Liqueurs, Oh My!

January 4th, 2008 by Colonel Tiki

A few months ago, my lovely Wife found a nifty little book, Classic Liqueurs: The Art of Making & Cooking with Liqueurs by Cheryl Long and Heather Kibbey. It’s full of fun and interesting recipes on mock-creations of your favorite liqueurs.

Taken from the book, my 2 latest endeavors are below:

Orange curaçao tincture

Orange Curaçao

1 cup dried (bitter) orange peel
2 tbsp fresh orange juice
1 tbsp coriander seeds
2 cups cognac

¾ cups ea. sugar and water

Combine cognac, orange juice, orange peel, and coriander in aging container (mason jar works well). Shake daily and keep in cool, dark place for 2 weeks. After 2 weeks, drain using sieve, cheesecloth or other fine mesh strainer. Make 1:1 simple syrup and combine with tincture when cool. Age at least 3 months.

I adjusted the recipe in book to suit my tastes: the book has you use a grain-neutral spirit. I wanted to use cognac in my first test. I just put it up a few days ago and I did test the flavor: Delicious, but incredibly bitter. I’m hoping the aging will take the edge off that bitterness (as I assume the aging will do). I’ll let you know in April how it tastes.

The next little guy I made yesterday. Blair made this last month and I was lucky enough to get a bottle for Christmas. It is an attempt to re-make the now lost Forbidden Fruits liqueur.Pumelo I know Blair was disappointed with the recipe and only afterwards learned that the main fruit used was the pomelo (pumelo, pumello) or “Shaddock Grapefruit.” it is not the grapefruit we all know and see half-cut on on plate or pushed into Mae Clark’s face. Apparently, our grapefruit is a hybrid of the pomelo and an orange (much like our lime is a hybrid of a lemon and a key lime). Look at the pith on a pomelo (right)! Also that is my hand so you can see the size (it’s the size of a baby’s head). I decided to give the old recipe a try with my own changes to see if I could get it closer. Cocktail DB lists the flavour profiles as citrus, honey, brandy.Forbidden Fruit Liqueur I used a pomelo instead of grapefruit, and replaced the lemon rind with pomelo rind. I also replaced the sugar in the recipe with honey. I also replaced the vodka/brandy mix with a cognac/brandy mix. Because I love Donn’s Spices so much, I added one stick of Ceylon cinnamon to marry with the Vanilla. You first create a syrup of the citrus rinds, juices, spices and honey. Bring this to a boil, then simmer. This is then added to the aging container with the brandy and cognac for 3 weeks. The last week is spent straining and clarifying. The recipe I used is roughly:

Forbidden Fruits Liqueur (approximation)

2 Pomelos, rind of 2 and juice of 1
3 Oranges, rind of 1 and juice of 3
1 Lemon, rind and juice
1 Vanilla pod, split lengthwise
1 Ceylon Cinnamon stick, crushed
2 Cups honey

1 Cup Cognac
1 Cup Brandy

I think I’ll have a winner here. The pomelo and honey together were a combination that was instant alchemy. The simmering pot of syrup had such a magical, forbidden scent I wish I could explain it more. Similar to donn’s spices, yet with a character fresh and enticing. I can’t wait for February on this one.

Coming next? Results of the Simple Syrup experiment, announcement of the Falernum experiment (making falernum with the cold- and hot-method simple syrups), and the canning-processed falernum experiment. Of course, more cocktail recipes, liqueur recipes and trials, and as always the witty banter you’ve come to dread.


p.s. Falernum #3, just out of batch is the best I’ve made yet. I’ll divulge the secret ingredient if the Wife doesn’t kill me (it was her idea).

Post Holiday Humdrums

December 31st, 2007 by Colonel Tiki

It’s so hard to be back at a day job after holiday festivities.

