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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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MxMo: Banana Panic with a Martini Mashup

So if you’ve read Rated R Cocktails before you know classic cocktails are not my bag. Sure I love a Negroni, a French 75, a Rob Roy, and a hipster juice, but Tiki is my bag. It’s only because I love my longtime Twitter and Mixoloseum buddy Dagreb from Nihil Utopia that I participate in this month’s MxMo. I do love Martini’s but this month we’re making “Not A Martini”.

Okay so confessional time, I love gin. Gin sadly does not last around here because I tend to drink it straight with a lime twist. My Alcoholism aside I also love Martini’s, but I won’t be happy without olives. To me a martini needs olives, and all the twists in the world won’t replace them, though that doesn’t mean I want you to add olive juice. Read this: If I come in to your bar and order a martini I’d like one or more olives in the damn drink. That being said I like vermouth to though you’d never know it by reading the site. The next time I order a martini with an olive and someone gives me a twist instead I’m going to snap their damn suspenders and shave their moustache. Seriously if you don’t have olives give me a pickle or something salty, but take your lemon peel and shove it in a Sazerac.

This month however we’re making NOT a Martini. So immediately I grabbed my banana…My Giffard Banana, cheeky monkey. I didn’t want it to just be banana and gin though so I thought to add some Benedictine and Elemakule Bitters to bring the spice. Benedictine cause Good Lord knows I need that monk juice, and Elemakule because well, Bitterman’s is the shit. Also the name may or may not mean Horny Monkey in Hawaiian. You don’t know! You statistically don’t speak Hawaiian.

Mane’o Keke Martini
2 ½ oz Beefeater Gin (or if your a Gin Addict like me 2 oz of Plymouth Navy Strength)
½ oz Giffard Banana de Bresil
½ oz Dolin Dry Vermouth
¼ oz Benedictine
dash Bitterman’s Elemakule Bitters


Place your spoon all the way to the bottom of your tin, add just enough ice to go slightly above the liquid line. Stir using your wrist only, holding your arm straight for 35 to 45 seconds. Strain into a chilled coupe and garnish with a lime peel. Use a channel knife to get a long strip then twirl both ends into a tight coil over the drink before draping over.


Nose of fresh lime, juniper, bruleed banana, and gentian. The gin and banana are having a sexy party chasing each other around the drink. Occasionally they take a break to let Benedictine, and Dolin dry vermouth have a Pillow fight. The bitters keep things spicy and mysterious like a girl who can type with her toes. All in all this drink is great if you like to have fun with your mouth…cheeky monkey.

Well I hope you’ve enjoyed our little entry. I’m not a classic cocktail maestro like some of my friends, but I like this drink. Also seek out the Giffard, because nothing else will come even close. Giffard makes simply the best when it comes to liqueurs, and you’ll be glad you spent the extra money. Anything less WILL ruin this drink. Giffard isn’t paying me for this, but they are welcome to send me free stuff anytime they like. Also if they could make an equally divine pineapple liqueur that would be awesome. Drunkenly Yours….


“You get Hammered America” - JFL

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Tiki and Love Poison

Valentine’s day is near and much like love, Tiki can be complicated. If ever you attend the comedy that is me bartending you’ll notice I have a few cheat sheets. After all Tiki is a game of odd measurements and exotic ingredients. However I learned in Jeff Berry’s book Potions of the Caribbean some Tiki Drinks like the Sibooney and Trader Vic grog are pretty much the same drink with only minor alterations. Vic was a master of this and has several drinks that are only renamed tweaks on others, but he was not alone. One of my favorite simple Tiki starters the Rain Killer is so versatile it can be made with any spirit.


These drinks are two of my current favorites in my repertoire. The Coral Snake was in particular a very big seller at the recent Tiki nights I’ve had the privilege to work at Collins Bar. Keeping with the lovely season of citrus they make Blood Oranges a starring role aiding in color and acidity. Originally the Coral Snake had no cacao. I added it because I felt it lacked something, and I love small dashes of cacao in Tiki drinks. However The Coral Snake had been quite good without the cacao as well. So after a few tweaks in another way the lovely little Maiko was born. It’s easy to see their similarities. Having drinks like this on your Tiki menu can certainly help cut down the prep and strain on your memory. Plus it helps you create the “Combos” I feel are so important in Tiki.


