All L.I.T. Up: Matcha, Matcha, Man

The Long Island is a very simple drink. That’s the reason it’s on so many menus in chain restaurants. It’s easy to make small modifications to make the drink unique. Also by touting a premium brand in their formula they can better advertise to customers. One thing has always bothered me, besides the ultra lousy well brands used to make them. There’s no damn tea in the drink, it’s colored with coke. I’ve always wanted to put the tea back in the L.I.T. Good thing I have a blog because I intend to do just that.

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We’ve used tea before on the site, though unfortunately in the past it has tended to be a background player. The Haggerty’s Draught uses a syrup to add an herbal backing to other big flavors. However thanks to a Kurosawa marathon I stumbled across a great idea, matcha, a powdered Japanese green tea. It’s very strong, herbal, and quite trendy right now. Thanks to Japanese animation, samurai movies, and literature the tea ceremony isn’t so foreign to many nerds like me. So I decided to give it a try, and man does it add bold flavor to cocktails. However it’s color and high price make potent problems to deal with. On the bright side you can make it and keep it chilled in the fridge for a few days without much issue. The flavor does improve with some sweetness, but if you enjoy a rich herbal flavor you’ll likely enjoy it. I can see pairing it easily with gin, or using it in a bigger better syrup. In any case I’m certain you’ve never had a L.I.T like this. It’s delicious, bright, and strong potion for spring or summer with a herbaceous, and sour flavor.

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Green Blade Tea
Ingredients
¾ oz Flor de Cana 4 white
¾ oz vodka
¾ oz Camus VS Cognac
¾ oz Bacardi Ron de Solera
¾ oz fresh lime juice
½ oz Clement Creole Shrubb
½ oz simple syrup
½ oz matcha tea (1 tsp powder to 1 oz hot water, make as instructed otherwise on package)
dash Angostura orange bitters

In a shaker tin combine ingredients and shake very well to combine. Pour into a footed pilsner and garnish with orange peel and pineapple leaves.

The aroma here is funky fresh, to date myself mightily. The orange peel and creole shrubb brighten the nose considerably while the matcha and white rum belt out some strong vegetal and herbal notes. The cognac and rum combo make a strong entrance and greet your palate with crisp orange notes. The lime and matcha slowly waft in after, with the matcha finishing strong but not in a way that overpowers. There’s a lot of room to play here. I spent three weeks swapping rums, syrups, and bitters around. Needless to say your gonna see a couple more matcha pieces from me this year. In the end I chose this one because it puts a high end spend on the L.I.T. While keeping some of those fresh, crisp, boozy notes a well made L.I.T can bring.

I hope we’ve shown this month that if made well you can redeem a Long Island. More than anything I believe that the framework is strong, you just need to spruce up the floor plan. In the end a Long Island teaches you one crucial Tiki skill, blending spirits. Construct a blend poorly and they won’t sing, they’ll riot. I’ve had to gas a few bad blends this month, but in the end I got some gold. What was your favorite iteration? What are your thoughts on the infamous L.I.T? Can this fun college skull crusher be redeemed? Until next time…

“You get Hammered America” – JFL

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MxMo 100: All L.I.T. Up and the Fog Cutter

Wow folks it’s MxMo 100, that’s something pretty damn special right there. I want to first and foremost give mad respect to Paul Clarke and Fred Yarm. This wouldn’t have been achieved without them. So check out their blogs Cocktail Chronicles and Cocktail Virgin/Slut, and show them some love. The theme for this MxMo might be the most difficult ever, Cocktail Chronicles. As I understood it this was supposed to be a drink that transcended time. Now I love me, I’m a prideful guy. I do not feel comfortable however calling any of my personal creations timeless. Flat out that is not for me, or any one person to decide. The people and the march of time shows what drinks live on in the glasses of the public, and what fades away like the Macarena.

mxmo_c_logo250So this month I’m not going to bring you a Rated R Original. That’s not because I don’t have faith in my potions. I’d be proud to serve them to Vic and Donn themselves for their approval. I however want to fit the theme as best I can, and stay within this month’s theme on Rated R Cocktails. As I have said before this month the Long Island Iced Tea looks sort of like it descended from a Tiki drink. If it did it may very well be the long lost, drug addled, grandchild of the Fog Cutter. The Fog Cutter is a very strong drink, made up of several different liquors and lemon. Sounding familiar? Vic accents this with his trademark orgeat and provides a lovely float of cream sherry to provide a tempting nose and cut the sourness. Like the L.I.T it’s very customizeable. By simply swapping a liquor and a float you can call this drink your original very easily. Which contemporary restaurants did. Unlike Donn, Vic did not care much about keeping his recipes a secret. On the contrary he put out recipe books and later mixes to encourage you to make them yourself. While some claim the L.I.T to be invented in the 20’s that sort of sounds like bullshit to me. The drink was mentioned in the 60’s but never really started being seen until the mid to late 70’s. This being the case it’s not hard for me to believe it’s some bartender’s take on a Fog Cutter. Even if the two were never related, they damn sure have a family resemblance.

