Trader Tiki’s Holiday Gift Guide

Posted by TraderTiki on December 9th, 2008 — Posted in Bilge, Tools

With the upcoming gift giving season, I thought I’d throw out this little gift guide.  Consider this your shopping list for the Tikiphile or Mixologist in your life.  Hell, just give yourself a little something this hoilday season, you deserve it.  The following items are tried and true, tested, touched and tamed and approved by me personally.

Waring Pro Ice Crusher

Waring Ice Crusher Pro

Coming in around $80, this sucker’s just the right thing for throwing a tiki-drink party or two.  Not great for the day to day one round evenings, but this sucker saves hours and a few wrists before full-fledged events.  We used this at Teardrop for a few Tiki Tuesdays, so it can take whatever abuse you’ve got for it.

Clément XO

Rhum Clément XO

Possibly the best high-end Rhum I’ve ever had.  Coming in around $150, this would be a gift for someone REALLY special in your life, and hopefully someone with a strong inclination for sharing.  Seriously, liquid gold.

St Elizabeth Allspice Dram

St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram

One of the most useful substances known to bartenders, this Allspice Dram carries plenty of funk and a lot of allspice punch to whatever it touches.  One quarter ounce goes a long way, so it’s the gift that will keep on giving.  Used in classics, classic tiki cocktails, and even a few new drinks, this is definitely one for everyone’s liquor cabinet.  Priced around $30.

Orange Bitters Collection

Orange Bitters Collection

Love a Martini, but not sure that Regan’s is the right Orange Bitters for you?  This collection gives you a thorough sampling of Orange Bitters currently on the market.  Angostura just came out with their product earlier this year, and it’s already quite the sensation.  Sells for $21.95 through Kegworks.com.

Ypsilon Cocktail Glasses

Anchor Hocking Ypsilon Acqua

Used by the fine folks at Teardrop, the improvements over the traditional cocktail glass are VAST.  Let me tell you, when carrying a big tray of glasses, this is a drastic improvement over the easily spillable traditional cocktail glass.  Doesn’t look that great with a rim, but they’re quite durable.  They’re priced anywhere from $72 to $130, depending on where you go.  Best to find them at a local restaurant supplier.

Trader Vics Mai Tai Glasses

Trader Vic’s Glassware

I’ll have to admit, these are not the sturdiest pieces of glassware, and they’re a bit pricey, but damned if they don’t add a touch of the debonair to any drink that fills them.  A Mai Tai just don’t look right without one.  Don’t forget to enter “MaiTai” at checkout for a 10% discount.

Barkcloth Shirt

Vintage Barkcloth shirt

My closet is filled with these suckers, and I don’t mind sharing the look.  Originally developed to imitate Tapa, barkcloth is a sturdy material with a unique woven texture.  You’ll usually find these in your local mid-century modern store, or vintage clothing store.  Goodwill or Salvation army can be a tough find, though there’s always a large selection of SOME kind of Hawaiian shirt there.  The bonus feature on these shirts?  Shiny gold buttons.  Dig it!

Bon Vivants Companion

Bon Vivant’s Companion from MudPuddle Books

Someone somewhere at sometime ago decided he could just reprint some out of copyright material off of PDFs from google books, rewrap it in plastic and make a mint.  These are not they. The classic cocktail book selection from MudPuddle Books are extreme quality reproductions, down to the typeface, binding, and cover.  Reading these online is fine, holding a real quality reproduction in your hand can be down-right breathtaking.

Fugu, by Munktiki

Fugu Sipper from Munktiki

Strong ceramic, lovely coloring, and a bit of whimsy.  These are what I’ve come to expect from Munktiki over the years.  These Fugu Sippers are the perfect addition to a mug collection, or way to start a new one.  Besides, how else are you going to hold your Fugu for Two?

Well, there’s what I’d get for myself if I didn’t already have most of the stuff above already. If none of these are quite floating your boat, you can always check out the Forbidden Island 2008 gift guide, the Tiki Talk Holiday Gift Guide, and of course, interesting reads on the Library page.


MS Society Benefit Mug

Posted by TraderTiki on October 1st, 2008 — Posted in Bilge, Events, Tools

Hey there folks,

I just got notice of this courtesy of Dr. Bamboo, and wanted to pass the message.

The Queequeq Chapter of the Fraternal Order of Moai is offering a chance to add to your mug collection, as well as support a good cause with their announcement of the MS Society Benefit Mug.

All profits from each mug purchased will be going towards the Maine Chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society.  If you’re not aware, MS is a disease in which the body begins to attack its own nervous system.   The MS Society is seeking to make life better for those living with the disease, as well as finding a cure.  Your $40 donation not only nets you a pretty fantastic mug, but pitches in your good deed for the day.  Support your Ohana!

