Category Archives: Tiki Cocktails

Cocktails O’clock: 6 delicious drinks that use Monin’s Falernum syrup…

Recently, Monin (the syrup company) were kind enough to send me some of their products. I received a few flavours and this post will showcase one of their latest products: Falernum syrup. Now Falernum is not a new product, it’s a Caribbean spiced syrup that is often alcoholic and almost exclusively used in Tiki Style cocktails.

I’ve been trying to lay my hands on Falernum, in one form or another, for years and always failed at the last hurdle. However, thanks to the lovely PR team over at Monin (specifically Emma White – Thank you) I’ve finally got some. And boy oh boy it was worth the wait!

Monin’s falernum Syrup is everything I thought it would be. It’s sweet, fragrant, and yet it contains a gentle heat that completes the flavour profile you’d expect from a Caribbean spiced syrup. I can safely say, that I now know why it’s used so copiously across the wide variety of Tiki cocktails.

Below I try to take 6 tiki style cocktails and, with very little tweaking, create them in such a way that you’ll be making them for yourself by the end of the post…

Golden Gate

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Recipe:

2m Plantation 3-star platinum [white] Rum

1m Fresh Lemon Juice

Splash of Monin Falernum syrup

Garnish: 1 orange Peel

 

Method:

  • Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake well with ice (around 10 seconds should be enough).
  • Strain into a chilled Coupe glass and garnish with an orange peel.

Top Tip: Although this drink is made short, you can use a rocks glass and crushed ice to make it a longer, more palatable drink – especially if you’re not one for shorter, stronger drinks.

 

Corn & Oil

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Recipe:

2 measure El Ron Prohibido Solera Rum

1 measure Monin Falernum Syrup

¾ measure Fresh Lime Juice

Dash Bitter Truth Old Time Aromatic Bitters

Garnish: Lime Wedge, Edible Flower

Method:

  • Shake the ingredients hard, over ice.
  • Strain into an ice-filled rocks glass.
  • Garnish and serve with a straw, or two.

 

The Zombie (Classic Recipe)

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Recipe:

1 ½ measures Jamaican Rum

1 ½ measures Puerto Rican Rum

1 measure 151-proof rum

½ measure Dons Mix*

½ measure Monin Falernum syrup

¾ measure Fresh Lime Juice

¼ measure Monin Grenadine syrup

2 dashes Absinthe

1 dash angostura bitters

Garnish: 2 mint sprigs

Method:

Dons Mix: combine 2 measures Grapefruit Juice with 1 measure of cinnamon simple syrup.

Cocktail:

  • Shake all of the ingredients over ice for around 10-15 seconds.
  • Strain ingredients into a Tiki Mug filled with crushed ice.
  • Top up with crushed ice and garnish with a couple of mint sprigs and serve with 2 straws.

Whilst Jamaican Rum is quite easy to come by (Appleton Estate Special is available in most supermarkets) the Puerto Rican Rum might be a little harder to come by. Sainsbury’s currently stock Flor De Cana, a rum from Nicaragua, which is a decent replacement. Equally, you can experiment like I did and go for something completely different.

I used Plantation Platinum 3 stars, and a Mexican Solera Rum I picked up a little while ago and fell in love with (El Ron Prohibido).

 

Royal Bermuda Yacht Club (Tall)

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Recipe:

1 ½ measures El Ron Prohibido Solera Rum

½ measure Monin Falernum Syrup

¼ measure Merlet Trois Citrus (Triple Sec)

¾ measure Fresh Lime Juice

Top up Ginger ale

Garnish: Lime Wheel & Mint Sprig(s)

Method:

  • Add ingredients into a cocktail shaker and shake over ice for around 10 seconds.
  • Strain into a tiki mug filled with crushed ice.
  • Top with more crushed ice, and then the Ginger ale.
  • Garnish and serve with 2 straws.

This cocktail, originally comprised of just the first 4 ingredients. However, it came up a bit short in my mug (even when doubled). So I simply topped with the ginger ale at hand (Canada Dry) and it seemed to work brilliantly. So I hope you enjoy this lengthened version of the Yacht Club – if not, try it without the ale, serving it short in a coupe/martini glass.

 

Bronx Cheer

Recipe:

2 measures Makers Mark Kentucky Bourbon

1 measure Fresh Lime Juice

¾ measure Monin Falernum Syrup

¾ measure Raspberry Simple Syrup

Garnish: Lime Wheel & Raspberry skewer.

Method:

  • Shake all the ingredients, over ice, for around 10-15 seconds.
  • Strain into a ceramic Tiki Mug filled with crushed ice.
  • Top up with more crushed ice and garnish, before serving with two straws.

