On Tiki at Tales

Posted by TraderTiki on July 19th, 2008 — Posted in Events, Rum, Tales 2008

When in New Orleans, it’s hard to turn one way or the other without seeing a Hawaiian shirted tourist headed towards the Cafe du Monde or Pat O’ Brien’s. But the most prominent placement of the brightly colored vestments this week has been inside the Hotel Monteleone elevators, as Tiki fans and aficianados make their way through the various panels and presentations with a big emphasis on Tiki.

It seems there’s not a panel this week where Donn Beach or Trader Vic hasn’t been mentioned in some way shape or form. Hell, these guys ruled the roost for 40 years of the American restaurant and drinking scene, their influence on modern mixology should be (and really is now) well recognized. For awhile, Tiki seemed to be the illegitimate stepchild of the up and coming cocktail renaissance, until the likes of Jeff Berry and Martin Cate (The books and the bar) made the scene. The resurgence of fresh ingredients, a wide selection of rums, and an emphasis on making them as they would have been originally has brought the Tiki cocktail culture back into the spotlight, though there is still a lot of work to be done. A Pat O’Brien’s Hurricane served at Pat O’Brien’s today is, sadly, horrific. A Pat O’Brien’s Hurricane made according to the original recipe is a wonder of nature.

During the Jerry’s Kids panel, led by Ted Haigh, David Wondrich, and Brian Rea (a national treasure, I should mention), they couldn’t help, once rum was brought up, to discuss Trader Vic, Donn Beach, and a few of the cocktails developed by them. Rum, once upon a time a cheap commodity that bar managers had to buy in order to get their whiskey, bourbon, etc. was elevated to the status of exotic elixir once Donn Beach got his hands on the stuff (with a little lime, mint, and pastis/bitters). Here’s a short clip of the panel discussing rum and the fellas that brought it into the limelight.

In a much more related panel, Rum, Ron, Rhum, Angus Winchester, who is a dynamic public speaker if ever there was one, brought up the subject with all the due respoect and swagger. No wonder he had to bring it up right, as Jeff “Beachbum” Berry and Martin Cate of Forbidden Island were in the audience… as well as Wayne Curtis (Tale of the world in 10 cocktails) next to him on the panel. Here’s a short clip from Angus’ speech. Oh, and Angus, if you’re ever looking to get rid of that swizzle stick (or a drop of the 17 year old J. Wray & Nephew), I’ll gladly hold onto either, preferably both.

Of course, there was also the Tiki Dinner, with drinks by Jeff Berry and food by Chris DeBarr. I think Seamus and Rick have already said quite enough about it, but I’ve got a few pictures in the Tales of the Cocktail gallery to share. Oh what a night.

Today marks Tiki’s true time to shine at Tales. Starting this morning with the Potions of the Caribbean session, led by Jeff Berry, then moving onto Martin Cate’s Garnish panel, and ending off with the Tiki block party. I’ll be writing up a few notes once these are done with… I’m sure there will be pictures, memories, and a brutal hangover.

Falernum Bitters

Posted by TraderTiki on July 10th, 2008 — Posted in Bitters, Concoctioneering, Rum

Falernum Bitters

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.

Tinted Tiki

  • 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!