I’ve got mine on the way, get yours today and lets drink to charity!


Musings on the Mojito

Posted by TraderTiki on August 7th, 2008 — Posted in Rum, Tools

Hemingway Sign

When the sun sits high on your sweat mopped brow, there’s just nothing as refreshing as a Mojito.

I can still remember my first Mojito, mixed by Martin some 10 billion years ago, during a garage sale (of dubious regard) in Petaluma, CA.  The sun was blazing, the sky was crystal clear, and a large crowd surrounded us, asking questions about coffee pots, tea cups, and whether or not the Girls Gone Wild collection was really for sale (It was, but we kept the one with Snoop Dogg).  Thank goodness for the Mojitos though, for getting us through that rough day of sitting in lawn chairs, talking to (other) weirdos.

The word crisp comes foremost to mind when I think of a Mojito, as for me it has a certain bite, that quenches even more powerfully than a PBR Tallboy after a long summer lawn-mowing session.  The Mint, Lime, Rum, and effervescent charged water refresh and rejuvenate. One of the best ingredients for a Mojito is a day over 80 degrees.

La Bodeguita del Medio The Mojito has its origins, as so many decent drinks do, in the hands of the workers, mixing whatever herbs and juices they could find to make their rum portions a bit more palatable.  The Mojito was made most famous at La Bodeguita del Medio, a Hemingway hotspot, which quoted the man as stating “My Mojito in La Bodeguita, My Daiquiri in El Floridita“, on a sign above the bar with his signature.  The Mojito had a bit of a time in the 40s, with even Trader Vic reportedly offering one on the menu.  It then died out for awhile, as trends do come and go, but came back big with its re-introduction in the James Bond film “Die Another Day” in 2003 (he tells the bartender “Mojito, por favor”, before suggesting a bikini-clad Halle Berry try one… so there may be a positive association there).  With the Mojitos return, bartenders also found a great excuse to bring out that wicked tool, the Muddler, paving the way for its Brazilian relative, the Caiprinha, to come back in style as well.  The Old-fashioned never really left, but making it proper… that’s a post for another time.

Recently, after the 10 cane 10k I was served what could have been a decent Mojito that the bartender, in my opinion, absolutely RUINED with the addition of Triple Sec.  Instead of refreshing it was an overly-fruity mess.  I’m sure the wax cup didn’t help.  The original needs no help.

Unlike Mr. Hemingway, I like my Mojito’s best homemade, when the weather is hot (as it is now) and the mint is fresh from the garden.  I’m sure I’ve got a few areas for debate here, but this is how I like ‘em.

Mojito

Mojito

  • 2 oz Light Rum (Don Q)
  • 1/2 oz Simple Syrup
  • 1/2 oz Lime
  • 8-10 mint leaves (Spearmint)
  • Charged Water

Place the Mint and a quick spritz of charged water into the bottom of a tall glass.  Take your nearest muddler in hand and gently muddle the mint to release the oils (not making chopped salad here).  Add Sugar and Rum, fill the glass with Crushed Ice, top with Charged Water and Stir or Swizzle until the mint leaves are pressed pleasingly against the glass.  Serve with Straw.

Light, refreshing… your mouth should instinctively “aaah” with each sip.  It can be an effort to find decent mint (unless you grow your own… highly recommended), and its rising popularity has caused many a bartender to curse into their sleeve garter, but this is drink is so very worth doing right.

10 Cane Mojito Kit Representatives of 10 Cane Rum recently informed me (and provided a sample for review, thank you kindly), that they have released a Mojito Kit, featuring 10 Cane Rum and Stirrings Mojito Mix.   For the sake of science, I tried the 10 Cane in both the traditional, and with the Stirrings product.
The 10 Cane makes for a damned fine Mojito.  Initially skeptical due to its major differences from traditional Cuban Light Rum, I found the 10 Cane Rum very pleasing and not overwhelming.  It just added a few subtle citrus and floral notes to the mix that worked very well.

The Stirrings premade… well, what to say.  I’m the guy who yells at the mixer aisle in the grocery store, and there are a lot of reasons to yell.  Stirrings generally has a higher end product than, say, Finest Call, but I’m not going to be replacing the use of fresh mint and lime any time soon.  The mint flavor is a bit too Lifesavers WinterGreen for me, and the lime used is Key Lime, which has a lot more tartness and sweetness than I like in my limes.  Though it works fine as a mint-lime soda.  Splash a little into some soda water for a daytime “I’m still at work no booze just yet” refresher.

10 Cane and Stirrings Mojito

Of course, everyone has got their own way of doing things with this drink.  So long as it isn’t miles off of the original recipe (Myers, really?), I’m always game to try the local specialty.  For more comments and rebuttals on the Mojito than you can shake your muddler at, check out Jeff’s Mojito Dos and Donts post.

