Hot Tiki month rolls on and we’re committed to sharing what we believe makes Tiki warmers so grand. Hot cocktails really don’t get much love, often because they lack the complexity of most classic cocktails. If you’ve ever had an Irish Coffee you must admit it’s rather one or two note, even if I enjoy those notes. Tiki warmers however are very layered and complex, just like the cold drinks that come before them. If you’ve never had a well made coffee grog your really missing out.
During our Planters Series we mentioned the basic pillars that we found it’s ingredients fell in. When you study how Tiki warmers are put together you find much the same thing. Their ingredients tend to fall in four categories that, if followed and understood, will aid you in their construction. These categories are The Fill, The Spice, The Heat, and Mouthfeel. Spices are usually whole or freshly ground spices and citrus peels that add complexity to the drink. The Heat is often a flaming component or atleast an interaction from the warm fill that changes the flavor of the spirit and spice. Mouthfeel is sometimes omitted but is usually present as honey, cream, or more often a butter based batter. You may notice the spirit is not it’s own category and we’ll explain why when talk about the spice and the heat components.
Our concern this week is what we call the fill. We use this term to refer to the warm liquid that makes up most of the drink. A large number of Tiki warmers actually used boiling water as their fill. This may seem odd but in truth the water often provided the heat which changes the spice. Because water is flavor neutral it allows the other flavors to shine through thus being a silent partner. Tea and coffee were also common fills though and their selection is actually very crucial if you want them to work in harmony. It’s important to taste and use quality products, but that doesn’t mean you have to go crazy. This week’s drink used simple Chinese green tea brewed in one of those single dispenser machines. Many drink makers often insist on using double strength coffee or tea. For us atleast we find this to be a mistake in our drinks. Double strength coffee often overpowers other ingredients and bullies them out of the picture. Double strength tea is less offensive but we still find it overpowering. It’s important for the fill to promote harmony, and warmth. A good fill ties your Tiki warmer together so it can be layered and not one note despite the fill’s volume.
This week’s drink was based on The Hot Tiger’s Milk, a warmer invented by Donn Beach himself. You can find the recipe for it in Sippin Safari by Jeff Berry, our textbook for this month. We highly recommend you mix one up, the batter is easy and quite delicious. Make only as much as you plan to use in one shift. The flavor dulls noticeably after a night in the fridge and requires heating to become usable at all again. The name of the drink is in honor of the Tea that ties it together. Guangzhou we learned is a very large and historically ancient Chinese port city.
4 oz hot Chinese green tea
3 tsp hot tiger milk batter
1 ½ oz El Dorado 12 year demerera rum
3 crushed allspice berries
1 strip white grapefruit peel
For the Batter: Cream together 1 tablespoon orange blossom honey, 1 tablespoon butter, and 1 ounce of coconut cream. Sometimes a short ten second trip through the microwave aids yours truly in whisking the ingredients together. Find this batter and more in Jeff Berry’s Sippin Safari.
Place the batter, allspice, peel and rum in an 8 ounce coffee mug. Top with green tea and stir before garnishing with a flaming spoon of amber 151 rum.
The aroma is very rich with bits of honey, fresh grapefruit, and allspice all present with an earthy after aromas that linger. The flavor opens up with a light coconut flavor that adds a rich mouthfeel which moves into that warm rich green tea. The finish is buttery with twangs of allspice, demerara, and grapefruit. The honey works well in this adding to the sweet and citrus notes, but also the all important mouthfeel.
We hope we didn’t go to verbose with this piece. Please join us all month, as we explore what makes a great Tiki warmer. In the mean time tell us, do you have a favorite coffee or tea? Until next time…
“You Get Hammered America” – JFL