Full disclosure: Monsters & Critics received free samples of the products mentioned in this article for review. However, the opinions expressed are independent and our own.
The dog days of August are here, and the last summer cocktail party hurrah was made for the Tiki category.
This kitschy sub-sect of cocktail culture is where fruit, umbrellas, island music, and crazy glasses make all us stay-cationers. Those unfortunate to not be lounging on a month-long holiday make use of our precious downtime with some anesthetizing fun.
More than a martini, negroni, or an old-fashioned, the Tiki cocktail family defines the moment: Our work is done for the day. The mood lifts… and the vibe is relaxation with the promise of good times maybe with some classic Pu Pu platter tidbits.
The drinks are bold and given crazy names all in a bid to make us feel like we arrived at the Big Island, or we just drove the mountain-hugging Hana highway and landed on a deserted sandy Maui beach.
The classics are amazing, and most everyone knows these Island stalwarts like Blue Hawaiians, Zombies, and the all-star Mai Tai. That Tahitian potion was initially called “maita’i,” which roughly means ‘excellent.’ If you have never had a mai tai, read on, we have a fun new swap if you like rye whiskey.
Monsters and Critics asked the best mixologists and distillers across the country to share some fabulous new recipes for you to try out before winter hits hard and we’re all wearing Sorel snow boots, and wondering where the snow shovels are.
Whether Hawaiian, Tahitian, or Polynesian… the showy Olympians of modern cocktail culture can come to hang with us anytime.
Chief Cashew’s Revenge from Besame in Steamboat Springs, Colo.
“I thought of this recipe as I was preparing for cocktail recipes for our trip to James Beard. I am making a cocktail with cashew milk and thought this would pair amazingly with Tiki inspired ingredients since they utilize baking spices in so many recipes. It has a nice spiced garnish for a funky twist. Refreshing and nutty, Chief Cashew will have his revenge!'” said Besame restaurateur and Executive Chef Hannah Hopkins to Monsters and Critics:
- 2 oz Aged Montanya Oro Rum
- 1 oz pineapple gomme
- 1 oz cashew milk
- .5 oz Falernum
- 1 oz orange juice
- 1 oz pineapple
Garnishes: Crushed Cashew and smoked salt rim, cayenne dipped mango peel, bamboo straw
Mix ingredients in iced shaker, shake and strain over ice. Serve in appropriate Tiki glass!
Jungle Bird – Montanya Oro bonus recipe
One of this rum distillery’s favorite new drinks is a Tiki cocktail of the moment, a drink inspired by the one at Momofuku in NYC only with a Colorado flair. And the caveat is to avoid Campari and used an aged Italian aperitivo.
- 1 1/2 ounces Montanya Oro rum
- 3/4 ounce Leopold Brothers Aperitivo
- 1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
- 1/2 ounce simple syrup
- 1 1/2 ounces fresh- pressed pineapple juice (can use a blender then strain or use a proper juicer – preferred)
Add all ingredients except the aperitivo to a cocktail shaker.
Shake with ice until very well chilled.
Add apertivo and stir with a bar spoon.
Decant over a king cube or crushed ice. Garnish with a pineapple frond.
HULA’s Modern Tiki from HULA’s in Phoenix and Scottsdale, Ariz.
This new twist was created by HULA’s owner, M. Dana Mule. He says: “Mezcal has so much more complexity, and nuance in its flavor profile, elevating the experience of the cocktail. We’re attempting to break out of the standard Tiki cocktail mold, and expand our guest’s horizons. The flavor complexity of mezcal really plays well in cocktails with other classic, sweet and acidic tropical juices and ingredients. I love how the smokiness of the roasted agave of the mezcal melds with the spiciness of the cayenne syrup, yet contrasts with the sweetness of the pineapple juice.”
- 1½ ounces Don Amado mezcal
- ½ ounce cayenne simple syrup (recipe below)
- ½ ounce Key lime juice
- 2 ounces pineapple juice
Cilantro for garnish (optional)
For cayenne simple syrup:
- 4 cups water
- 4 cups sugar
- 4 teaspoons cayenne pepper
In a pan, heat all ingredients until the mixture thickens. Let it cool, pour it in a bottle with a pour spout.