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Vic had great success with the Fog Cutter, it became his third best seller. Even he recognized how potent it was eventually toning it down in the 50’s. The Samoan Fog Cutter is regarded by many as the better of the two. Well guess what sunshine your not getting it here. We’re going to give you the brain cell blowing original recipe. Mostly because we hate our livers. If you want the Samoan and more Fog Cutter history grab a copy of Beachbum Remixed, or Jeff’s Total Tiki app on Iphone. Long Live the Bum! No he doesn’t pay me, but he does put up with my drunk ass when I visit Latitude 29. That’s all I ask of a mentor.

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Fog Cutter
As Presented in Beachbum Remixed
2 oz fresh lemon juice
1 oz fresh orange juice
½ oz orgeat
2 oz Cruzan White
1 oz brandy
½ oz gin
½ oz cream sherry

Place all ingredients except sherry in a shaker with ice and shake very well. Pour into a large glass or Fog Cutter mug and garnish with a Trader Vic pick and mint. In this case we used some Rose of Sharon blossoms.

The aroma is helped out a lot by the sherry float. If absent it really only smells like lemon with a faint waft of juniper. Having a nice float in a Fog Cutter is kinda essential as the sherry really cuts the strong lemon sourness. I enjoy a sour sip but this is on the far side of things. The lemon is kind of a bully in the drink. Still other flavors do find minuscule purchase. Orange and orgeat come through as does the gin and brandy on the finish. The sherry and lemon are very up front as one would kind of expect. I do not find it a stretch at all to call this the Long Island Iced Tea’s Grandpappy, especially since it’s brother is the Scorpion Bowl. Foot note this drink actually gets a bit better once it dilutes. No wonder Vic used crushed ice and a longer blend time in the Samoan.

The Fog Cutter has really been my inspiration through L.I.T Month here on RRC. For a few ideas on how I would twist up this venerable Tiki sip click here and here. Also stay tuned this week for one of the funkier drinks I’ve ever made. I’m so proud to be a part of MxMo 100, I love this community. I hope we can toast 100 more someday. Until next time…

“You get Hammered America” – JFL

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All L.I.T. Up: Riding Waves

I think the first Long Island Iced Tea that I ever had was at some TGI Applefarts type place with dusty crap on the walls and taxidermy paying you more attention than the wait staff. I was about 19, but most of my friends were 25 and all drinking so the waitress didn’t card me. It was blue and looking back it was probably mostly pineapple juice. The menu had about 5 of them in a variety of colors and flavors. It was a very educational experience from what little I can remember of it. I remember a couple of older ladies looking at our drunken revelry and heard one say “Oh aren’t those boys having fun.”

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Long Islands are about having low brow fun. So are blue drinks, so it’s no surprise you see chain restaurants turn these devils blue with regularity. They draw the eye immediately because well, that’s not a normal color for a drink no matter how many I make. Tiki abounds with similar gimmicks, making me think that Long Island’s must be a descendant of Polynesian Pop. It’s hard to make a drink that’s both bright blue and deeply flavorful. To preserve that color you have to use mostly clear spirits and lighter colored mixers. These items are usually known for having bright and light flavors, but they need darker richer flavors for balance. I try to add dashes of dark or gold liquors when I can, but you have to be careful not to turn it green. Onto the booze!

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Waverider Iced Tea
¾ oz El Dorado 3 year
¾ oz Purus Vodka
¾ oz Beefeater Gin
¾ oz Mount Gay Rum
¾ oz fresh lime juice
½ oz blue curacao
½ oz honey syrup
1 oz ginger beer
dash of Bittermen’s Hopped Grapefruit Bitters

Shake all ingredients except ginger beer well with ice. Add ginger beer and then pour unstrained into a chimney glass. Garnish with a few springs of fresh mint and a swizzle.

The mint, bitters, and gin do a lot of the nose work here. This drink is on the lighter side with a touch of sweetness. The lime and bitters are good match for the ginger. The gin really impacts the more mellow flavors. El Dorado 3 year adds a lot of body, if I had to sub it I’d probably use Old New Orleans white. I’d rather not sub it though, El Dorado three just works so well. This drink has a twangy, fresh, taste with a light wiggle at the end. Ginger and honey is a pretty great combination and the Gin helps the kids out nicely. The Waverider is pretty customize-able in the syrup category. For awhile I was making these with Vanilla syrup and I thought that was the right track. But I subbed honey on a whim and that worked very nice as well. Honey let the other flavors come out a bit better. You can use a double strength honey mix if the boozy flavors come in to strong. I tried it both ways and went with the single, but by all means use what works for you here. If you don’t have the bitters I encourage the purchase, they accent a planters punch nicely as well as a rye old fashioned. If you have to sub use something with some bite like allspice or nutmeg based bitters. I used a ginger beer from the mixer section because it was on sale, it was a little weaker and clearer than the stuff I normally favor. However I think the drink could benefit from the use of Reed’s or Buffalo Rock.

