A few weeks ago, my friend David of the Oregon Bartender’s Guild hosted the bar for a charity event. A woman in Camas, WA was very suddenly struck by an infectious disease that took one of her legs and almost took her life, and here friends had hired him to help them raise funds with a bar and original cocktail menu. He put a call out on the OBG message boards for any donations, raffle giveaways, et cet. When I asked what I could give, all he asked for was a recipe, and so I set out to make something extra special for the event.
Inspiration finally came at 4:30am on a blurry Wednesday morning two weeks before the event. I had just bottled a batch of Falernum the night prior and, came up with this little dazzler of a syrup for something a bit different.
2 Horns Star Anise (the seed pods, not the whole star)
Place juice and spices in a pot and bring to a rolling boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for 20 minutes. Strain out spices. Add Sugar to Juice and bring to gently heat to a rolling boil while agitating. Syrup is done when spoon comes out smooth.
Note here the use of Rum-Soaked Falernum spices. Which, yes, means used spices. There’s still plenty of flavor in those suckers, and the Rum they’ve been soaking in just adds a bit of zip to it.
Here is the cocktail, as was on the menu at the Charity event.
The event was apparently a smashing success, and it was reported that my drink sold until there was no syrup left! Good thing I’ve got a few bottles to spare, and a big batch of Falernum about to be finished.
Oh, and the name? It means… whatever you think it means. Tell you what. I’ll send a bottle of Pa’avaetuli to the first person who can figure out the inspiration for the name, and post it in the comments section of this post. Good luck!
That’s why this past Thursday I walked into my kitchen armed with no less than a powerdrill, speedbor bits, hammer and towel. It was time to get to cracking… coconuts open, that is. I thought I’d share the experience and provide what I learned, and provide a few instructions based on that.
I picked up the Mexican coconuts from New Seasons, a local Organic, Bulk, local, but everything else you could want kind of store that truly deserves its reputation as the friendliest store in town. In all of my efforts, I do what I can to stay local, organic, green, and so on, but since Mexico is about as local as coconuts get, I’m fine with forgiving myself on this one.
So, two coconuts and some tools. The idea in mind is to have fresh coconut cream for the Painkillers at the May 20th Tiki night at Teardrop. I loves me some Coco Lopez, but it’s always interesting (and often better) to make an ingredients from scratch. So, I do a bit of research online on making coconut milk, then coconut cream. Nothing to it, so, time to get through that husk!
1 quart cream
White Cane Sugar
2 containers (2 cups or up to a liter, coconut water volume is variable)
1 paring knife
1 towel, as can fully envelope the coconut.
2 Pots (3 or more quarts each)
(optional) Food Processor
(optional) 1 Power drill with Speedbor
The first challenge with a coconut is just cracking through it. While a Powerdrill with Speedbor is most effective, I found a little trick on this video on the youtube.
This is an effective method, but two holes makes draining the coconut water oh-so-much faster. I can’t recommend the Irwin Speedbor MAX bits enough for ripping holes through things. Either way, stab a hole through the weak eye with your knife or drill. If you have the powerdrill, a hole in the top is recommended for speedy drainage. Drain the coconut water into a container, figure about 8-12 ounces per coconut. I keep two containers out so I can run the coconut water through a filter, but you can use or toss at your discretion. It can be quite refreshing, though a bit “green” for my palate.
So, water drained, it’s time for a bit of the smashy-smashy. Take your Douglas Adams approved towel, and wrap the coconut as tight as you can, to avoid shrapnel. Just a side note, the towel will get pretty nasty, so your mother’s finest Egyptian Cotton towels are not recommended. Place the coconut on a sturdy, hardy, and nigh unbreakable surface (tile: NO, crappy OCB with laminate countertop: double-Yes), and have at it. As your Sensei (or spouse) might say, it’s all about the follow through. Aim past the coconut, or your hammer might just bounce right back at you. It’ll take a few good smashes. Feel so that you’ve got no pieces bigger than 1/4 of the entire coconut or so. Unwrap the towel, and PRESTO! A giant mess!
Here comes the two part nightmare. These are the worst parts of the process, so get some tunes playing in the background, and a Mai Tai by your side. First, inside the husk (woody) is the white nut meat, which can be separated from the husk, but with some great difficulty. Here’s where a sturdy paring knife comes into play. My personal favorite is my Calphalon Contemporary Cutlery 4-1/2-Inch Paring Knife, which I’ve grown quite fond of, but your knifestyle may vary. The key in separating the meat from the husk is leverage, so use the knife to tuck between the meat and husk and pry away the meat. It should come off in a decent hunk if you take it slow.