Coral Snake
1 ½ Mount Gay
½ Cruzan 151
¾ oz fresh lime juice
¾ oz fresh blood orange juice
½ oz cinnamon syrup
¼ oz coffee syrup
½ tsp Marie Brizard white crème de cacao
1 dash orange bitters

Combine the ingredients in a shaker then add plenty of ice and shake hard to combine. Pour unstrained into a chimney glass and garnish with either an orange peel snake or a flaming lime shell.

Rich scents of brown sugar, coffee, cinnamon, and acidic orange waft to the nostril. Coffee and cacao slither in subtly together before blood orange and rum strike in a two pronged flavor ambush. The finish lingers with peaks of overproof rum and twinges of cacao before fading away in a pleasing drift of orange and lime. The coffee and cacao are great playmates here and blood orange fits in irreplaceably. I think the cinnamon really helps keep this one interesting.

1 ½ Mount Gay
½ Appleton White
¾ oz fresh lime juice
¾ oz fresh blood orange juice
½ oz cinnamon syrup
¼ oz coffee syrup
2 dash Bittermen’s Burlesque Bitters

Combine the ingredients in a shaker add ice and shake to combine. Strain into a coupe and garnish with a red parasol and cherry.

Coffee is on the nose but so are floral lilts and sweet refined wisps of sugar. The blood orange is bigger in this cocktail dancing happily with the cinnamon. The coffee is well to the back providing a lively melody. The end has subtle tea and spiced notes from the bitters that meld delightfully with the subtler rums.

MAiko (2)
This attractive pair could accent any party, menu, or romantic dinner. Try them please before blood orange season passes. Better yet make them for your lover this Valentine’s day. We’ll be having a Coral Snake because well…Love Bites. Until next time…

“You Get Hammered America” -JFL

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Make Some Falernum

Ah Falernum, a spicy tropical sweetener that’s a must have for many of the most classic Tiki cocktails. Where to find it however? What brand should you buy? Is it a liqueur or a syrup? Fuck, I just wanted a cocktail not a scavenger hunt. Lets be honest Tiki usually involves items that your local bar doesn’t stock much less your pantry. When it comes to Falernum there’s a lot of people with different ideas about what it is and what goes in it. It gets pretty damn complicated.

The basics about Falernum that you should know is that it is a mildly alcoholic sweetener from the Caribbean primarily flavored of lime, allspice, and ginger. The Velvet brand is out there and it’s used in many fine bars by many great bartenders. However when you taste it it’s just sort of meh. It’s sweet enough, but more anise than I thought with mild notes of clove and vanilla. For me I kept wanting to make my own, but life kept getting in the way and lets face it we all get lazy from time to time. Being invited to bartend a regular Tiki night at one of the best local cocktail spots I knew now was the time. I went back to an article written by the amazing Kaiser Penguin. His site may be dormant, but the content there is still amazing. I used his recipe as a basis adding my own flavor tweaks. I had seen vanilla mentioned in many references to falernum, and demerera 151 is to rare and precious to waste in a syrup. I also wanted to preserve the color and fight a case of the browns as best I could. The result is very damn flavorful and pack that punch that I want from a Rated R Cocktails recipe. I hope you agree.

Falernum (3)The Base
8 oz Wray and Nephew
50 Cloves (About 2 tbsp)
1 tbsp allspice berries
2 sticks ceylon cinnamon crushed
1 nutmeg bulb cracked with a hammer into a few pieces
the zest of 8 limes
¾ cup batonnet sliced ginger
1 split vanilla bean, scraped into the mixture


Toast the nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, and allspice lightly on medium high heat and add to a mason jar containing the zest, ginger, and bean. Pour the rum over and seal, shaking about every 8 hours. Then just leave the jar on the counter and don’t unseal for 24 hours.

The Syrup and Finishing
2 cups white sugar
1 cup water
1/8 tsp almond extract


Combine all in a small saucepan and bring to a boil before removing from the heat making sure to stir often. Strain the Rum base and combine the infused rum with the syrup whisking well to combine. Then bottle and store in the refrigerator.

The syrup hits in a rich blast, allspice, ginger, lime, and vanilla all joining in as a swing band of flavor. The taste here is tremendous and works perfectly in the half ounce to teaspoons seen in many classic recipes. This leads me to believe I’m on the right track. If you try this recipe I think you’ll end up agreeing.