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Fun means blue, and L.I.T’s are supposed to be fun. One thing is for sure it tastes way better than any chain drink. Well they are fun for everyone but your liver anyway. Next time I plan to put the Tea in the L.I.T. We’ll see if that scheme works out. Until next time…

“You get Hammered America” – JFL

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All L.I.T. Up: Lost Island Iced Coffee

Sometimes you get in a rut and need a break. We’re coming up on having done 5 years of Rated R Cocktails. So I guess you can call the past month of silence a vacation of sorts. It’s the longest break we’ve taken from publicly pontificating on drinking and Tiki in 5 years. I’ve actually penned and nearly posted a few articles during the impromptu break, but none of them felt perfect or fun. Even the best take breaks, but it’s time to saddle back up.

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Recently my best bud and frequent idea contributor Dan messaged me with the notion of Tikifying the Long Island Ice Tea. I liked the idea for a lot of reasons, mostly because the nose in the air crowd have made this drink the icon of their disgust. I myself am just the kind of guy who enjoys offending the easily offended. I’ll be honest the variation and measurements remind me of a Trader Vic and Stephen Crane Frankenstien monster. The elite would forever banish the L.I.T from menu’s, but they never will. It’s simple, popular, and if made right really not bad. The real reason it’s so successful is that it has a perfect skeleton to customize. This is why every chain restaurant has their own version, our college favorite being the L.I.T. Bonanza that is Logan’s Roadhouse. They may not be excellent examples of craft mixology, but they could be if anyone took the time or effort. So we present for your jeers and entertainment a series of my efforts to improve the maligned Long Island Ice Tea.

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To begin I go to the well. Coffee is one of my very favorite drink additions. While thinking on a way to turn our theme drink on it’s head I decided Iced Coffee would be a fun flip on “Iced Tea”. Now there’s no tea in a classic L.I.T., but the play on words made me laugh. I had recently seen a Polynesian coffee drink using coconut milk and ginger. I decided to bring one of my favorite pairings back for a bow. The combinations are rather inspired, finding liquor blends that don’t break up the marriage is the hardest part. Well enough gabbing, lets get down to brass tax.

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Lost Island Ice Coffee
¾ oz Barbancourt 5 Star
¾ oz Appleton 12 year
¾ oz Camus VS Cognac
¾ oz wheat vodka (Or any vodka hell I won’t tell. But I got a giant bottle of Purus for free recently.)
¾ oz fresh lime juice
¾ oz dark roast drip coffee
½ oz coconut cream (Lopes or Coco Real)
dash of Bittermen’s Elemakule bitters

Shake ingredients together with ice and pour into a pilsner. Garnish with flowers, lime, or parasol. Serve with a straw

Sweet notes of orange, cinnamon, coffee, creamy coconut candy, and something faintly apricotish. The drink has a nice thick body and it does immediately draw thoughts of drive through ice coffee. The coffee beats back the coconut overtones slightly, but not so much they both don’t meet you arm and arm at the front. It dries out after that into rich rummy tones supported by the light round bite of cognac. I’m sure vodka is doing it’s job somewhere. The bitters really are crucial here for depth. So even if you don’t have Elemakule (Shame on you!) you should still add a hearty splash of Angostura.

So what do you think? Have I tempted you into giving this old rascal another try? No? Well hold on to your butt Aunt Matilda cause we’re only getting started. It’s nice to be back in the saddle, we hope your glad to see us. Until next time…

“You get Hammered America!” – JFL

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Stocking the Tiki Bar: Glassware

So now thanks to our first two parts you can make your Tiki drink, but what will you put it in? The answer may not be as easy as you if your goal is to serve a professional looking drink to your guests. I’ll tell you flat out this step is the hardest for a home bartender. You can travel or order online for hard to find spirits, but proper glassware isn’t always easy to find. When you go shopping for glassware at your local store you will find an array of options. Take retail glassware home and make your drink however and you’ll find it doesn’t come close to filling it. Retail glassware is ridiculously large often 8 to 9 ounces for stemware and up to 24 ounces for tall glasses. Proper bars that make craft cocktails often use glasses less than half those sizes, and good luck finding them at Target. So to continue our series we’ll tell you the most common kinds of glassware for common Tiki, proper sizes, and where to buy them.

