Entries in the 'Drinks' Category

August 30, 2010

New Syrups from Trader Tiki: Ginger and Falernum

Filed under: Drinks,Seattle,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 4:32 pm
An assortment of Trader Tiki syrups

Anyone who’s cracked the spine on a Beachbum Berry book has quickly recognized that your typical home bar setup will not be sufficient to tackle most of the drinks… some Special Ingredients are called for. That has meant a lot of hunting, searching, begging, pleading, and ultimately, cooking. It’s not uncommon to peek into the refrigerators of my friends and see a whole half shelf staffed with the cold soldiers of our War Against Lackluster Cocktails: cinnamon syrup, vanilla syrup, passion fruit syrup, grenadine, and more.

Thankfully, our dear friend Trader Tiki has made things a whole heck of a lot easier. Now all these amazing syrups are available from one source, and reasonably priced to boot. Another nice thing about using his syrups is that you can count on the quality—they’re all free of high fructose corn syrup, and are packed with the bright, vibrant flavor these recipes require. In our house, we also use his syrups for flavoring our morning coffee, and as syrup for our pancakes.

He’s steadily been expanding his line, and the most recent additions are shipping this week: Ginger and Falernum. His syrups are available in a number of stores; here in San Francisco, I’ve been able to buy the syrups at Cask. You can also buy them direct from Trader Tiki via his website, or you can pester your own local store to start stocking them.

August 25, 2010

Ordinary Bars, Extraordinary Tiki Drinks

Filed under: Continental Europe,Drinks,Houston,London,Los Angeles,New York,Perfect Tiki Bar,Portland,Seattle,Tiki,Washington, D.C. — Humuhumu @ 2:23 pm

Bartender Michael Bertrand tends to his fire at Vessel in Seattle,
photo by Rocky Yeh

First, let’s get this out of the way: the outstanding bars on this list are not ordinary by any measure, but one… they are not tiki bars. These establishments are part of a new class of cocktailing, where constructing a beverage is paid the same attention as that given to preparing a meal at a Michelin-starred restaurant.

But they are not tiki bars.

You won’t find them in Critiki, and they may very well be off your radar. They may not even be able to make tiki drinks any time, any day, as the ingredients required are notoriously numerous and fussy. But each location on this list has at least one bartender on staff who shares your passion, and wants to make your Nui Nui dreams come true. Some have regular or periodic tiki nights, some even have dedicated tiki sections of their menu. When it comes to tiki drinks, frankly these places are going to deliver better than most any tiki bar out there. Encourage them, won’t you?

Drink – 348 Congress St., Boston, MA
Drink keeps a number of flavored syrups around just for making tiki drinks–prepared for them with love and care by none other than Randy Wong of Waitiki!

Death & Company – 433 East 6th St., Manhattan, New York, NY
Though Brian Miller, a driving force behind Death & Co.’s tiki drinks, has moved on, his imprint lingers. Tiki drinks, and tiki-leaning beverages, can still be found on the menu.

Please Don’t Tell (PDT) – 113 Saint Marks Pl., Manhattan, New York, NY
There are reports that you may be able to snag a high-quality tiki drink at the world’s worst-kept-secret bar.

Flatiron Lounge – 37 W 19th St., Manhattan, New York, NY
Joe Swifka: ask for him by name. He’s gotten to have a bit of a reputation as the go-to bartender for tiki drinks in New York. Tiki drinks make frequent appearances on Flatiron’s rotating menu.

Clover Club – 210 Smith St., Brooklyn, New York, NY
Clover Club has the same owner as Flatiron Lounge, Julie Reiner. Reiner grew up in Hawaii and plans to open a tropical (but not tiki) restaurant in Manhattan later this year. Clover Club is Victorian in style, but if you ask nicely, they may be able to hook you up with the good stuff.

Dram – 177 S 4th St, Brooklyn, New York, NY
Dram’s rotating menu often has tiki items on offer—at this writing, it’s a Jet Pilot.

Dutch Kills – 27-24 Jackson Ave., Long Island City, NY
Dutch Kills is from the same team that opened New York’s latest tiki savior, Painkiller.

Rum Bar – 2005 Walnut St, Philadelphia, PA
Rum Bar is, well, all about rum. Most of the cocktail list is Caribbean-focused, but a few traditional tiki cocktails are also on offer.

Embury – 2216 Penn Ave., Pittsburgh, PA
Embury has a Tiki Tuesday event, and they’re game for tackling the complicated drinks.

Farmers & Fishers – 3000 K Street NW, Washington, D.C.
Zombies, Fog Cutters, Grogs… all part of their regular menu!

Anvil – Houston, TX
Anvil is perhaps most notable for their “100 drinks everyone should try at least once.” Naturally, tiki is part of the prescription, and Jeff Berry’s Grog Log is a heavily-thumbed reference behind their bar.

