Cocktail Hour: The Golden Age of Tiki

This year I decided to host three tiki parties, one during each of the summer months. For one thing, it gives enough reason for people to invest in a proper tiki wardrobe. And, selfishly, it allows me to get a bit weird with the theme of each party.

Tiki is already a theme, you say. Ok, yes that’s true, but there’s no reason not to make a theme on top of a theme. So let’s dive right in!

Theme Background

There are many different aspects to the evolution of tiki. For the first party, I wanted to focus on the beginning/golden age of tiki. As I’ve mentioned before, if you want to learn more about the tiki of history, you could read anything by Beachbum Berry or Martin Cate, and you’d learn way more than you bargained for.

But here’s the Cliff Notes version: The two most well-known fathers of tiki are Don the Beachcomber and Trader Vic. Don the Beachcomber (real name: Ernest Gantt) opened a Polynesian-themed bar in the 1930s, decorated with items from the South Pacific and serving up exotic drinks. Next came Trader Vic’s, which was created by a restaurateur named Victor Bergeron who was a little more than inspired after a visit to Don the Beachcomber (he basically took the whole idea). Stephen Crane (who I chose to include almost entirely because he is a fellow Hoosier) took the theater of tiki to the next level, and even got some of Donn’s recipes after visiting him in Hawaii.

Golden Age of Tiki Drink Menu

The Menu

Before you get started, if you’re looking for some basic tips on hosting a tiki party, look no further than the guide I created for you last year.

For the drink menu, I wanted to have a drink from each of the founders of tiki while also balancing the flavors offered.

Don the Beachcomber has many recipes to choose from and a lot of the recipes from other founders are just riffs on his creations. I chose Port Au Prince and Three Dots and a Dash.

For Trader Vic, I chose El Diablo, a rare tequila-based drink, which may or may not be an original recipe for him. Honestly, it’s very hard to find a true “Trader Vic original.” Even his most well-known drink the Mai Tai is disputed whether it’s actually his original recipe or inspired by a Don the Beachcomber original.

For Stephen Crane, I chose the Jet Pilot, a riff on another Don the Beachcomber original, the Zombie.

The Recipes

Port Au Prince

Ingredients

1/2 oz. lime juice
1/2 oz. pineapple juice
1/2 oz. John D. Taylor’s Velvet Falernum
1 1/2 oz. cane coffey still aged rum (Rhum Barbancourt 5 Star Reserve)
1 dash Angostura bitters
1/4 oz. simple syrup
1 dash grenadine

Garnish recommendation: Lime wedge with umbrella


Directions

Add all the ingredients to a drink mixer tin. Fill with ice. Flash blend and open pour into a tall glass. Garnish as desired.

Alternatively, add ingredients to a cocktail shaker with crushed ice and shake for at least 30 seconds. Open pour into a tall glass. Garnish as desired.


Three Dots and a Dash

Ingredients

1 oz. lime juice
1/2 oz. Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao (or orange juice)
1/2 oz. honey syrup (2:1, honey:water)
1/4 oz. John D. Taylor’s Velvet Falernum
1/4 oz. St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram
1 oz. rhum agricole (Rhum Barbancourt 5 Star Reserve)
1 oz. blended aged rum (El Dorado 5 Year, Appleton Estate Signature Blend, or Mount Gay Black Barrel)
1 dash Angostura bitters

Garnish recommendation: Three cherries and a pineapple frond


Directions

Add all the ingredients to a drink mixer tin. Fill with ice. Flash blend and open pour into a tall glass. Garnish as desired.

Alternatively, add ingredients to a cocktail shaker with crushed ice and shake for at least 30 seconds. Open pour into a tall glass. Garnish as desired.


El Diablo

Ingredients

1/2 oz. lime juice
1/2 oz. creme de cassis
1 1/2 oz. tequila blanco
4 oz. ginger beer

Garnish recommendation: Swizzle stick


Directions

Fill a tall glass with ice. Add the ingredients and stir. Garnish as desired.


Jet Pilot

Ingredients

1/2 oz. lime juice
1/2 oz. grapefruit juice
1/2 oz. cinnamon syrup
1/2 oz. John D. Taylor’s Velvet Falernum
1 oz. black blended rum (Hamilton Jamaican Pot Still Black Rum)
3/4 oz. blended aged rum (El Dorado 5 Year, Appleton Estate Signature Blend, or Mount Gay Black Barrel)
3/4 oz. overproof demerara rum (Lemon Hart 151 Demerara Rum or Hamilton 151 Overproof Demerara Rum)
1 dash Herbstura (1:1 Herbsaint and Angostura bitters)

Garnish recommendation: Mint, lime wedge, and/or cinnamon stick


Directions

Add all the ingredients to a drink mixer tin. Fill with ice. Flash blend and open pour into a tall glass. Garnish as desired.

Alternatively, add ingredients to a cocktail shaker with crushed ice and shake for at least 30 seconds. Open pour into a tall glass. Garnish as desired.


Essential tiki ingredients

A Note on Tiki Ingredients

The menu here uses a total of a little under 20 ingredients. That can be daunting for many people. While the initial investment is quite hefty (like with baking), you will notice that there are a lot of ingredients used across many popular tiki recipes.

The three bottles featured above (Velvet Falernum, St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram, and Dry Curacao) can run between about $20-35 a bottle at most liquor stores, sometimes even more. However, these pricey ingredients will last a while as you typically use 1/2 oz. or less in a single drink.

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