 
Coupes and Globes

Ah the coupe, elegant and delicate, yet far more durable than a martini glass. This type of glass is common with classic cocktails and tiki as well. We use a 4.5 oz glass from Libbey that we bought from a local craft cocktail bar. A coupe bigger than this would be a pain in the ass as most daiquiris that fill them are right about 4 ounces. They have served us well and after 2 years we still haven’t cracked any of the original six we bought. Asking your local watering hole if you can buy some of their glasses is probably the best tip we can give for hard to find barware. Coupes especially are pretty ubiquitous in craft cocktail places, and most places will sell you a few even if they don’t advertise it. The globe glasses I use Hula Ghoul (5)have been in the family since my parents got married, but they are essentially small 8 oz wine glasses. If I had to re-buy these I’d probably hit a restaurant supply website and match them based on shape an ounce. For purposes of research the closest appear to be Libbey Embassy #3769. These are a little smaller, but that’s not a bad thing. These sweet spot for these glasses is between 6 and 8 ounces. Buying wholesale is not as bad as you might think. You do have to get a case of 24 usually, but most cases I’ve bought are only 55 to 80 dollars. Chances are you don’t need 24 glasses, but you can always split a case with a like-minded pal or two. They can also make great wedding gifts. Worse comes to worse you don’t have to worry as much about them breaking. Coupes and globes are used for up drinks, usually daiquiri variations. For shaken drinks I use the coupes. For blended drinks like the Derby Daiquiri I turn to globes. Don’t buy martini glasses. With how fragile they are your better off just mailing me the money instead.

 
Double Old Fashioned

The workhorse of any bar. These glasses can hold anything from a refined spirit with large chunk iNiuNaut (2)ce to a beautiful Mai Tai. These will probably be the first glasses most home bartenders buy, because they are easy to get retail. I have found most big box stores have double old fashioned glasses that fit the bill. Most of the time these glasses are 8 to 12 ounces, any bigger than that is not ideal. For me the sweet spot is right at 10 ounces. Try to find a model that’s easy to stack so you can save space for other toys.

 
Tiki Bowls

Emphasis on the Bowl. These specialty ceramics are used for communal drinks like drinkware (1)Scorpion Bowls, Rum Kegs, and Volcano Bowls. Like a lot of Tiki ceramics you will find they are pricey and often oversized. Special care should be taken they don’t get chipped or broken, so never use a dishwasher. What I am saying is they are pretty, but sometimes a pain in the ass. However these are pretty classic. I believe they hit prominence in Tiki bars before the actual mugs really did though I could be wrong. Oversized snifters, jumbo beer glasses, or larger than average hurricane glasses can work as a substitute. The optimal size for these is from 18 to 36 ounces. It’s good to have a few different options as some communal drinks are bigger than others.

 
Specialty Stemware

So here is where things can get really funky and rare. There are scores of “other” stemware that appears on old menu’s. The Molokai Mike glass is something I have coveted but often eludes me. It can be called thistle or celebration, but always seems a little off from the old TreeViper (3)pictures I find. In this category I rely on three types of glass. The first are super sexy footed pilsner glasses (Libbey #6425). These 10 ounce beauties are perfect for those odd drinks in-between a punch and a daiquiri, where a coupe is to small and a chimney to big. The Port au Prince, Dr. Funk, and Port Light immediately come to mind as candidates. Yes these are wholesale, but they are eye catching and worth the effort. Second are tulip glasses as seen in our Tree Viper and assorted classics as above. These are easier to find in specialty retailers like World Market or can be bought from your local craft beer place. These run a bit bigger at about 12 to 13 ounces, but they look great holding a colorful drink. Finally we have a Hurricane glass for those big drinks that are just shy of being communal drinks. Named for their most common occupant we typically look for items between 14 and 16 ounces. It’s also worth mentioning that cocktail kingdom recently released Pearl Diver and Metal Swizzle cups with the Jeff Berry seal of approval. These are definitely worth checking out.

 
Tall “Chimney” Glasses

Yes you’ve sTepesPunch (4)een these quite a lot on my site. I love these tall glasses to hold all manner of spins on the Planters Punch. They fit a hand nicely, they frost well when a cold punch is poured in, and they just look great with a nice frothy well shaken head. These glasses tend to be tall and slender, thus the name chimney. Ours actually came from World Market and sit at a nice 13 ounces. Any model between 10 and 13.5 would be perfectly fine. I’ve sometimes considered my life would be a bit easier if my glass held an ounce less.

 

 
You may notice we didn’t mention Tiki mugs. Well if you look around the site you’ll also probably notice a distinct lack of them. We’ll explain more in our next piece which will surely ruffle some feathers among dear friends in the Tiki community. If you haven’t yet check out the previous pieces in this series. Also don’t forget your syrup recipes and books. Until next time…

 

“You get Hammered America” – JFL

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MxMo XCVII: My Chinatown Moll

Well if it ain’t MxMo time again! Spring always seems to pull me away from RRC. Well the trend of stirred cocktails continues, but I refuse to let it get me down. After all the amazing staff at The Collins Bar as helped me work on my stir when we do Tiki Nights. The fantastic Fred Yarm of Cocktail Virgin/Slut has made Manhattan’s the theme this month. Since you need fresh citrus to make a Tiki drink we won’t be doing that here. Instead I’m going to flex muscles I normally don’t use and go top hat and tails.mxmologoI love Fred, but I definitely don’t love Manhattans. I’ve tried a lot and I continue to expose myself to them. I’ve had a few that were okay, but they’re all usually to sweet for me. I think I’m just not a vermouth and bourbon guy. I do however love Rob Roy’s which is nothing more than a Scotch Manhattan. So I chose to wander off in that direction. Laphroaig is one of my favorite scotch’s, and the decision to pair it with a dry, fruity Merlot was an easy one to make. A sweeter curacao is essential for brightness here and balance. After that dashes of bitters give the whole thing added depth and roundness. Casual drinkers beware, this drink has some smokey smack to it that I just adore.

