Nui Nui

Nui Nui

One of my favorite sessions last year at Tales of the Cocktail was Tiki Drinks from A to Zombie. And to everyone’s great shock, I’m sure, I have plans to attend Potions of the Caribbean, Jeff “Beachbum” Berry’s upcoming panel featuring some notable guests: Wayne Curtis, Martin Cate, Stephen Remsberg, and Brother Cleve. In addition, a few of my fellow tiki bloggers and I will be mixing up drinks for the event. The bar will be manned by Blair Reynolds (Trader Tiki), Craig Hermann of Tiki Drinks and Indigo Firmaments and myself.

Now, back to last year’s session, the highlight of which was Jeff’s tale of his epic quest for Don the Beachcomber’s secrets. His story quickly segued into our first exotic cocktail, the Nui Nui, a fine mix that holds a proud place in my tiki rotation. For it is this potion that convinced me to make my first batch of pimento dram.

The Bum knew that the Nui Nui contained spices #2 and #4, which he originally thought were Pernod and grenadine, though I dare you to make this drink subbing 1/2oz of Pernod (for the pimento dram and vanilla syrup) and 1/2oz of grenadine (for the cinnamon syrup). Not until meeting Bob Esmino, aged tiki bartender, did the Bum discover that #4 was cinnamon syrup.

For those of you who haven’t read Sippin’ Safari from cover to cover, I’ll recount one of my favorite passages:

“Ray would go to the Astra Company out in Inglewood to pick up #2 and #3,” Mike (son of a Beachcomber bartender) told the Bum. “A chemist would open a safe, take out the ingredients, and twirl some knobs in a big mixing machine, filling up a case …” Then they’d close the secret stuff in the safe. Ray (Mike’s father) took the bottles – marked only #2 and #4 – back to Don the Beachcomber’s.”

Forbidden Island is the sole establishment I’ve been to that has mystery bottles, though my own liquor cabinet contains a few secrets as well. I vividly remember a time when a good friend tried to make a Manhattan from my bottle of Sazerac 6-year, which happened to contain the Kaiser’s first batch of pimento dram.

If there was ever a cocktail made to highlight your homemade batches of cinnamon syrup and pimento dram, this is it. The Nui Nui is also one of few tiki cocktails that contains a single, lonely rum. Fortunately it is backed up by a cascade of complex and enticing flavors.

Nui Nui

  • 4oz Cruzan Estate dark rum
  • 1/4oz pimento liqueur
  • 1/4oz vanilla syrup
  • 1/2oz cinnamon syrup
  • 1oz lime juice
  • 1oz orange juice
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters

Shake well with crushed ice and pour into a fun cup.

KP Questions

  1. Has anyone made their own vanilla syrup?

19 Responses to “Nui Nui”

You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

19 Comments to “ Nui Nui”
  1. The wife and I keep vanilla sugar for baking (yum!), so it is as easy as using this as the sugar for a simple syrup. So – um. Yes, I do. But I’m a ‘tainted’ example.

  2. RowenNo Gravatar says:

    *Sigh.* Your homemade goodies put me to shame. I may just have to make vanilla syrup now. (I’ve been getting St Elizabeth Allspice and cinnamon from Sonoma Syrup.) Nui Nui is the first thing I ever ordered at Forbidden Island, and the impression still lingers.

  3. SwankyNo Gravatar says:

    Pablus is visiting my humble abode tomorrow night and I plan to make the Nui Nui to celebrate. I may also make the Noa Noa just to keep an alliterative theme! I have not made the Nui Nui since hearing the tail at The Bum’s Hukilau seminar a couple of years ago.

  4. MrBaliHaiNo Gravatar says:

    Yup, I made my own vanilla syrup, specifically for Nui Nuis. I haven’t made my own pimento dram yet, but soon…very soon. In the interim, Berry Hill provides an adequate substitute.

  5. MartinNo Gravatar says:

    Make Rick’s a double!

    Try making it with estate diamond if you can find it.

    I’m going to get on a little soapbox here: I strongly encourage all of you to seek out and purchase St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram for your pimento dram. Yes, I’m biased because I helped out with it, but two reasons:

    1. It is a wonderful product, made only with pure sugar, Jamaican allspice, and a super funky and super authentic unaged pot still Jamaican rum that is unlike anything else available in the US market.

    2. I know we can all make it ourselves, but let me point out to you something very important- there is one man who is responsible for bringing so many wonderful liqueurs back to our shores. Without Haus Alpenz, we would have no Batavia Arrack, no Pimento Dram, no real Falernum, no Creme de Violette, no Old Tom Gin. Plus a thousand weird Alpine things you didn’t even know you needed! And I know he has even more magic up his sleeve. Think about it- if ever there was a definition of “Niche”, it’s Eric’s company. His target market is incredibly small, and folks: it is YOU. It is in all of our best interests to help out this company. Trust me, he is not driving a Ferrari.

