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.
HAMILTON: It’s a heavily processed product. It’s heavily engineered as well. In the process of pasteurizing, juice is heated and stripped of oxygen, a process called deaeration, so it doesn’t oxidize. Then it’s put in huge storage tanks where it can be kept for upwards of a year. It gets stripped of flavor-providing chemicals, which are volatile. When it’s ready for packaging, companies such as Tropicana hire flavor companies such as Firmenich to engineer flavor packs to make it taste fresh. People think not-from-concentrate is a fresher product, but it also sits in storage for quite a long time.
To what degree is orange juice still made from Florida oranges?
HAMILTON: Most concentrate is now from Brazil. Shipping it is relatively easy. Until recently, you could count on [Tropicana] Pure Premium being from Florida, but shipping technology has advanced. Companies like Tropicana have started shipping full-strength juice from Brazil rather than buying and squeezing in Florida. The majority of not-from-concentrate is coming from Florida-squeezed oranges, but that’s certainly changing. The orange growing is moving to Brazil, which grows the most oranges for juice by far. Land is cheaper, and environmental regulations are almost nonexistent.
Squeeze fresh folks, as often as you can. I squeeze fresh in low volume (at home), and in high volume (at work). It means a few more trips to the store, but oh the difference! Hell, even freezing your own might do the trick. Got some secrets on keeping fresh citrus fresh? Post a comment!
Welcome to the first part on a series of Easy Tiki Drinks.
Tiki Mixology has gotten a bad rap over the years. The complexity of the concoctions and obscurity of ingredients have deemed Tiki drinks a no-go for home mixologists and bartenders alike. That most damned ingredient, effort, can be a bitch to wrangle. As you know, I make my own ingredients, and have searched far and wide for exotic liqueurs and rums. I recently received a bottle of a discontinued liqueur that I’ve been waiting to obtain for about 8 years. Such is the life of the obsessive.
But for those who aren’t willing to go the extra mile to drink like Donn or Vic, I thought I’d put together a few of my favorite super simple Tiki Drinks. No more than 4 ingredients, nothing more exotic than a trip to the grocery store, and as little homemade as possible. I might make a tinge of difference on a recipe here or there, eliminating garnish or so, just to show you that behind all the ice cones and feathered lime shells, the base of the drink is something pure and spectacular.
This drink below, the Derby Daiquiri, is the spawn of Mariano Licudine, one of the mixologists at Florida’s famed Mai Kai. You could say for certain that this is one of the drinks that put the Mai Kai on the map as a prominent purveyor of polypop potables. Mariano had been a bartender at Don the Beachcomber’s in Hollywood and Chicago, and for more than a decade worked his way up the chain until he was their #2 mixologist. He was then headhunted by the Bob and Jack Thornton, who were in the process of putting together the Mai Kai. There he took on the #1 slot, and made the Mai Kai’s menu, bar, and bartending program his own.
Mariano developed this drinkin 1959 for a Rums of Puerto Rico cocktail competition. It soon made its way to Esquire and other magazines, even being named the signature drink of the Gulfstream Racetrack’s Florida Derby. There’s plenty more information on Mariano and the Mai Kai in Jeff Berry’s Sippin’ Safari .
Originally served with crushed ice and in an ice shell, this drink stands up just fine without those geegaws and doodads. It even had its own distinct but now all-but-extinct specialty cocktail glass, which can be found on the Beachbum’s Grog Blog. Nifty, but also unnecessary.
- 1 oz Orange Juice
- ½ oz Lime
- ½ oz Simple Syrup
- 1½ oz Light Puerto Rican Rum
Shake with Ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Sweet and sultry simplicity. It’s essentially a Daiquiri, but with the sweet richness of orange juice added for a faux-tropical kick. I think over the next few posts, you’ll see just what an influence the Daiquiri had in the development of Tiki Mixology. Hell, as I like to wax poetic about, the potent combo of Rum and Lime is what America craved after all those trips to Cuba during the “noble experiment”.