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“On rainy nights at the Daiquiri Den an old sad sack of a detective shuffles his way in. No rum delights will please this gravel throated grump. The snoop always orders the same thing, something his gal would drink back in the good old days running down leads in old Chinatown. Between puffs of his cigar as he stares in the glass you’d think he could almost still see his long lost lass.”

My Chinatown Moll
1 oz Laphroaig
2 oz Lees Fitch Merlot
½ oz Pierre Ferrand orange curacao
1 dash Bittermen’s Burlesque bitters
1 dash Scrappy’s chocolate bitters

Combine ingredients and stir together with ice. Pour into a chilled coupe and garnish with flower petals and/or a cherry.

 

This drink would really be perfect in the autumn or winter on a cool, rainy day. The Merlot comes through well in the nose and first sip with a big waft of smoke behind it. The smoke and orange marry really well with one another as the smoke fades into sweet orange and berry. It has a dry austere sort of nature that’s bolstered by the faint hints of chocolate, peppercorn, and hibiscus. Bookmark this one for mid fall and make it again. You’ll get my mental picture I think.

Chinatown (5)Hey it may not be Tiki, but I like it. Plus back in the day they stirred up Martinis and the like along side the potent potions. It’s a good skill to have, and it’s always fun to be part of MxMo. I wanna thank Fred for being pretty damn awesome in general. Until next time…

 

“You get Hammered America” – JFL

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MxMo XCVI: The Tahitian Sunset

This is my kind of Mixology Monday theme. I don’t care how many times I get asked to do it locally or online I love the challenge of taking a lousy drink or ingredient and turning them high class. Thats why I am so excited about this month’s Mixology Monday theme Drink of Shame from Whitney of Tipicular Fixin’s. Lets start with a little story shall we? mxmologoI came from an intense southern family of teetotalers. Most people I knew didn’t drink and wouldn’t be caught dead with one in their hand. My wine class in culinary school had opened the door to a world I’d never wanted to step foot in.I loved flavors though and wandered in anyway. When I turned 21 I was a budding wine nerd. Sadly I didn’t know what to order at the dive bars that made up all of Birmingham’s liquor scene. A few of my older friends took me to a karaoke joint for my 21st birthday . There were no menu’s and I had no idea what to order. I tried to remember drinks from songs or that my mother ordered when we were on vacation. It turned out the only two drinks I could name were the Margarita and the Tequila Sunrise. Back then I was a big lover of classic country so I ordered a Tequila Sunrise since I was about to sing the Alan Jackson cover. 11146252_10152707643917553_5400699753114386895_n Of course years later I’d learn there was a world of flavor beyond craft beer and wine. Cocktails could be tasty and more than just high octane go go juice. I haven’t had one of my old go to slurps in about 4 years. The thing is it has the building blocks of a great drink. Heck it really just needs a dash of lime and or lemon to balance out the red stuff and a shake instead of a sugar float. So I wanted to do more than just fix my old friend. I wanted to Tikify him and really make him a bar top darling. I wanted to preserve some sweetness, and make it pop with orange flavor. I also layered some spirits for smoke and depth. 11150823_10152707643712553_8556986996749785624_n

Tahitian Sunset
1 oz Mount Gay rum
¾ oz reposado tequila
¼ oz Del Maguey Vida mezcal (½ oz if you like it smokey)
½ oz Pierre Ferrand Orange Curacao
½ oz hibiscus grenadine
¼ oz falernum
¾ oz fresh lime juice
½ oz fresh orange juice
Dash Bittermen’s Burlesque Bitters

Shake with ice and pour into a footed pilsner unstrained. Garnish with Orange and lime peels along with a cherry.

 

The aroma is mellow and smells of orange, pomegranate, and wisps of green smoke. The flavor is very rich and rolls around ever changing. The falernum,orange, and grenadine make great playmates as the tequila and rum peak through. The dash of mezcal is essential to provide a funk that plays throughout the drink. Here’s a Pro Tip enjoy this one with salted peanuts. I found out by pure accident that they make a perfect pair.

