Happy Birthday, Donn!

Nui Nui at Banjolele Grotto, my summertime tiki bar

Today is Donn Beach’s birthday!  Born on February 22, 1907, Donn Beach, aka Don the Beachcomber (real name Ernest Raymond Beaumont-Gantt) is the grand papa of the faux Polynesian bar/restaurant concept.  In other words, the TIKI BAR!  Donn created many amazing drinks, among them the infamous Zombie. One of my favorite Don the Beachcomber creations is the Nui Nui.  It combines rum, citrus and an alluring blend of spices to create a superb tropical drink.  According to the master of tiki drink lore, Jeff ‘Beachbum’ Berry, Donn created the Nui Nui in Hollywood in the mid-1930s, when it was first known as the Pupule. Here is the recipe from Beachbum Berry’s Sippin’ Safari:

Nui Nui

  • 1/2 oz fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 oz orange juice
  • 1/4 oz cinnamon-infused sugar syrup
  • 1/4 oz Donn’s Spices #2 (equal parts vanilla syrup & pimento liqueur)
  • 2 oz amber Virgin Islands rum
  • Dash Angostura bitters
  • 4 oz (1/2 cup) crushed ice
  • Spiral-cut orange peel (6 inches to a foot long)

Put everything in a blender – except orange peel – saving ice for last. Blend at high-speed for no more than 5 seconds. Pour into a tall glass. Add crushed ice to fill. Sink the orange peel in the drink, with top of peel hanging over the glass.

Vanilla Syrup & Cinnamon Syrup

To make this drink the best it can be, I use freshly squeezed OJ and make my own syrups.  To make vanilla syrup combine 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water with a vanilla bean, split and scraped. Bring all to a simmer for a few minutes. Take off heat and let sit for 30 minutes. Strain into a clean bottle. I add a teaspoon of Wray & Nephew Overproof White rum as a preservative.  Make the cinnamon syrup the same way, using three crushed cinnamon sticks. Let sit for up to 2 hours before straining into a clean bottle.

Note: Pimento liqueur is also known as Allspice Dram. I use St. Elizabeth’s Allspice Dram which can sometimes be found at BevMo.

Published in: on February 22, 2010 at 10:35 pm  Comments (1)  
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Omnivore Books Punch Contest

Omnivore Books Punch Contest

The punch contest at Omnivore Books was lots of fun and a nice crowd showed up to taste-test.  There were 10 punch entries and I’m guessing 40-50 people showed up to drink punch.  At $5, it was a pretty good deal!  I decided to represent my home state and county (Monmouth County, NJ) with a Laird’s Applejack based punch.  Laird’s is America’s oldest native distillery and their recipe for Applejack was given to George Washington after he requested it.  They have a great product and history.  I was inspired in part by a classic applejack cocktail called the Applejack Rabbit, so I named my entry, Jersey Rabbit Punch.  I didn’t win, but a number of people told me that it was delicious, including Celia Sack, the owner of Omnivore Books, and the third-place winner told me that he voted for my punch, so hey, I’m holding my head high!

Jersey Rabbit Punch

The winner was a punch called “Mission Gutter Juice”.  The ingredients included Smirnoff Vodka, Fresca diet soda, Country Time Pink Lemonade powder, and Bud Light. They were also the only entrants that planned for a big crowd.  I thought I made a lot of punch, but after everyone else’s punch was gone, they were still mixing up new bowls for the crowd!  I’m guessing they’ve made this before…can you say party?

1st Place - Mission Gutter Juice

Mission Gutter Juice

The second-place winner was Jetsetter Punch.  It was a mixture of brandy, rum, cachaca, cava, green tea, and pineapple-nutmeg syrup.  Third place went to Kagetaka’s Grog, a persimmon vodka-based punch.  It was a fun time and frankly, I wish there were more punch contests in bookstores!

Kagetaka's Grog ingredient list

Jetsetter Punch

I was asked for the recipe for my entry, so here it is…enjoy!

Jersey Rabbit Punch

  • 6 cups Laird’s Applejack (About a 750 ml bottle and a half)
  • 1.5 cups Appleton Special Gold Jamaica Rum
  • 1 quart Odwalla fresh-pressed apple juice
  • 14 oz fresh-squeezed Meyer lemon juice
  • 6 oz Grade B pure maple syrup
  • 6 oz St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram
  • .5 oz Fee Bros. Whiskey Barrel Bitters
  • 1 750 ml bottle of Martinelli’s Sparkling Apple Cider (chilled)
  • Freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 ice ring with lemon and lime (or apple slices)

Mix first 7 ingredients and chill.  When ready to serve empty into a large punch bowl.  Add the bottle of sparkling apple cider and stir.  Add ice ring to punch and grate nutmeg over the top of punch.

Jersey Rabbit Punch a few minutes before it was all gone!