So, now we’ve got a big bunch of white coconut meat, still with some of that hard Endosperm clinging voraciously to it. Here’s Hell’s half-acre, where it’s time to prep some ice water for your knuckles, and go to town. There are two methods you can use to get the brown stuff off of the white coconut meat. The first, is to grate. A cheap but sturdy hand-held grater, such as the CHARM grater from IKEA. I’ve gone through enough Microplanes already. They’re great (HA!), but a touch on the delicate side. The second path, which I chose, is to do as the knife is designed, and pare, skin, peel, somehow get that layer of brown off of our precious white gold. There’s a certain spot in the meat that’s just right for this, still tough, but just below the brown it’s a touch easier. For two nuts, this took me roughly an hour and a half, not moving with a sense of too much purpose.
Finally, the meat is all out, crisp and clean and white. Throw the meat in a stainer and give it a rinse with cool water. Now, if you’ve grated it, you’re already ahead a step. If you pared, like me, you’ll want to throw the coconut meat into a Food Processor for a bit to get the pieces nice and small. You could also use a Mandolin, but since my own is a pain in the tuches, I went for the fast chop. You just have to get the coconut shredded up a bit to yield maximum surface area. Finally, the coconut is prepped, and on to making the cream!
So, throw the Coconut plus 1 quart of cream (per coconut) into the pot, heat gently to a rolling boil, then let simmer for 15-20 minutes. Take the cream off the heat and let it cool to room temperature. Line the strainer with two layers of cheese cloth and place the strainer over another large pot or bowl to catch the cream in. Slowly pour the cream and coconut into the strainer, and use the cheesecloth to squeeze out as much of the liquid as you can. The coconut shreds can be put aside for toasting, baking, or other nefarious purposes.
So, now that the Coconut Cream is complete, it’s time to add that to some sugar and make some Coco Lopez-style Cream of Coconut! Just add an even amount of White Cane Sugar to the Coconut Cream, bring to a rolling boil while stirring. It’s done when the liquid starts to yellow a bit, and is totally smooth and not gritty with sugar granules. Let it cool, bottle it, and you’ve got yourself some Cream of Coconut!
This yield just over two quarts per coconut, which is a hell of a lot of coconut cream. The good news is, this stuff freezes like a dream, and reheats with no damage whatsoever. So far, I haven’t had the issue of it separating, such as with Coco Lopez.
So, get out your best Chi-Chi, Painkiller, and Piña Colada recipes, because this stuff will last awhile. My personal favorite use for this is the Coconaut, from Beachbum Berry’s Grog Log. Quick and easy, and suited for most palates, it’s a great party pleaser.
Done this yourself and got additional hints and tips? Leave a comment! I’ll be in the back with a bottle of Pusser’s and some Pineapple Juice…
Tales of the Cocktail is only a two months away, even a bit less at this point. At this time, thoughts of drunkenly gallivanting about, discussing the business of the boozeness, and many handshakes and business card exchanges swirl about in my head. Between the lectures and the briefings, the tastings and the dealing, where can a guy just relax and get a drink?
Good thing someone thought to talk to a bum about this. A Beachbum, in fact, who, along with a few other panelists, will be providing a trip through the tropics on Saturday, July 19th, with their presentation “Potions of the Caribbean: Lost Cocktails from America’s Post War Playground“. Here, the crowd will be whisked away from the muggy Louisiana summer to a cool Caribbean isle (or at least a room with decent air conditioning), with tropical libations all around.
Along with featured presenter Jeff “Beachbum” Berry, the four panelists are all widely traveled personae with their own take on tropical libations and the Caribbean scene. These prestigious paragons of paneling are Wayne Curtis, author of the essential book And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails; Martin Cate, owner of the celebrated Forbidden Island Tiki bar by the San Francisco Bay; Brother Cleve, the Boston-based mixologist who kick-started the 1990s “Cocktail Nation” movement with his band Combustible Edison; and Steven Remsberg, owner of the world’s largest private rum collection. They’ll be backed up by some real firepower behind the TOC bar as well, since our sample drinks will be mixed by three of the Blogosphere’s premiere Tiki drink experts: Rick Stutz of Kaiser Penguin, Blair Reynolds, aka Trader Tiki, and Craig Hermann of Tiki Drinks & Indigo Firmaments.
The welcoming drink, as in the days when a bowl of punch was expected when dropping by a neighbor’s, will be the 17th-century Meeting House Punch. Contrary to popular belief, during the great age of piracy the buccaneers’ drink of choice was not a bottle of rum, but a bowl of rum punch. Punches were all the rage even among cut-throats like John Rackham. After all, what goes better with plunder than sugar and a few slices of lime?
