It blows my mind that it has taken my this long this participate in the renowned Mixology Monday. However, in light of the kooky cocktail hijinks I have been up to lately, I am happy that my first is this month's theme dreamt up by Stewart Putney of Putney Farm: "Inverted."
Inspired by Julia Child's upside-down or "inverted" Martini preference, Stewart wrote "What does 'inverted' really mean? Well, here is the definition, 'To turn inside out or upside down; to reverse the position, order, or condition of.' Hmm... It seems that 'inverted' really just means something 'flipped on its head'. And that can mean almost anything, and leaves plenty of room for creativity... You can invert the ratios of spirits, liqueurs or bitters in a cocktail, but we suggest you go beyond that and 'invert' whatever you want."
Refined. Elegant. Subtle.
Not words generally associated with what we lovingly call tiki.
But why not? Tiki's fine aged rums, specialty liqueurs and complex flavor profiles are every bit considered as a perfectly balanced Martinez or Sazerac, and in their heyday, just as glamorous. As winter tiki has been on my mind a lot lately (and not just because it was 82 degrees this February day), my task was plain. So I looked to the boozy classics, the Mai Tai, Zombie, Scorpion, Planter's Punch, Test Pilot, Sunakora and Three Dots and a Dash to cull a deeply flavorful aromatic tiki cocktail. That's right - no fruit, no juice, no freaky garnish. And by golly, it was easier than I expected.
1 oz Smith & Cross Jamaican rum
3/4 oz Lemon Hart Demerara rum
1/2 oz pineapple cordial*
1/4 oz St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram
2 dashes Bittercube blackstrap bitters
Combine ingredients in a mixing glass over ice and stir well.
Strain into a chilled coupe and express oils from an orange peel over top, adding it to the glass as a garnish.
*For the pineapple cordial:
Fill a pint canning jar with freshly cut pineapple pieces. Pour in an ounce of Amaretto, and fill the remaining space with gold Barbados rum (such as Mount Gay). Seal and keep in a cool dark place for at least a week, agitating every day or so. Strain through a fine mesh sieve to extract any and all fruit pulp before use.
Fruity and rummy on the nose, smooth drinking, with a mellow spicy aftertaste. It's totally tiki, but fit for a speakeasy. Of course, as with all tiki recipes, the ingredients are key. Substituting rums will yield considerably different results, and in this case, the bold flavors of the Smith & Cross and Lemon Hart carry more than their weight (especially considering this cocktail is 100% liquor). So enjoy! And thank you Stewart for a fun and inviting first Mixology Monday!
Visit the original announcement post here, and the full Mixology Monday LXX Roundup: Inverted here! So many awesome and creative submissions I will be trying out...
For further inversion of winter tiki, check out my Hot Grog recipe from the Winter Warmer episode of my podcast, The Table Set. (Hot tiki? You bet!)
Monday, February 18, 2013
Monday, September 24, 2012
Tiki has become something special to me over the years.
It is not just a kitschy party theme, type of cloyingly sweet drank, or dive bar category. Bizarrely enough it's filed alongside heavyweights like Christmas and New Year's as an important family tradition. Yes, my parents, sister and I do Tiki. And if I do say so myself, we do it damn well.
Initially, the end of summer Tiki Party at my parents' home in Tucson was a heavily-anticipated annual celebration. A break from large family gatherings brimming with kids ("we love your keikis, but this one is for adults"), and the rare party to really have a focus on drinking. Since I was college-aged when the Tiki Party debuted, I was not only surprised by this, but fully on board! Each year seemed to one-up the prior, adding a pit-roasted whole pig, ukelele orchestra, and even tradition hula dancers in full garb. It was a fantastic tradition.
Then one year the invite never went out. Then another year. The masses were restless, when would there be another Tiki Party? I tried to sate myself in California with regular visits to Tiki Ti, Tonga Room, Trader Sam's and with a big fat Tiki episode on my podcast The Table Set, but it wasn't enough. Once I found out my sister Megan missed it as much as me we conspired to convince my parents by any means necessary to bring it back.
Then this year... we finally succeeded.
It's always a whirlwind driving home to Arizona and jumping in to the preparations. It's also always startling opening the fridge in the garage to see Laura Palmer as a pig, awaiting the sacrificial pyre.
Day of, first thing's first - Get that pig going. It takes all afternoon to get a proper tender slow-cooked Kalua-style pig.
The photo opp murals Megan painted are always a hit.
