It is May. It is spring. Outside you may still be seeing snow or sleet — we did on Sunday. But inside our house, it is warm and snug as we open up our mail and find spring book bounty in abundance. Spring is the season for new cookbooks that will take us to Thanksgiving. Now is the time for new ideas for barbecue, salads, desserts, and cocktails.
Ah, those cocktail books are really flowing. And the very best one I have seen in Tiki: Modern Tropical Cocktails. This is a superior cocktail book with serious, and not silly, ideas. And, the photography will have you reaching for your bottle of rum. Consider the Zombie:
Two things here. First, not all of the ninety beverage ideas here need rum. You’ll find uses for vodka, gin, mezcal, whiskey and sake. Second, “tropical” can mean you use a Polynesian cocktail glass, but as the Zombie shows a zombie glass is just fine.
So, you can reach deep into your darkest corner of your glass cabinet and pull out those old Tiki glasses from a decade, or more, ago. Whether it is Polynesian or zombie, it’s good to go.
The ideas here are quite different from the Tiki drinks of old. And, they will require some prep work on your part. Excellence commands effort: we all know that and this book truly encourages you to strive for excellence.
Take the Peg Leg cocktail. It wants some sesame oil-infused bourbon. You can’t buy that. But there is a recipe here for making it. Other items you will find yourself making include:
- Darjeeling-infused gin
- Smoked tea vodka
- Avocado-oil washed tequila
- Kafir lime-leaf infused rum
- Szechuan oil-infused bourbon
- Brown-butter washed rum
- Coffee, Cacao, and chicory-infused rum
- Cinnamon syrup
- Ginger syrup
- Toasted coconut syrup
- Spiced honey syrup
- Coffee syrup
- Dehydrated pineapple wedges [for garnish]
There are more of these elements in the book. Fear not. If you spend the time to make one of them, you’ll find them often used in multiple recipes. And, this book will encourage you to experiment. So if you use one of the ingredients with rum, you may find the switch to bourbon is charmingly different.
There are tips on techniques, cocktail gear, and the assembly of liqueurs you might want to gather. You can begin anywhere in the book. Me? I’m going to start with the Zombie and, yes, I’ll post the recipe just after this book review goes up.
Why the Zombie? Sixty years ago I saw my first zombie movie, some black-and-white flick made in the 1930s. It scared the bejesus out of me — far, far worse than the Walking Dead on tv. Fifty years ago, I had my first Tiki drink. It pleased the bejesus out of me. I don’t know if that first one was a Zombie, but I’m happy to believe it was.
If you try Tiki: Modern Tropical Cocktails, you’ll be pleased, too. Pleased as punch. Oh, punch? How about the Antilles Jewel:
I’ll be testing that one, too.