“When that old demon rum slips past the lips,
it still works its ancient, cheerful magic.” – Donn Beach
When thinking of holiday-inspired cocktails, my mind is instantly transported to the Tiki Bar.
Created by Ernest Raymond Beaumont Gantt, also known as Donn Beach, things kicked off in Los Angeles in 1933 when Mr Beach opened his one-of-a-kind bar, ‘Don the Beachcomber’.
It was decorated with island trinkets, a sea of bamboo and old fishing nets, but what it really delivered, was a much needed tonic for the day-to-day hardship of the 1930s economic Depression.
Much like us in lockdown now, international travel was nothing but a fantasy. The delights of Donn Beach’s imagination-led Polynesian, Tahitian and Sumatran inspired alcoholic cocktails were there to wash your worries away.
The trend really took off in the 60s, then died out a bit as the shoulder-padded 80s returned with their Harvey Wallbangers, Long Island Ice Teas, fancy black-granite bars and giant mobile phones. But I think it’s safe to say that the Tiki Bar never really went away – its popularity just kept re-surfacing every few decades, like a determined ice-cube. This, in my eyes, makes it both a classic and timeless concept.
Steven J Holetz of Redmond, Washington state, started some cocktail-making videos from his most funky living-room bar this lockdown. It’s been a great pleasure watching the #tikitime creations he calls #quarantiki. He presents the show from his #DagonsDeepRoom on Facebook.
Here are five, perhaps less-known, Tiki classic cocktails that Steven chose to make this month. They definitely make my top holiday-inspired cocktails!
You can find the exact measurements and instructions for these cocktails pretty much anywhere online. You will need crushed ice or ice for most of these cocktails – and a shaker of course! I’ll just go ahead and list the main ingredients so you can see:
(i) how many of those things you already have at the back of your drinks cupboard
(ii) if any of them tickle your Tiki pickle!
- The Jet Pilot
A stronger and spicier version of Donn Beach’s original Test Pilot.
Main ingredients: Pernod, fresh lime juice, grapefruit juice, Falernum, Cinnamon Syrup, 8-year Bacardi, Lemon Heart 151, Jamaican dark rum, crushed ice and a lime shell float. (These things are crazy cool if you haven’t seen one before. They look like flaming boats.)
- La Paloma Vida
A spicy Mexican inspired drink that will set your taste buds flying across the Atlantic Ocean and straight to the beach!
Main ingredients: Mezcal (to quote Steve, “tequilla’s smokier cousin”), grapefruit juice, agave syrup (from the agave plant), lime juice, a jalapeno ring, soda water.
- Blood and Sand
A sweet and tangy cocktail that looks super tasty and is bound to get you thinking about the seafront. (minus the blood, hopefully)
Main ingredients: Peated Bourbon, cherry liqueur, sweet Vermouth, fresh blood orange juice, brown sugar for glass rim coating, slice of dried orange slice to finish.
- After-Party Painkiller
This is a fruity number that sounds both delicious and reparative for that hair of the dog feeling…
Main ingredients: pineapple juice, orange juice, cream of coconut, gunpowder proof rum, grated nutmeg, cherry, fresh pineapple.
- St. Stephen’s Sour
This was invented by a bartender from Portland’s Clyde Common. It sounds like a refreshing contrast of warm spirits and refreshing citrus, perfect for that holiday feel!
Main ingredients: lemon juice, circle of lemon, Orgeat (or almond syrup), Cognac, Aged Rum, crushed ice and angostura bitters.