are new and exciting. I do believe, however, this will have to be explored much more thoroughly. Perhaps even nightly.
It tears me I won’t be able to make it to San Diego for Tiki Oasis. Oh well.
Our own adventures await!
Just an amazing event this year all around.
SO many people to thank, so much fine rum drank, fun and fantastic all around.
Special thanks to Pyrat, Cockspur, Voodoo Doughnut, Sputnik Housewares, Munktiki, The Jupiter, Thatch, the Alibi, Rum Demon, all the organizers and the best people of all, the attendees. Thank you, from the bottom of my rum-soaked heart.
The kitchen smells entirely of Citrus. Limes, lemons, and Oranges, all hand squeezed. Somewhere over 300+ oz. of juice were hand-squeezed Thursday evening, the stor ‘n pours filled, and several tupperware, to get things prepared for the home bar tour. Syrups mixed, in no particular order: Passion Fruit, Coffee, Honey, Simple Syrup, Grenadine, and Et Cetera Syrup, which was just bits and pieces of whatever wouldn’t fit into the other containers.
Is it sacrilege not to freshly-squeeze each drink? Perhaps. Up and coming, I do believe an experiment is necessary to see exactly how much the Stor ‘n Pour’s plastic affects the flavor of the juice, but until then, with 60+ people crowding the home bar, it’s a necessary evil.
The Kon itself is rolling smoothly. Last night was a whirlwind tour of some of Portland’s lounges. For starters was the Galaxy Karaoke lounge. A fully modern lounge, with televisions playing CSI: Miami and a karaoke setup with Large Screen TV. Not exactly Tiki, well, not actually anything at all Tiki, but a good meeting place, as it introduced guests to the location of the Jupiter, where Saturday’s main event is being held. The one great feature of the Galaxy that was available was the in-wall aquarium, which sets a nice relaxing tone throughout the bar.
Next up was Tonic. Tonic used to be an Irish pub, complete with fully-outfitted wait staff, but now serves as a local dive with just enough pub grub to keep you planted. The rear of the place sports a small arcade room, which then opens up into a surprisingly roomy concert venue with another bar. While there, Mark Axton allowed me to sample a drink he had made himself, partly inspired by his foray into the pirate world.
- 2 oz. Cruzan Black Strap
- 12 oz. Porter
The flavors of the Black Strap and Porter were unbelievably pronounced in this drink, with many hints of banana, cinnamon, molasses, and a lot of other unexpectedly sweet and layered flavors. I do believe this will be my new afternoon delight for a bit.
After Tonic was settled into, the expedition continued to the Pagoda. The Pagoda is simply fascinating. A Chinese-American restaurant serving the finest in Deep-Fried, neon orange food, every single inch of this place stands out in a singular theme. Even the drop-tile ceiling is thematic, with metallic gold panelling, and dragons in a square. Mirrors surround the bar and lounge, which features another Pagoda on top of the liquor shelf. While the decor was amazing though, the vibe of the location was sad. Strange for all the patterned red and gold wallpaper, but the regulars, many of whom have been around for quite some time, found the 50 some odd strangers entering their regular haunt quite disturbing. There’s something inside, like you can almost sense that the place will soon give way to become another karaoke bar or perhaps even a mortgage and real estate office. But, while it’s around, it’s a little slice of treasure for those who like their Chinese food with MSG, and their ambiance themed.
The evening ended shortly thereafter, and was finished off at Union Jacks. Well, a tour of Portland wouldn’t be complete without one of the towns strip clubs, eh?
Tomorrow: The tour continues, with stops at the Alibi, Thatch, and the Cannibal feast at the Jupiter!