Astro Aku Aku

Astro Aku Aku

It was wonderful to see so many de-lurkers show their faces on Kaiser Penguin. I thought it was going to be easy giving away the three copies of Intoxica!, but you all submitted such tasty recipes and made the comment section fun and informative. So, I will be selecting three of you at random from those who de-lurked and donated a fine recipe.


Please email me your address at rws151 (-at-) gmail.com, and I’ll have Amazon ship directly to you. The book is on a 4-6 week wait, so you may have to rely on Grog Log for the next month or so. Then again, Amazon’s wait times are usually wildly overestimated. Also, if you already have Intoxica! and wish to donate to another of the de-lurkers, please let me know in the email, and I’ll notify them.

What About The Drink?

I’ve been compiling responses for an upcoming post on what defines an exotic cocktail or tiki drink and have gotten some compelling feedback from Martin at Forbidden Island and the Beachbum. The Astro Aku Aku fits all four of Berry’s qualifications, but I won’t give those away just yet.

The Astro Aku Aku reminds me of the aroma that fills the air from zesting endless limes and chopping away at ginger. Better yet, it reminds me of the first bottle of falernum of the summer, and how many more there are to come …

Astro Aku Aku

  • 1 1/2oz lime juice
  • 1oz papaya nectar (Goya) levitra de 20 mg
  • 1/2oz apricot nectar (Goya)
  • 3/4oz sugar syrup (1 to 1)
  • 1/2oz falernum
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters
  • 1oz 151 Demerara rum (Lemon Hart)
  • 1 1/2oz gold Puerto Rican rum (Bacardi Eight)

Blend with 1/2c crushed ice. Pour into a fun tiki mug and fill with ice cubes. Provide random, inappropriate garnish.

Source: Grog Log Jeff Berry


While the dark subtlety of the Demerara melds perfectly with the papaya and apricot nectars, the core of the drink is the falernum. Clove and ginger manage to find every corner of your mouth while a hint of bitters lingers on your tongue. The flavors are pure excitement. With all the sweet ingredients piled into this drink, it’s amazing how balanced and “just-right” the final version is.

Need Something to Comment on?

What do you think defines an exotic cocktail? Mystical syrups? Endless types of rum? Temperate lilies?

11 Responses to “Astro Aku Aku”

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11 Comments to “ Astro Aku Aku”
  1. RebeccaNo Gravatar says:

    Right-o. I think a nifty additional garnish for this drink would be a 1/6th of a lime peel, fruit removed, with leaf veins carved into the peel, flattened, and placed at the base of the flower. It’d accent the nature-y nature of this drink, showing brown (earthy) drink in brown glass, a sprouting leaf, and a lovely lily.

  2. DeanNo Gravatar says:

    What defines a great tiki drink? Three things: rum, rum, and rum. The first time I had a Mai Tai at Trader Vic’s, I was amazed that the dominant flavor was not lime or orgeat or sugar syrup; it was dark, delicious aged rum. Last time I looked, I had something like 20 different bottles of rum, and I need each and every one if I want to make drinks properly.

    Also, good on you for specifying Bacardi 8 in the recipe above – that is a damn fine mixing rum.

  3. Andy S.No Gravatar says:

    Hi Rick,

    I’m very excited to get my hands on that copy of Intoxica! Thanks for your generous offer!

    As far as what defines an “exotic” drink for me, I guess it would have to be more of an intangible quality of the drink as a whole, rather than specific ingredients or garnishes. When you take that first sip and immediately get transported to a white sand beach with water the color of a bottle of Bombay Sapphire Gin, then you know it’s an exotic drink. Every time I have a Mai Tai, I can swear that I hear steel drum music and can smell the ocean breeze, and that’s what makes it the quintessential tiki drink for me. That’s a pretty cheesy criterion, but cheesy is part of what the whole tiki movement was about!

    -Andy S.

  4. GabrielNo Gravatar says:

    Thanks Rick! I will greatly enjoy receiving the book, promise to put it to good use, and will think of you fondly for every sip I imbibe.

    As for what makes an exotic drink I go back to the original intent of the term in describing something as ‘…of foreign origin or character…’. So, for me, exotic drinks 1: primarily use ingredients or spirits not native to or readily available in ‘Western’ culture/diets, or A: have their primary inspiration derived from non-Western influence (which usually leads to ‘1’), or *: you can garnish it with a non-edible flower and not look a damned fool (that lily looks really nice btw).

    Hell, it could be that a native Tahitian would find the Jack Rose cocktail exotic as can be.

  5. MarleighNo Gravatar says:

    Tiki is definitely flavored with fruit—I am trying to think of a recipe that doesn’t include lime juice at the very least, but can’t come up with one. Even if it doesn’t have citrus, it will have coconut or pineapple or lillikoi, so that’s one essential component.

