The theme for this month’s Mixology Monday, hosted by my great friend (and nearby neighbor) Craig over at Tiki Drinks and Indigo Firmaments, is Spice! What a time for it too, with all the weather we’ve been having here in Sunny (snowy) Portland, there’s no better time for a bit of hot mulled something.
Though, if you’ve got a Tiki bar in the basement, and a decent furnace, then it’s a quick jot downstairs to create a tropical escape from the winter weather. Crank up the thermostat and close all the windows, next thing you know it’s time for a tall, cool, and spicy one.
Since this is such an all-encompassing MxMo topic, I thought I’d not focus on not just one or two spices, but Five Spice! Yes, the lack of pluralization is correct. I got turned on to Five Spice syrup thanks to Martin Cate, who uses it in the Forbidden Island specialty drink, the China Clipper. I twisted it a bit with a darker sugar. We all gotta make it our own, eh?
Five Spice powder, bought or freshly ground, is generally a mix of Cassia, Cloves, Szechuan Pepper, Ginger, and Anise. There appears to be a bit of here and there regionally, with the ingredients, omitting ginger, adding cumin, adding Cassia Buds, but the overall approach is a sort of all in one flavor profile. This spice hits all five points of flavor (omitting Umami), and is usually used for meats and stews in Chinese Cuisine.
These flavors are already used separately in drinks, and apply themselves quite well combined with a a nice blend of rich dark rums. I utilized these flavors for these extremely inspired drink that I can barely take credit for, which I like to call, FIN.
- 4 drops Falernum Bitters
- 4 drops Hebsaint
- 3/4 oz Pineapple Juice
- 1 1/2 oz Lime Juice
- 1 1/2 oz Rich Five Spice Syrup
- 3/4 oz Coruba
- 3/4 oz Lemon Hart 151
- 2 oz Soda Water
Place ingredients with 1 cup of cracked ince in tin shaker and mix with top down mixer for 3 seconds, or pulse blend for no more than 5 seconds. Serve in a tall tiki mug, with an orange spiral.
It’s hard to recognize the juices in this, as they almost reach an orange flavor, aided by the cassia in the five spice. There is no burn to the drink, but an overall smoothness that is almost unsettling. There is a note of the peppercorn in the end flavor, but not enough to recognize it if you didn’t know it was in there. It’s spicy and mellow, and I like this drink a helluva lot, you should too.
I suppose you want to know how to make Rich Five Spice Syrup, eh?
Rich Five Spice Syrup
- 1 TBSP Five Spice Powder
- 2 cups Natural Cane or Demerara Sugar
- 1 cup Water
Combine Dry Ingredients. Bring Water to a boil, add sugar and spice, and reduce heat. Stir until clear and take off of heat. Strain through a fine metal strainer to remove any of the larger bits of five spice powder, let cool, and refrigerate. Makes about 24 ounces, and can keep for a damn long time.
I’d had this idea in my head for awhile, to develop a bitters to bring out and strengthen Tiki flavors in drinks. Of course, lo and behold I find that BIttermens beat me to the punch with their Tiki Bitters.
A few months ago, I gave a bottle of Bridgetown Bitters to the OBG to include in a gift pack sent to Mr. David Wondrich when he was here for the OBG event, recounted here and here. The batch was, admittedly, but together in a hurry, and I don’t think was quite the product I was going for. I hope you (well, first off, got them) liked them, the formula has been MUCH improved. What I used here was my usual Falernum formula with a bit of Gentian, soaked in overproof white rum, and combined with Gentian-infused water to proof. I thought it was dandy, but knew it needed something more.
Batch two of Bridgetown bitters used the same Falernum spices and Gentian, but this time using an overproof Demerara rum and no proofing, make this a straight-infusion. These came out very good, but not quite there. A bit clovey (despite containing no cloves), which I think was due to the strong alcohol bringing out the sharper notes of the flavors.
Well, after an e-mail exchange with Avery of Bittermens, Jamie’s article, and of course, Daniel and David’s Bitters Class, I decided to take another stab at it. The result of this is my Bridgetown Bitters, now renamed as Falernum Bitters, which I will be handing out samples of at Tales of the Cocktail. The Falernum spices are still there in the same formula, but using a unique combination of spirits as both infusion and flavoring, as well as 3 different bittering agents. The difference from Batch 1 to Barch 3 is tremendous. The flavor of the Falernum spice and rum are screened behind a bit of sweet, so as to time-release their depth and complexity. The Bittering agents allow the flavor to carry for a LONG time, which was a definite goal in making these.
I’ll admit there are still a few attributes I’m looking for that are still lacking, and a batch 2 of Falernum bitters is destined for the future. As you may have read in an earlier post, I did throw these in a barrel for 1 month. Unfortunately, this was not enough time in the barrel to pick up the complexities I was looking for in a product I would label “aged”. The next attempt at an aged batch will be going into the barrel for a minimum of 6 months.
Meanwhile, if you’ve got a bottle of Bittermen’s Tiki Bitters, or want to make a home-batched attempt, go ahead and toss together this little number which I came up with to highlight the stuff. It’s a Rum version of Pink Gin, and I think makes a stiff but sippable number I really enjoy.
- 2 oz Flor de Caña 4 year Extra Dry (sub Cruzan Light)
- 3 dashes Falernum BItters
Rinse cocktail glass with Falernum Bitters. Shake Rum with ice and strain into cocktail glass. Zest lime over glass to release oil into drink.
Like I say, I’ll have samples to pass out at this year’s Tales of the Cocktail, but supplies are fairly limited, bug me early!
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 cups Unsweetened Pineapple Juice
- 1 1/2 cups White Cane Sugar
- 2 Tblsp Rum-soaked Falernum Spices (lime zest, allspice, clove, toasted almonds, ginger)
- 1 crushed Ceylon Cinnamon stick
- 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.
- 1 1/2 oz Light Puerto Rican
- 3/4 oz Lime
- 3/4 oz Pa’avaetuli Syrup
- 3 drops Bridgetown Bitters (sub. Bittermens Tiki Bitters)
Shake and strain into cocktail glass
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!