If you have trouble with this one… well, hope you enjoy hi-balls! You lazy bums…
I’ve got a few more easy ones for you that I’ll be posting all this week. See you in the funny pages.
Alrighty, the first Mixology Monday for Trader Tiki! Hooray!
This MxMo theme, hosted by The Intoxicated Zodiac, is ORANGE! Dear lordy, what am I in for?
Well, I figured I’d put my bout into the foray with a listing and review of all Orange items in my bar, including two types of orange fruits!
I am not the biggest orange fan. I can’t say I don’t like it, but well, perhaps the 5+oz. of various CuraÃ§ao and other liqueurs floating through my system has deranged my senses. There was a flavor in there, citric acid, that I thought I remembered well but, the flavor of everything left me a bit unsatisfied. Luckily, I procured some Citric Acid recently, so I may have to start mixing with a pinch… a tiny, tiny pinch. As well as the list below, I’m going to be attempting a drink featuring orange as the featured flavor, but so far the results have been… unsatisfying. I’m going to have to return to Grog Log and Intoxica for further study. Anyhoo, onto the booze!
Tasting was done with an initial sniff from the open bottle, poured into a shot glass, allowed to open up, tilted for a few seconds, sniffed again, and two tastes. One taste staying in the mouth, one taste straight down the gullet. Palate cleansing done by bread and water.
A liqueur made from the peels of the bitter Larahas orange, grown on the island of CuraÃ§ao. I’ve got three different brands, so here’s the review!
Hiram Walker Orange CuraÃ§ao: A smell of light orange oil, with a vodka like alcohol tinge. The taste was instantly sweet orange, very smooth, with the flavors strongest down the throat. A bit syrupy, very sweet.
Dekuyper Blue CuraÃ§ao: A strong liqueur alcohol smell, some orange after opening up. The taste a bit of orange mixed with rubbing alcohol. Not recommended. Also, stains the hell out of everything it touches. Smurfy fingers! Ack!
Bols CuraÃ§ao: A nice, light orange smell with an alcohol frame. The taste was very lightly sweet orange, not sickly or syrupy, with very little aftertaste. Probably my favored CuraÃ§ao for Mai Tais and other drinks. Incidentally, BOLS was the manufacturer noted for the CuraÃ§ao in the original Mai Tai! Not that I’m so easily persuaded, except that I totally am.
Monarch Triple Sec: The smell is a nice orangey scent, with a bit of neutral-grain spirit burn in the nose. The taste is sweet, like an orange popsicle. Truly reminiscent of an otter pop, but with a mild burn in the throat.
Cointreau: The smell is lightly orange, with a strong, cordial alcohol kick. The taste is a well-refined alcohol and orange blend, delicately blended in, with a slight fresh orange aftertaste.
Grand Marnier: The smell is entirely alcohol, but a hint of orange mixes in after being allowed to open up. The taste is strongly alcoholic, but with a very nice orange oil flavor. The aftertaste burns a bit, but very pleasantly.
Well, not that they all aren’t, but these don’t fit into the Triple Sec or CuraÃ§ao category, as far as I can tell
Sublime: smells of orange hard-candy, with a light brandy-like perfume. The taste is very sweet on the tongue, a bit harsh down. Tastes like a really good CuraÃ§ao, with a bit of alcohol burn. An orange and bubble-gum kind of aftertaste.
Marie Brizzard Parfait Amour: What a strange one this is. The smell is sweet, grapey, and has a candy flavor I have smelled before, but cannot place it. There is some alcohol to the scent after opening up, as well as some nice orange oil. It hits the tongue with a very nice, medium sweetness, and continues on for quite awhile into the aftertaste. It’s a very nice, light, slightly candy-like orange.
Oh boy, orange bitters! It’s the bitterness in oranges I tend to blend towards in cocktails. I was very excited to try these, particularly after getting some Regan’s Orange Bitters #6, and Fee Bros. Orange, and.. well, see below!
