Desert Island Spirits Picks

August 22nd, 2008 by Colonel Tiki

Rick over at KaiserPenguin popped a fun little exercise up yesterday. We cocktail crazies have rows of bottles, but what if we only could have Ten? Only ten (magically refilling) bottles for the rest of our lives?

What Ten would you pick?

Here’s my Ten. May this limit never come to pass.

  • J Wray 17 year old Jamaican Rum
  • El Dorado 15 year old Demerara
  • Mount Gay Extra Old
  • Plymouth Gin
  • Rittenhouse 23 year old Rye
  • Lillet Blanc
  • Punt e Mes
  • Glenfiddich 21 year old Caribbean rum cask
  • Green Chartreuse VEP
  • Everclear (for making my own infusions and distillations)

Yes, that last one is kinda like asking for more wishes as the last wish. So what? I’m sneaky.

MxMo August — Local Flavor

August 11th, 2008 by Colonel Tiki

I met the wonderful Kevin at Tales of the Cocktail, though I’ve been reading Save the drinkers for quite a while now.  I wish I had more of a chance to chat, but Tales is a hard mistress. He’s hosting this Month’s MxMo — Local flavor. We’re neighbors: Kevin’s over in Idaho and I’m here in Oregon.

Summer means many things in Portland: Block Parties, River boating, Festivals. It also means Berries. Though not botanically berries1 , I will not let semantics get in the way of the berry orgy of summer. Blackberries, Boysenberries, Blueberries, Marionberries. Yum.

Now this is not virgin ground I tread on. The common love of summer berries is wide in portland and naturally many more have gone before me. Yes, great minds think alike and fools seldom differ.

Sauvie Island. It sits in the Willamette mere yards from Portland proper. It’s a destination for nude beach sun worshipers, niche landscapers and fans of produce. Kruger farms has a gorgeous u-pick farm that Heather and I frequent as much as possible each summer. They have bands every Thursday, BBQ on the weekends and rows and rows of delicious summer berries.

Heather and I recently went picking. I for this month’s MxMo, she for jam and pickles. We’ve been Jamming for about eleven years since we lived in Petaluma where our house had an out-of-control Himalaya blackberry  bush that over produced. We have to put up jars of jam each year to satisfy the yearly appetite of our family and friends.

vineberry blueberry flat

Strolling through the vineyards at Kruger on a temperate Saturday is a summer Portland Experience. I have to admit an occasional taste test as we picked – I hope that’s not too frowned apon. With the standard Blackberry, we also picked the long compact Kotataberry (a blackberry varietal), and the upward-growing thorn-free Waldoberry (another blackberry varietal). Blueberries are also a must after the success of our Blueberry-lime jam. I think there might be angry villagers with torches if we fail to get that out for Christmas presents.

So, what’s a mixologist to do with these gorgeous berries? I get crap all the time from some people for the rum-heavy nature of my posts. I’ve also done rum and blackberry before. I wouldn’t dare to think of hiding the delicate flavors of these berries with rum. Vodka would be far too insipid for mixing. Gin? Yes, gin. Aviation Gin2 to be precice. Aviation has a citrus body that I feel mixes well with berries.3

blueberries kotataberries waldoberries

I’ve always loved the illustration for the Julep in Jerry Thomas’s Bon Vivant’s Companion. The bouquet of mint and berries dusted with powdered sugar delights me. You can take the rum out of the Tiki mixologist, but you can’t take the garnish lover out of the … never mind. I get enough crap out of my Rum fixation, I don’t need to give any more ammunition for the simpering anti-garnishers so they can poo-poo as they clutch their pearls.4

Summer Berry Smash

So I present to you the Summer Berry Smash. Berries, vanilla, mint, lemon and Gin: A taste of Portland in the Summer. A taste of my Summer. Close your eyes and enjoy. It will soon be raining again.

Summer Berry Smash

Summer Berry Smash

¾ oz fresh lemon juice
¾ oz vanilla syrup
8-10 Oregon Blackberries (I used Waldoberries & Kotataberries)
10-12 Oregon Blueberries
10 mint Leaves
2 oz Aviation Gin
Charged water

Muddle mint softly with small shot of charged water in mixing glass. Add slice lemon and berries and muddle again. Add ice, Gin, Syrup, and Lemon juice and shake. Strain into pint glass filled with crushed ice and top with Charged water and stir. Garnish with bouquet of mint, lemon wheel, orange wheel and whole berries. Top with a dusting of powdered sugar.