This cocktail is the only one I do not have a picture for. My raspberries went mouldy before their BBE and no shops were open on a Sunday night – murphy’s law, right? However, I have had this cocktail recently and can attest to its rather palatable taste (and considering I’m not a fan of whisky – that’s quite the compliment).

 

Juke Cup

moscow-mule

Recipe:

1 ¼ measures Monin Falernum Syrup

¾ measure Rhum Agricole (high proof)

¾ measure fresh lime juice

¼ measure Honey Simple Syrup

1 Cucumber slice

Top up – Ginger ale

Garnish: Cucumber slice & Pineapple Chunk

Method:

  • Adding the cucumber slice, lime juice and honey syrup to your glass, muddle well.
  • Then add the Falernum and Rhum Agricole and stir well.
  • Top up with ice and mix in some Ginger Ale.
  • Garnish with a cucumber slice and pineapple chunk.

Honey syrup:

Combining at a 1:1 ratio, add honey to water and simmer, mixing until the honey dissolves.

Top Tip: the original recipe called for Ginger beer, but I find it to be a tad too spicy so I stick to the gentler ginger ale. If you like your ginger soda with a kick, try using ginger beer with this cocktail!

So there you have 6 cocktails that make great use of Monin’s Falernum syrup! Monin did a fantastic job supplying me with the Falernum used in this post (you can see it in a couple of the images) and I’d like to thank them for sending me a product I’ve been desperately after for years!

Monin has a vast array of flavoured syrups at their disposal and as a cocktail imbiber, I am always interested in trying out new and novel syrups! My favourite simply has to be this Falernum, although their Hibiscus syrup is a truly inspirational. You can purchase Monin syrups from a wide variety of outlets but click here for more information!

What about you? What’s your favourite flavour Monin syrup? Do you like the cool, crisp taste of their Cucumber syrup or are you a fan of their refreshing Melon syrup? Why don’t you drop a comment below and let me know! You never know they might send me a bottle to use in future posts!

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The History of the Tiki Cocktail

The Rise, Fall and Rise of…

tiki lounge


The origin of that great tiki cocktail, the Mai Tai, is murky water at best. To fully understand the where, when, who, why and how of the matter you have to go all the way back to the 1930’s!

As it stands the where and when of the original Mai Tai is pretty much set in stone; it’s the ‘who’ that’s the biggest query…

So let’s state for a fact: The Mai Tai was created in California back in the early 1900’s and was created by one of two cocktail legends: Victor ‘Trader Vic’ Bergeron or Ernest ‘Don the Beachcomber’ Gantt.

I won’t regale you with their two highly intriguing stories, at least no more than to say that Trader Vic’s story is the more plausible (and also sounds more naturally true). That said, if you want to read Vic’s or Don’s Mai Tai origin stories then click here

Arguably the most important factor in deciding who got the plaudits for the creation of the Mai Tai is that there are Trader Vic restaurants/bars across the world, and yet the same cannot be said for don the beachcomber establishments…

Although not taken directly from a trader vic restaurant this tiki inspired menu looks pretty darn amazing doesn't it?
Although not taken directly from a trader vic restaurant this tiki inspired menu looks pretty darn amazing doesn’t it?

That result for them both has led to Trader Vic’s being the go to establishment for truly authentic tiki themed bars/restaurants and, by way of necessity; they also stock one of the wealthiest collection of tiki cocktails (Click here for a link to the cocktail menu of Trader Vic’s London branch)…

So why are tiki cocktails a thing? Well when they first came about they accompanied some fantastic food recipes that were Polynesian inspired and boasted some bold and wonderful flavours. Now both Don the Beachcomber and Trader Vic translated the flavour combinations of their food into their drinks. This led to some stunning, and some strong, tiki cocktails entering the world of mixology and becoming synonymous with both American and tropical culture since…

A brief history in a timely fashion (yes this will be quick)

The tiki cocktail started with the opening of the very first ‘tiki’ restaurant back in 1934. Regardless of who invented the Mai Tai, it is clear to see that Don Beach was the first person to start mixing fresh syrups, juices and rum. This practice is what makes cocktail a true tiki cocktail and was carried out by both Vic and beach throughout the renaissance of the tiki cocktail, leading to some of the great cocktails we now see plastered across almost every menu in every bar we ever go to!

Of course huge events like the world wars and American prohibition all had extremely potent effects on the course of the tiki cocktail, whether they precede the tiki era or simply occurred during their height. Inevitably the novelty of tiki cocktails and their almost teleportation-like effects wore off and they fell out of fashion during the 1960’s – mainly due to the Vietnam war and an increased sensitivity to indigenous peoples and; the former taking away the ideals of living out your days on a beach paradise pretty much nailed the coffin of the tiki culture firmly shut.

Fear Not! Like a phoenix from the ashes the tiki cocktail is back in full force (hurrah). The best thing about reboots is the ability to do something right. Mostly.