    If he was selling Pucker, you know I wouldn’t be saying any of this. And I know some of you live in booze-unfriendly states and it’s hard, but I’m just asking you all to see things from a slightly commercial perspective. I am most certainly not on the payroll of Haus Alpenz- I’m just a fellow small business owner who faces some of the same issues- like this goddamn blog telling people how to make Nui Nuis! (kidding, Rick!)

    Ok, end of rant. Mahalo!

  6. RickNo Gravatar says:


    I couldn’t agree with you more on the Haus Alpenz line. Every time I email Eric, I force myself to not profess my undying love for him :) There is definitely benefit to making your own syrups and also picking up some commercial ones for comparison.

    And you know if I lived anywhere near Forbidden Island that you’d have a line in your budget labeled “KP” as an assured source of revenue.

  7. jacflashNo Gravatar says:

    I love my St Elizabeth’s. I can’t imagine that making my own would work out any better.

    Homemade vanilla syrup, on the other hand… I really need to get on that. I ordered some vanilla beans from Penzey’s; I’ll see what I can do.

    Oh, and re cinnamon syrup, we recently tried a batch made with ‘real’ Ceylon softstick cinnamon side-by-side with one made with Korintje cassia, and it was no contest… all tasters preferred the cassia syrup, both straight and in Jet Pilots. It just works better, especially with the grapefruit.

  8. MrBaliHaiNo Gravatar says:

    Martin: It’s all well and good to encourage us to purchase St. Elizabeth’s, but it’s rather difficult to find outside of major markets like San Francisco and New York.

  9. MartinNo Gravatar says:

    Don’t you live in California? You can always mail order it from Hi Time Wines. Like I said, it’s tough in booze unfriendly states, but it can be shipped to several. If Eric is reading, I’m sure he can post a list of states it’s available in.

  10. SwankyNo Gravatar says:

    The Nui Nui was a hit. I make my syrups as inverted sugars, and that is probably why my cinnamon syrup was very strong. Second round I used less of that and more pimento and got it just right. A fantastic drink.

    A hint for your sugar syrups. Add a couple of drops of lime or lemon juice. The acid will help keep the mix from seperating out over time. Also, simmer for a good 10 minutes after the boil. That makes your sugar syrup into inverted syrup and it keeps much much longer without reverting back to sugar crystals and water.

  11. Dr. BambooNo Gravatar says:

    “Has anyone made their own vanilla syrup?”

    Not yet. But after reading this post, I’m gonna get on it pronto! Man, that Nui Nui looks enticing.

  12. MrBaliHaiNo Gravatar says:

    Martin: no, I live in the Midwest. I just drop by your place when I’m in town on business…:-)

    I can order online, but shipping costs these days are substantial, and someone over 21 has to wait around the house to sign for the delivery, so it’s a pain.

  13. Mike S.No Gravatar says:

    Sounds great! Is it possible to make something close to vanilla syrup by adding a drop or two of good-quality vanilla extract to your measure of regular simple syrup (or, maybe even better, Martinique cane syrup)?

    And, I can’t agree more about St. Elizabeth’s and everything else Eric brings in. Awesome products.


  14. easNo Gravatar says:

    Y’all are quite kind – and very much appreciate your own efforts for the revival of tiki and other classic cocktail traditions. There are a growing number of online venues that ship specialty spirits and as well less-common spices and ingredients. There’s substantial variation in shipping costs, some high, some free, so be sure to check around (and buy local if/when possible).

  15. easNo Gravatar says:

    For those seeking a mail order option, drinkupny.com currently has the 750ml on sale at $32.95 with cheap/free shipping.

  16. what can i do fun this weekend in washington dc…

    Sounds interesting but not for every one….

  17. pablusNo Gravatar says:

    I truly hate Swanky in a way that may last several lifetimes.
    How dare he introduce me to the haunting siren that is this drink.

    In my quest to imbibe more quality, less quantity – this drink is a standard that only my love for the Demerara Dry Float can slightly diminish.

    I’ve just made my first batch of cinnamon syrup, matching it with the few ounces of St. Elizabeth’s that Hot Lava gave me at the luau the other night and I’m ready to begin mixing.

    I’m gonna put a frog in Swanky’s wedding punch for this addiction.

  18. Monkey DavidNo Gravatar says:

    I make my own vanilla syrup. It’s as easy as making simple syrup. Just take a vanilla bean (I strongly recommend Tahitian vanilla, since it’s more floral and wonderful in every way), cut it in half with a paring knife, scrape the seeds with the dull side of the knife, then stir the seeds and bean in with the water and sugar. Proceed like any simple syrup recipe. You can put the bean halves in the bottle with the syrup if you like.

  19. […] Rick’s site as the recipe source (and research source as well … as always, thanks Rick) the Nui Nui seemed like a great choice to go second in the line up and is a wonderful example of the tiki […]

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.



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