Tag Archives: Rum

Cocktails O’Clock: 5 cocktails that use Monin’s Spicy Syrup…

Monin, the coffee/cocktail syrup experts, sent me some samples way back when and using those samples I got to try some of the cocktails I’ve always wanted to try but never had the chance.

The last post based around a Monin syrup was my 6 ways to use Monin’s Falernum. It is made up with predominantly tiki style cocktails and features some of my new tiki mugs (hurrah).

This post has a slightly different feel because unlike the falernum syrup used in my last one, Monin’s Spicy Syrup is less floral and has an earthier feel to the spice. With cinnamon flavours prominent, I tried to blend this syrup into a variety of already established cocktails, simply to see if the syrup was as versatile as I hoped. Whilst some experiments inevitably fail, below you will find 5 cocktail recipes that I believe make use of this Spicy syrup in a very versatile, yet remarkably subtle way.

Although this syrup is not spicy in the traditional [hot] sense, it does have a subtle aromatic spice to it. It comes across more as an autumn/winter seasonal spicy flavour. This works perfectly for me because this syrup’s subtle flavour is easier to blend seamlessly into a flavourful cocktail recipe. I also have a low tolerance for hot spice so I’m happy I can try all these recipes personally.

Life On The Beach

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Recipe:

2 measures Vodka

1 measure pineapple juice

½ measure spicy syrup

½ measure lime juice

2 pineapple chunks

Garnish: pineapple chunk and lime wedge

Method:

  • Muddle pineapple chunks with lime juice and syrup.
  • Add crushed ice, then vodka.
  • Stir well.
  • Add pineapple juice and top with ice.
  • Stir once more and garnish before serving.

Kickback Mule

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Recipe:

2 measures rum

¾ measure lime juice

1 measure spicy syrup

Top up ginger ale

Garnish: mint and lime wedge.

Method:

  • Build the first 3 ingredients over ice.
  • Stir and top up with ginger ale.
  • Garnish and serve with a straw.

Gin and Bear it…

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Recipe:

2 measures Gin

½ measure blackcurrant liqueur

1 measure Lemon juice

¾ measure spicy syrup

Method:

  • Combine the gin, lemon juice, and spicy syrup in a shaker with ice and shake well (for around 10 seconds).
  • Strain into a well-chilled, crushed ice-filled, rocks glass.
  • Layer the blackcurrant liqueur on top and garnish with a lemon wedge.
  • Serve with a straw.

Algonquin Firehouse

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Recipe:

1 ½ measures rye whisky

¾ measure vermouth

¾ measure pineapple (or orange juice)

½ measure spicy syrup

Method:

  • Combine over ice in a shaker and shake well for about 10 seconds (until the tin ices over).
  • Strain into a martini style glass.
  • Garnish with a pineapple wedge or orange slice (match the juice used).

Fervent Shaker Top Tip:

This cocktail works well regardless of the juice used. The only difference in flavour comes through the tropical vibe of the pineapple. Using pineapple will refresh those hot, bothersome days; whereas orange juice is perfect for those cold evenings when you need a warming elixir.

Spicy Melon Balls (serves 2)

Recipe:

1 measure spicy syrup

4 measure Midori

2 measure vodka

Top up fresh pineapple juice

Garnish: Skewered melon balls

Method:

  • Combine the Midori, vodka in a cocktail glass, over ice.
  • Top up with the pineapple juice and garnish with the skewered melon balls.

So there you have 5 cocktail recipes that, I think, make good use of Monin’s Spicy Syrup. They are not original recipes; they are tweaks of cocktails that already exist. This was done to try and showcase the versatility of such a product, especially with the unconvincing stance held by many in response to the rise in popularity of spicy cocktails.

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!

As always this post has been a culmination of cocktail recipes and my own opinions. Whilst the syrups were supplied by Monin themselves [as free samples], they hold no sway over my opinions.

If you’ve tried Monin’s Spicy syrup in a cocktail you liked (or disliked), why not share it in the comments below? Or let me know what your favourite flavour syrup is!

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!

The Fervent Shaker: On being published

I’m now a published writer! Congratulations to me!


This month marks a very important moment for myself and this blog. As of June 1st, 2016 I am officially a published cocktail writer. Thanks to Sainsbury’s Magazine.

In this month’s issue, I have a two-page feature on summer drinks. These include 6 drinks, 3 alcoholic & 3 non-alcoholic – all of which are my own recipes!

The recipes include a non-alcoholic Ice tea, a beachside-themed rum cocktail, and several others.

