Tiki Time: Zac Overman's Angostura Colada

Break out the lawn torches and rattan, and don a Hawaiian-print shirt: here's an original tiki drink recipe from bartender Zac Overman. You can ask Zac to make you one on Thursdays at Fort Defiance during Sunken Harbor Club, a weekly tiki night. American restaurateurs created this Polynesian-inspired class of cocktails––defined by rum and tropical juices, flowers and cocktail umbrellas––in the 1930s. While many of us have enjoyed an over-sweetened boat of (flaming) booze in a "Chinese" restaurant at some point, bartenders like Zac are reviving and reinventing the genre, and making some really good drinks. 

Photo: Vicky Wasik

Photo: Vicky Wasik

While playing around with different spice notes in 8- or 10-ingredient tropical drinks, I decided to simplify things and make bitters the star in a Piña Colada-esque cocktail. Angostura bitters have all the complexity and warm spice of a great tiki drink on their own! They needed a little rum to round them out––I'm using Smith and Cross, but any good aged Jamaican rum will do (think Appleton or Myers). After that, it's simply a matter of a little freshly squeezed pineapple and lime juice and cream of coconut. The result is a silky smooth, juicy, bittersweet drink that tastes like way more work than it is. 


  • 1 1/2 oz Angostura Bitters
  • 1 1/2 oz Coco Lopez (or Goya) Cream of Coconut
  • 2 oz fresh Pineapple Juice
  • 1 oz fresh Lime Juice
  • 1/2 oz Smith & Cross Navy Strength Jamaican Rum

1. Combine all ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker.

2. Shake hard for 10 seconds and pour without straining into a snifter or tall glass––not a tiki mug––you'll want people to see the shocking red color. If needed, fill the rest of the glass with more ice.

3. Take a whole nutmeg and grate a little on top. Garnish with a pineapple chunk, a cocktail cherry, an umbrella, whatever you feel like jamming into it. It is a tiki drink, after all. 


You might also like:

The Traveling Daiquiri

Bourbon Peach Smash

Soothing Sorbet

Cool melon and mint, slushy and a little sweet: this may be the most refreshing thing I’ve ever eaten! Sorbet is quite easy to make if you have an ice cream maker. If you don't, the same mixture makes fantastic ice pops. I suggest you try some of both!


Cantaloupe & Mint Sorbet

  • ½ cantaloupe (about 1 ½ pounds)
  • juice of 1 lime
  • ¾ cup mint simple syrup (recipe follows)
  • small mint sprigs for garnish 

1. Cut the cantaloupe into cubes–you should have about 4 cups–and put it in a blender. Add the lime juice and syrup. Blend until smooth.

2. Churn in an ice cream maker until it holds together. Serve immediately, garnished with mint sprigs. Whatever you can’t eat right away you can thaw and re-churn, or freeze as ice pops.


Mint Simple Syrup

  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • one bunch mint, stems removed

1. Stir together the boiling water and sugar to dissolve; this is your simple syrup. Put it in the refrigerator until it’s cool to the touch.

 2. Add the mint to the cooled simple syrup. Steep for at least an hour, but ideally overnight. Strain, and discard the leaves. This syrup will keep well for a few weeks, and is wonderful for sorbets and summer cocktails like mint juleps.


Zucchini Fritters with Hot Sauce Mayo

If your yard, CSA or neighbor is burdening you with too many summer squashes, you might want to try this recipe. I was inspired by my friend's boredom with zucchini. Changing their texture makes the bountiful garden vegetable exciting again.

Zucchini Fritters

  • 2 cups grated zucchini
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 egg, separated
  • 1/4 cup grated sharp cheddar
  • 1 Tablespoon canola or safflower oil

Hot Sauce Mayo

  • 1 egg yolk
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/3 cup oil (at least half canola or safflower)
  • hot sauce to taste
  • salt to taste

Accompaniments (optional)

  • sliced tomatoes
  • torn fresh basil or dill

To make the fritters, mix the grated zucchini and salt and let sit for 15 minutes (to overnight). Squeeze the water out of the salted zucchini. Discard the water or save it for soup. In a small bowl whisk together the flour and baking powder. In a medium bowl, mix the egg yolk, cheese, zucchini and flour mixture. Whisk the egg white until it forms soft peaks, then fold it into the zucchini batter.