The simple syrup project already has some results: The hot and cold process syrups have been created. The volume and hue turned out exactly the same, no need for adjusting. Last night Heather and I blind tasted them and recorded our results. I’m not going to report just yet, as we have a few more local tasters who will be testing; I wouldn’t want to skew their results with any early reports.

The Holiday was lovely, with much drinking and mixing going on. There were Tom & Jerrys, Navy Grogs, 3 Dots & a Dashes, Nui Nuis, Corspe Revivers #2, Manhattans, Mah Jonngs, Cesar Rum Punches, Flippin’ Flips, and plenty of highballs to go around. I also treated our merry gathering with 2 growlers of Bridgeport’s Ebeneezer Ale, hand-pulled and cask conditioned.

We were also productive with tinctures and infusions: We made a Creme de Menthe with our house-grown peppermint, Falernum and Pimento Dram, Pomegranate Liqueur, & my most anticipated — Orange Curaçao.

Blair was nice enough to bring over some of his home-made goodies: Rum Shrub, Orgeat, Ginger Beer, Cola Tonic & Taboo Liqueur.

Cigars were smoked, video games played (guitars make heroes), merriment and good cheer abounded.

Sure makes being here now that much worse in contrast. Ah, but tonight shall see more celebration.

Happy New Year everybody!

Science! Draft experiment plan for simple syrup production

December 19th, 2007 by Colonel Tiki

Does heat change the flavor of a simple syrup? Or, is there a difference or preference between cold-process and hot-process simple syrup?

I’d expect heat to alter the flavor of complex ingredients like fruit juice (another experiment perhaps). That is, I would not make grenadine by heating my pomegranate juice, I add simple to concentrated juice (which hopefully was concentrated through evaporation). But does heat significantly change the flavor of the base syrup? It is my hypothesis that the method has no significance to the flavor of the product. Below is the draft of my experiment plan. Please comment and criticize. My goal is to produce an experiment that my be reproduced for any peer analysis that others may wish to take part in.

Experiment setup:

Cold process: 2 cups of sugar and 1 cup of water are added to a mason jar. Lid is applied and mason jar is occasionally agitated until sugar completely dissolves. If any solids are left after 24 hours, they are filtered out, dried and measured. Volume is measured.

Hot process: 2 cups of sugar (minus mass equal to any undissolved solute of cold process) and 1 cup of water is added to saucepan. Mixture is brought to gentle boil and removed from heat. Mixture is cooled to room temperature and volume is measured. Enough water is added to equal volume of Cold process (to replace water lost through boiling).

Person alpha transfers mixtures into jars, marks them with ‘A’ and ‘B’ and places into refrigerator. Only person alpha knows the identities of ‘A’ and ‘B’.

Experiment Execution:

Person beta removes mixtures from refrigerator after 24 hours and secretly dispences into shot glasses/cups labeled 1,2,3 and 4. 2 cups will contain mixture ‘A’ and 2 will contain mixture “B.” Only person beta knows which mixture is in each numbered cup/glass. This is done for as many test subjects that will be taking part.

Test subjects record experiences and try to match sets (i.e. 1&3, 2&4 — I preferred 1&3, the mouth feel was better).

Test recordings are collected by person beta and correlated to ‘A’ and ‘B’. Person alpha reveals identities of cold and heat-processed syrups.

Falernum #1

December 17th, 2007 by Colonel Tiki

I’ve luckily had Falernum around since 2003 thanks to Martin Cate (who introduced me to John D. Taylor’s) and Blair (who bought a case way back when). I’ve compared to the Fee Brother’s version. And thanks to Paul Clarke, I’ve done home-made. The below recipe is my first attempt to tweak Paul’s recipe to my own taste. It came out quite nicely. However, I’m almost out so it will soon be time for #2.