Published in: on January 30, 2010 at 8:26 pm  Comments (5)  
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Fog City Hot Buttered Rum

Flickr: tibchris

I don’t know how it is in your part of the country, but out here in San Francisco it’s been a-stormin’.  Torrents of rain have been battering away on the roof like chimney sweeps doing a drunken and angry rendition of Mary Poppins’ “Step in Time”.  Howling winds, and even some thunder and lightning (which we rarely get out here), are making me feel like I’m finally experiencing some winter weather! I would say it’s a perfect time for an antifogmatic, wouldn’t you?  I whipped up a version of hot buttered rum designed to warm your belly and bring some color back into your cheeks.

Fog City Hot Buttered Rum

  • 2 oz. rum (I used Lemon Hart Demerara)
  • 2 oz. Odwalla tangerine juice
  • 3/4 oz. sugar cane syrup (I used Petite Canne from Martinique)
  • 1/4 oz. St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram
  • 4 oz boiling hot water
  • 1/2 tbs butter
  • 1/4 medium-size lime

Mix first 4 ingredients in a mug or large teacup.  Add hot water and butter and stir until butter melts.  Squeeze a lime quarter into the drink, stir again, and serve.  (I think this would be just as good without the butter, so if you prefer a fat-free beverage, just leave it out.)  Note: if you don’t have sugar cane syrup, you could make a brown sugar simple syrup or just use regular simple syrup.

Published in: on January 19, 2010 at 9:55 pm  Comments (1)  
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The King is dead. Long live the King!

Forbidden Island Tiki Lounge

The spirit of Elvis was certainly alive last Friday at Forbidden Island Tiki Lounge, where a crowd gathered to celebrate what would have been the King’s 75th birthday.  Blue Hawaii and Viva Las Vegas were playing on separate screens, peanut butter & banana sandwiches were the featured snack, and Elvis-themed cocktails were flowing.  Six members of The Antifogmatic League turned out to pay tribute to the King and toast him in grand style…repeatedly.  It was only fitting to start off the evening with one of the six featured Elvis cocktails, so we ordered a round of Blue Hawaiians.  FI’s version of the Blue Hawaiian was creamy and sweet with plenty of coconut and rum.

Blue Hawaiians for the King's 75th

Our intrepid members then sampled a cocktail as showy as the King himself, the Burning Love: a flaming drink made with two kinds of rum, lime, and homemade pomegranate grenadine.  Our fearless explorers then branched out on different paths, some continuing on the Elvis trail, while others sampled libations from FI’s extensive list of Tiki drinks.

Burning Love x 3

Other Elvis cocktails sampled included the “King Creole” which was really a Sazerac.  A rare misstep of the evening, The King Creole suffered from a heavy hand with the absinthe and we politely discussed our expectations for a Sazerac with our bartender, Paddy.  Paddy, I must say, was a perfect gentleman, and a wicked good bartender, and he took the drink back and delivered another that was spot-on.  Another AL member tried the “Girl Happy” which was Forbidden Island’s version of La Floridita Daiquiri.  Petite, but delicious, the Girl Happy was a classic combination of fresh lime juice, rum, and Maraschino Liqueur.  The Burning Love proved to be more than a flash in the pan, and Paddy was more pyromaniac than bartender at points in the evening as he lit fire after fire for the throng.

Paddy, our pyromaniac bartender

Drinks sampled from FI’s extensive menu included The Monkey Pod, an original cocktail featuring rum, lime, coconut and tamarind served with a sprig of fresh mint. Virgin Painkillers were the drink of choice for our AL member with the bun in the oven, and somehow that seemed so àpropos.  The Nui Nui didn’t disappoint either with its kickass combo of allspice, cinnamon, rum, and citrus.  Hail to Don the Beachcomber! (The creator of this drink, one of my favorites.)

Virgin Painkiller, Burning Love, Monkeypod

Nui Nui

Towards the witching hour, our stalwart AL members carried on, venturing off the beaten menu paths.  Dr. John sipped Appleton Estate Extra 12 Year Old rum, while your fearless leader tried the same on the rocks with falernum (kind of a Corn n’ Biodiesel, instead of a Corn n’ Oil).  Our ever accommodating bartender, Paddy, even whipped up an old-skool Aviation complete with a dash of Crème de Violette for one of our members, who was celebrating his last day at one job, before moving on to the next.

Aviation with Tiki-style garnish

A little after midnight, our crew decided to head for our respective little grass shacks. As we started to leave, a new wave of patrons started to trickle in. Will the Thrill grilled them as he had everyone who ventured in during the evening, “Are you over 21, and do you know who Elvis Presley is?”

“Yes, and of course we know who Elvis Preston is!” they replied indignantly. We took that as our cue to leave. I think Elvis would’ve headed for Graceland too.

Published in: on January 18, 2010 at 11:23 pm  Leave a Comment  
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