Put all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Strain mixture into a highball glass filled with ice and garnish with fresh cilantro.
Total Full Frontal Victory (serves 2 – 4) Pennyroyal in Seattle, Wash.
From lead bartender Benjamin Harris, Pennyroyal in Seattle, WA., who has a few Tiki cocktails on the menus every season, and specifically does a really fun group (serves 2-4 people) Tiki drink.
- 3 oz. green pepper-infused Cachaça
- 1.5 oz. Clement Créole Shrubb
- .5 oz. Giffard Banane du Brésil
- 2 oz. lime juice
- 1 oz. rhubarb simple syrup
- 12 blueberries
Blend all ingredients, pour into Tiki bowl, garnish with flaming lime
Arti Action Land Canoe from Pennyroyal in Seattle, Wash.
From bartender Josh Bonilla of Pennyroyal in Seattle:
- 1 oz. Jamaican rum
- 1 oz. dark rum
- .25 oz. St Elizabeth Allspice Dram
- .75 oz. lime juice
- 2 oz. pineapple juice
- 2 dashes angostura bitters
- .5 oz. simple syrup
Shake ingredients, pour into Collins glass over shaved ice. Garnish with lime wheel & cherry
Tranquilo Y Tropical from Seven Reasons in Washington DC
Josue Gonzalez, Bar Manager at DC’s new restaurant, Seven Reasons that is currently topping Eater’s list of “15 Hottest Restaurants in DC” gave us a great end-of-season sipper recipe. Josue’s Cuban heritage, paired with his time spent touring distilleries around the world has instilled a true love for the vast amount of flavors and the rich history of rum. The results are delicious:
- 1 oz Leblon Cachaça
- .75 oz Don Q Coco
- 1 oz Sake
- 1 oz Pineapple Juice
- .5 oz Lime Juice
- .5 oz Matcha Syrup
Shake and serve in dehydrated Coconut Cup or fun Tiki glass.
Garnish: Pineapple frond, dehydrated pineapple wheel, edible flower
Tropic Mendez from Partida
- 1.5oz Partida Reposado
- .5oz Fresh lime juice
- 1.5oz Pineapple juice
- .25oz simple syrup
- 1 pinch of Salt
- 2 dash Celery bitters
- Top tonic water
Add all ingredients to shaker. Shake and pour into sling glass over. Top with tonic water. Garnish with dehydrated pineapple chips, dehydrated lime and Tajin dust.
Dad’s Paradise from Nemiroff Original Vodka
We recommend this highly rated (Wine Enthusiast gave it 91 points) under $20 vodka that is wheat-based and crisp and clean, it defies the price category for its overall excellent high-end quality. You can also swap vodka easily in many Tiki recipes if silver rum is low:
- 2 ounces Nemiroff Original Vodka
- ½ ounce Campari
- 1-ounce Coconut Cream
- 2 ounces Pineapple Juice
- ½ teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
Combine all the ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled half with ice. Shake vigorously for 10 seconds and pour into a Tiki mug and top with crushed ice and garnish. mug is best to serve…Garnish: Ground Coconut, Nutmeg, and a Pineapple wedge.
Rye Tai from the Spaniard, NYC
Bartender Nick Brown gets the prize for a clever rye swap for dark rum in the classic rum-based Mai Tai, as first published by Imbibe Magazine:
- 2 oz. Slow & Lo Rye whisky
- ¾ oz. orgeat
- ¾ oz. pineapple juice
- ¾ oz. fresh lemon juice
- 6-10 dashes Angostura bitters
- Tools: shaker, strainer
Glass: highball. Garnish: Orange and/or pineapple wedge
Combine the rye, orgeat, and juices in a shaker and fill with ice. Shake until chilled. Strain into a highball filled with crushed ice. Top with bitters and garnish.