Tiki cocktails are certainly on a rise, and this is probably buoyed on by the astonishing firework of a rise that rum is currently experiencing. Although, as I have mentioned briefly in my earlier posts tiki cocktails of the present day are experimenting with other spirits…

This current trend of craft cocktails taking on the tiki cocktails and introducing new and exciting directions, shows how far the cocktails of the tiki theme have come since their rather humble beginnings…

So from their creation stemming from the blood of the first Mai Tai, tiki cocktails evolved to include some rather stunning concoctions. Granted there are some that may not give you the best of evenings but if we’re honest with ourselves, drinking absinthe in copious amounts is never a decent decision…

Here's what you can expect if you order a tiki cocktail from a bar that prides itself on serving great cocktails...
Here’s what you can expect if you order a tiki cocktail from a bar that prides itself on serving great cocktails…

Look out for some of the best recipes from across the internet, from Classic Mai Tai’s to odd little Tequila-drenched Pina coladas, there is bound to be one cocktail for all tastes…

As a final note: This week will signal the end of my Tiki-Themed month and over the following couple of months I’ll be looking at something a little different. Keep an eye out near the end of the week for some (possibly) exciting news!

Rum Diarys: Best rums for tiki cocktails Part V

And here, finally, we have our 4th section of rum: Spiced. This is arguably the most important section of this list as the ‘spice’ in these rums can be what gives a tiki cocktail its kick!


There are a couple of rums on here you might need to scour online shops for, but for the most part the rums in this list are readily available in your local supermarket/off licence!

Kraken Spiced Dark Rum (USA) £21.95 – The Whisky Exchange

Kraken Rum combines two greats: Dark Rum & Spiced rum. And it hits it out of the park!
Kraken Rum combines two greats: Dark Rum & Spiced rum. And it hits it out of the park!

This 40% black spiced rum is somewhat of a genius. Its quality is unmistakable, earmarking it for greatness in the eyes of rum-tasters. But what really sets it apart from every other bottle of rum on the supermarket shelf is its old-style bottle shape. The traditional handle-necked bottle invokes visions of pirates and the romance often associated with the idea of a free life at sea.

Whilst the bottle makes it stand out, it does so knowing full well that the gloriously thick, molasses based alcohol contained within can more than hold its own; one of the only spiced black rums at home being sipped neat as it is swirling around a glass full of lime and cola. This is a perfect topper in a tiki cocktail too! Especially when you do not want to set the house on fire, but still want some theatre to your drink!

Fervent Shaker insider tip: Made in the USA from Caribbean rum and named after the mythical giant squid-like beast, Kraken rum is fantastic; a black spiced rum that is extremely reasonably priced! What’s more, for a limited time only, the whisky exchange is selling a special pack that includes an awesome looking mason-style glass! Perfect for Kraken’ your bottle open when you get in! Excuse the pun – Sorry, not sorry.

Captain Morgans Original Spiced Rum (Jamaica) £17-20 Sainsbury’s

Considered a student drink, this versatile spiced rum will give you tiki cocktails a kick, whilst leaving your wallet a little fuller...
Considered a student drink, this versatile spiced rum will give you tiki cocktails a kick and leave your wallet feeling a little fuller…

One of the favourites of my best mate at university, this rum truly has stood the test of time. In the past 10 years I’ve seen it go from strength to strength and literally fly of the shelves!

Perfect for combining with a mixer for a quick drink, this rum is often overlooked in its ability to fill out a cocktail or two. Regardless of your feelings towards it, Captain Morgans Original Spiced Rum is a fantastic addition to any ones tiki-cabinet. Try substituting it into your next Mai Tai, it won’t taste like a classic mai tai, but it will be something a little special I’ll tell you that for nothing!

Sailor Jerry’s Spiced Rum (Guyana) £20 – Tesco

Sailor Jerry Spiced rum is one of the all-time spiced rum greats and is certain to spice up any tiki cocktail...
Sailor Jerry Spiced rum is one of the all-time spiced rum greats and is certain to spice up any tiki cocktail…

Another original spiced rum, Sailor Jerry’s fits into the ‘classic’ tiki choice section as it comes under one of the mandates set out in my first tiki cocktail post: It’s from Guyana!