Falernum (4)
Don’t wait as long as I did to make your own Falernum. The most annoying part is the lime zesting, but with a beer and a microplane you’ll get it done. Make sure to avoid the white pith and just get the green goodness. Until next time…

“You get Hammered America!” - JFL

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MxMo Blue: Silk and Surf

Ah bleu drinks. Don’t you love them? Two years ago no one in high end cocktails would touch them with a 10 foot pole unless it was to push them into a hazmat bin. Trends change, winds blow, and now they are cool again. Around here they never really stopped, I try to be trend allergic. So I’m super happy that this month’s MxMo theme is Blue, hosted by the always awesome Andrea from Ginhound blog. So, lets bloo this.

mxmologoblueBlue drinks are pretty damn well in the Tiki pantheon, though not always in seats of honor. Sure there are mentions of Pre-Tiki blue drinks, but that is not our thing. Part of the power of Tiki mixology is the blending of flavorful rums from a wide variety of tropical locales. Sadly blue curacao is most often a great way to turn a good Tiki drink green, not blue. For a really a stunning blue you have to run from dark rums and sparingly touch gold ones. Often this mandates using clear spirits without the round flavors, depth, and body most Tiki drinks are known for. This isn’t always a bad thing though, Blue drinks done well can be lively, crisp, sweet, and deep in their own ways. Blue cocktails play differently than dark, spicy delights like the Three Dots and a Dash. You need to take these formulas and give them a lightness, brightness, and keep in mind just what colors are in the pot. Flavors like orgeat, coconut cream, anything with a light color but rich body can be crucial in establishing depth.

CeruSilk (6)
Cerulean Silk
1 oz Matusalem Silver
¾ oz Appleton Special
½ oz Cruzan 151
½ oz Senior or Bols blue curacao
¾ oz fresh lime juice
¾ oz fresh pineapple juice
½ oz ginger syrup
¼ oz orgeat
1 dash absinthe

Shake hard with lots of ice and pour unstrained into a tall glass. Garnish with blue kitsch, a cherry, maybe some mint if you have it.CeruSilk (4)

JFL’s Ginger Syrup
1 cup fresh ginger juice
1 cup 2:1 simple syrup
1 tsp vodka

Peel and microplane the ginger over cheesecloth then wring thoroughly to extract the juice. Combine well with simple and vodka before bottling.


Ginger, orgeat and absinthe smell way to good together. They meet with the rums to create a fragrant, softly spicy nose with the pineapple playing backup. This drink is peppy and bright with a slightly sweet finish. Pineapple has room to play ball with ginger and orgeat racing down the backfield. The rums are providing good blocking. They give subtle, but timely punches when needed. In the end the finish is sweet and slightly minty without being saccharine.


I hope you don’t think we blew it (Blue all the puns!). It’s always fun to play with pretty colors, but remember they have to taste on point to. Rated R Cocktails is shaking up Tiki delights every Wednesday at The amazing Collins Bar in Birmingham. Drop in before 9 pm central and say “Hi” sometime won’t you? Until next time…

“You get Hammered America” – JFL

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Bluau Bash: New year’s with the USBG

Ah a new year, full bad booze fueled decisions. We’re here to help fuel those decisions for you with every click of the keyboard and clink of ice. Recently my local United States Bartending Guild chapter called upon me to concoct some welcome punches for our members and their guests at our big year end bash. The punches were on point and more than one reveler found out the potency of the Tiki Gods at our blue themed luau or Bluau.

USBGPoseidonPunchMy personal favorite was a combination of Shellback silver rum and New Amsterdam coconut vodka. I kicked up the funk factor with a Chinese 5 Spice syrup I’ve been wanting to concot for awhile. Because of their backstory being associated with the mythical greek god Poseidon I dedcided to name the tipple after him. Wanna mix one up? Here’s how.

PoseidonPunch (4)
Poseidon Punch
1 oz Shellback Silver
¾ oz New Amsterdam Coconut Vodka
½ oz Bols Blue Curacao
1 oz lime juice
¾ oz five spice syrup

Shake ingredients with ice and pour unstrained into a chimney glass. Garnish with an orange peel, cherries, and a lime wedge.

PoseidonPunch (7)

Chinese 5 Spice Syrup
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 ½ star anise
2 cinnamon stick ceylon crushed
1 tsp whole black peppercorns
½ tsp whole fennel seeds
6 whole cloves

Roughly crush the spices in a morter and pestle, combine with water and sugar. Bring to a booil then lower to a simmer and cook for 2 minutes. Let sit, off the heat, and infuse for 4 hours before straining through a fine mesh.