The picture below show all the colourful cocktails and their recipes. But if you want to really enjoy these drinks, you should head on down to your local Sainsbury’s and get your very own copy. The Magazine is only £2 and inside you’ll find an abundance of food and drink recipes.

 

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Left to Right: Beachside Rumba, Green Breeze, Berry-Basil Frosty, Ice & Peachy, Gin Cooler, Summer Lake Punch, Strawberry-Mint Mimosa.

 

Most importantly, though, you’ll find my recipes on pages 82-83!

I’m extremely proud of this as it shows that you can make it if you keep trying. Never give up and you’ll eventually reap the rewards of doing something you’re so very proud of!

In other news, I’m working on some spicy cocktail posts just in time for BBQ season and also working with a PR rep over at Monin to bring you all some posts that include some of their new products, as well as some of their lesser-known products… Keep your eyes peeled!

Pineapple Vodka, With Extra Toppings…

The final of my 3 Vodka infusions; this sweet and tropical infusion will be perfect for those with a sweet tooth and a penchant for the tang of a fresh pineapple (like me).

It is a relatively versatile infusion that works best in tropical cocktails but also finds its place in the more ‘traditional’ recipes. Think along the lines of a Tropical Martini or Tangy Screwdriver…

Check out the infusion recipe below and then enjoy the tropical combination of your new Pineapple Vodka and a cocktail whose origin story was set in Brazil; The Very Tropical Caipiroska.

Pineapple Infused Vodka

Recipe:

1 whole (medium) pineapple, sliced/diced

70cl (700ml) Vodka

50 grams Sugar

Method:

  • Add all of the ingredients to a sterilised & tight sealing bottle.
  • Leave to sit for up to 48hrs.
  • Strain into the original vodka bottle and seal it.
  • Keep in a cool dry place away from sunlight, or in the fridge/freezer if you want it served chilled…

This infusion is extremely fresh and does not hide its tropical pineapple flavour! This vodka is a wonderful inclusion in any cocktail you want to perk up with a tropical hit. Try it in your next vodka base tropical drink or as an addition to your next Pina Colada!

Cocktail: Very Tropical Caipiroska

pineapple caipiroska 1

Recipe:

50ml Pineapple Infused Vodka

1 Lime

2 teaspoons Sugar*

Garnish: Pineapple leaf & speared fruit.

Method:

  • Add the sugar into a rocks glass.
  • Cut the lime into quarters and then squeeze and drop each piece into the glass skin up.
  • Very gently muddle the lime and sugar together until the sugar has dissolved.
  • Once the sugar has dissolved, fill the glass with crushed ice.
  • Add in your infused vodka, cover with a napkin and swizzle.
  • Top up with more crushed ice and then garnish.
  • Serve with a straw…

*the type of sugar determines the amount of muddling. Whilst using a sugar cube looks good, it also requires a lot more work. Use some granulated sugar, or better yet go for caster sugar!

This cocktail is based on the classic Caipirinha from Brazil and was huge during the last world cup [Brazil 2014]. During the 4 weeks that Fifa’s biggest tournament ran, there were more variations on the Caipirinha than one could shake a proverbial stick at. Whilst the Caipiroska was already well-liked before the WC, it did benefit a great deal from the exposure of its parent during the football tournament…

Caipirinha ingredients
A Caipirinha is a simple 3 ingredient drink: Cachaca, Lime & Sugar…

With citrus flavours galore and vast amounts of other tropical flavours a-plenty, the Caipi family of cocktails have gone from strength to strength. There are so many different varieties of this drink that it was only a matter of time before infused spirits/liqueurs made their way into the recipes!

This pineapple vodka based version is fruitier and lighter than a normal Caipiroska (the infusion process takes some of the alcohol burn away.

Fervent Shaker Top Tip: This cocktail is fantastic short and iced. But if you’re after something a little longer (and lighter) then why not make this in a tall Collins glass? You’ll have to prepare it in a rocks glass before adding it to the larger glass. You should pour the ingredients (once muddled) into a Collins glass, add the ice, then the alcohol. Before adding more crushed ice, add in some fruit juice – in this instance a splash of Pineapple & Mango would be fantastic! – Then top up with the ice.

Winter Warmers: Cocktails for Christmas!

Up-cycling Tequila (and its friends)


So I always end up with half empty bottles. Left right and centre. A lot of them take up space I need and shamefully I’ve been guilty of throwing out more than a few of these ‘casualties’ of war.

So what can we, as responsible adults, do to combat the shameful wasting of perfectly good alcohol? Well let me share with you some recipes that are perfect for using up old ingredients and opened bottles of booze you might have lying around the house.