Although Sailor Jerry’s has changed its recipe several times, and some consider Kraken to be more akin to the recipe everyone loved, this rum is still something very, very special. If you’re not a fan of Captain Morgans, for whatever reason – I’m not one to judge – then you should definitely be setting your sights on this classic tiki-suited spiced rum…

Fervent Shaker insider tip: Ever tried a spiced mojito? Well you’re missing out! Try this recipe out the next time you have a bottle of Sailor Jerry’s knocking about…

Bacardi Oakheart (Puerto Rico/Cuba) £14-22 Sainsbury’s / Tesco

Extremely versatile, Bacardi Oackheart is a spiced rum perfect for tiki cocktails (or any cocktail for that matter)...
Extremely versatile, Bacardi Oackheart is a spiced rum perfect for tiki cocktails (or any cocktail for that matter)…

This is the second Bacardi rum to make it into one of my top 5 lists, and it is by far the best of the bunch! I tried this a year or two back and it certainly did not disappoint! Combining a rich hearty gold rum with the heart of charred oak barrels this rum is smooth, spiced and even has a tang of smokiness about it! Wonderful in a Cuba Libre or ‘your own tweak’ on a dark n stormy ‘like’ cocktail this rum is best  mixed with other ingredients for sure, but make use of it when creating your tiki masterpieces and you shall never be disappointed!

Fervent Shaker insider tip: If I’m honest, of the two Bacardi rums on my lists this should be the one you buy (if you have to choose)… Sweet, Smooth, Spicy, Smokey and damn good; this rum is perfect in a spiced Pina colada and even better in a rum-toddy…

Admiral Vernons Old J Tiki Fire Spiced Rum (England) £30-36 The Drink Shop / The Whisky Exchange

Old Vernon is steeped in history, and worth every penny for that added 'something-special' in your tiki cocktail...
Old Vernon is steeped in history, and worth every penny for that added ‘something-special’ in your tiki cocktail…

Ok, so here’s another ‘danger’ warning. This rum, at 75.5%, is by far the strongest of all the rums included in any of the previous lists! Thus it should be treated with the upmost respect.

So with the warning let me share some info about this fine, high-proof, rum:

This rum was the brain child of Admiral Edward Vernon. He enforced a strength reduction on the rum the British Navy gave to its sailors (back in 1740). After hearing the complaints of his men however, ‘Old Grog Vernon’ suggested the addition of lime & sugar to help the flavour and make the drink more enjoyable.

This Old J rum was created in honour of ‘Old Grog’ himself and whilst the strength of the rum has been readdressed, it was increased back to 151-proof [75.5%], it has kept the same balance of spices, lime and sugar that made the original rum a great hit.

Fervent Shaker insider tip: Although this rum is perfect for tiki cocktails (it has tiki in its name after all) it is a 151-proof rum and therefore highly flammable! Whilst it gets a little old for me to keep warning you, you seriously need to be careful when handling such high-strength rum. It may taste great, used properly, but when you mess around; things can and will go wrong!

Links:

Sainsbury’s

Tesco

The Drink Shop

The Whisky Exchange

Bacardi Oakheart

Old Vernon

Kraken

Captain Morgan

Sailor Jerry

Rum Diarys: Best rums for tiki cocktails Part IV

So here we are, the second to last post, and it’s all about the rich and powerful: Dark Rum…

Dark rum, the rich and powerful, best kind, of rum!
Dark rum, the rich and powerful, best kind, of rum!

Now we move onto the Dark rum and here is where it gets a little special, some of these rums are aged for nearly a decade and most come with a pretty special little story or two… From the Highly prized Goslings Black seal to the highly flammable overproof Plantation Rum here is my top 5 Tiki Dark Rums:

Goslings Black Seal (Bermuda) £21.15 – The Whisky Exchange

goslings
Goslings Dark rum (left bottle) is a delicious and rich Bermudan rum, so good in fact, they even have their very own cocktail trademarked!

This brand of rum is one of the best dark rums on the market; its rich, well-balanced flavours make it an ideal choice for tiki cocktails and enjoying with your favourite mixer.

Interestingly the Dark N Stormy cocktail (at least in the USA, Caribbean, UK & most of Western Europe) can only be made with Goslings Black Seal Rum! This is the result of a trademark Goslings started filing back in the 1970’s.

Fervent Shaker insider tip: Goslings were the first alcohol company to put in for, and get, a trademark for a cocktail. The trademark covers the use of the name ‘Dark N Stormy’ and regardless of the amount of lime or ginger beer used; the rum has to be Goslings Black Seal!

Bacardi Black (Cuba/Puerto Rico) £18-£20 – Sainsbury’s

Dark and powerful, like a dark rum should be, Bacardi Negra is a classic dark rum, readily available in your local supermarket...
Dark and powerful, like a dark rum should be, Bacardi Negra is a classic dark rum, readily available in your local supermarket…

Made in the Cuban style, but exiled to Puerto Rico; Bacardi Carta Negra (Black Rum) is a rich full-bodied dark rum that can hold its own against some of the best. Whilst the price would indicate its relative ‘cheapness’ when compared to some other brands, this rum is intended for the general use of mixing. Whilst it can be sipped, it’s best served in long drinks with cola or juice.

