I must be nuts

Posted by TraderTiki on May 22nd, 2008 — Posted in Concoctioneering

For coconuts.

Power DrillThat’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!

Items required:

  • Coconut
  • 1 quart cream
  • White Cane Sugar
  • 2 containers (2 cups or up to a liter, coconut water volume is variable)
  • 1 paring knife
  • 1 hammer
  • 1 towel, as can fully envelope the coconut.
  • Sink
  • Large Strainer
  • Cheesecloth
  • 2 Pots (3 or more quarts each)
  • (optional) Food Processor
  • (optional) Grater
  • (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.

ground meat

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…

The Bitter Truth class

Posted by TraderTiki on May 8th, 2008 — Posted in Concoctioneering, Events

This past Sunday was the first in hopefully a long string of classes hosted by Daniel and David at Teardrop Lounge. David and Daniel mixed drinks and discussed the history, lore, and craft of making bitters. The class was divided into chapters, each highlighting a bit of history and creation of bitters.


Chapter the first, Daniel offered a not altogether brief (his words) history of the origins of bitters and their introduction to cocktails. Served before us were 4-ways of the Pegu Club, traditionally served with Angostura, and tried with no bitters, orange bitters, Angostura bitters, and a combination of Orange and Angostura bitters. The history was fascinating, with tales of Roman council and many-herbed wines, British Pink Gin, and up to the inclusion of the use of bitters in the defining recipe for a “cocktail”. The cordial glasses with sampled bitters showed the positive aspects of using and combining bitters, the rich and spicy Angostura filling out the notes with the smokey orange flavors in Regan’s Orange Bitters, and of course, the orange and lime and gin in the cocktail. As noted in the class, Gin works as a great body for the bitters, as it has some notes of its own that will shimmer or darken depending on the flavors in the bitters. Local distillery House Spirits’ Aviation Gin is, of course, very highly recommended.


In Part the second, David went over the history of Lousiana’s own Antoine Peychaud, and his flight from Haiti to a pharmacy in Louisiana, where his own bitters became the basis of that most legendary of cocktails, the Sazerac. Served as a bit of the “history in a glass” was the Sazerac, one of the first served at Teardrop without their own Cherry bark and Vanilla bitters.

Division the Third (sadly not pictured) involved Daniel discussing the craft and care put into homemade bitters. Much discussed was the separation in bitters and tinctures, in that bitters including a bittering agent, such as wormwood, quassia, cinchona, or gentian. Tinctures are more of an alcohol-extracted monoflavor, such as sitting vanilla beans in high proof vodka. The drink served to sample was an Alaska two ways, one with the store bought Fees, the other with the Teardrop Pomelo bitters. You can’t really go wrong either way, but the Teardrop bitters had that bitter edge, deepening the flavor and making it last longer on the palate.

bitter_ch4_1.jpg bitter_ch4_2.jpg

For the fourth piece in this epic series, David discussed the inclusion of bitters in popular cocktails, highlighting the flavors brought out with hot and spicy bitters, such as Charles H. Baker’s Hellfire Bitters. The greatest purpose of bitters, it seems, is not the direct flavoring of the drink, but manipulation of the flavors that already exist within.


The epilogue of the event involved a sampling of bitters ingredients, and the “Fancy Tickler”, a sort of Bartender and Patron communal Omakase, with each cocktail matched to the patron’s specification. This was certainly the most popular time of the evening, I myself enjoying a Craig inspired Mezcal, Chartreuse, St. Germain, Grapefruit and Chocolate Mole bitters cocktail.

I’d go into further detail, but rather I’d recommend firstly that they run the class again, and second, that you come up for it. I myself recently finished a new batch of “Bridgetown Bitters“, when I then found out about Bittermens own Tiki bitters, also a Falernum-based bitters. Great minds think alike, but fools seldom differ, eh?

I hope you’re inspired to try an extra dash or two in your drinks tonight, or even afterwards in some Ginger Ale as a stomach calmative (and oh does it ever work!).


Posted by TraderTiki on April 5th, 2008 — Posted in Concoctioneering

It’s funny that something I threw together on a whim a few months back suddenly became an “internet sensation”. After receiving a few e-mails myself, two blog posts with heavy reference and curiosity, and a few complaints from Lance’s aching inbox, I’m putting up the recipe for my Primitiva Liqueuer.

This is inspired by the Taboo Liqueur recipe from Classic Liqueurs, a nifty little read that provides a damn good start for home liqueur making.