  1. Don’t get me started: tecnhically, the cane berries we’re fond of are actually aggregate drupes. Blueberries are false berries, similar to the pepo of cucumbers and bananas. This is style of fruit, not genetic family []
  2. also a local product of House Spirits []
  3. others agree []
  4. Notice the pursed mouths and the attitudes the next time one of them goes on their rants, as is their wont []

MxMo July 2008 — New Orleans

July 28th, 2008 by Colonel Tiki

I’ve been in a fog since returning from Tales of the Cocktail last Wednesday. Half my pictures are sitting on Blair‘s memory card at his house. The past days have been wonderful blurs of house guests, unpacking and a Teardrop Lounge anniversary party.1 It is taking all my effort to get my ass in gear to get out this Mixology Monday post.

I had a good number of drinks in New Orleans. From vieux carré to sazerac, from crap hurricane to french 75. Heck, I even mixed up Beachbum drinks with Rick and Blair a session. I ended up in the Tulane emergency room with Gout on account of the all the imbibing.2 However, I never did get around to ordering a Suissesse. Oh, I may have begged the odd taste from my drinking companions, but it just didn’t get together on a bartop for me.

Luckily, I picked up a hard copy of Stanley Clisby Arthur’s New Orleans Drinks and How to Mix ‘em while in the crescent city. It’s a little volume I’ve loved for a while now in soft copy. Low and behold, therein lay a Suissesse recipe.

Suissesse before pouring

While some may poo-poo creme de menthe and/or standard maraschino cherries, I refrain from shirking. The very idea of pairing these ingredients with absinthe filled me with petulant glee. I even chose green over white. I quite enjoyed the outcome. Much like New Orleans: a mixture of the sacred and profane.

Suissesse

Suissesse
1 tsp Sugar
1 oz French vermouth3
2 oz absinthe
1 egg white
½ oz creme de menthe
2 oz charged water

Mix sugar, charged water, vermouth, absinthe, & egg white with hand egg beater (a la Jamie Boudreau). Fill shaker with cracked ice and shake until you want to cry. Strain into champagne4 glass in which there is a cherry with the creme de menthe poured over it.

Be on the lookout for wrap-up posts and further diatribes once I’ve had a few more Suissesses to clear the fog out.

  1. congratulations, Daniel & Ted []
  2. The fat and shellfish may have helped []
  3. I used Lillet Blanc []
  4. saucer please []

Cocktail Garnishes From Functional to Fabulous!

July 19th, 2008 by Colonel Tiki

This morning has been wonderful. Trader Tiki, Kaiser Penguin and I ‘tended at Jeff Berry‘s “Potions of the Caribbean.” I helped Martin Cate unpack teeny tiny ice cones, and I’ve batched drinks for Jeff Berry. I’m pooped, but I’ll here is the live blogging Martin Cate’s “Cocktail Garnishes: From Functional to Fabulous”

2:24 — Martin and Jeff Berry are setting up and getting things in order. Martin has just carved through a pineapple and is now prepping lemons.

2:27 — Rick “Kaiser Penguin” Stutz: “Martin has angry knives.”

2:31 — Martin starts with The Kids in the Hall’s “Girl Drink Drunk” to introduce the garnish. He brings up the old canard of the revolutionary bar maid placing a rooster feather in a drink and naming it a “cocktail.” Nonsense, yes — but the drink was originally a garnish.

2:45 — Martin introduces the “Sidewinder’s Fang” as an example of a horses neck. This is a peel of citrus that is placed into the drink and winds its way close to the edge, just peeking out of the top. In this instance, it is an orange peel giving the appearance of a snake winding about the drink. These garnishes are meant to serve as conversation pieces. These are garnishes for excitement and discussion.

Sidewinder’s Fang
1oz El Dorado 5 Yr. Demerara Rum
1½ oz Fresh lime juice
1½ oz Fresh orange juice
3 oz Fever-Tree Soda Water
1½ oz Passion fruit syrup

2:47 — Harry Yee of Henry Kaiser‘s Hawaiian Village Hotel: “I was the first person to use orchids – you know why? we used to use cane sticks. People used to chew on them and put them in the ashtray and they used to get the ashtray all sticky. I did it just to make cleaning up easier.”

2:54 — The ice cones come out. Martin displays the ingenious method of ice carving with a Snoopy Snow Cone machine. We are served Navy Grogs with miniature ice cones.