The presentation will begin in the Caribbean after WWII, when Jamaica, Cuba and Puerto Rico all developed their tourist industries to compete with Hawaii as the “other” exotic vacation paradise. They built lavish resorts, where they served inventive tropical cocktails inspired by the Tiki drinks served in America’s wildly popular Polynesian-themed bars. The bum and the other presenters will be talking about the people behind this era … a story which actually starts hundreds of years before, when the first visitors to the area also brought their own drink recipes with them.
Since the Spanish “discovered” the Caribbean, invading hordes have continually tried to turn it into something else. For the Conquistadors, the Caribbean was “New Spain”; for the Edwardian English, Jamaica was “The New Riviera”; for 1940s Americans, Havana was “The Las Vegas Of The Caribbean”; and for the multinational resort developers of the 1960s, the Caribbean was “Hawaii In The Atlantic.” And whatever the incarnation, there were always new drinks served.
Jeff “Beachbum” Berry will start the seminar off by tracing Caribbean drink history up to Cuba’s transformation into America’s playground during Prohibition, when famous bartenders like Constantine Ribailagua invented drinks like the La Florida Cocktail (the next drink sample). The bum will also take a look at Sloppy Joe Abeal, who created exotic cocktails for thirsty American celebrities like Ernest Hemingway.
Martin Cate will then take the floor to detail the native spirits, spices and fruits that are unique to the Caribbean, which Don The Beachcomber encountered on his travels to the region in the 1920s — and brought to Hollywood, using them as his inspiration for the first “Tiki Drinks.”
As the third sample is served, a Trader Vic concoction called the Rum Pot, Wayne will reveal how the Tiki cycle went full circle with the story of Trader Vic in the Caribbean: Like Don The Beachcomber, Vic learned how to make tropical drinks by travelling to Cuba. When his restaurant expanded into a chain, he opened a lavish Trader Vic’s in Havana — just in time for Castro’s revolutionaries to storm it.
In the next round, Brother Cleve will delve deeper into the post-WWII “Hawaii In The Atlantic” tourist pitch that led to Caribbean resorts creating their own Tiki-style Drinks, such as the oeuvre of St. Croix’s Weston Huggins and Puerto Rico’s Joe Scialom.
The final drink sampled will be a Jasper’s Jamaican cocktail, served while Stephen Remsberg recounts the aftermath of “Atlantic Hawaii”: When the Tiki craze fizzled in the 1970s, Caribbean bartenders went back to their own kind of indigenous cocktails. Stephen, who sampled these bartenders’ wares back in the 1970s, will demo how to properly make a Jasper’s Jamaican, a drink developed by the most legendary of these bartenders, Jasper LeFranc.
Hey folks, here’s a look at the menu for the May 20th Tiki Tuesday at Teardrop Lounge.
Hope to see you there!
Aku-Aku Gold Cup
A spicy citrus and rum concoction from Don the Beachcomber’s Aku-Aku restaurant in the Stardust Hotel, Las Vegas.
Beachcomber’s Rum Barrel
A lovely libation of rum, tropical juices and exotic spices. This hails from Don the Beachcomber’s at the Sahara in Las Vegas. The drink is a doozey, and best shared with Ohana (close friends and family).
Chilled Coffee and tropical rum make up this libation developed by Don the Beachcomber in the early 1930s.
A spicy sweet drink from The Luau in Beverly Hills. The Luau was owned by Steven Crane, who also owned the now defunct Kon-Tiki here in Portland.
Lei Lani Volcano
This drink hails from Disney’s Polynesian Village resort. A balanced sweet and sour combination of Guava, Lime, Coconut Rum and Pineapple juice is no Mickey Mouse cocktail.
Trader Vic’s most famous creation, and easily the most recognized tiki drink in the world. This combination of aged Rum, Lime, Curacao and Orgeat put Trader Vic’s on the map.
Don the Beachcomber’s spicy classic, with Aged Rum, Orange and Lime juices, and Don’s Spices #2, a secret only recently unearthed by Jeff “BeachBum” Berry.
Pusser’s Rum is the feature in this coconut and pineapple drink. One of these to relive the pain of the work-a-day world, two to numb, a third and you might find yourself sailing the seven seas.
Queen’s Road Cocktail
Ginger, gold rum and citrus make the mix for this Don the Beachcomber classic. This was once served at his Colonel’s Plantation Steakhouse, featuring a private treehouse for two.
Trader Vic’s tangy mix of Orange, Lemon, Rum, Brandy and Orgeat. This drink is most famous as a bowl for four, but works quite well when served for one.
From the Sheperd’s Hotel in Cairo, where a “poor, suffering barsteward” would put this together for the British officers who frequented the establishment. It’s a tart and rich combination of Gin, Bourbon, Lime and Teardrop Lounge’s own Ginger Beer.
The most infamous of all Don the Beachcomber’s creations, any more than two and you’ll be joining the living dead with this combination of tropical juices, passion fruit, and plenty of dark and light rums.