Primitiva (Yields about 1 quart)

  • Zest of 1 orange
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • 1 cup grapefruit juice
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 2 1/4 cups Demerara Sugar
  • 1 Vanilla bean, split
  • 1 cup Brandy (Christian Brothers)
  • 1 cup White Rum (Myers’ Platinum)

In a large pot, combine zest, juice, and sugar. Scrape the vanilla seeds from the bean into the pot, and chop the bean skin into 1-inch pieces and put into the pot. Stir and bring to a rolling boil. Once it hits the boil, turn heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring frequently for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

Pour mixture into a glass, porcelain, or other container to be used for aging. Add Brandy and Rum. Allow liqueur to age in the container for one month. After the month of aging, strain liqueur through cheese cloth 1-3 times, until desired clarity is reached (I like the zest out, but vanilla seeds in… Coffee filters and Buchner Funnels are great if you want it totally translucent.). Pour liqueur into bottles and cap.

Well, there you have it. Throw it together tonight and you’ve only got a month ’til you can try some for yourself! Craig also put together an inspired version of Forbidden Fruit Liqueur using the original noted ingredients, and a few of his own twists., including oak barrel aging!

Of course, if your zester is out of order, I could be convinced to let go of a bottle for a nominal fee. Just email blair AT tradertiki DOT com and we can make that arrangement.

Happy makings!

MxMo Limit One: Wisdom of Pele

Posted by TraderTiki on March 16th, 2008 — Posted in Concoctioneering, Don the Beachcomber, Drinks, MxMo, Original Drinks, Recipes, Rum, Tiki Drinks

MxMo: Limit OneFirst things first, I’ve got to give Rick over at Kaiser Penguin what the kids are calling “mad props” for coming up with this doozy of a Mixology Monday. And let me tell you, after a week of testing, my liver is well versed in exactly how much of a doozy it is.

So, here’s a bit of a historical take on this. The limit one per customer, as far as has ever been told, started with Don the Beachcomber. His menu, shown below, has a number of drinks with special “restrictions” on them. This is a 1956 souvenir menu mailer from Hawaii.  Mahalo to Mimi at Arkiva Tropika for the imagery.

Don the Beachcomber 1956 Hawaii menu

As you can see, there are quite a few drinks there with a bit of a limit on them, and for some damned good reason.  These drinks are killer-dillers in the literal, or LIVERal sense.  Oh ho, fun with words.

Anyhow, one of the Beachcomber’s most famous stories comes from the time a man wagered Don, betting he could down 5 Zombies (limit two) without breaking a rum-soaked sweat.   So, they both put 100 bucks in the kitty, and agree to the challenge the next night.  The man shows up, Don starts mixing, One Zombie, two Zombie, and as he’s sucking down the third, the fella’s head hits the table with a mighty thump.  Don won that wager, but not without a trick or two up his short sleeves.  Don had mixed some glycerin, a sugar alcohol, into the drink for its property of hitting the system mighty quick.  Never bet on another man’s game, Don’s saying goes, and I can’t find a better example of it.

Moving onto the now, seeing the potential for this Mixology Monday, the question that came to my head is, how many Zombies are we going to see?  I’ve actually been rather surprised by the innovation, after reading posts and talking with a few bloggers and bartenders.  There are some great, full to the brim with booze drinks out there I hadn’t seen covered before.  In the hopes of avoiding wearing the same dress another belle at the ball, I decided to whip up this little concoction.  This thing’s the real deal, and as I’ve certainly discovered, as Don and Vic once did, it all begins with the right Rum.

Wisdom of Pele

The Wisdom of Pele, at Forbidden Island

Wisdom of Pelé

  • 1 oz Demerara 151
  • 1 oz Dark Jamaican (Coruba)
  • 1 oz Light Virgin Islands (Cruzan)
  • 1/2 oz Aged Martinique (St. James extra old)
  • 3/4 oz Lime juice
  • 3/4 oz GrapeFruit juice (Oroblanco)
  • 3/4 oz Falernum
  • 1/2 oz Honey Mix
  • 1/4 oz Cinnamon Syrup
  • 2 dashes Fees Whiskey Barrel Aged Bitters
  • 1/4 oz. Navan Vanilla Liqueur (float)

Put all ingredients except Navan into a Shaker and mix 6 seconds on a standing mixer.  Pour with ice into 14 oz. Zombie glass and float Navan.

Okay, so I put a few too many ingredients in.  It’s tiki, things like to get complex.   This drink is worth the effort, smooth as silk, and hits like a sledgehammer.  This is definitely a onesy, maybe even for the whole evening, and not just because the bartender had a hell of a time putting the damned thing together.  Like I say, it’s all thanks to the rum.  The rest of the stuff is just notes taken from what the rums were saying… and yes, a few tests into this the rum started talking (maybe literally, it was a lot of rum).  Yes, the booze outweighs the others with this one, but it goes down like Polynesian lightning.

The Wisdom of Pelé?  That comes the morning after having two of these.  I’ve got a punch version I’ll be putting on the site soon as well, the Wrath of Pelé, as soon as I can get a few more “volunteers”.