Heat a skillet and oil as you would for pancakes, over medium high heat. Drop spoonfuls of the batter into the skillet to make 2-3 inch fritters. Cook on each side until golden brown.

To make the mayo, put the egg yolk and lemon in a medium bowl. Drizzle the oil down the side of the bowl as slowly as possible, whisking furiously. The egg and oil mixture should become thick and smooth. Add a generous amount of hot sauce. Taste, and add salt or more hot sauce as needed.

Serve with tomatoes and torn herbs, if you have them.


Note: You can save time by mixing the egg into the zucchini without separating it. The fritters will be a little less fluffy, but still delicious.

Sweets & Bitters Cocktail

Sweets & Bitters Cocktial, photo courtesy blush

The weather is heating up here in New York, and so is our kickstarter campaign to print the first issue of Sweets & Bitters Quarterly. Here is a refreshing drink to cool you off. Sip one while you watch our video (we did while making it). Recipe follows.

Sweets & Bitters Cocktail

  • ½ oz fresh lime juice
  • ½ oz Lillet rose
  • ½ oz gin
  • ½ oz Aperol
  • scant ¼ oz maraschino liqueur
  • dash orange bitters
  • cava or other sparkling wine to top

Combine the ingredients (except cava) in a cocktail shaker. Fill it to the brim with very cold ice. Seal, and shake until nearly too cold to touch. Strain into a chilled 5 or 6 oz cocktail glass, and top with sparkling wine.

Quick Sriracha Pickles

I hadn’t thought about what I would do with pounds of cucumbers, but I bought them because they were on sale. The next morning, still bleary-eyed, I improvised these quick pickles while I waited for my coffee-making water to boil. They turned out so delicious that I went back to the market for another sack of cheap cucumbers, and then another.

If I could make these before my first cup of coffee, then the clumsiest novice cook will be equally successful. The sriracha (aka cock sauce) does all the work of seasoning, so you don’t even need to peel garlic! These aren’t the kind of pickles you’d put up for next winter, but I doubt you could resist eating them that long anyway. You might catch me sneaking one straight from the fridge before breakfast.


Quick Sriracha Pickle Recipe

  • cucumbers, preferably English, Persian, or Kirby
  • vinegar, white or cider
  • kosher salt*
  • sriracha

*table salt is fine too, but it will make the brine cloudy because it contains anti-caking agents.

Cut the cucumbers into whatever shape appeals to you, I’ve been going for spears. Pack them into a jar, leaving at least half an inch of space at the top. Fill the jar halfway with vinegar, then fill it the rest of the way with cold water, so the liquid covers the pickles but isn’t spilling over the top. Add a heaping spoonful or two of salt, more than you might think. Squeeze in some sriracha: if you like it hot, use a lot. I like just enough to tint the water pink, so they’re flavored but not really spicy. Close the jar and shake it. Put the pickles in the fridge, and wait at least six hours before you eat them.

Bourboun Peach Smash

Peaches are ripening from coast to coast, and what could be more summery and American that a peach smash? Ok, maybe apple pie, so look forward to that recipe in the fall! For this recipe I suggest an inexpensive but good bourbon, like Four Roses Yellow Label. Depending how sweet your peaches are, adjust the lemon and simple syrup to taste.

2 oz Bourbon

1/2 peach, cut into a few pieces

1/2 oz simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water disolved together)

1/2 oz fresh lemon juice (seriously, it needs to be no older than a day)

a few mint leaves

(a sprig of mint for garnish)

Combine everything but the garnish in a cocktail shaker (I prefer a pint glass and Boston shaker).* Smash it a few times with a muddler or spoon. Shake it really hard with lots of very cold ice, then dump the whole mess into a glass. Add a bit of fresh ice. Slap the mint to bring out it's scent and use it to garnish.


*check back soon for posts and videos about basic cocktial skills in the "Tools & Techniques" section!