Falernum Tincture

Falernum #1

40 cloves, crushed
5 allspice berries, crushed
½ cup blanched almonds, dry-roasted
¼ cup diced fresh ginger
6 limes, zest of
750 ml 120 clipper Cruzan rum
½ tsp almond extract
750 ml 2:1 simple
375 ml lime juice

Add almonds, Cloves, Allspice, ginger and lime zest in mason jar with the rum. Let this macerate for at least 2 days. Strain macerated mixture through flour-sack dishcloth. Be sure to squeeze all that goodness out! Add tincture to equal amount of 2:1 simple syrup and ½ amount lime juice. Add almond extract. Pour into clean, sanitized 16 oz canning jars and hot-process for 5 minutes. Makes 7 jars of completely shelf stable falernum. You should be able to store this almost indefinitely.

I know that the original recipe calls for cold-processed simple syrup, but it is the opinion of this author that the difference is completely negligible. I plan to test that hypothesis with a double blind (and scientific as possible) taste test soon to be posted to this journal. We’ll see whether or not my hunch is full of it.

The idea to can the Falernum came out of my laziness. I regularly make batches of syrups, drams and other little tinctures. More often than not they will go bad before I’ve used them up. I’d find myself at a bottleneck with that choice ingredient non-existent. Tired of not being able to quickly whip up that Navy Grog or Nui Nui without first replenishing my supply, I thought if I could make a large batch and can it, I could have a back stock of syrups and concoctions ready to go at my whim: When the backs get low, another batch goes together.

Next Falernum, I’ll up the lime a bit, hit the ginger a tad, and use J. Wray for the spirit for extraction. Look out for Falernum #2 coming soon…

Mixology Monday December 2007 — Repeal Day

December 3rd, 2007 by Colonel Tiki

Mixology Monday - ProhibitionDecember 5, 1933: The twenty-first amendment is ratified and the failed experiment of Prohibition of Alcohol in the United States of America ends. Jeffery Morgenthaler has been trumpeting the recognition of Repeal Day as a damn fine Domestic holiday for years.

This Mixology Monday’s theme is Prohibition hosted by the man himself. My submission is below, based on the prohibition-contemporary cocktail “Everybody’s Irish.” Irish expatriates who brought their knowledge of distillery with them to the Americas soon were making their own Whisk(e)y. When Prohibition hit, domestic distillers of American Rye and Bourbon stopped (officially) producing whiskey. However, Canada was still producing. Though the Canadian Whisky is Scottish in origin, we’ll just ignore that bit (since Scots are Irish anyway who moved to the north of the English Island, displacing the Picts). I thought a fun change of the “Everybody’s Irish” cocktail would be to honor their ingenuity with domestic sources and use a likelier ingredient of prohibition: Canadian Whisk(e)y.

I’ve loved Chartreuse since first tasting it when my friend David from Oak Hall, Virginia brought a bottle when he visited us in the early 00’s. It wasn’t until earlier this year when I had a Last Word at Zig Zag Cafe in Seattle that I considered it for mixing. I’d loved the idea of the Irish cocktails in Classic Cocktails of the Prohibition Era but until Mur the blur poured that Last Word, I’d not braved it. I’ve since made up for it.

The drink is delicious and would likely work with any Whisk(e)y you have about. I’ve tried Rye & Canadian so far. The olive (while questionable at first) is a nice contrast to help you taste the contribution of the Creme de Menthe and the Chartreuse. Also, the Green and Red of the drink and olive remind you December is Christmastime. Enjoy!

Everybodys Irish American

Everybody’s Irish American

1 tablespoon Green Chartreuse
1 tablespoon Green Creme de Menthe
2 oz. Canadian Whisky

Stir with ice and strain into 3 oz cocktail glass. Garnish with olive speared on a cocktail pick.


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.



Tiki Drinks!

July 31st, 2007 by Colonel Tiki

Well, now that Tiki Kon V is all done and wildly successful, Here are the Official Drinks for release into the wild:

Dead Reckoning by Martin Cate of Forbidden Island

2 oz Cockspur 12 year
½ oz Navan Vanilla Liqueur
½ oz pure maple syrup
½ oz tawny port
1 oz fresh lemon juice
1 oz pineapple juice
dash angostura bitters

Shake and strain into a hiball glass over fresh ice and top with 1 oz soda water. Garnish with pineapple wedge, mint sprig, and lemon spiral.

