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.
- 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.
- Has anyone made their own vanilla syrup?