 

Nostalgia sure is fun, but don’t get so caught up in it that you forget to make new memories to. Now if you’ll excuse me I’ve got a drink to drank. Until next time…

“You get Hammered America!” -JFL

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Stocking The Tiki Bar: Tools

We want you to have the best Tiki bar on your block. Since our talk from last time you have the rums you need, but now you need the gadgets. Drinks don’t just hop out of the bottle and mix themselves unless your Merlin. The good news it most of the tools we Tikitenders use are the same as our classic cocktail brethren, so you’ll be able to multitask. We’re going to show you 5 tools we’d be simply lost without, or atleast have to deliver big changes to our methods. Throw away those fancy crystal stirring vessels and shiny barspoons. We’re getting Tiki.

Tools5. Juicing Tools

When I get to do Tiki Nights at Collins Bar we have big stand presses and finger snapping electric juicers that can crank out boatloads of fresh citrus. We usually run through it all to. However when I’m making Tiki drinks for research at home I don’t need that much juice, maybe a cup or half cup at a time. For this I get the most mileage from a simple all metal hand press. Do not buy one that’s plastic, you’d be better of just mailing me the five bucks. Plastic ones snap after 3 limes, it usually takes 2 years for me to break a metal one. We cut the limes or lemons in half and then make a slit halfway down the cut fruit to break the most juice sacs with the least resistance. For larger citrus like oranges and grapefruit we use a more old fashioned bowl juicer. When a lot of company is expected I break out the attachment to my kenmore stand mixer and go to town. No matter the device the juice all gets passed through a fine mesh strainer into a cheap squeeze bottle I can label with masking tape. Make sure you buy a funnel that your strainer fits in, and do something to weight or prop up the bottle so it doesn’t tip over when your straining. We usually just prop the strainer handle atop a bottle of Grand Marnier. Oh a nice stylish barmat aid in look and mess prevention to. I love my Clement mat. Just get the cheap squirt bottles at walmart. They are a buck a pop and come with a cap to help keep air and fruit flies out.

 
4. Syrup Supplies

God we make a lot of syrups. When I started Rated R Cocktails on the radio it was all store bought. As you learn and develop a palate though you really come to realize how lacking many bought syrups are. The cost of premades can really add up as well. Making your own syrups is cheap, and lets you have creative control on their strength. A lot of them are even easy to make, though some are labors of love. I’m looking at you falernum. Many of the supplies you’ll need here you already have from juicing. Strainers, bottles, tape, and funnels will all be reused here. You’ll need a small saucepan to cook the syrups in, it’s best to have a lid that fits snug because many have to sit and infuse off the heat. A microplane grater, mortar and pestle, and mini chopper are all also great extras. However if your cheap like we were starting out we used a skillet and cookie pan to smash spices and almonds. We also used a cheese grater for lime peel, and a screwdriver butt as a muddler. I really don’t recommend those last ones.

 
3. A Good Blender (or Two)

This is a place where Tiki folk really separate themselves from their brethren. When I say blender you probably think of my workhorse the Ninja blender you see above. This sucker gets a workout around here let me tell you. It juices our pineapples, crushes ice to fine snow, and sometimes even makes a frosty beverage. However in a lot of the old classic recipes we focus on it’s not the blender they refer to. If you find yourself at Latitude 29 or Trader Vic’s you will see something your grandad might have used to make Milkshakes on a warm Sunday. These top down stick blenders are a huge time saver for making fastblend drinks. They can be circumvented by just shaking the drink HARD like a madman who hates his arms. I still covet one of these top down’s however and hope Santa will remember that, of course I’d have to be good first.

 
2. Measuring Tools

Tiki is all about measuring. Very careful, and often very odd, measurements are crucial to these balanced well thought out flavor patterns. We use a variety of tools, but the one you’ll see in my hand most often are my OxO jiggers. I’ve had them for a little over four years and I really just love them. Some of my colleagues oppose them and say their measurements are slightly off on one of the increments marked inside. I have never run into this issue myself. I mixed my way through all of Jeff Berry’s books with them and each drink came out as intended. Whichever jigger you choose make sure you can accurately measure a ¼, ½, 1, and 1 ½ oz pour. A close second are my measuring spoons, it is crucial you buy a set with an 1/8 teaspoon spoon. This will save you the trouble of keeping a lot of little mini droppers and bottles around. Measuring cups in both fluid and regular sizes are valuable for making large communal drinks and syrups.

 

1. Metal Shakers and a Hawthorne

In Tiki we don’t stir drinks, I can only think of one stirred recipe that’s truly Tiki. We need the dilution and aeration shaking provides. A good hard shake makes a nice frothy head on fresh pineapple juice, and gets your flavors well melded. It works that coconut cream from stuck on paste to included ingredient. I’ll admit until I started working at Collins bar I really didn’t even know how to stir a cocktail. I use Koriko tins from Cocktail Kingdom for a good reason. Glass breaks and I shake drinks hard. Many Tiki recipes are shake and dump cocktails. So instead of straining your shaken drink onto fresh ice as classic bartenders do we dump our freshly shaken punch, cracked ice and all, into our glass. This is a crucial step that allows us to play with strong drinks and big flavors. It also makes sure our cracked ice and drink properly fill our glasses. Of course short hoists happen and when they do the hawthorne comes out to keep that ice at bay. I see no need really for a fine mesh at this step. If you’ve already strained your juice straining it again here has never helped me, only caused spills.