And while the tables are set, I have my hands full with another task.
Shocking, I know - I manage the bar. With the addition of the bamboo tiki hut-style bar this year, things got serious.
Selecting a menu is hardly an easy task. Each year we debate, recounting drink popularity from the previous parties. The true Mai Tai is our collective favorite, but seems to be too boozy for our guests, as we always have the most leftover of it. The Blue Hawaiian is garish, but always a winner. We pre-mix everything in large batches as well, so the recipe has to work in that format - and some ingredients, such as bitters, intensify over time. This year I decided to select all new drinks; Classics that cover very different flavor profiles as well as liquor variety. No need to be rum snobs - It's just not for everybody.
In lieu of the signature Mai Tai I went out on a limb with South Pacific Punch, a potent blend of dark and light rums, fresh orange and lime juices, Falernum and passion fruit syrup. Not for the faint of heart, I think the profile of the spicy Falernum is what set this drink apart.
To satisfy the sweet drink lovers, instead of a neon blue concoction (I just can't get down with Blue Curaçao) I opted for the popular Chi Chi, a vodka-based riff on the Piña Colada with coconut cream, pineapple juice and a dust of nutmeg. Sometimes simplicity is best.
For the first time we introduced a bourbon-based tiki drink, which turned out to be the crowd favorite, the ominous-sounding Polynesian Paralysis. Akin to a Hawaiian-style Mai Tai, this one blends pineapple and citrus juices with orgeat, which marry nicely with the bourbon for a dangerously smooth sipper.
We always try to think of creative ways to keep designated drivers and non-drinkers in on the fun, and this year hibiscus lemonade and tropical iced tea just wasn't going to cut it, so I whipped up a non-alcoholic tiki classic Rainbow Punch. Here pineapple, orange, and lime juices are blended with grenadine, soda, and bitters for a well-disguised virgin.
It was an exhausting night of shaking drinks, so I was happy to have some relief long enough to get in on the Kalua pig and Polynesian potluck before it was all gone.
Perlana, one of the "best dressed" winners enjoys a Chi Chi.
Yes, no matter how much math and careful planning goes into our batch drink making, we always over-do it and have SO much leftover. Not a huge complaint, but it suffices to say that Tiki Party turns into Tucson Tiki WEEK. Aw well, maybe we'll get it right next year... Oh yes, there will be a next year.
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Downtown LA's Seven Grand is your go-to for every whiskey, rye, bourbon, and whisky under the sun. But with a newly revamped menu chockfull of boiler makers, flights, old-fashioneds, sours and original cocktails (even a tiki drink, pictured), lead barsmith Dustin Newsome and company are out to prove the extent of their dexterous talents.
Read my rundown of Seven Grand's newest original cocktails on the 213 Nightlife blog by clicking below:
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
How is it that I still haven't written about Trader Sam's?? No stranger to drinking at Disney Parks, when this Enchanted Tiki Room —that's actually a full-functioning tiki bar— opened poolside at the Disneyland Hotel last year one boy's dream literally came true. (Hint: Mine.)
Repeat visits have proven the drink menu, nosh offerings, interactive space, and jubilant staff exceedingly strong. And tonight, for Disneyland's One More Day 24 hour Leap Year event, I plan to kick off my evening in barkeep Rhonda's able hands. Another HippopotoMai Tai, please!
My favorite on the list, the Shrunken Zombie Head is a potent potable of reserve and aged rums, tropical juices, Falernum, and cinnamon. It packs a pleasant punch, and leads to conversation with the Disneyphiles next to you at the bar (who you will probably end up on Tower of Terror with an hour later).
For snacking, the tasty and reasonably-priced appetizers at Trader Sam's are some of the best values in Disneyland. I always order the panko-crusted Chinese long beans with sriracha mayonnaise and Ahi Poke — a wasabi-yuzu-marinated ahi tuna served with avocado, green onion and crispy wontons.
|Rhonda summons the gods|
If you want to amp it up for round two, I suggest the Uh Oa!, a tiki god-sized grail of light and dark rums, orange, passion fruit, guava, and grapefruit juices, Falernum, cinnamon, and fresh squeezed lime juice. Recommended for two or more guests, this cocktail event includes a ritual... flashing lights, tambourines, chanting, volcanic eruptions, and pyrotechnics. Yes, this is serious, folks.