Coconut is definitely in force here that New Amsterdam packs big flavor. Shellback comes through nicely with loads of vanilla and fashes of cane peppered in. An orange peel garnish is perfect here helping the curacao and lime make a heavenly nose. The coconut and five spice are graceful lovers dancing in your mouth. The lime and orange notes provide the step, and the shellback provides a lovely setting. This cocktail is on the sweeter side, but it still has a nice balance. Part of me wonders how this would be with an extra half ounce of orange or white grapefruit juice. I am digging that syrup to, but next time I make it I might try kicking up the amount of spices in the brew.

PoseidonPunch (8)

Poseidon Punch pack waves of flavor.

We had another punch filled with tequila goodness, sadly none of the pictures at the party turned out well and I’m out of product to make it. It must have been good since they drank it all. Filled with plenty of finery we present it to you below.

Maestro Mahina
1 oz Maestro Dobel
¾ oz fresh lemon juice
½ oz pineapple juice
½ oz Cuervo Cinge
½ oz Cappeletti
½ oz simple syrup (we dyed ours blue with food coloring)
½ oz blue curacao
1 dashes orange bitters.

Shake ingredients with ice and pour into a chimney glass, garnish with mint and pineapple.


This drink was rich and very full bodied, pineapple, cappeletti, and cinnamon are always a winning combo. The tequila added a really lovely herbal note to the party and kept it boozy and refreshing. I just regret all the pictures turned out so blurry, it was really a lovely bluish purple.


I’d like to thank all our sponsors for helping us reward our members with a great night of drinks and revelry. It’s nice to see the companies we pour every night support us this way. I’d also like to say if you have a local USBG chapter and your not a part of it your missing out. There’s no better organization for a beverage professional to join. Until next time…


“You get hammered America” - JFL

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Kahuna Cooking: Mai Tai Cookies

I may be a Grinch, but everyone loves cookies. The only nice part about this time a year is if you time visiting someone just right you can mooch a few and maybe a cocktail. In culinary school I was a lousy baker, I’ve dulled more from lack of practice. Like most chefs I stick to simple desserts when forced. However I just really like making cookies. They are versatile little buggers, and I don’t know anyone who hates them. The idea of going to a bar and just ordering a big plate of warm cookies is a mental opiate. Then in a drunken spree with twitter pals I hit upon an idea, MAI TAI COOKIES.


The thought that this could happen elated me. Immediately the idea became more and more complex, after all in true Tiki fashion “Less isn’t more, More is more.”. However when it came to Orgeat chips it turned out more like Jurassic Park. I was so concerned over whether I could do it I forgot to ask if I should. I found a recipe I thought I could use as a springboard, and unfortunately the whole thing just didn’t go as planned as I detail in the recipe. In the future I’d love to see how the cookies turn out if I omit the orgeat goop. Still these things taste awesome, the glaze I concocted will work marvelously on cookies, cupcakes, cakes, even your grandfather’s big toe. Don’t take my word for it, make um yourself.

Mai Tai Cookie (4)Orgeat “Chips” (by volume)
¾ cup Coconut Oil
½ cup Butter
¼ cup White Sugar
¼ cup demerera sugar
¼ cup orgeat
½ tsp Dark Jamaican Rum
½ tsp Orange Curacao
½ tsp lime zest

Okay so this is the part that didn’t pan out. Perhaps I should have used some xanthum gum to bind it. Or mix it longer, heating it up more so the sugar and liquid is more homogenous. For whatever reason this separated and I decided “Fuck it” mixing the whole thing in with the cookie batter. This step is what I believe made it more sugar cookie like. It didn’t make chips like I wanted, but it still made a damn good cookie. Procedure: Combine your ingredients in a big mason jar. And place that mason jar in a pot of simmering or boiling water. Stir until ingredients are well combined then place on a 9×13 baking dish lined with parchment and let set for 2 hours.

Mai Tai Cookie (5)Mai Tai Rum Glaze (by volume)
1 ½ cup of powdered sugar
1 oz (2 tbsp) Dark Jamaican rum (We used Coruba)
1 oz (2 tbsp) Gold rum Agricole (We used Clement VSOP)
1 tsp orange curacao
3 tbsp grated lime peel
½ tsp orgeat

Whisk together and top desired pastry immediately.