Fervent Shaker insider tip: I don’t like this rum neat. But I do love it in a Cuba Libre. Its dark-nature shines through in the rich taste and you don’t lose it when it’s mixed with Cola. Definitely worth the punt if you can’t afford the top end dark rums…

Plantation Overproof Dark Rum (73%) (Barbados) £35.65 – The Whisky Exchange

Overproof Dark Rum... Dangerous but theatrical in an epic way!
Overproof Dark Rum… Dangerous but theatrical in an epic way!

Like the honourable mention of Wray & Nephews white overproof rum in my first post, this dark rum is also overproof. If you’ve ever made, or had made for you, a cocktail called a ‘Zombie’ (made famous by the Don himself) then you’ll know that there is a requirement for overproof rum and for it to sit on the top of this drink. Its primary function is to burn and add a deep charred, burnt alcohol flavour to the drink. A worthwhile addition to any bar, home or public house; this rum is an excellent rum and perfect for advanced mixologists/bartenders…

Fervent Shaker insider tip: As with all alcohol one should be always be careful. However seeing as this alcohol is overproof (it’s 73% abv) it’s extremely flammable and should not, in any way, be underestimated or used lightly!

Ron Abuelo 12YO (Panama) £31.80 – The Drink Shop

Abuelo Rum, 12 year old. A rich taste and perfect to give your cocktails that added lift!
Abuelo Rum, 12 year old. A rich taste and perfect to give your cocktails that added lift!

Made from their home-grown sugar cane plantation, Abuelo 12 year old Anejo rum is soft, complex and character-full and can challenge even the most sophisticated of palates. Now some aficionados might argue that to mix rum of this quality would be heresy, I for one like my cocktails full of class. And this rum provides some serious weight in that category…

Clarkes Court – Special Dark Rum (Grenada) £27-30 The Drink Shop / The Whisky Exchange

Special Dark Rum. It's in the name really...
Special Dark Rum. It’s in the name really…

Winner of 9 bronze/silver awards from 2002-2009 (as well as various gold medals) Clarkes Court Special Dark Rum is a 40% abv rum from the shores of Grenada. This dark rum is aged in ex-bourbon casks and is perfect for cocktails as it is considered to be a gentler style of rum; those preferring softer rum have a love for this particular bottle.

Fervent Shaker insider tip: This particular rum is perfect for adding a little tweak to your tiki cocktails. Being of the softer variety of rums, this bottle will supply you with an easy to mix rum and help you develop your prowess, in regards to tiki cocktails at least…

So there you have it, my 5 top dark rums to use for you tiki cocktails. If you ever get a chance to nab a bottle or two off that list then I suggest you go ahead and give them a go! Just be extremely wary of the Plantation overproof 73%!!!

Is there a Dark rum you prefer that didn’t make my list? Why not leave a comment below with your choice? Although please understand that tomorrow I’ll be looking at spiced rums as the 4 section and therefore any ‘spiced’ dark rums will possibly be on that list!

Links:

The Drink Shop

The Whisky Exchange

Sainsbury’s

Ron Abuelo

Goslings

Plantation

Clarkes Court

Bacardi

Rum Diarys: Best rums for tiki cocktails Part III

The colour is the first thing you’ll notice – it’s not called gold for the fun of it after all!


Ok so I covered the basic white rums. There were a few brands (and countries) covered but now we move onto my favourite type of rum: Gold Rum.

This section should allow you to expand your rum styles, and your geography knowledge, a little further. With Gold rums from Venezuela to Cuba and across the entire Caribbean; there is sure to be a choice for everyone…


Diplomatico Anejo (Venezuela) £22.84 – The Drink Shop

Classic Venezuelan Rum at its best...
Classic Venezuelan Rum at its best…

This smooth-sipping golden rum is blended from a combination of continuous still rums and potstill rums. Although blended, the average age of the finished product is 4 years old. Diplomatico is a very strong brand from Venezuela and can hold its own in almost any rum-sipping competition (its various products have won various awards over the years) and yet it blends into tiki cocktails remarkably well.

Fervent Shaker insider tip: If you’re looking for a well-balanced, blended gold rum and want to try something other than Caribbean rum then I strongly suggest giving this brand, including this particular rum, a go!

Ron de Jeremy – Reserve Adult Rum! (Panama) £33.32 The Drink Shop

Distilled by a Legend, tastes like it was too...
Distilled by a Legend, tastes like it was too…

Ron de Jeremy is an extremely well-balanced 7 year old rum and is quite literally distilled by a living legend: Cuban Master Distiller Francisco ‘Don Pancho’ Fernandez. Don Pancho is 72 years old and is considered one of the most experienced and renowned master distillers in the rum industry.

Fervent Shaker insider tip: This rum is fantastic to sip, and will reward those with a well-developed palate. However it has been created in such a way that it will also mix well with other ingredients, especially when mixing cocktails. 