There are four (4) recipes in this post, all of which make use of the odd amounts of alcohol you may have lying around. Even if you don’t have the particular type of alcohol available you can gather ideas from how the recipes are put together and tweak them to suit your available spirits!

Without further ado, let’s look at those recipes:

#1 Homemade Fruity Winter Punch

orange winter punch

Recipe:

500ml Vodka

250ml Gin

250ml Lemon

2L Orange

2L Sparkling Wine

Garnish: Citrus Fruits, Winter berries & star anise

Method:

  • Combine all of the ingredients in a large punch bowl.
  • Add sliced fruit and chill well.
  • If serving with ice fill up shortly before serving.
  • If serving chilled without ice, take out of the fridge at the last second.

 

#2 Winter Pimms

winter pimms

Recipe:

500ml Pimms #1

500ml Brandy/Calvados

1.5L Apple Juice

Ice

Garnish: 2 cinnamon sticks, 2 apples, 2 oranges

Method:

Cold:

  • Add all one by one and stir well.
  • Leave for 30 minutes for cinnamon flavour to develop more.

Hot:

  • Heat all ingredients – except the ice and fruit.
  • Add fruit after.

 

#3 Belvoir Spiked Mulled Winter Punch

belvoir mulled punch

Recipe:

1.5L Belvoir Mulled Winter Punch

500ml Vodka

500ml Gin

Ice

Garnish: blackcurrants, oranges, apples, limes, lemons etc…

Method:

  • Combine in the punch bowl.
  • Add sliced fruit and ice.

Serve immediately.


#4 Aromatic Spiced Winter Punch

mixed punch

Recipe:

300ml Gin

200ml Vodka

200ml Tequila

2L apple juice

250ml Ginger & lemongrass cordial

Garnish: 6 cinnamon sticks, 12 star anise, 12 cloves, 4 lemons

Method:

  • Slice lemons into wedges and squeeze a few into a punch bowl.
  • Add other ingredients and stir.
  • Leave for 30-45 minutes (cover and chill in the fridge for faster cooler).
  • Add ice just before serving.

The Nova Scotia Sipper; an original cocktail by the Fervent Shaker…

This months’ theme, as you may already be aware, is all about Infusions! That includes alcohol and sugar syrup infusions and in some cases both! This post, a post that precedes my week of infused vodka, is all about a sugar syrup recipe and the fresh new cocktail I created with it! I’m sharing both the recipe for the syrup and the cocktail and hope that at least a few of you try them both out and enjoy the drink! So, without further ado, here is my Blueberry Maple Syrup and my very own original cocktail: The Nova Scotia Sipper!

Blueberry Maple Syrup

This syrup is perfect for deserts and can be used in cooking as well! Experiment why don't you!
This syrup is perfect for deserts and can be used in cooking as well! Experiment why don’t you!

200 grams Blueberries

230 ml Maple Syrup

Method:

  • Combine the ingredients in a saucepan over a medium heat.
  • Simmer until the blueberries soften and begin to burst.
  • At this point, gently mash the blueberries (not too much) and allow to simmer on a low heat for another 2-3 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat and strain out the solids. Discard them.
  • If using this recipe for desserts you can mix in another 200grams of fresh blueberries and make a glorious syrup for you pancakes…

Cocktail: Nova Scotia Sipper

A great, refreshing long drink that has a wealth of fantastic flavours!
A great, refreshing long drink that has a wealth of fantastic flavours!

Recipe:

25ml Plantation 3 star white rum

12.5ml Blueberry-maple syrup

7.5ml Pernod

5ml Lime Juice

50ml Apple & Passionfruit Juice

3-5 blueberries

Garnish: Skewered Lime twist & Blueberries*

Method:

  • Muddle the blueberries with the rum in a Boston cocktail shaker.
  • Fill with ice.
  • Add the other ingredients, top up with ice if needed.
  • Shake well, for around 15 seconds, or until the tin ices over.
  • Strain into a sling glass full to the brim with crushed ice.
  • Garnish & serve with 2 straws…

*this is my preferred garnish, although like the picture shows you can garnish it however you like, it’s all about the theatre for this cocktail…

So there you have one of the nicest cocktails i’ve ever made! It does have a slight twist to the flavour profile, thanks to the anise fro the Pernod, but used in such a small amount it merely coats the drink and the other flavours still make their presence known! Hope you all enjoy the recipe, feel free to tweak it if needed and please do let me know what you think! Until next time!!!

Sweet, Sweet Infusions: Sugar and its Syrup!

One of the infusion types I mentioned in my introduction post was that of sugar syrup infusing.

Every bartender will tell you that sugar syrup is an essential part of their arsenal and that a well-prepared syrup has the potential to raise a cocktail above the realms of normality.