 

If you have a home bar I’m willing to bet a lot of you have some of these items already. All of these items are really must haves for any home bar Tiki or otherwise. Make sure you have your rums and your books. Don’t forget to check out our various syrup articles. Once you have all your new toys you’ll definitely want a cocktail as well. Join us next time as we delve into the world of glassware. Until then…

 

“You get Hammered America” – JFL

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Sampling the Snake Bite

I love beer and snakes. So when Snakebite sent me a bottle opener I was pretty excited to try it out. If you know me you know I always carry around a Pulltap wine key I’ve had since college. It is great for opening beer and wine alike. In addition I have a cheap 99 cent bottle popper in neon purple on my keychain. Even though it’s all metal it fades and wears down. Usually metal wears and gets hard to use after two years, hey I drink a lot of beer.

11045427_10152644160862553_6919161215695884759_nThe Snakebite is made in the USA, so that’s awesome. It’s pretty darn sexy in black leather, and it’s sharp bugger at that. It certainly seems more durable than my gas station keychain ornament. It pops bottles like a pro as one would expect. One of their big selling points was that it can vent a beer can. I love craft beer cans, but venting is not something that ever really mattered to me. We poured our favorite local canned offering Good People IPA, one vented and one non-vented, to see if we’d have the same results as the video on their kickstarter. Unfortunately we found zero difference in the amount of foam up when poured side by side. True the vented can poured easier, and all beers are different. So maybe we just found one that didn’t play right. It did make us less gassy when we chugged a vented PBR, and helped our can stand out at parties. However if you want your beer to foam less we suggest you just learn how to properly tilt a glass and pour a beer instead. There are a multitude of videos out there, and pouring properly is ridiculously simple.

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At $22 retail this might be the priciest thing on your keychain. It’s certainly not going to replace a bartender’s tool, then again I doubt it’s meant to. It’s design would be seen in the hands of a craft beer lover far more often than a busy bar. I love the design, feel, and look. I also love that it’s made in America. I don’t love the fact that after I blow $22 dollars on a bottle opener I might not be able to buy beer. Still this is a durable and fashionable drinker’s accessory. If you don’t want it made by underpaid 3rd world workers sometimes you just gotta pony up the dough. The metal’s construction and the quality leather do atleast tell me that this opener will last a very long while.

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The Breakdown: I like my Snakebite bottle opener. I am proud to own one and show it off to people. I’m not sure I’d have paid more than double the cost of my favorite Pulltap wine keys to own one. It’s very hard to justify telling people to spend $22 on a bottle opener. Then again my budget is always tight. The Snakebite comes in Natural, Brown, and Black. I like the fact they support American manufacturing jobs. The snakebite is durable, quite sexy, and fits on a keychain nicely. It does vent cans very well if that matters to you. If you have the money it will be a stylish, long lasting, keychain hero for years to come. We wanna thank them for ours and wish them the best. Until Next time…

 
“You get Hammered America.” – JFL

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Stocking the Tiki Bar: Rums

Our contact form is a great way to partner with businesses and companies, but sometimes it’s reader mail that gives you the best ideas. Recently a reader contacted us for information about stocking his home bar for Tiki Drinks. It sort of hit me that even though we’ve discussed syrups and cocktails in the past, we never sort of went over those home basics. Rated R Cocktails has always been focused on making cocktails with the thought “I would sell this in a bar”. So in this series of pieces we’ll be telling you the must haves for Tiki bars from tools, to glasses, and rums.

 
There are Tiki drinks with many different kinds of spirits, but everyone knows Rum is the star. Donn Beach had a wealth of experience with rums, he became a master of blending them. The magic of rum is how vastly different they are based on age, color, and most importantly island. Blending two bourbons in a cocktail wouldn’t show you any difference, but take a Dark Jamaican and an aged Agricole and you have a varied flavor that one couldn’t give you on it’s own. I get asked my opinion on rums a lot, and I’m always down to taste some rum. So here’s our five essential rums for great Tiki cocktails.

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5. Top Shelf White Rum

We might as well be honest here and call these Daiquiri rums. These drier rums stand out more in cocktails and allow more sophisticated flavors to pierce the layers of sour and sweet. Utility white rums just can’t preform that task on their own. Way back in Tiki’s heyday this job was fulfilled by 123 proof Havana Club, and Bacardi before they became neutral tasting club kid juice. Nowadays there are still brands that can make you a fantastic daiquiri at home. Plantation 3 year is an amazing rum and worth the price if you can find it. Jeff Berry also recommends Cana Brava, Havana Club 3 year, and Doorley’s 3 year. Even in my travels I have had no luck in getting my hands on these brands beyond a taste here and there. We recommend El Dorado 3 year, Old New Orleans white, Matusalem Silver, and most of all Brugal white. It’s an important category to have on hand to tempt classic cocktail folks to the Tiki side and to twist up the classic Daiquiri in ways like our Haunted Hut.

