Cassia vs. Cinnamon and Donn the Beachcomber

November 6th, 2007 by Colonel Tiki

At some point, in North America (at least the U.S.A. and Canada), Cinnamon was replaced by its much less expensive cousin, Cassia. The taste, while similar enough for many uses, is definitely noninterchangeable for most cocktail recipes. The trick is to know which to use and when to use it.

Cassia (Cinnamomum Cassia) is thick and red-brown in color and is what you’ll most likely get when you purchase cinnamon in a regular grocery store. The flavor is strong, sharp and hot. It is a perfect choice for baking or where you only want to taste only Cinnamon. However, it will quickly overpower any balanced drink when you use it in syrup (or purchase Cinnamon syrup made with Cassia).


Ceylon or ‘true’ Cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum) is light brown and has the consistency of paper. It will easily give and break apart in your hand. The flavor has essences of citrus and is mellow, warm. It shines in chocolate, mulling, and especially in your mixed drinks. This is the Cinnamon you’ll want for making or purchasing syrup. You can find it cheaper in the Mexican food section of your market labeled as “Canela.” I get mine from Penzey’s.

When making the Donga Punch from Sippin’ Safari, I decided to perform an experiment. I mixed one drink using the Cassia syrup, and the other with Ceylon Cinnamon. The Cassia version tasted exceedingly of the sharp, spicy notes I love in a Cinnamon roll. The drink, however, was unbalanced. I did manage to finish it. The Donga containing Ceylon Cinnamon was properly balanced and delicious. The Ceylon supported the flavor profile, enhanced the rum, and contrasted nicely with the Grapefruit. In the other version, the grapefruit flavor was lost to the overbearing zing of Cassia.

Further experiments at Blair’s Galley with the Nui Nui bore the same results. Donn drinks seem to call for Ceylon Cinnamon, not Cassia. It makes me wonder: Did Cassia replace Cinnamon in common domestic use after the creation of these classic Tiki drinks? Did Ray Buhen and Donn’s other boys use only true Cinnamon, coming from a cuisine and culture that did not conflate the two? Bears research I say.

Not to say that Cassia has no role in drink making. I still add it (very carefully) to hot rum batter (with as much care as I would cloves, the other flavor killer in high doses), Coffee Grog (not the batter, pinch-wise while making the drink), and for light toppings of other hot drinks when I think the recipe calls for a light smack of the ‘heavy stuff.’

I’m just happy I’ve made a discovery that has improved my mixology, and I hope I pass it on to you and yours.




October 31st, 2007 by Colonel Tiki

In co-ordination and collaboration with my dear friend Trader Tiki and in celebration of All Hallow’s Eve, we have created drinks celebrating classic monsters of the silver screen. Without further ado, I present to you The Phantom of the Opera, The Wolfman, and Dracula.


Phantom of the Opera

1 oz Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice
1 oz Green Chartreuse
1 oz Pernod
½ oz Simple Syrup
Seltzer or Club soda

Stir all but Seltzer with 5 0z of crushed ice and pour into Collins glass. Top with Seltzer and stir. Garnish with lime wedge.

Leroux would be proud. The Phantom will waver between ethereal and concrete in its flavor, much like The Phantom himself. At times he he will be subtle and at others raucous. All spirits are French. Damn Raoul de Chagny!


The Wolf Man or “The Hair of the Dog

3 oz Bourbon
½ oz Black Sambuca, Opal Nera or other black licorice liqueur
½ oz fresh squeezed orange juice
dash Old Fashioned Fee Brothers Bitters

Build together in a rocks glass. Express orange oil while creating garnish of orange rind twist.

Do not consume this drink under the full moon. You have been warned.



3 oz Cherry Flavored Brandy
1½ oz Kircshwasser

Shake and pour into a cocktail class garnished with grenadine rimmed interior.

I thought of Romania, which brought me to Cherries (of Croatia and Maraska). I initially thought of a nice port or Madeira, but Dracula does not drink … wine. Hold the cocktail glass with style and drink with a flourish. It will help if you are Hungarian and double-jointed.


Don’t miss out on The Mummy, The Invisible Man, and The Creature From the Black Lagoon over at Trader Tiki’s Booze Blog. Six together, Drink them all!

Thanks to my fabulous wife Tikimama for her assistance and support.

Xmas Drink #1: The Snowball

October 2nd, 2007 by Colonel Tiki

The Snowball is a highball of Advocaat and lemon-lime soda, sometimes with a splash of lemon and/or lime juice.


1½ oz. Advocaat
3 oz. Lemon-Lime soda
Splash Lemon and/or Lime juice

Add cubed ice to a highball or double rocks glass. Add Advocaat, citrus, and top with lemon-lime soda. Stir carefully to mix. Garnish with lemon wheel.


I need to get some Advocaat, which is made from egg yolks, brandy, and vanilla. Heather used to call it “egg nog liqueur,” which isn’t that far from the truth. I’m guessing it will be a dandy base for any number of creamy Christmas bevvies. I’m guessing Ginger snaps, Egg Nog variations, nutty drinks, &c. There is a Mexican cousin of Advocaat that goes by the name of Rompope.

Making Spirits Bright

October 1st, 2007 by Colonel Tiki

Last year for Christmas, I made a new drink named “The Pomander,” whose scents I associate with Yuletide. This year, Blair and I decided to construct a selection of Christmas cocktails to provide to our thirsty friends.

To this aim, I’ve plan to:

  • Brainstorm flavours and scents reminiscent of Yule, Christmas, Winter &c.
  • Collect and document Seasonal cocktails for testing and analysis
  • Stick it all here in TD&IF.

So while it may be quite early for Xmas, I’m starting early so we can have some amazing tipples to tease your taste buds.

And don’t worry, Hallowe’en lovers – I’ve drinks in store for you as well. I’ve just published my first one for the Autumn: My version of the Apple Bang!