Mai Tai Cookie (2)Mai Tai Cookie (oz by weight)
10 oz pastry flour (About 2 ½ cups)
6 oz room temperature butter (About ¾ cup)
4 oz demerera sugar (about ¼ cup)
4 oz white sugar (About ¼ cup)
4 grams baking soda (About a tsp)
4 grams salt (About a tsp)
3 oz eggs (About 2 large eggs)
¼ cup lime zest
½ tsp Dark Jamaican rum
½ tsp orange curacao
1 recipe orgeat “chips”
½ cup slivered almonds
1 recipe Mai Tai Rum Glaze (Tops 26 cookies)


Measure and combine dry ingredients and butter in the mixing bowl of a stand mixer. Affix paddle. Cream until well chipped and light in a pebble like dry mix. Add eggs, rum, curacao and zest, beat until homogenous, then stop and scrape the edges down. Mix in nuts and “Chip” mixture. Place batter in 9×13 baking dishes lined with parchment. Use 8 oz or 1 cup of mixture per pan. The mixture will spread greatly during cooking, use a mason jar lid to make rounds or serve as blondies. Bake for 15 minutes in a preheated 375 degree. They will firm up after they cool. If you desire to cut shapes do so while hot. Glaze after cooled and serve.

So usually friends I like to bring you as close to perfect a product as I can. This time I bring you a product that hit some bumps in the road. It’s tasty, but it could be better, or atleast it could be simplified. The real star turned out to be the glaze. If you don’t make anything else make this glaze and just spread it on stuff. The cookies are damn good however so give um a try. Until next time…


“You get Hammered America” - JFL

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MxMo Apple: Pama Nui

Wow, I miss three MxMo‘s and I’m running late to a fourth. How’s that for efficiency? Well we may not be on time but we want to throw some love toward Fred Yarm our host this December and his theme Apples. Cocktail Virgin/Slut is still an institution for great cocktail blogging, and Fred himself is to be honored for also being MxMo’s showrunner/cat herder.

mxmo_apple2You don’t think Tiki when you think apples, so I was sort of surprised when I found the Hawaiians had a word for them. It doesn’t stop me from tinkering around though and I immediately took this as an excuse to buy some Calvados that I’d had a Tales. Calvados has that tart crisp orchard flavor and some bottlings almost have a unique sourness. This one is along the lines of a Domfrontais, young,light with flavors of fresh apple and pear. I chose to accent this with a lemon, orange, pineapple trio I’d seen the Trader use before. Lemon and apple seem to be great bedfellows then dashes of ginger and honey to add depth to the mix. A dash of cider on top gives it some effervescence, but your better off using a easy to find brand for this drink. I love a true, tart, acidic cider, however something round and sweet like woodchuck helps to balance the flavors here. All in all it wasn’t to hard to fit the apple into my tropical paradise. I’ll let you dear reader be the judge of my efforts.

Pama Nui (2)Pama Nui
1 ½ oz Christian Drouin Calvados Selection
¾ oz Cruzan Gold Rum
¾ oz fresh lemon juice
½ oz fresh orange juice
½ oz fresh pineapple juice
¼ oz honey mix (1:1 clover honey and hot water)
¼ oz ginger syrup (1 part fresh ginger juice mixed with an equal part of 2:1 simple syrup and a ½ tsp of vodka)
1 oz Cider (we used Woodchuck Amber)

Shake all ingredients except cider aggressively with ice then add cider to the tin. Pour unstrained into a chimney and add cracked ice to fill. Garnish with a apple wedge, straw, and perhaps a cherry if desired.

Mild hints of ginger with crisp fleshy apples show first with wafts of citrus coming up behind. The first flavor is tart and full bodied, mealy apple into tart lemon with a crab apple acidity. The mouthfeel is fleshy due to the amount of pear in the Calvados. The finish is long lasting with notes of spice being very mild letting the apple play a starring role. Intermingling with the apple in the finish is the tropical trio of pineapple, orange, and rum. All twirling about the apple like boats in the flavor river. As the drink dilutes more molasses comes out in the front. There’s a lot to taste and enjoy in this sipper folks.

Pama Noui1Calvados and Tiki, if you ask me they get along pretty nice. Thanks again to Fred Yarm for keeping this MxMo thing alive. Until next time…

“You get Hammered America” - JFL

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