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!
First 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.
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 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”.