Observing the Aitu Eye

When it comes to that which is spooky and unknown one must guard their gaze lest the unknown stare back. Ah yes, and on the Dark Isles one never knows just who’s eye they might catch. For as we return to our haunted longhouse on that rainy night we hear the loud cackle of the Netherworld. Perhaps the spirit of some long forgotten warrior wielding instruments of terror and calling his vengeful haka.

Of course there’s nothing so sinister about this lovely vanilla filled cocktail. Originally this drink was an endeavor to put a spin on the Hemingway Daiquiri and it turned into a month long project of tiny tweaks. Even the name took it’s sweet time, but it bore a very craveable drink.

First of all the syrup, let me tell you vanilla is no plain jane bore of a flavor. It’s actually one of the deepest and more expensive you can seek out. This is precisely why there are so many cheap imitations on the market. My first experiments used some cheap Torani a roommate had in the fridge for coffee. It should surprise no one that this was very very lousy. I was eager to make a fresh syrup with some real vanilla. Most of my syrups use what I call the H&T Infusion Method. H&T stands for heat and time in this case. Of course if you’d rather buy the Bum recommends Fee Brother’s French Vanilla and BG Reynolds makes a great vanilla syrup to. But to be honest I spent about as much or less making my own. Plus, it’s the most delicious syrup I’ve made.

H&T Infusion Method Syrup
1 cup Sugar
1 cup Water

Spice Addition (In this case 2 vanilla beans sliced lengthwise and scraped all into the pot.)

Combine the ingredients in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil stirring often. Immediately reduce heat to low and simmer for 2 minutes. Then remove from the heat and cover. Let stand for 4 hours before straining and bottling. In the fridge they generally last 3 months on me but often get used up well before that.


There are lots of variations on the spice but that’s for another post. Got your syrup? Great. Now next came the rums. Even though I tried 6 great white rums it just was never right. Not enough strength ya know? Replacing the white rum with Cruzan Gold put me on the right track, but using Mount Gay’s gold rum really sent it over the top. They aren’t the oldest distillery in the New World for nothin!

Next up it needed a name. Something ghastly and ghosty to fit it’s ethereal white color. We went through about a dozen or so before I ran across the word “Aitu” a Maori word for Evil Spirit. Atleast if the internet is to be believed. I thought it had a very Tiki ring to it, thus the Aitu Eye was born! Enough backstory, lets mix one up!

Aitu Eye

2 oz Mount Gay Gold Barbados Rum

¼ Maraschino Liqueur

¾ Lime

¼ Grapefruit

¾ Vanilla Syrup

Shake together with ice and strain into a small coupe or cocktail glass. Pick of Destiny necklace optional.


Man it’s great, bold vanilla with notes of oaky molasses and twangy sour. That syrup won’t last long when these are on the menu. I often flirt with a dash of bitters, Peychaud’s seemed like a natural fit, but just didn’t do it. Perhaps I’ll look into some others outside of the big three of Angostura, Peychaud’s, and Orange. Or tell me what you think in the comments.


As Halloween draws closer we’ll look into some of our favorite Tiki classics in the next few days. We wanna thank you for all your comments and views and hope you’ll join our fun on Facebook and Twitter as well.


“Until Next Time, You Get Hammered America!” – JFL


About JFL

Joey or JFL as he is known by friends is a culinary trained mixologist from the Heart of Dixie Birmingham, Alabama. From a weekly column in the St. Clair News Aegis to his own experiments online JFL never stops doing work on Tiki and Cocktails. When he's not studying all things spirit, wine, and beer he's pursuing his own odd interests such as cartoons, cheesy old horror movies, horror punk, hair metal, and hockey
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2 Responses to Observing the Aitu Eye

  1. Pingback: Vincent Price, We Salute You | Rated R Cocktails

  2. Pingback: Back to the Dark Isles: The Hula Ghoul | Rated R Cocktails

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