Vessel – 1312 5th Ave., Seattle, WA
Spur – 113 Blanchard St., Seattle, WA
Tavern Law – 1406 12th Ave., Seattle, WA
My hometown may be lacking in the tiki bar department, but I’m proud to say that when it comes to the drinks, it’s “ya sure, ya betcha.” All three of these establishments have the materials on-hand to whip up traditional tiki drinks, and each has periodic tiki nights. Vessel even serves some drinks out of tiki mugs.

Teardrop Cocktail Lounge – 1015 NW Everett St., Portland, OR
Teardrop hosts periodic Tiki Nights, typically with the involvement of local tikiphiles and cocktail obsessives Blair “Trader Tiki” Reynolds and Craig “Colonel Tiki” Hermann. The next one is on September 12.

Caña – 714 W Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles, CA
Caña is dedicated to all things rum, so of course this means some tiki representation on the menu.

Lewers Lounge – Halekulani Hotel, Waikiki, HI
It’s tragically difficult to find a decent drink in Hawaii. You may have heard good things about the House Without a Key in the Halekulani Hotel, but the better bet is actually the Lewer’s Lounge in the same hotel.

Paparazzi – Laurinská 133/1, Bratislava, Slovakia
Paparazzi’s Stanislav Vadrna knows his way around a tiki drink… he’s even hosted a tiki drink seminar at his bar.

Cotton’s Rhum Shack – 55 Chalk Farm Rd, London, UK
Cotton’s Rhum Shack in Camden has a very long rum list, and a smattering of tiki cocktails to match. There is a sister location, Rhum Jungle in Islington, that may be worth trying, too.

The Merchant Hotel Bar – 16 Skipper Street, Belfast, Ireland
Crowned as the Best Bar In the World, the Merchant Hotel Bar’s menu is more of a book. The menu is exhaustively thorough, and tiki drinks do not get short shrift. On the contrary: Bar Manager Sean Muldoon takes tiki drinks so very seriously that he has the last remaining bottle of the true original Mai Tai rum: vintage 17 year Wray & Nephew. This is the only place in the world you can have a truly old-style Mai Tai—though it’ll cost you about $1,000.

Mahalo nui loa to the following for their assistance in compiling this list: Peter Andrijeski, Alice Berry, Jeff “Beachbum” Berry, Dan Budiac, Robert A. Burr, Nicole Desmond, Boris Hamilton, Liz Lang, Kiki Lenoue, Georgette Moger, Ben Wagner, Doug Winship

October 1, 2008

Hair of the Mongoose

Filed under: Drinks,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 9:38 pm
Mongoose chase the Cobra's Fang away!
Mongoose chase the Cobra’s Fang away!

I adore breakfast drinks. No, I haven’t finally become so-far-gone a rummy that I’m starting my day with the stuff, but every now and then there’s nothing quite as refreshing (and restoring) as a nice brunch cocktail. A little hair of the dog that bit me.

It occurred to me a short while ago that I’d never heard of a rum-based brunch cocktail. I’d definitely not encountered a tropical-skewing breakfast drink — the closest I’d seen are the Port & Starboard Light drinks, which call for scotch and bourbon, respectively. At tiki events, the morning-after cocktail of choice has generally been a Ramos Gin Fizz (a personal favorite, thanks to Martin Cate) or a Bloody Mary (which I’ve always struggled to get excited about). It’s high time us tikiphiles had a morning drink of our own, a little Hair of the Mongoose.

Hair of the Mongoose
Hair of the Mongoose

Hair of the Mongoose

1/2 oz lemon juice
1/2 oz lime juice
1/4 oz passion fruit syrup (thanks, Flannestads!)
1/4 oz Licor 43
1/2 oz Clement Creole Shrubb
1-1/2 oz Clement Premiere Canne rum
1 oz half-and-half
1 egg white

Shake without any ice to get the egg white emulsified, then shake again with ice. Pour into a tiki or bamboo mug, and top with:

1-1/2 oz ginger beer (I use Cock-n-Bull)

Add ice to the mug to fill, if necessary. Grate fresh ginger root over the top.

This is my first real attempt at coming up with a cocktail on my own, and I’m pretty darned pleased with it (and freshly impressed with others who do this on a regular basis). Ginger is a common home remedy to ease tummy-aches, and I think the grassy elements in the Clement Premiere Canne make this something that tastes a little more crisp than your typical tropical. If you can’t find the Clement Premiere Canne (but really do try), stick to a crisp, silver Martinique rum. This drink is a sort of distant cousin to the Ramos Gin Fizz, with a definite tropical leaning. I hope you’ll find that it will put right the sins of the night before, rather than revisit them.

