For those of you who know me, which is most of you reading this, I LOVE Tiki. It is such a distinctive and kitschy cocktail culture that I just can’t get enough of. In fact, two years ago, I threw myself a Tiki-themed birthday party. I made my own falernum from scratch and got my guests very drunk on Mai Tais.
Tiki has definitely been having a moment for the past few years and isn’t showing any signs of stopping. My all-time favourite Tiki experience thus far, having never visited Hawaii, was at Three Dots and a Dash in Chicago. Tucked in alongside another restaurant, down a dimly-lit stairwell, you’ll find this gem of a bar. Fully stocked with elaborate garnishes, including bananas that have been shaped into dolphins, bartenders with hibiscus flowers in their hair and plenty of photo-worthy Tiki mugs, Three Dots will transport you to another era.
The exotic rum-based cocktails of the Tiki tradition make drinking fun. I think of most drinks of this style as dangerous, they aren’t shy on alcohol but their potency is well-masked by fruity, acidic and spicy elements; making them go down real smooth.
There are a few examples of Tiki cocktails in our sleepy little government town that are worth leaving your couch for. At The Moonroom, I’m partial to the Corn N’ Oil and the Rel Bess, both of which boast great acidity and classic flavour elements like clove. At Mati, the Cinn City is a delightful little drink consisting of rum, pineapple, lime juice, cinnamon and my all-time favourite liqueur, Pamplemousse (that’s grapefruit for all you strictly English-speakers).
Unfortunately, grapefruit liqueur seems to be impossible to find at the LCBO – I always pick up a bottle when I’m in the States and have access to speciality liquor stores. If you know of somewhere closer to home to find some, please share the knowledge in the comments below.
Enough about other people’s great drinks, let’s talk about this one. We’re back at it with the Lewis bag and crushed ice cocktails, your stresses are about to evaporate. This drink is adapted from a recipe from Smuggler’s Cove which is a fantastic catalogue of Tiki cocktails and an exhaustive primer on its history and evolution. In essence, it’s the same set of ingredients but I’ve taken the Demerara syrup in an entirely new direction – which really changes the end result.
As discussed, the brown sugar syrup, from the Banana Waffles recipe I posted earlier this week, is nectar of the gods. When I tasted it, in isolation, I knew I was going to have to find a way to parlay it into a drink.
The butter, lemon juice and vanilla in this syrup really build complexity here and make this drink absolutely divine.
If there’s any marker of the staying power of the Tiki trend, it’s got to be the number of absolutely adorable tropical table accessories on offer. I got these precious Monastera leaf placemats (pictured throughout) from Pot & Pantry on Elgin Street. I also noticed that Indigo has a collection of palm print melamine plates for outdoor dining.
Stay tuned for lots more Tiki cocktails, in my personal collection of Tiki mugs, as the warmer weather comes our way!
A classic Tiki cocktail - this version of the Daisy De Santiago is reinvented with a complex Demerara sugar syrup that incorporates butter, lemon juice and vanilla.
- 1 oz fresh lime juice
- 1½ tsp Demerara syrup
- 1 oz seltzer
- ½ oz Yellow Chartreuse
- 1½ oz blended lightly aged rum
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 1¼ cup water
- ¾ cup Demerara sugar
- 1 tbsp salted butter
- ½ tsp vanilla
- 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
Add all ingredients into an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Shake and strain into a double old fashioned glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with lime wheel.
Measure granulated sugar into a large heavy-bottom saucepan. Pour in ¼ cup water. Do not stir. Measure out in a separate bowl remaining cup water and stir in brown sugar until dissolved. Set aside near the stove unit you will be using.
Place saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil without stirring. Let bubble briskly for 4 to 5 minutes or until the sugar begins to change color. Without stirring, swirl pan gently on the unit until the color becomes deeply golden. Avert your face (as hot steam rises) and near the side rather than in the middle of the pan, pour in brown sugar mixture. Boil briskly for 5 minutes. Slide pan off heat and stir in butter, lemon juice and vanilla. The syrup is extremely hot so leave to cool in pan on stove until warm. Syrup thickens as it cools.
Recipe adapted from: Cate, Martin. "Daisy De Santiago." Smuggler's Cove: Exotic Cocktails, Rum, and the Cult of Tiki." Bereley: 10 Speed Press, 2006. p. 171.