Whether you crave a respite from the sun and crowds, stiff drink, or simply a cultural bear hug, on behalf of adult Disney and tiki fans everywhere, I thank you Trader Sam's. I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
1150 Magic Way, Anaheim, CA 92802; 714.778.6600
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
It's a little nutty to look back on the past year and everything that's occurred since my first Foobuzz Blogger Fest in San Francisco. A chance meeting on the street outside the hotel lead to my fast friendship with Andy of the Windattack, and also an introduction to Greg of Sippitysup at the kick-off event. Who knew we'd have a podcast together several months later?? On Joy the Baker's network, no less! This demonstrates that while Foodbuzz Blogger Fest has a lot to do with food and blogging, it has way more to do with casual, social, and fun networking. I approached 2011's fest with a renewed set of expectations, mostly modest set on simply meeting and talking with great people.
The kick-off party this year was off to a roaring start before I'd finished my first glass of wine. I enjoyed a lovely conversation with the reps from Bonny Doon Vineyard over a lambent glass of their 2010 ¿Querry? Apple/Pear/Quince Hard Sparkling Cider (Delish! And perfect for your Turkey Day). The smorgasbord sampling buffet was topped off with classy immaculate sweet bites by Yigit Pura. A delightful way to finish a festive evening reuniting with friends.
Saturday's Taste Pavilion offered an intimidating amount to sample, so I zeroed in on the good stuff, and surprised myself by occasionally coming back for seconds. I spent a little too much time at Redwood Hill Farm and Bellweather Farms' tables shoveling goat, cow, and sheep's milk cheeses. I washed the cheese down with drinking chocolate and coins of Tcho's spectrum of cocoa products. Cross-pollinating makes everything more exciting, so I asked House of Balsamic (my favorite) to drizzle their apple balsamic vinegar on my Three Twins Organic vanilla ice cream. Brilliant!
There was plenty to drink and it couldn't have made me happier! New to me was Bloom Gin, a premium London Dry Gin with lush floral notes of chamomile, pomelo and honeysuckle. My favorite non-alcoholic delight was the super dry California Brut flavor of the popular Vignette Wine Country Soda. 21st Amendment did it again (their Fireside Chat and Hell of High Watermelon won me over last year) with their newest ale Allies Win The War, a collaboration with Eugene, OR's Ninkasi Brewery. The earthy ale is brewed with dates, lending it a kiss of mellow sweetness. I ended the afternoon getting up close and personal with the Skyy portfolio of brands, including Espolon Tequila, Campari, Wild Turkey and Frangelico... and watching the determination to make them all work together in one cup. Witness the boozy horchata and tequila-based cocktail below, made pink by a splash of Campari...
Greg of SippitySup getting TikiBuzzed.
I probably should have taken a cocktail break, but kept calm and carried on to The Tonga Room to co-host The Table Set's TikiBuzz Happy Hour! We met some listeners and shared wonderfully potent potables with our new friends.
Our gala dinner was set in the bowels of the Grand Hyatt, with an exhibition kitchen worthy of Iron Chef helming the banquet room. Tyler Florence (quickly dubbed #T-Flo by FoodBuzzards on Twitter) demoed a lovely Eastern European-inspired meal, whilst a very different menu was being plated for us backstage.
A butter lettuce salad kit.
Pro photo tip: Candle Saucer bounce!
Kristin The Cuisinerd, ready for meat!
I lucked out sitting with a pretty amazing table really of some of the best bloggers out there. We brandished knives. We awaited delicious food. We spoke of the T-Flo.
Andy, not letting his meal cramp his swagger.
Wedding steak surf n' turf does not a T-Flo cider-marinated pork chop make.
Joy the Baker contemplates the intention of her bulgar wheat and braised leek entree.
After a lackluster dessert our table retreated to the top floor of the hotel for liquid dessert, but the bar was a little TOO hopping. Forced to hang at the fringes we couldn't help but notice an open back door to a similarly lackluster wedding reception. Evil comes in many forms, and after an unsatisfactory meal, beware the mind of a foodbuzzed blogger. I won't elaborate, but maybe the reception was crashed by a flash mob, and maybe there was an animated conga line, and maybe their guest book ended up with a few extra John Hancocks. But I couldn't be sure about any of that.
Strolling back to the apartment I smiled at the crisp San Francisco night. Another year! So many accomplishments and yet so much inspiration still untapped. What fruits might the coming year produce? How will the unexpected surprise? And how will I look back at it all this time next year? Well friend, I suppose time will tell.