Lemons are, in my opinion, a pain to work with. Other bartenders don’t seem to have this problem, but in days where limes are like caviar a Tiki man must be inventive. Lemons are much more sour than limes, their sourness lingers longer to in my opinion. I take comfort in the fact that the original Tiki man, Donn Beach, found them terrible to work with as well. Trader Vic however embraced the devil fruit. Vic was a man with a style all his own. Yes the Trader could make some amazing drinks that broke all the beachcomber “rules” at times. So with the lime crisis swelling and people crying “Tiki is dead” we spit in their eye and declare this month an ode to lemon. If nothing else it will help me learn a drink ingredient which I have historically had a block with.
Lemons and honey are natural bedfellows. So natural that they are even chemically altered, preserved, and placed in cough drops. So naturally I chose to start here when planning my attack. Originally this cocktail was a long drink and a whiskey drink at that. Feeling the drink was to sharp with the whiskey slowly we added very well rounded rums to give the flavor body. Lemons still seem to be the star at times the flavor bold and dominant when allowed to be the majority over the sweet. The name comes from the strike of bold sour flavor, and the ripples a fat man makes in a coupe when walking on an old patio. Seriously one good foot plod ruined my first take, Tyrannosaurus would be proud.
The Thunder Lizard
1 oz Appleton 12 Year dark Jamaican rum
1 oz Matusalem Silver
¾ oz fresh lemon juice
½ oz double strength honey syrup
½ oz Dekyuper or Marie Brizard peach brandy
1 dash Angostura Bitters
1 scant grate of fresh nutmeg
Shake all ingredients together except nutmeg and strain into a coupe. Then grate nutmeg over the top and add a slice of lemon.
The nose is rich of fresh nutmeg and rich honey. The flavor begins with honey and subtle flavors of sweet peach. Lemon provides bright twang and constant companionship while constrained behind flavorful bars so as not to maul your palate. They then melt into spicy twangs with a wave of steadfast, sturdy, rum funk and spice. The Matusalem really boosts a dryness here at the end though you could try brugal or maybe even Batavia Arrack for added funk. It’s a refreshing afternoon style sour that keeps you coming back to sniff and sip.
Man, lemons, I’m not the biggest fan. They are however a good and important ingredient. I hope you’ll join me this month as we explore the lemon in classic Tiki and how it can be used today. Next week we’ll be looking into classic Tiki cocktails to see drinks the masters of yore made with our theme ingredient. Until next time…
“You get Hammered America!” - JFL