Below you will find the recipes for 4 very different sugar syrup infusions, including a special spicy concoction that is perfect for those heat lovers out there!

Disclaimer: although usually I’d offer up a complimentary cocktail recipe for each of these syrups, to make the post less cluttered I’ve simply stated the spirit(s) they pair with the best!

#1 Rhubarb Simple Syrup

A stunning red hue, this rhubarb syrup is perfect for adding a little colour to your cocktails...
A stunning red hue, this rhubarb syrup is perfect for adding a little colour to your cocktails…

Ingredients:

400 grams fresh Rhubarb

100 grams sugar

100ml water

Method:

  • Add ingredients to a small saucepan and bring to the boil on a medium heat. Stirring consistently.
  • Stir until the sugar has dissolved.
  • Turn heat down to low and simmer.
  • The rhubarb will begin to soften around 5/6 minutes in (this is normal so don’t panic!)
  • Allow mixture to thicken a little (around 2-5 minutes) and then remove from heat.
  • Strain* mixture into a sterile container and allow to cool.
  • Seal and keep refrigerated.

*when straining gently press the fruit pieces to gain a little more juice (flavour) but be careful not to press to hard as it will make your syrup go cloudy!

This is the most versatile of the 4 recipes and works brilliantly with vodka or gin. It is particularly good in a bramble (in place of the blackberry liqueur!) and also pairs well with light mixers or those non-drinkers out there! – Homemade Rhubarb Lemonade anyone?

#2 Honey & Rosemary Sugar Syrup

Infusing honey with rosemary is a quick way to make this syrup. Although it tastes better with the cooked method...
Infusing honey with rosemary is a quick way to make this syrup. Although it tastes better with the cooked method…

Ingredients:

2-3 Rosemary Sprigs

100ml Honey

50ml water

Method:

  • Mix the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to the boil – on a medium heat.
  • Once boiling reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 2 minutes.
  • Turn off heat after 2 minutes and leave to cool (covered).
  • Strain out rosemary ad store in a sterile container.

Once this item is cooled seal it and keep it refrigerated. It should keep for up to 4 weeks (although if it looks spoiled at any point please don’t risk it – bin it and make some more!)

This particular syrup is a little more to taste and less sweet than the blueberry syrup but that just means it’s that perfect herbal addition to your favourite Whisky/Bourbon cocktail. It also mixes well with more savoury vodka and gin cocktails and does make a mean G&T.

#3 Cucumber & Mint Simple Syrup

Cucumber & mint - Perfect in your next G&T
Cucumber & mint – Perfect in your next G&T

Ingredients:

100 grams Sugar

100ml Water

½ Cucumber (Diced)

10 leaves fresh Mint

Method:

  • Combine the water and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Stir until the sugar has dissolved.
  • When the sugar has dissolved turn the heat off and allow to cool.
  • Once cooled add in the cucumber and mint. Leave in for at least 1hr but for a more concentrated flavour leave it in for longer (Keep refrigerated at all times).
  • Strain away the cucumber and mint and store accordingly.

This syrup has an odd aftertaste but is still a great tasting mix regardless. It mixes well with Gin and Vodka (as you’d expect) but also makes a great twist on the classic mojito – blending well with White rum.

#4 Spicy Jalapeno Simple Syrup

The striking green colour is what gives this syrup its WOW factor...
The striking green colour is what gives this syrup its WOW factor…

Ingredients:

100 grams sugar

100ml water

1 Jalapeno (sliced lengthways)

Method:

  • Simmer the water and sugar, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.
  • Take of the heat once the sugar has dissolved and cover to cool.
  • Once cooled add the Jalapeno slices and leave for at least 1hr*.
  • After the infusion time has passed, sieve out the jalapeno and store in a sealed container in the fridge.

*as with the cucumber and mint recipe, the longer the jalapeno is in the syrup the more concentrated the flavour profile (and heat). You might want to try creating several different concentrations of this mixture and making a note of which is which – this way you can cater for different palates…

Whilst this mixture blends well with vodka (and surprisingly gin) it is best kept for the most obvious choice: Tequila. Try adding a little bit of this to your next shot of quality tequila. Try with Habanero’s or Cazadores Tequila should you have either in your possession…

So there you go! 4 rather brilliant, and yet rather different simple syrup recipes. They’re all a perfect with their own particular spirit(s) but all have room for a little versatility.

I hope you enjoy them, and if any are not quite to your tastes, feel free to tweak them. That’s the best way to improve them. I’d love to hear your thoughts on these recipes if you try them, especially any cocktails you find them to particularly effective in…

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