Navy Grog
1 oz Cruzan Estate Light Rum
1 oz Old New Orleans Amber Rum
1 oz El Dorado Demerara 5 yr old
1 oz Fever-Tree Preium Spring Club Soda
¾ oz Fresh lime juice
¾ oz Fresh grapefruit juice
1½ oz Honey Syrup

2:56 — Jeff Berry comes to the podium. He is demonstrating the ice cone technique. The ice needs to be small and snowy. First a waring professional ice machine crushes they ice. Next Jeff puts the ice into a cuisinart to reduce the ice to tiny little pieces. This is packed into a pilsner glass with a chopstick to make room for the straw. Freeze this for a minimum of four hours before use.

3:05 — Next ice garnish: place a cut lime flat side dowin into a cocktail shaker and pack with ice. Freeze for four hours, invert and remove the shell. Place a carved shell in the hole, fill with 151 rum and place in a bowl drink. Light on fire for a wonderful contrast of fire and ice.

3:11 — Jeff Berry: “If the drink tells a story, keep the garnish linked to it” For example, Donn Beach’s “Three dots and a dash (…-, V). Morse code for V and code for victory during world war II, the garnish consists of 3 maraschino cherries and an extended pineapple piece.

3:27 — Fresh Mint. Martin is back. Mint’s main enemy is oxygen. Heat does not cause wilting: exposure to air does. Always remember to slap the mint to release the oil before placing in the drink.

3:34 — The Peelers showed up and we each experimented making a horse’s neck. I don’t want to brag, but mine was the biggest.

3:36 — Oregon Natural Maraschino Cherries: no sulfides, no f,d&c red. Red color is due to beet juice.

3:45 — Pure lemon extract soaked croutons produce a marvelous flame. I’ve just seen a slide of the most fabulously garnished Bloody Mary. Garnishes included bacon and crab legs.

3:50 — This just in: Morgenthaler slipped in at the end to note Martin mentioning him. Slipped back out. He must be headed back to the pool.

p.s. the last drink:

For Pete’s Sake
1 ½ oz Barsol Pisco
½ oz Cherry Heering
½ oz Hibiscus Syrup
1 Dash Fee Brothers Aromatic Bitters
¾ oz Fresh lime juice
½ oz Partida Agave Nectar

So that’s Bourbon Street

July 16th, 2008 by Colonel Tiki

After surviving the banality of the Denver airport and 1 lost garment bag1 we’ve arrived in New Orleans. At the airport we met up with Trader Tiki, Chuck and Wes, & Jeff Morganthaler who happened to arrive at the same time we did. We split a cab with Trader2.

I had a Vieux carré at the Carousel bar3 and met up with Rick, Jay, My compatriot in naming Craig (the Good Dr. Bamboo), Trader, Paul Clarke, Mr. Morganthaler, and Seamus. We headed off for a bit at Coop’s place. Perfect Choice, Paul. A belly full of fried seafood, gumbo and jambalaya made a good ballast.

We hit Arnaud’s French 75 Bar where we met with more who’s-who of the blog and non-blog cocktail scene. Matt came along presently and after a french 754, a cigar5, a Negroni6, and Gabriel‘s arrival7 we headed to a location not to be discussed.8 We bumped into Ed Hamilton on the way out which was lovely.

Going via Bourbon street to the non-disclosed location, I couldn’t help notice that the block that most smelled sewer-like happened to be the block with the live sex act clubs, Larry Flint’s Barely Legal, and other assorted gentleman’s clubs. It was such a mix of wonderful and horrible: Gaudy, tawdry neon are contrast against shuttered 300-year old windows. The moist heat of the evening was interrupted by cool breezes escaping from the open doorways of the aforementioned establishments. Garbage binge drinkers surrounded the group of cocktail snobs in the birthplace of the cocktail. It is beautiful and shocking and hideous and profane and I love every single damn thing about it.

We finished off the evening back at the Carousel bar. We closed it. Martin Cate dropped by and it was good to play catch-up with him.

Now for today’s fun. I’ve already missed the blog breakfast event (9:00am? Are you serious?). We’ll be toasting the Sazerac at 2pm. Join us, won’t you? I want to find a Rum Swizzle today.

P.S. Anyone have an SD card reader? Just realized this laptop9 is free of one. The USB cable is resting comfortably back on the table at home.