2008 and I’m feeling great

Posted by TraderTiki on January 1st, 2008 — Posted in Bilge, Concoctioneering, Events, Morning Cocktails

Hope the first day of the new year is finding you well. I’m just taking a break after spending the day in the kitchen and bar working up a few storms, but no Hurricanes.

Our New Years Eve was spent at Teardrop Lounge, where I had not only some of the best food, but the best cocktails paired to the food I’ve ever had. The meals and drinks really synchronized well, and I got a chance to have a “concept ingredient” on the menu, Filbert Orgeat, which played a very nice role in a Japanese-inspired cocktail, the Cyclone Ranger. The wife and I spent the evening there well into the night with new friends and fellow cocktailians. It was a fantastic way to end the old year and begin the new.

Speaking of the New Year, I spent my first day making a few cocktails, and cocktail ingredients for future cocktails. The first thing I had to do was put together an Egg Nog, that, as upset as my wife was, we will not be seeing up from the basement until December of this year. I’m going full on with the Aged Egg Nog and setting that aside for almost a full year. Lets just hope I’m not going to end up giving myself the gift of botulism. Aside from that, I was inspired by the Harvest Manhattan from Bourbon and Branch, and put together an Apple Infused Bourbon with some locally grown organic apples, and Jim Beam’s Choice bourbon, since I can’t afford my own barrel of Buffalo Trace.

While at the store for this and that, my jaw nearly dropped when I saw a big bundle of Seville Oranges! I’m not kidding in an earlier post where I’m dying for a nice sour orange. Navels and Valencias can both be too sweet when combined with a lot of syrups, and I’m looking for that bitter edge from a Seville or Curacao orange. Expect some good new things from this bundle of joy.

Bloody Mary

I had to have a bit of cooking fuel before things started though, so I whipped up a few Bloody Marys. Now, admittedly, when I say whipped up, what I mean is had to carefully contemplate, mess up, try again, and eventually get it right. I’m unfortunately not a huge fan of the Tomato Juice, it’s not a flavor I’m drawn to. So, I had to really spice and salt it up to get it right, as well as add a few special ingredients.

Bloody Mary, Longpig Style

  • 3 oz Bacon-Infused Vodka
  • 4 oz Organic Tomato Juice
  • 2 dash Worcestershire
  • 10 dashes hot sauce (Crystal or Franks Preferred)
  • 10 dashes Chipotle Tabasco Sauce
  • 1/2 tsp Bacon Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Black Pepper
  • pinch Celery Salt

Wet the rim of a Chimney Glass with lime juice, and rim with Bacon Salt. Shake ingredients (including Bacon Salt and pepper) with ice, and strain into rimmed glass. Garnish with a Lime Wheel, Celery Stalk and whatever you can find that’s pickled (Okra and Dilly Bean pictured).

It’s not a recipe for those with hypertension, I’ll tell you that much, but it made it satisfying as hell for me, particularly after a rambunctious New Years Eve. For the Bacon Infused Vodka, just sit a few strips of Bacon in some Vodka for a few days. I’m starting to think that just setting some of that Bacon Salt in Vodka might even do the trick better next time, as it’s more directly at the flavor of the cure rather than the meatiness of the pork.

RéveillonAfter the kitchen wound down, it was time to try out some holiday cocktails that had not yet been tried. First on the list is the Réveillon Cocktail, by Chuck Taggart. This is a great addition to your holiday cocktail menu, with a lot of fruit and spice. Luckily, I just happened to have some whole Star Anise on hand for the picture. It also adds a nice fragrance to the nose of the drink. The Clear Creek Pear Eau-de-Vie is phenomenal on its own, and really keeps its own with the Applejack, while the Punt-E-Mes and Pimento dram add some spice and sweetness to it. Nice cocktail Chuck!Northern Spy

Next on the list was the Northern Spy. If you can’t tell by now, I looked to Paul’s site for today’s libation inspiration. The Northern Spy also features Applejack, with apple cider, and a bit of lemon juice to tart up the concoction. Sadly, there was no champagne left in the house, so I had to make due without giving it the Royale treatment. The lemon balances the sweetness of the apple cider nicely, and having an open ended last ingredient really lets you make it your own. I chose to stick with Apricot Brandy as a base, and it was just fine and dandy! I will say though, a dash of Pimento Dram makes it just that much better.

So, what awaits us at Tradertiki.com in 2008?

  • A section dedicated to Syrup/Liqueur Recipes!
  • Tropical drinks in the actual tropics!
  • A different angle and lighting for pictures!
  • More of me blathering about Teardrop!
  • Making it to Tales of the Cocktail this year!
  • The quickly deleted “drunk post”!
  • Insight, intoxication, exotic locations and deadly libations!

Is there anything you’d like to see covered or offered? Just let me know in the comments! I aims to please and the house is pickin’ up the tab.