Mongoose chase the Cobra’s Fang away!

A few weeks after concocting this little beast, my friend Erik posted an old rum-based breakfast drink on his blog, appropriately named the Eye Opener Cocktail. (Erik is working his way through the entire Savoy Cocktail Book; dinners at his house are a treat on many levels, and he has spoiled me rotten with his cocktailian ways.) It uses an egg yolk rather than the more common egg white, and it sounds delish. I can’t wait to try one.

June 25, 2008

NY Times: In Defense of the Blender

Filed under: Drinks,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 12:12 pm
Chamborlada at Forbidden Island, photo by Kenn Christ
Chamborlada at Forbidden Island, photo by Kenn Christ

The New York Times has a great article today about blender drinks — specifically, delving into bartenders’ understandable distaste for them, and why they’re worth a second look. It’s a refreshing read: just a few years ago, an article like this would have more likely been on the side of pooh-poohing tropical drinks without taking the time to understand that the drinks of the ’70s were not the drinks of the ’50s, and they don’t have to be the drinks of today. Instead, the article does a good job of giving a short history of blender drinks, and explains the situations where a blender can do a drink some good.

Martin Cate of Forbidden Island gets quoted throughout, and there are quotes from Jeff “Beachbum” Berry and even Mike Buhen from Tiki-Ti. I might have to order a Max’s Mistake when I’m at Forbidden Island tonight for my weekly tiki fix…

November 16, 2007

Boston: An Exotic Beantown Sippin’ Safari

Filed under: Drinks,Events,Music,My Travels,New England — Humuhumu @ 9:47 pm
Beantown Sippin' Safari
Beantown Sippin’ Safari

I’ve never been to Boston — and that’s all changing, thanks to Waitiki and Beachbum Berry. That’s the one-two punch that’s got me hopping on the next red-eye to Beantown:

WAITIKI presents An Exotic Beantown Sippin Safari featuring beach Bum Berry! Pho Republique will host this exciting event, a tiki-filled evening which includes four amazing tropical concoctions available (and mixed by the Bum!), dim sum apps ala Pho, and a special photographic slideshow by the Bum about the history of these drinks. Brother Cleve to keep the beat going between sets and other surprises may follow! There will also be tiki raffle prizes given out! View the press release for more info.

For all you tikiphiles: drinks will be sourced from the original recipes of some classic cocktails found in legendary Boston tiki establishments of the past (Trader Vics, Kon Tiki Ports, etc.) Check out Beach Bum’s 2007 Salon mag interview; a hoot!

RSVP today at sippinsafari@waitiki.com as there is limited seating for this free event. Or call (617) 262-0005. Okonkuluku!

More later after my fab trip!

June 26, 2007

New Bartender at Tiki-Ti?

Filed under: Drinks,Los Angeles,News,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 1:14 pm
New Bartender at Tiki-Ti (Dramatization)
New Bartender at Tiki-Ti (dramatization)

A dramatic shift, and one that can’t help but make you do a spit-take… word on the street is that Tiki-Ti is training a new bartender.

I only have a few details, sent my way by a little bird who got to see the new bartender in action last Wednesday. He said the new bartender is named Mark, he isn’t a Buhen but rather the son of a longtime Tiki-Ti patron (he is a Buhen after all, see below for an update), and the Ray’s Mistake he made was good.

Tiki-Ti has been a family-run outfit: original owner Ray Buhen was the sole bartender for many years, until his son Mike started helping out; Mike’s son Mike came on the scene with the passing of Ray a few years ago. There are several reasons Tiki-Ti has been family-run:

  1. Ray came from a world where your recipes were your currency, your strongest asset, and you sure as heck didn’t teach them to others who could then take them to the competition. Even today, the descendants of some of the original Don the Beachcomber’s bartenders have been so trained by their fathers on this point that they were still wary of showing any recipe notes to Jeff “Beachbum” Berry when he was writing his book on tiki cocktail hisotory, Sippin’ Safari. It’s likely that Ray Buhen felt that only his own family could be trusted with his recipes, and the sentiment has lived on.
  2. The drink list at Tiki-Ti is extensive — mind-bogglingly so. And complicated. Even if they were comfortable letting another person in on the family secrets, getting them up to speed would be a daunting task, to be sure, and your average bartender frankly isn’t up to the task.
  3. Smoking in bars is illegal in California — not to protect patrons, but to protect employees. Since Tiki-Ti is owner-operated, and thus has no employees, smoking is allowed. Mike & Mike are both smokers.