Dark Magic by Craig Hermann

½ oz coffee syrup
½ oz Licor 43
½ oz passion fruit syrup
¾ oz fresh lime juice
1 oz Appleton V/X
1 oz Coruba
dash Herbsaint

Add all and 8oz of ice into blender. Blend by 5 one second pulses. Pour into double rocks glass. Garnish with maraschino cherry and lime wheel. With compliments to Jeff “beachbum’ Berry and The Mai-Kai’s Black Magic.

Happy Hoti by Blair Reynolds

2 oz Pyrat XO Reserve
¾ oz fresh lemon juice
½ oz falernum
½ oz rock candy syrup
dash Fee Bros. bitters

Shake with crushed ice. Serve in small tiki mug filled with ice. Garnish with mint, cherry.

Sandy Warner by Heather Gregg

1½ oz Cockspur
1½ oz sweet vermouth
½ oz orange curaçao
dash Fee Bros. orange bitters

Shake with ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with maraschino cherry.

Fighting Gamecock by Craig Hermann

2 oz Cockspur
½ oz fresh lemon juice
½ oz Fee Bros. falernum
dash Fee Bros. orange bitters
dash Herbsaint

Stir with ice in mixing glass. Strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with orange spiral.

Luaahi by Craig Hermann

1 oz Pyrat Blanco
1 oz fresh lime juice
1 oz pineapple juice
¾ oz maraschino liqueur
¾ oz Velvet Falernum
dash Fee Bros. bitters
dash Herbsaint

Blend with 8 oz ice by 5 one second pulses. Pour into TIKI KON 2007 signature Luaahi mug. Garnish with pineapple wedge, maraschino cherry and cocktail umbrella.

Slip casting

July 20th, 2007 by Colonel Tiki

Hey folks! No time today for much text, so here are more photos of the slip casting process:

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Georgie’s Slip, ready to become Tiki mugs

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Pouring the slip into the bucket

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The interior of the plaster mold

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Moving slip from bucket to pitcher for pouring

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Pouring slip

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Slow going pour

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Drying slip

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Starting to pour out the non-dried slip

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Slip dripping upside down

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Right side up, sprue has been scored to aid in drying

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Starting to pull of top after slip drying process

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Top is off!

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Drying after top removed

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Removing from mold the wrong way (turn mold upside down and have gravity help you)

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Out of the mold

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Craig cleaning

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Heather cleaning

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More Heather cleaning

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Hello, gorgeous!

Mugs Drying
Drying on the rack

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Drying on the rack 2

See you in the funny papers!

The Good News

July 16th, 2007 by Colonel Tiki

Captain’s Galley

Captain Reynoles’ Galley is finished and signed off on. He and Sara did an absolutely fantastic job completing the decoration, bar work, and lighting. We stocked it up with glasses and mixed cocktails on Saturday. We have six recipes now.

As they stand, the current TIKI KON Drinks are:

We plan to gather some of our home-made libations, feature them during TIKI KON, then release them into the wild for others to make, enjoy, or improve. Call it “Open source mixology.” Keep in mind at least one of these recipes was devised by a professional mixologist. That’s why I listed it first.

The Bad News

July 16th, 2007 by Colonel Tiki

Our Tiki Mug ceramicist had to cancel. We won’t have our full mug production for the crawl. We will have a limited run we’re doing ourselves, though. We’re still getting the full run done for the mugs; We’ll sell them through the store as the 2nd run. Time to make lemonade.  Rum Demon whom I randomly ran into in Vegas already had agreed to help me with the molds, so we’re going to do as many as we can ourselves.

Now, for a Plan B lemonade experience, hand-producing a limited edition of mugs with a brilliant artist ain’t particulary shabby.