Jeff Berry, author of Beachbum Berry’s Potions of the Caribbean.
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Tiki Primer

Jeffery Lindenmuth - June 2014

A Tiki culture connoisseur takes a serious look at tropical drinks and offers history and instruction to give them the respect they deserve.

It’s tough to look upon a cocktail garnished with a plastic monkey or a bamboo backscratcher (Tropical Itch, Caribe Hilton, 1957) without snickering, but Beachbum Berry’s Potions of the Caribbean treats such splashy drinks with reverence, sailing leisurely from their pre-Columbian ancestry to the global embrace of Tiki culture, while revealing their lasting influence on mixology. “These were the first farm-to-glass culinary craft cocktails in America following Prohibition,” says author Jeff Berry (pictured), describing how tiki drink titans like “Don the Beachcomber” pioneered “ice programs” and concocted balanced cocktails using a dozen ingredients, making dry Martini mixing look like a day at the beach. “When you see three different gins in a contemporary cocktail, that’s an idea that originated in tiki’s use of multiple rums. Tiki shouldn’t be ghettoized. It’s a cocktail template that’s relevant today,” says Berry, suggesting maybe we shouldn’t be laughing at these flamboyant drinks, but with them. Here, a sampling of recipes from Berry’s book.

Voodoo Grog
Trader Vic, mid-1950s

  • 1/4 oz. honey
  • 3/4 oz. lime juice
  • 1 oz. gold Puerto Rican rum
  • 1 oz. gold rhum agricole vieux
  • 3/4 oz. white grapefruit juice
  • 3/4 oz. pimento dram
  • 1/2 oz. passion fruit syrup
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 cup crushed ice
  • nutmeg

Dissolve honey in lime juice. Place this mixture and all other ingredients (except nutmeg) in a blender. Blend for 20 seconds. Pour unstrained into a Voodoo tumbler or large snifter. Dust with freshly grated nutmeg. Garnish with mint sprig and pineapple stick.

Passion fruit syrup: Berry suggests combining equal parts simple syrup and passion fruit puree.

Queen’s Park Hotel Super Cocktail
Queen’s Park Hotel, Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, 1932

  • 1 1/2 oz. gold Trinidad rum
  • 1/2 oz. Italian vermouth
  • 1/2 oz. lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. grenadine
  • 4 dashes Angostura bitters

Shake all ingredients with ice cubes and strain into a cocktail glass.

Virgin Island Kula
Ray Buhen, Tiki-Ti, Los Angeles, 1961

  • 1 oz. apricot brandy
  • 1 oz. dry gin
  • 1 oz. gold Virgin Islands rum
  • 1 oz. lime juice
  • 1 oz. orange juice
  • 1/2 oz. simple syrup
  • 1/2 oz. orgeat syrup
  • 1/2 oz. soda water

Shake all ingredients with ice cubes. Pour into a tall glass or Tiki mug. Garnish with orange slice and cherry.

Roman Twist
Joe Scialom, 1963

  • 1 1/4 oz. Bourbon
  • 1 oz. Tia Maria
  • 1 oz. lemon juice
  • 1 oz. orange juice
  • 1 oz. orgeat syrup

Shake all ingredients with ice cubes and strain into a Collins glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with mint sprig, cocktail cherry, and orange and lemon peels cut into long strips.

Planter’s Punch (improved)
Jeff Berry

  • 1 oz. lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. white sugar
  • 1 1/2 oz. black tea or orange pekoe tea, chilled
  • 2 oz. dark Jamaica rum

Dissolve sugar with lime juice in a tall glass. Add tea and rum, fill with crushed ice, and swizzle. The ice will settle after swizzling, so add more to fill. Garnish (or don’t) as you see fit.

Sloppy Joe’s Special
Sloppy Joe’s, Havana, Cuba, 1935

  • 1 oz. Cognac
  • 1 oz. Port
  • 2 oz. unsweetened pineapple juice
  • 1/8 tsp. curaçao
  • 1/8 tsp. grenadine

Shake all ingredients with ice cubes and pour unstrained into a tall glass.