Regan’s Orange Bitters #6: The smell is a bit of orange, and cherry, with a smoky-sweet fragrance. The liquid evaporates in the mout immediately, leaving a strong smokiness and orange pith, with a smokey aftertaste. Nice stuff, and I’m anxious to try in other cocktails.
Fee Bros. Orange Bitters: A Bitter orange pith smell, the taste is spicy, and has that consistent Fee Bros. clove spice to it. A very bitter, Campari-like aftertaste.
Stirrings Blood Orange Bitters: Sweet, Tokay-like qualities of fig and cherry. Very much blood orange juice, but with a candy-sweet pomegranate sort of personality, but without the sting of pom. Definitely something you can use a 1/4 oz. of in a drink.
Campari: Tasting this stuff just makes me want a Negroni time and time again. I’m still working towards Campari and Cola, but me and Italian Bitters have a lot to work on, particularly after trying Cynar. There is a bit of an almond, cherry and smokiness to the smell. The taste, well, bitter, with a bit of cherry, blood orange, and smokey bitterness.
Orange Flower Water: Smells like perfume, tastes like perfume. Pretty much enough said. Great for bring out the florals in a drink!
Yes, actual oranges! Crazy!
Sunkist Valencia: Bittersweet, more emphasis on the sweet, with a light citric acid sting. A bit watery.
Australian Navel Orange: Sweet, full-bodied orange flavor.
So there you have it, according to my palate. Anyone interested is of course welcome to have a swig at my home bar.
Time for Miehanas!
There was a post about this, that or the other… oh yes, the obscure ingredient Parfait Amour. Well, having had an unopened bottle on my shelf for quite some time, I finally felt inspired after reading through this archived post on Cocktail Chronicles.
And so, finally hearing the satisfying snap of a newly opened bottle, the Parfait Amour was poured, and yee heavens what came out. A nice soft unfermented, very sweet grape flavor. Which, strangely enough I had no expectation of considering the bright purple coloring of the liqueur. The orange juice fresh, the gin Aviation, and the Vermouth D’aquino Dry. The vermouth is from Trader Joe’s. It was super cheap, and Trader Joe’s usually stocks some high quality stuff. As a vermouth, it’s fine, but I’m no expert in those flavors.
So, onto the cocktail! As it sits in my hand, then down my gullet, the orange and grape interplay in a very interesting manner. Using fresh squeezed orange juice can tend to impart a bit more orange-water than strong orange flavoring, so it’s nice that all the sharp notes took a backseat to let each other play around. It’s light, refreshing, and lightly complex, with the Vermouth and Gin in a “battle of the flowers” as it passes across the tongue. It’s a very nice, well made cocktail, albeit the color is, as I was warned, a bit grey. This is no matter, really, but a bit of flourish in the cocktail is part of the experience. I went with a purple umbrella for garnish to try and bring out the purple in the drink, but it does appear a bit washed out.
- 1 1/2 ounces gin (Aviation Recommended)
- 3/4 ounce Dry Vermouth
- 1 teaspoon Orange Juice
- 1 teaspoon Parfait Amour
Shake with ice, and strain into chilled cocktail glass.
Now, please understand I make no insistence that I have any more knowledge than any other cocktailian, mixologist, or booze slinger out there. But here’s a tid bit I was taught in both bar tending school, and by masters of the art. Before mixing a cocktail, throw some ice in the glass you will be straining into. It helps cool the glass, keep the cocktail cool longer, and adds the much desired beads of condensation, which make the drink look that much more appealing. This pretty much specifically applies to cocktail glasses, as given their wide mouth, are prone to loosing their cool pretty rapidly. Just make sure you throw the ice out before you strain.
And yes, yes.. the Tiki Kon wrapup. Coming shortly. I’ll leave out all the miscellany and just keep to the booze. Slinging for 60 people at your home bar can tend to wear you down a bit.