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.
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.
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