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Tiki Drinks The Art of the Cocktail

Tiki Drinks The Art of the Cocktail

Although a complete history of Tiki cocktails could be a phone book size tome, the majority of Tiki cocktails were created and rose to prominence in the late 1920s through the early 1970s as part of the Tiki culture boom that spread across the USA. US servicemen returning from the South Pacific during World War II brought with them a taste for drinks made with exotic fruit juices and syrups.  It’s conceivable that the timing for exotic juice and interesting syrup cocktails was ripe, as their addition to the menu would help to mask the often indifferent quality of the liquor available at the time of, and following prohibition (1920-1933).

Beverages similar to Tiki drinks have been described by travelers to the Caribbean at least as early as 1920. Ralph Stock, while sailing around the world, alludes to drinks called swizzles during his stop in Barbados. These drinks were often a variation of rum, sugar and lime juice, and did not have the same complexity of cocktails that were later served in Polynesian restaurants and Tiki Bars of the 1950s and 1960s.Donn Beach, founder of Don The Beachcomber restaurants is credited for having invented the exotic cocktail in the late 1940s when he began mixing fruit juices and flavored syrups with rum and sometimes (but rarely) tequila. Donn Beach called his cocktails “Rhum Rhapsodies.”

One of the most interesting aspects of Tiki Cocktails are the unique handcrafted syrups.   Often deciphering the recipes for these delicious mixers is challenging because the they were given names designed to keep the ingredients secret.  For example, a recipe calling for am ingredient “Donn’s Mix” or  “#5″ reveals nothing for the Mixologist attempting to reverse engineer the mixer.

For example, Here is the Original Recipe for the 1934 Zombie

Zombie Punch

  • 3/4 oz. fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. Don’s Mix
  • 1/2 oz  falernum
  • 1 1/2 oz. Lowndes Jamaica
  • 1 1/2 oz. Puerto Rican Dark (gold)
  • 1 oz. Demerara 151
  • Dash Angostura bitters
  •  Dash Grenadine
  •  Dash Pernod

Put all into blender, with 8 oz. ice last. Blend for five seconds. Pour into glass and garnish with mint sprig.

Eventually, it was revealed that Don’s mix is 2 parts grapefruit juice, 1 part cinnamon-infused sugar syrup.
The first recorded use of the word cocktail in the United States is said to be in The Farmer’s Cabinet on April 28, 1803, with a definition of cocktail appearing in the May 13, 1806, edition of The Balance and Columbian Repository, a publication in Hudson, New York, in which an answer was provided to the question, “What is a cocktail?”. It replied:

“A Cock-tail is a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters—it is vulgarly called bittered sling, and is supposed to be an excellent electioneering potion, inasmuch as it renders the heart stout and bold, at the same time that it fuddles the head.”

What the Tiki Cocktail does is take the individual categories and expands them wide, so for example you don’t simply have a “Spirit of Any Kind” you can have multiple spirits in a Tiki Concoction (Often numerous types of rum are blended).  You don’t simply have a “Sugar”, you have multiple interesting sugaring agents such as juices, craft syrups, and even sugars provided by the liqueurs such as maraschino liqueur.

With this in mind, the Voodoo Tiki Mad Scientists went to work and recreated 2012 versions of some of the greatest Tiki Cocktails the world has ever seen.  The first to be released was Muertos Vivientos, translated to mean “The Living Dead”, it’s the tequila version of the classic 1934 zombie.

More classic recreations are on the way, but in the meantime, you can craft your own original bar chef quality  tiki tequila Cocktails with handcrafted syrups  Check out the recipes for these forgotten, yet delicious craft syrups.

Falernum Ingredients Steeping Overnight


Donn’s Mix

Cinnamon Infused Simple Syrup

Vanilla Infused Simple Syrup

Coconut Infused Simple Syrup

Swizzle (2:1 Simple Syrup)

Simple Syrup (1:1 Cold Formula)

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