    I have to go with Dean on the rum. Though they often include other liqueurs, and a few recipes don’t use it at all, the essential of a tiki cocktail for me is rum.

    Ice. I’ve never seen a tiki drink served straight up. Cubed, crushed or blended, they’re always over ice.

  6. RowenNo Gravatar says:

    Let’s see–rum and tropical fruit would be choices for me too. Marleigh’s observation about ice interests me. Are we saying that exotic and tiki are the same thing? Strained daiquiri and planter’s punch seem at least vaguely exotic, but those drinks aren’t really tikis. And tiki recipes tend to have a complexity of ingredients–more than a rum sour, for instance. They’re essentially fruit punches. So I guess I’ll go with “rum,” “predominantly sweet,” “tropical fruit,” and “elaborate.”

  7. Dr. BambooNo Gravatar says:

    Rick- as always, a stunning photo. I want a 1950’s-style shrink-ray so I can miniaturize myself and climb inside that flower, using it a like a big lounge chair.

    As for what defines an exotic cocktail, I agree with a lot of what’s been said above. If I had to boil it down to a single characteristic, I’d say it’s balance. Not that balance isn’t important in most any drinks, but it’s crucial in exotic/tiki recipes.

    When I think of the classic tiki drinks (Mai Tai, Zombie, etc.) I’m always struck by how they often they contain a large number of seemingly disparate ingredients, but it somehow works. Of course, you have to be using the correct recipe, decent ingredients, etc., but still the results will be magical if the proportions are correct and the balance is struck.

    Think of the Pina Colada vs. the Painkiller: Both rum-based, cocount-flavored recipes, but worlds apart because one has balance and the other doesn’t.

  8. RickNo Gravatar says:

    Thanks for all the great comments everyone; I’m looking forward to incorporating your thoughts into a future “exotic cocktail” post.

    Rebecca, Awesome garnish idea … I’ll give it a try.

    Dean, I can’t agree more that a wide and fun variety of rums is essential for tiki drinks. Would anyone be interested in a post on what rums I have and the ability to share their own collections?

    Andy S, I couldn’t agree more about the balance of a cocktail. This immediately brings to mind The Last Word.

    Gabriel, I’m interested in your notion that the term “exotic” may muddle the water when you consider the cocktail culture of other countries. Can you elaborate?

    Marleigh, You’ll find a few tiki drinks in Berry’s books that are served straight up. This has prompted an interesting question (see an upcoming post).

    Rowen, Tiki drinks can be really elaborate; I’ll often find myself in the mood for a Zombie or Puka Punch but without the motivation to assemble my arsenal of tools, juices and syrups.

    Dr. Bamboo, Craig, thanks for the compliments on the photo. There are about 5 different colors of lilies blooming in the yard, so I fear we’ll have a crayola box of similar garnishes for a while. I’m glad to hear you echo balance as a defining characteristic of an exotic cocktail. I’m constantly amazed at how many ingredients you can throw at one and not have the flavors be confused.

  9. GabrielNo Gravatar says:

    Well, being the relativist I am (and literalist, apparently) I take your question regarding ‘exotic’ to mean just that, outside the norm or from a ‘foreign’ influence. Which I separate from ‘Tiki’ which I think of as a more specific class or style of drinks.

    So, to me, the Jack Rose might be an exotic drink to a Pacific Islander given that Applejack or Apple Brandy isn’t going to be a native spirit, something they could readily distill on their own, or something used very often in their cuisine or cocktails. For example Amarula, to me, is a pretty exotic ingredient. And damned if I can find much good to do with it.

    So, as Rowen questioned, I took Tiki and exotic to mean different things.

  10. Andy S.No Gravatar says:

    Quoting Rick: “Would anyone be interested in a post on what rums I have…?”

    Absolutely. I’ve been slowly expanding my stockpile of rums, and would love to get an idea of some good ones to pick up for use in Tiki cuisine.

  11. RowenNo Gravatar says:

    Speaking of different rums and Astro Aku Aku, I made this tiki tonight for friends, but was out of gold Puerto Rican rum. I substituted Barbancourt 4 year cuz I had it. I used Knudsen fruit nectars for the papaya and apricot. (I like these folks, and in Chico, CA, they’re more or less local to me in San Francisco, which is kinda neat.)

    Rick, I see what you mean about falernum being at the heart of this one. It ties everything together, and points up the lime. Falernum is one of those liqueurs that bowls many drinks over. Nice to see it used in such fine harmony.

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Kaiser Penguin is a cocktail blog featuring original recipes, homemade ingredients, classic cocktails, and tiki drinks.

Why on Earth did you name your blog “Kaiser Penguin?”

It is a well-known fact that penguins are members of high society and enjoy fine cocktails. Our very own kaiser penguin would like me to mention that he also enjoys various treats from the sea.

Contact: rick@kaiserpenguin.com