These three reasons are neat & all, but do they really counteract the plusses of having another bartender in the mix? What happens when Mike or Mike get sick? What happens if Mike or Mike would like, for once in their lives, to get to do something on a Friday or Saturday night? What happens if Mike or Mike decide that even though they really love Tiki-Ti, they want to follow their own dreams? They would certainly be entitled. And when push comes to shove, Mike & Mike just can’t run the bar alone forever and ever. There has to be a plan for either succession, or for closing Tiki-Ti. You can probably guess which of those two scenarios I’d rather see. So, while the news that they have a new bartender is a little shocking, it’s not entirely surprising, and it’s actually totally welcome.

What does it mean? Heck, I don’t know. You’ll have to ask Mike & Mike. It’s not likely that they’re going to give up smoking, so I suspect that they’ve made this new bartender part-owner. They’ve probably been training him for quite a while behind the scenes, and they’ll probably start him out just focusing on part of the drink menu initially. Those are just guesses on my part, though.

So, swing by Tiki-Ti and give a warm welcome to Mark!

UPDATE: I just chatted with Tiki-Ti regular Miles Thompson and got more info: Mark is a Buhen, he’s Mike’s son and Mike’s brother. That makes oh-so-much-more-sense, and is wonderful news.

April 20, 2007

Yahoo! Science: Tropical Cocktails Are Good For You!

Filed under: Drinks,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 3:13 pm
Fruit cocktails, Reuters photo
Fruit cocktails, Reuters photo

I love scientific studies that seem to have only been conducted get a press release out of it. I’ve always called it Yahoo! science, because they consistently crop up in Yahoo’s most popular stories (where I found this one), and because, well, it’s science for yahoos. Attention is seldom paid in the final news article to how good the study actually was, just at what its purported findings are. Ah well. But they’re often fun!

As is the case today, when Yahoo! (actually Reuters) tells us that fruit may actually be even better for you when you mix it with rum. You don’t say? A study by researchers at Kasetsart University in Thailand and scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, found that “treating [fruit such as strawberries and blackberries] with alcohol increased in antioxidant capacity and free radical scavenging activity.” It sounds like the study was focusing on berries, rather than our beloved citrus, though. At any rate — it’s yet another reason to put real fruit in your drinks, instead of goofy chemically-flavored rums & vodkas. And let us not say anything about Rose’s Lime “Juice.” Ever.

April 7, 2007

Beachbum Berry’s Grog Blog

Filed under: Drinks,History,News,People,Shopping,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 9:16 pm
Sippin' Safari, by Jeff Berry
Sippin’ Safari, by Jeff Berry

Tikiphiles have been anxiously awaiting Jeff “Beachbum” Berry’s new book, Sippin’ Safari, for many months now. The release is finally drawing near, and Berry will be giving seminars at both Hukilau and Tiki Oasis this summer. Now comes another exciting development: Beachbum Berry’s Grog Blog. Yep, Jeff has added a blog to the site. Welcome to blogland, ‘bum!

I’m incredibly excited for Sippin’ Safari. Jeff has put incredible effort into rooting out the history of Polynesian Pop. It’s a colorful history, and has been well-documented in images — but there are a lot of stories to be told, and Jeff has been finding them, and documenting them. Those who were at Jeff’s seminar at last year’s Hukilau got a taste of what Sippin’ Safari holds. This is not a recipe book (though some recipes are included — thanks to his tireless efforts to track down original bartenders). This is a book about how tiki came to be — not about the world it grew up in, but how it actually, really came to be — how Don the Beachcomber built his dream into something that sparked the imagination of the era.

So, it’ll be really cool. You can preorder it now at SLG Publishing, and be sure to catch Beachbum Berry in person at Hukilau or Tiki Oasis if you can. And read his blog!

December 24, 2005

Perfect Tiki Bar: The Drinks

Filed under: Drinks,Perfect Tiki Bar,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 4:12 am
A tasty & delicious tropical drink, courtesy of Martiki
A tasty & delicious tropical drink,
courtesy of Martiki

The previous installment in my Perfect Tiki Bar series touched on the importance of lighting; today I’m going to try to tackle the primary raison d’etre of tiki bars — the drinks. I will not succeed, but perhaps a nice dent will be made.

First, some tropical drink fundamentals. Tropical drinks, by and large, use rum as their base liquor. This is becuase during the rise of the tropical drink, rum was inexpensive and widely available. Unlike other liquors like gin and scotch, it tends to not lend itself to straight sipping (though there are some rums that make good sipping rums). A few fruit juices, a few dashes of flavored syrups, and a little (or a lot) of rum, and the result was a drink that was inexpensive in materials (if not in labor), and uniquely tasty. It was a delicate art, and when made by the right hands, a tropical drink was divine — it’s no wonder the demand for them swept the nation.

(more…)


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Humuhumu is the creator of several tiki websites. She is a designer and programmer based out of San Francisco.

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