  1. it has since been found and delivered to the hotel []
  2. with a perfect crazy/nice/ranting cab driver to boot []
  3. tasty – but as it was my first, I have no comparison []
  4. good but not great []
  5. Montecristo No.3 []
  6. fair []
  7. with the lovely Joana []
  8. Thanks, Gabe – now we’ve lost the blackmail ability. First rule of Drink Club, man. []
  9. thanks, TriMet []

On the eve of Tales

July 14th, 2008 by Colonel Tiki

Tomorrow morning, I leave Portland for New Orleans. For the next week or so, I will be live blogging from Tales of the Cocktail. I’ll be posting reviews of Restaurants and bars. I’ll be writing summaries and epiphanies based on the seminars I’ll be attending. I’ll be putting up interviews of bartenders, mixologists and fellow cocktail lovers who I meet and whom I’ve met that drive me in this pursuit.

I’m packed and ready to go. My liver is girded, my fingers are nimble and my senses are keen. Next stop NOLA.

Tiki Kon VI Drink Menu

June 25th, 2008 by Colonel Tiki

This Saturday I am hosting Tiki Kon VI, a wild tour of two Portland Tiki bars and two Home Bars of Portland-area denizens.

At Thatch, I’ll be giving a short Tiki Mixology seminar and offering thirteen classic and new Tiki beverages on our menu. This is what is in store for our group of intrepid Tiki Adventurers:

Cobra’s Fang Mai Tai
Cuba Kula Miehana
Darker Magic Navy Grog
Fog Cutter Nui Nui
Happy Hoti Penang Afrididi #1
Jet Pilot QB Cooler
Lei Lani Volcano

The weather should be in the middle 90s and sunny. Our last stop will be a home bar with a pool. I think by that time, I will be just about ready to immediately jump in.

MxMo June 2008 — Bourbon

June 16th, 2008 by Colonel Tiki

Ah, Bourbon.

Summer means bourbon in our household. When I’m not making a home-made version of Southern Comfort (recipe courtesy of Martin Cate) or Stone Fences (courtesy David Wondrich), I’m drinking it straight, in Manhattans, as an improved cocktail, or as my current favorite featured in this very MxMo.

The Live Journaling mastermind(s) at Scofflaw’s Den are hosting this round of MxMo. It’s the last MxMo before the big bash in the big easy. I can’t wait.

Now, Trader Vic had a great recipe for the Honi Honi that you can find at my good friend Blair’s site. Apricot Brandy, Lemon and Rum mixes together as a gorgeous double Kiss (honi honi is kiss kiss in Hawaiian). However, as time went on, the Honi Honi that Trader Vic served in his restaurants changed recipes to be become a Mai Tai with bourbon.

Don’t let that seemingly lazy change fool you: this concoction is a masterpiece. This is far more than a bourbon Mai Tai. I thought this a perfect occasion to open my bottle of Trader Tiki’s Vanilla Cane Orgeat and it really shines. You see, when I make my domestic SoCo, I use vanilla syrup instead of Martin’s suggested Honey. The wife has a fondness for Vanilla (and bourbon), and I thought the Orange-vanilla aspect would suit the round sweet undertones of a decent sour mash. And it does. Oh, does it. I wanted to repeat that success in this Honi Honi with Trader Tiki’s specialty Orgeat and the Orange of the Clement Creole Shrub. I personally add Regan’s Orange bitters to round out the drink. Delicious.

Honi Honi

Honi Honi

2 oz Bourbon
1 oz fresh lime juice
½ oz orgeat (Trader Tiki’s Vanilla Cane Orgeat)
½ oz Orange Curaçao (Clement Creole Shrub)
dash Regan’s Bitters

shake with 4 oz crushed ice and pour into a double rocks glass.

MxMo May 2008 — Rum

May 12th, 2008 by Colonel Tiki

Mixology Monday - RumRumbullion. Kyl Devyl. Screech. It’s the fire water dear to me and mine: Rum, Glorious Rum.

I keep reading that Rum is making a comeback; rum is getting respectable. Heck, the (embarrassing) marketing for 10 cane rum purports to be its redemption. Poppycock. The Kill-Devil will never be redeemed, for it hasn’t the need for it. Redemption! Preposterous.

Rum isn’t on the way back. It never left. The faithless left it, but Rum was always there in the oak casks, waiting faithfully. So instead of welcoming back rum to the liquorati, instead I say: “Welcome back to rum.

MxMo May 2008: Rum

This Month sees a new year and new logo for Mixology Monday. We also have a new host. I have been privileged to know him and call him my closest of friends for nigh on a decade now: Blair “Trader Tiki” Reynolds who holds the stick behind Reynoles Galley. Wish the old feller a happy birthday while you’re there, it was yesterday.