Mount Gay – Eclipse (Barbados) £19.70 The Drink Shop

A great rum at a reasonably low price... Perfect for mixing and a shoe in for this list...
A great rum at a reasonably low price… Perfect for mixing and a shoe in for this list…

Another long standing favourite of mine, this reasonably price rum is one of the sleeper hits of the last few decades. Whilst all of the top-end rums clean up at awards ceremonies, this rather unassuming bottle sits itself on the supermarket shelf and literally sells by the bucket.

Those who have been to Barbados and visited the distillery will know its history well and even those not interested in rum will have heard of it whilst on the island.

Hand-crafted since 1703, Mount Gay Rum is made using the finest Barbados sugar cane and pure spring water. This leaves you with a rum that can be sipped neat and yet is equally, if not more so, at home combined with your favourite mixer…

Fervent Shaker insider tip: this rum is reasonably priced and found in most of the bigger supermarkets in the UK. Failing that you can find it easily in online alcohol shops.

Flor De Cana – 4YO Gold (Nicaragua) £22.68 The Drink Shop

A Nicaraguan Rum perfect for light cocktails. Try it in your next tiki attempt...
A Nicaraguan Rum perfect for light cocktails. Try it in your next tiki attempt…

Flor de Cana 4YO Golden Rum is a little something different. From central/south America this rum is well-balanced and perfect for combining with mixers and works brilliantly in light cocktails.

Palate notes: “A soft entry leads to a round, dry medium-bodiea palate with caramel, sugar cane and peppery spice flavours. Finishes with a dash of toasted coconut shavings and pepper. Very clean and pure.” – Flor De Cana.com

Appleton Estate Special (Jamaica) £14.00 – Sainsbury’s

A supermarket staple, this gold rum is perfect for adding to your collection...
A supermarket staple, this gold rum is perfect for adding to your collection…

The price tag on this rum may make you cringe and think ‘bargain basement’ but the idea here is to give you a cheaper option whilst making sure you get your money’s worth. Appleton Estate special Jamaica Rum is only £14 yes, but it’s an absolute bargain in regards to its taste and overall finish. It’s not as sophisticated as some of the other rums on this list, but its sheer versatility means it can be used in a range of tiki (and non-tiki) cocktails. And for that reason alone it makes the list…

Honourable Mention: Angostura 1919 (Trinidad & Tobago) £26.00 – Sainsbury’s

Links for further reading:

Flor De Cana

Appleton estate

Mount Gay

Diplomatico

Ron de Jeremy

Angostura

Sainsbury’s

Tesco

Rum Diarys: Best Rums For Tiki Cocktails Part I

Show me a Tiki Cocktail and I’ll show you a good rum…

tiki bar disneyland


Tiki cocktails have, traditionally, always used rum in some form or another. The thing is; rum doesn’t just come in 1 style. Just go to your local supermarket, find the alcohol department and you’ll see just how many brands there are.

Whilst you can split rum up into the 4 main types: White, Gold, Dark & Spiced; the complications for choosing one to make your tiki cocktail arise when you look a little closer. Whilst the branding of a rum will be the easiest way to determine a difference, there are also differences in styles.

The style of a rum is determined by several factors. These can include the type of still used, the type of sugar-base* used even the area of which thee rum is distilled can affect the style, and therefore the taste, of a rum. Just like with the difference between different Whiskies there is an equal difference between any two rums.

*All rum uses sugar as a base for the alcohol, but some use molasses (a thick black liquid) and others use sugar cane. The results are often significantly different – with the processes using molasses usually resulting in a darker more viscous end product.

So with this in mind let’s look at 5 of the best rums for your Tiki cocktails, all can be found in the UK although not all can be found in your supermarket (website links can be found at the bottom of each post), and all of the bottles [at the time of posting] are under £40 (around $60)…

Tiki Cocktails; A day out in paradise…

Where has all the rum gone? – Jamaica, Guyana, Martinique, Cuba & Puerto Rico, that’s where!

Rum will forever be synonymous with beaches and the exotic getaway the Caribbean can envision...
Rum will forever be synonymous with beaches and the exotic getaway the Caribbean can envision…

There are not many Tiki themed cocktail bars in my local area [Sad face] and therefore my exotic getaways are restricted to what I make for myself,  unless I want a poorly made Pina Colada – everywhere sells those!

Unfortunately, for me at least, that means that certain products are only available seasonally and whilst most would argue that the need for a tiki cocktail in the winter is not quite like it is when in the height of summer, I feel that it’s my right to be able to get a decently made tiki cocktail whenever I want!

So whilst I struggle on with my local bars and pubs, trying ever so hard to find at least a good tiki cocktail, I dream of bigger and most definitely better things: A great tiki cocktail!