Got a favorite mint to use? Just want to show off a picture of your wicked new Cabana Cachaça muddler?  Post it in the comments!


Critiki, when you’re in the need for Tiki

Posted by TraderTiki on August 5th, 2008 — Posted in Bilge, Site, Tools

Critiki

If you’re reading this site, chances are you’ve hit Critiki a time or two at least. If you’re reading this and haven’t been, well, hit the link!

Critiki is a Tiki Bar/Location database. Not sure if there is a Tiki bar in your area? There probably is or was! On Critiki you can find the names, locations, people’s pictures, patron rankings and all sorts of other information on the site. Got pictures of a Tiki Bar to share or want to have your say on a place’s rankings? You can do that too!

It’s not only great as a place to find your next Mai Tai, but also a great place for research. Just because a place has closed down, doesn’t mean it isn’t still a part of the Polynesian Pantheon. If it existed, you can find it there.

Home Tiki bars are even welcome! Hell, even my old crapshack Reynolés Galley is in there (and highly rated. Thank you all, I do my worst).

Humuhumu, the developer and designer of Critiki, and all around awesome person, has recently updated Critiki with a slew of new features, back end changes, and graphic updates, my personal favorite being the Witco World Map on the Destinations page. There’s even a mobile version of the site, for the Tiki freak on the go!

So hit the site and plan on a Tiki Bar adventure for your next night out! Be sure to tell them Trader Tiki sent ya, for whatever the hell good that is!


Barbados Red Rum Swizzle

Posted by TraderTiki on July 8th, 2008 — Posted in Rum, Teardrop Tiki Menu, Tiki-Kon, Tools, Trader Vic

Summer, is it here? Who knows here it Portland. In a matter with Nature’s cruel irony, the June Tiki Tuesday just happened to be on the one cloudy day after a weekend of sunny weather. Luckily, the NW Tiki Crawl was bright and sunshiney, making the pool (and basement bar) at the final stop feel all that much better.

Hot weather brings about inspiration for the Tikiphile in all of us. What better than a full complement of tropical weather and drinks to make ones feet feel lifted, out of the office chair and into a hammock, slung with leisure, and some care, between two native palms. A chilly tropical drink in one hand, and not a damned care in the other.

This drink, as printed in the pages of Trader Vic’s Book of Food and Drink, is the first in his tall ones section. Though listed alphabetically, I think it’s a damned dandy drink to start of a tour of Tropical Tall Ones.

Barbados Red Rum Swizzle

Barbados Red Rum Swizzle

All that stuff about fifteen men on a dead man’s chest, yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum, isn’t just so much hokum.  There was more swashbuckling in and around the Barbados Islands, and in all the British West Indies in general, than anyone will ever be able to write about.  The natives down there developed a terrific red rum and this little potion is a great way to enjoy it.

  • 1/2 lime
  • 2 ounces Barbados Rum
  • 1 dash Angostura Bitters
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar

Squeeze lime and drop in 10-ounce glass; fill glass with shaved ice; add rest of ingredients and swizzle.

Of course, the trader had quite a bit to say about the technique this drink is named for.

Before we go any further, a word about swizzling.  I think it’s a hell of an idea.  You get your drink and you stir it with a spoon but you don’t get the proper dilution to make it taste good.  With your pet swizzler you work it up and down in the drink between the palms of your hands and you get a good chill on the drink and the proper dilution of any strong drink.

The original swizzle sticks, a natural product of the West Indies, consisted of a dried stem of a planty having radiating branches.  When the stem is twirled rapidly between the palms of the hands, the forked branch ends induce a perfect mixture.

To give you an idea of the indicated result, here’s a nice little close up of a well-swizzled drink.

Frost on a Barbados Red Rum Swizzle

If you were to ask this Trader’s opinion (and you’ll get it, asked or not), swizzling appears to be out of fashion.  Why that is, who is to say.  The Swizzle Stick has been knocked down from bar tool to novelty-wear, a blunt cocktail pick with a doofy flamingo sporting a corporate logo on the top.  Perhaps once the muddling of the Mojito madness dies down, this simple but elegant method (and the drinks it is named for) will come back into its proper place in tropical libations.

If you’re looking for a good (and inexpensive) swizzle stick designed in the classic functional fashion, well, best of luck to you.  There are a good number of Cocktail Stirrers that have a nice wide shape which work well when swizzling with an up and down technique.  A bar spoon can do fine, if the handle is round and not straight.  And if you do find a bewitching swizzle stick in your travels, I be willin to share, I be!

Update: Many thanks to Chris at Rookie Libations for pointing out his excellent post on the swizzle.  Also, turn on your jealousy hats because I gots me a real one now!