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4. Virgin Islands Rums

This category is what we call “Utility Rums” around here. We’ve favored Cruzan since our inception because we like what flavor there is over other brands like Bacardi. To us a Utility rum is a cheap, mass marketed, neutral flavored rum. It’s important that it isn’t overly sweet, but it should have some sweetness. Utility rums are often used in generous pours to add room and punch to many cocktails from Nui Nui’s to Scorpion and Kava bowls. They are there when you want other flavors to be the star, but still have booze to give structure and wisps of flavor. It’s important to get a White, Gold, and a 151 bottling. Without 151 your Tiki will be weaky. This category is usually the one people start with because you can get 3 bottles for a little over $30. There’s nothing wrong with that because you can make a lot of drinks with these three. It may not be glamorous but every bar needs a well. When your Alchie guest comes over you’ll be happy you have them. We use our Cruzan 151 perhaps to much. Try it in our crowd pleasing Coral Snake.

10393660_10152599410062553_3804069534670964969_n3. Agricole Rum

Agricole rum, this is something Tiki nerds can talk a lot about. These rums are made from the fermented juice of fresh pressed sugar cane instead of the more common molasses. Flavorwise it’s the tequila of rums with a grassy, earthy, rubbery funk. Famously nowadays as the other half of an equal part of Dark Jamaican in a Mai Tai. Interestingly enough at Tales this year however Martin Cate revealed old Trader Vic menus showing most of his Martinique rums were Rhum Industrial, or molasses rums. Regardless of rather Vic, doubtfully, had Clement in his shaker it still makes a delicious Mai Tai. Other Tiki classics like the Last Rites, Three dots and a Dash, and Donga Punch among others also make use of this funky, flavorful rum. You want to make sure for Tiki drinks your using an aged V.S.O.P style offering. Younger less aged Rhums will overpower the delicate balance of the cocktail with hearty funk. For Martinique offerings we love Clement VSOP and Select Barrel, as well As Neisson Eleve Sous Bois. However our favorite Mai Tai agricole and a bottle I hate to be without is Barbancourt 5 Star, a delightful aged Haitian agricole rhum. It’s hard not to love that agricole pop in cocktails.

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2. Dark Jamaican Rum

Of all the category of rums presented here this is the one I have the hardest time with classic cocktail folks regarding. Jamaican rums are amazing in Tiki drinks and we always have gold and amber bottling on hand. Dark Jamaican rums however are a crux of Tiki drinks and irreplaceable in their construction. Appleton V/X and Smith and Cross are Amber Jamaican’s though, no amount of wishing will make them otherwise. Real Dark Jamaican rums will have big flavors of molasses, brown sugar, and a little oak with some burn sugar notes as well. I adore Coruba with all my heart. Appleton 12 year extra is also delicious. Myers while a little to sweet has some great uses and a nostalgic nose I love. This rum is in countless Tiki classics from the Mai Tai, to the Navy Grog. We are never without real Dark Jamaican rums and usually pack more than one bottling. I like it most in my Darkness Falls cocktail.

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1. Overproof and 80 proof Demerara Rum

Without a doubt when it comes to Tiki this is the holy juice. If you have a bottle of Lemon Hart 151 at your disposal your credit with a real Tiki lover instantly improves. Both versions of Demerara are really essential to having a Tiki bar. Without these rums the best drinks will always be beyond your grasp. Sadly though they aren’t always the easiest to find in more restricted markets. You must seek them out however if you wish to reach true Tiki. Lemon Hart 151 is getting to be impossible to find in the states, and much is the pity because it is a delightful must have. We all hope and pray they decide to make and export some more very soon. Luckily Ed Hamilton recently added to his wonderful line of rums both proofs of Demerara. We’ll have a review up for you soon, but they are delightful. El Dorado 12 year is an excellent bottling as well for your 80 proof needs, sadly their overproof rum isn’t good enough to clean your drain so be forewarned. Zombie’s, Navy Grogs, and several of our best creations rely on Demerara flavor.

 
Okay so I may have recommended more than one bottle, but it’s important to have choices. I hope this piece on rums will help you fill your Tiki bar with the necessary tropical juice to set big flavors loose. Once you have these essentials you can start grabbing other fun bottles like Blackstrap, higher end gold rums, even Batavia Arrack. In the future we’ll also have articles to advise you on juicing, tools, and glassware. Don’t forget to check some of our syrup articles. Plus the biggest two must haves of every Tiki bar Sippin Safari, and Beachbum Remixed by Jeff Berry. Until next time…

 
“You get Hammered America” – JFL

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