That usually means I’m left with gathering ingredients and making the drink myself, and that is exactly what I’ve done for the 3 cocktails used in this post…

Bars like this one, the Punch Tiki Bar (LA), are no where to be found down here in South East Kent :(
Bars like this one, the Punch Tiki Bar (LA), are no where to be found down here in South East Kent 😦

But first: What is a tiki cocktail? It’s all well and good me saying “tiki this” and “tiki that” but I suppose unless you have some context it could be a little over your head. Well let’s discuss what a tiki cocktail is and why they’re too important to be made poorly…


The Great American Tiki Rush

People will come for miles to get a taste of a great tiki cocktail...
People will come for miles to get a taste of a great tiki cocktail…

So whilst I yearn for well-made and great tasting tiki, I had a thought: What exactly makes a great Tiki cocktail? I mean I know how to make all the classic tiki cocktails: the Mai Tai, Zombie, even the often poorly made Pina Colada; but what is the history of this exotic cocktail genre? And what does it mean to drink a Tiki drink like the Mai Tai?

Well here I look to share some of the discoveries I’ve made whilst trawling through the endless recipe pages the internet unsurprisingly supplied… I’ll even throw in three (3) of my favourite classic tiki cocktails for good measure!

Forget the gold rush and mid-west gunfights; the biggest rush of recent American history was the rise of the Tiki cocktail. Tiki cocktails came from seemingly nothing and, spearheaded by two particular individuals, rose to become one of the most popular cocktail genres of the current time! But a little more about that a little later.

What tiki cocktails are meant to provoke are memories of exotic locations and beach side haunts. At the very least they’re meant to help take you away from the everyday trivialities of life.

Tiki cocktails are more than just another genre of cocktails, and it’s all too easy to think of them as just rum cocktails and this is the unfortunate trap a lot of bars that serve these cocktails fall prey to.

A tiki cocktail, by general definition is a cocktail that uses Jamaican rum, Martinique rum and then a combination of syrups, juices and other liqueurs. The importance in that definition is the first two ingredients: 2 types of Rum. Although other spirits are being used more and more – this is in no way a bad thing!

The overall definition is a little open to interpretation and whilst some die-hards will tell you that “a tiki cocktail simply has to contain rum” most bartenders and mixologists understand that restricting ones pool of inspiration is a bit short-sighted. After all you can make an old fashioned with rum, why not a tiki cocktail with scotch?

This Mai Tai shows how simple a rum tiki drink can be. There maybe a few ingredients but it's a simple mix, shake and serve routine...
This Mai Tai shows how simple a rum tiki drink can be. There maybe a few ingredients but it’s a simple mix, shake and serve routine…

However, that being said, almost every cocktail expert will tell you one thing: When getting into tiki drinks always start with rum and master the classics first and only then should you think about expanding into other spirits and liqueurs as ingredients…

It might seem a little contradictory but when you think about the most famous tiki cocktails they always almost contain rum as a base spirit. This is no coincidence as back during their infancy, tiki cocktails used rum exclusively. It’s only been in the most recent times that tequila, vodka and whisky – among other spirits – have been used. It is the classic nature of these cocktails, as well as other rum-based tiki cocktails, that give rise to the stigmata of using other spirits.

So let’s assume that you want to start out on your very first tiki cocktail adventure, and to do that you need to heed the advice of cocktail experts: Start with Rum…

The type(s) of rum you start with is important, if only for the sake of creating the best cocktails you can possibly make. This collection of 3 main types of rum should be enough to get you started and then, as stated above, you can expand to your own pace:

  • A rich Demerara-style rum from Guyana or a nice rhum agricole from Martinique – El Dorado 12YO rum is expensive, but one of the best rums out there, at least in this category
  • A rich Jamaican rumAppleton Estate ‘Special Jamaican Rum’ is a great choice, especially as it is readily available in most UK supermarkets
  • And, arguably the most overlooked rum for beginners: White rum. A white rum in the style of Cuba or Puerto Rico is the best choice – Brugal & Havana club are great brands to start with

Once you have the rum you simply need to pay a visit to your local supermarket/green grocers and do one of two things: Decide on your laziness level!

If you want truly authentic tiki cocktails, then you simply have to go full-fresh juice. To do this find the produce section of the shop and pick up some exotic fruits:

  • Pineapples, mangoes, passion fruit, dragon fruit, lychee, oranges, lemons, limes and of course coconuts. Feel free to experiment with literally any exotic fruit you can lay your hands on.

Then simply blend the ingredients up to create truly fresh fruit juice for your cocktails! You can also use chunks and slices of the same fruit for creating home-made sugar syrups, which can really help to add further depth in taste to your cocktails.

