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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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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Raise Your Glass to the King!

Happy Birthday, Elvis!

Happy Birthday, Elvis!  I will be celebrating what would have been the King’s 75th birthday tonight at Forbidden Island in Alameda, CA.  They will be featuring Elvis-themed cocktails, Elvis movies on their big “indoor drive-in” screen, Elvis music, and the King’s favorite snack: Peanut Butter & Banana sandwiches.  What better way to celebrate Elvis’ 75th than Tiki style?

This will be the first official outing of The Antifogmatic League.  Check back for a full report.

Until then, Hau’oli lā hānau, Elvis!

Published in: on January 8, 2010 at 4:36 pm  Comments (1)  
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