Bumbo Book


On to the Rum! I have previously lightly jabbered about the beginnings of Rum in the Caribbean and the growth of the grog-based rum, gum, and lime lines of cocktail development. This time, I will take the other path. While grog was the drink of the British Navy, there were other sailors who dwelt in the waters who didn’t need to pack down for months at sea. Yes, I speak of the currently popular Pirates. Their drink of choice was Bumbo (also Bumboo, Bumpo). They flavored their rum with cane syrup, nutmeg, allspice and any other local plentiful island spice. With easy access to a better balanced diet than their ocean-crossing targets, there was no need to add lime.

Bumbo was not only a pirate drink; it became very popular in the new colonies. Founding father George Washington himself used gallons of the stuff to buy off votes for his Virginia House of Burgesses campaigns (a contemporary popular ploy). Note the side illustration from a one-shilling London 1738 leaflet of “A letter from Captain Flip to Major Bumbo.” I have a feeling James Fenimore Cooper’s Natty Bumppo was also familiar with the stuff.


Demerara sugar Nutmeg and rhubarb Allspice Rhubarb and Demerara

Spring in Portland means fresh Rhubarb. I’ve been meaning to make a rhubarb syrup — the languid tartness of rhubarb is a perfect counterpoint flavor to exploit. So to 750ml of Cockspur Barbados rum (Barbados is the home of rum), I added Demerara sugar, allspice and nutmeg. I candidly think the roots of both falernum and pimento dram grow in the soil of Bumbo. I let mine sit for a week (and increased the spices accordingly for the short infusion time). With a more restrained spice, you can (and should) let your bumbo rest for months.Using this lovely spiced spirit, I thought I’d see how it fared with a classic, Jerry Thomas style straight Cocktail treatment. As it so happens, it fares quite well. Liquor, red vermouth, bitters, stirred. The slow sour of the rhubarb and the bitter of the Punt e Mes contrast with the spice and spirit. The Orange oil adds to the nose and brings cohesiveness to the overall character of the drink.

MxMo May 2008: Bumbo Cocktail

Rhubarb Bumbo Cocktail
1 oz Punt e Mes
2 oz Rhubarb Bumbo
2 dashes Fee Brothers Whiskey Barrel Aged Bitters

Stir all with fresh cracked ice and strain into rounded small cocktail glass. Express oil from orange rind. I add mine to the drink for drama but it has already done its mixological job.

A strange self-importance

May 7th, 2008 by Colonel Tiki

There is an aspect of many contemporary blogs that troubles me. I suppose I am troubled and annoyed because (like most things) I dislike my own tendencies and therefore see these tendencies more clearly in others. So existentially, this rant is directed mostly to myself.

The trend I speak of is the (to me) feigned pretentiousness of the novel. Now, I am the first to admit the joy of intellectualizing my hobbies, it is the curse of the overly educated and the lingering disease of the post-modern. However, I do try to keep a healthy grip on perspective. Yes, there is artistry and craft and great deep involvement of the minutia of flavor profiles; the alchemy of taste! However, for crying out loud, It’s just food / drink.

There’s no reason it can’t be both: I’m comfortable and (candidly) revel in ambiguity and cognitive dissonance. Aristotle may be wrong; “a” can equal “not a.” And yes, below I’ll be generalizing and paint with wide strokes:

For instance, The slow food movement. While wonderful and aligned with my own tastes and political leanings, etc. As explained to my mother-in-law, she replied: “Oh, you mean food?” You know, like your grandparents used to eat before the 50′s tech marvel fads of highways, distribution, production, suburbs and supermarkets changed things?

Canning, preserving, smoking, curing, head-to-tail: What your great-grandmother used to call “Wednesday.”

etc.

I do not mean to malign the renaissance of foodcraft (or any craft, for that matter). Nor do I wish to marginalize the wonder of discovery of these lost arts. I do however have my fill of those who are so god-damned pretentious about them. I wish we could stop pretending to be so god damned expectant of external validation of our personal growth in discovery. That’s all.

I mean, I know our damn generation has to deign irony or some other handle to deal with the fact that we’re broke and our market system is imploding and so we’re drinking Pabst and making mac and cheese (with local non-hormone artisan cheese). But really? Really? You don’t get a god-damned gold star no matter how well you can use the macro setting on your new digital camera. I’ll thank you for the recipes, though. They’re super tasty.