Failing that most supermarkets, at least here in the UK, stock ‘NFC – Not From Concentrate’ juices and I cannot state clearly enough that this is literally the lowest you should go when making cocktails. Juices from concentrates are a little cheaper but for truly authentic and, simply put, better tasting cocktails you really should get the juice as fresh as possible…

Everyone knows the fresher the juice the better. All I know for sure is that fresh-squeezed = better tasting.
Everyone knows the fresher the juice the better. All I know for sure is that fresh-squeezed = better tasting.

The only other things you need to make your tiki cocktails are:

  • Ice (cubed) – you will need the best quality you can find and for the sake of any blended drinks please use cubed ice rather than crushed! – Although if you require crushed by all means do get it, but do not use it in place of the cubed ice! Trust me you don’t want to blend crushed ice, unless you want to water out your drink…
  • Decent glassware and garnishes: Get a decent hurricane glass (or two) and also some nice straws. You can also go all out on the garnish, using umbrellas and various fruit twirls etc. but I prefer it when the motto less = more is in effect!

Once you have all the things mentioned above you’re ready to move onto the recipes!


So what are the most famous tiki cocktails?

Left to Right: Pina Colada, Mai Tai, Zombie...
Left to Right: Pina Colada, Mai Tai, Zombie…

Obviously everyone knows of the main 3 cocktails: The Mai Tai, The Zombie and of course that sleeper tiki big-hitter: The Pina Colada.

But not many people know how to make these cocktails properly. The recipes shared below are believed to be the original or, in case of the Mai Tai, the closest possible match using today’s ingredients…


How to make a Classic Tiki cocktail at home?

Rum + Fruit Juice + Syrup = COCKTAILS O’CLOCK!!!


Mai Tai

mai tai

Before we start I have to confess: This is not the original recipe. The original recipe calls for a type of rum no longer made, however the fusion of the two rums used is supposedly the closest you can get to the original. And like all things on this blog I’ve given this cocktail a teeny-tiny little fervent shaker tweak…

Recipe:

  • 1 measure Martinique Rum
  • 1 measure Jamaican Rum
  • 1 measure fresh Lime Juice
  • ½ measure Orgeat Syrup
  • ½ measure Cointreau

Garnish: Sprig of mint & fresh lime…

Method:

This cocktail is a simple yet effective mixture that is usually ruined by the type of ingredients used and not the method. As you’ll see below the method is pretty darn easy…

  • Combine all of the ingredients (except the garnish) in an ice filled shaker and shake well – for around 10-20 seconds [or until the tin ices over].
  • Strain the mixture into a rocks glass full of crushed ice and garnish with a sprig of mint and a lime wedge/wheel/twist [whichever you prefer].
  • Fervent Shaker teeny-tiny little tweak: Try floating some dark, high quality rum on top of the drink before garnishing… It’ll add a little richness to the final sips of this already awesome drink…

Zombie

Zombie Cocktail

Originally created by the original beachcomber himself, it contains a super-secret ingredient which for years was just that: secret. Turns out it was just a mix of grapefruit and cinnamon syrups!

Recipe:

  • 1.5 measures gold Puerto Rican Rum
  • 1.5 measures Jamaican Rum
  • 1 measure 151 Demerara Rum
  • ¾ measure fresh lime juice
  • ½ Dons Mix (Grapefruit & Cinnamon syrup mixture)
  • ½ measure Falernum liqueur
  • 1tsp Grenadine
  • 8 drops absinthe
  • 1 dash angostura bitters

Method:

  • Blend all the ingredients together, with ice, for about 5-10 seconds (high speed).
  • Pour the mixture into a chimney* glass and garnish with a sprig of mint!

* A chimney glass is a type of glass you are already probably aware of and, depending on their shape/size, are known by several names: The delmonico, The collins & The highball.


Pina Colada

Recipe:

  • 2 measures White Rum
  • 2 measures Coconut Cream
  • 2 measures Pineapple Juice
  • 100 grams crushed ice

Method:

  • Blend all of these ingredients together and strain into a well-chilled hurricane glass and garnish with a wedge of pineapple, a couple of cherries and, if you’re feeling exceptionally exotic, a decently sized pineapple leaf.

So there you go! 3 classic tiki cocktails 1 from each of the ‘fathers of tiki’ and of course everyone’s summer classic: the Pina Colada.

Tiki cocktails are more than just a rum mix; they’re an escape from reality and all things boring. They’re a chilled, and sometimes eclectic, mix of rum juice, syrup and of course exotic flavours. The next time you go out and about why not order a mai tai, or a pina colada? Or, and only if you’re feeling exceptionally brave, why not try a zombie or two? Although most places will only allow you a double tap…

Keep your eyes peeled for more Tiki fun coming up later this month, from the best tiki cocktails to the best rums to use in those cocktails and all sorts of other tid-bits. This month, come away with me and enjoy an escape like no other: Tiki Cocktails…