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!

MxMo Bourbon

Posted by TraderTiki on June 15th, 2008 — Posted in Bourbon, MxMo, Trader Vic

MxMo BourbonTime for another mixology monday. This has to be one of my favorite parts of the month, for no matter what I’m doing, sitting and reading through my cocktail books, or sitting in the galley trying out a new recipe becomes a required part of my To Do list.

This month’s theme, Bourbon, is hosted by the fine friendly fellas at Scofflaw’s Den, the second most googleable site for “concoctioneering”.

Bourbon, of course, isn’t in heavy use in the Tiki circuit. There are a few, to be sure (an Eastern Sour and Suffering Bastard come to mind), being that rum is the brown, clear, or “other” spirit of choice. Searching around Trader Vic’s book of Food and Drink, though, brings out a rather interesting looking drink recipe. As well, seeing as it calls for Shaved Ice, and I just happen to have a shiny new shaved ice machine, well, this one ain’t going where the Monkey put the Peanuts, so to speak.

Here’s the recipe and writing straight from the horse’s mouth.

Bourbon Squash

Bourbon Squash

A fancy-pants if there ever was one - the only bourbon drink I really enjoy.

This should be mixed and served in a 14-ounce mixing glass, for the reason that this glass tapers and permits proper stirring.

  • 1/2 orange
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 1/2 ounces bourbon whisky (Four Roses or P.M.)

Squeeze orange and lemon into glass, dropping in the shells; add sugar and dissolve in the juice. Pack with shaved ice, add whisky, and stir thoroughly. Serve with straws. I recommend Four Roses or P.M. because they are good blended whiskies and I think blended whiskies make better mixed drinks than straight ones.

It’s a lovely and refreshing drink, perfect for this time of year. Almost like an Old-Fashioned for the summer weather, very simple, very good. I used Bulleit Bourbon for this, and was certainly not disappointed. I’ll have to admit that my Bourbon collection is vastly outshined by rum (and I like to keep it that way), but it’s one hell of a spirit, and I’m always eager to try another. Any suggestions for another Bourbon to try for this refreshing drink?

Potions of the Caribbean

Posted by TraderTiki on May 20th, 2008 — Posted in Don the Beachcomber, Events, Tales 2008, Trader Vic

Cross-posted from, the official blog of the 2008 Tales of the Cocktail.

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.

La FloridaJeff “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.”

Rum PotAs 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.

Jasper's JamaicanThe 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.

Tickets for the session are available on the Tales of the Cocktail website. Hope to see you there!

(note - special thanks to the bum for providing such great information!)

May 20th, Tiki Tuesday menu

Posted by TraderTiki on May 15th, 2008 — Posted in Don the Beachcomber, Events, Teardrop Tiki Menu, Trader Vic

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 CupAku-Aku Gold Cup
A spicy citrus and rum concoction from Don the Beachcomber’s Aku-Aku restaurant in the Stardust Hotel, Las Vegas.
Beachombers Rum BarrelBeachcomber’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.
Jet PilotJet Pilot
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 VolcanoLei 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.
Mai Tai
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.
Nui NuiNui Nui
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.
Pain KillerPainkiller
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 CocktailQueen’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.
Suffering Bastard
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.
Zombie Punch, 1934Zombie
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.

Mint Julep

Posted by TraderTiki on May 4th, 2008 — Posted in Bourbon, Rum, Trader Vic

April showers bring May flowers, and this weekend brings about that time honored tradition of horse racing, the Kentucky Derby, and its drinking counterpart, the Mint Julep.

There’s not much on this subject I can tell you about that hasn’t been written already. In fact, Jeffrey Morgenthaler’s Mint Julep post has just about everything you need to know about it. There are a few further twists that can be picked up (if you can find it) in Stanley Clisby Arthur’s Famous New Orleans Drinks and How to Mix Em. There’s a multitude of stories and julep recipes. Seems like everytime you cross a state, county, city, or even street in the south, someone’s got their own way to make a Mint Julep, and a cross-eye towards any variance in their time-honored tradition. I have to go with Stanley’s first recipe though, a nice in-between that serves damn nicely.


Mint Julep

  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 dozen mint leaves
  • 1 jigger Bourbon whiskey
  • 1 pony rum

Put the mint leaves into a tall glass in which the julep is to be served. Add the sugar and crush in a little water. Pour in the Bourbon whiskey, then the rum, and fill the glass with shaved ice. Jiggle the mixture with a long-handled spoon (do not stir) until the outside of the glass or metal goblet is heavily frosted. Arrange a bouquet of several sprigs of mint on top just before handing to the recipient, who will ever after bless you.

I’ll have to admit to throwing in a few tricks from Chris McMillan’s Mint Julep video, as I tend to incorporate his authority in any New Orleans (or, well, just about any) drink I make. Ice first, then booze through the ice for that extra cooling effect. As well, being gentle with the mint, so as not to arouse any of the bitterness in the mint. Oh, and if using a 1:1 simple syrup instead of sugar, be sure to use a bit extra… there’s quite a bit of water in there.

You’ll notice a bit of a variation from the standard of an all-Bourbon drink above, which is, the inclusion of rum. After all, for an all-American (with European and Arabic influences) drink like the Mint Julep, which has been around since who knows when, Rum was once the American spirit, and bound to be in a few recipes. Even Jerry Thomas’ bon Vivant’s Companion lists a “dash of Jamaica Rum” as a component in a proper Mint Julep. Of course, even then there are variations with Peach Brandy and Brandy, and even Cognac. Long live the variations.

Trader Vic even has a recipe for a full Rum Julep in his Book of Food and Drink. Bourbon Juleps, as he says, can go “where the monkey put the peanuts”. I don’t agree with him entirely, but must agree that Rum and mint tend to go together as well as any Bourbon I’ve had. He recommends 3 ounces of light rum, prepped the same, and served with the mint sprigs and a slice of lemon.

Whichever style you have it, whether Georgia, Louisiana, Alabama, or even Blue Bayou (sprite and mint syrup… for the kids), now’s the time to have one.