The Tiki scene, like classic cocktails in general, is reviving nicely these days. The lush, decadent marriage of tropical flavors and exotic kitsch carries us away to a better, less dreary place. Please join in and add your words, images, and offerings to the Tiki Gods on the 20th. Since Tiki is more than just the drinks, feel free to post on whatever Tiki subject floats your outrigger canoe. I suspect most of you will want to offer up delectable drinks, but feel free to wax eloquent on aloha shirts, exotica music, decor, garnishes, food or whatever else moves you to enter the Tiki spirit!
The Bitter End is a cocktail I originally submitted to Portland Monthly for their Super Bowl drinks feature. Todd Steele, the owner of Metrovino, is a big 49ers fan, so this year’s football season came to a bitter end for him. In recognition of that we decided to make a cocktail with San Francisco’s favorite bitter liqueur, Fernet Branca. It just so happens to be a perfect fit for this month’s Tiki theme too:
1 oz Fernet Branca
1 oz lime juice
1 oz B. G. Reynold’s orgeat
Shake all ingredients with ice, strain into a glass filled with crushed ice, and garnish with a cocktail umbrella and cherries for bonus tiki points. Alternatively, just gulp the whole thing down quickly.
As far as cocktail construction goes, this is as basic as it gets: Equal parts of stuff that’s really bitter, really tart, and really sweet. Yet it all works. If the one ounce of Fernet is intimidating, worry not. This is actually a pretty sweet drink. If you’re making this with a different orgeat, you may need to adjust the recipe to account for relative sweetness.
For fun I also tried making this drink with the new Fernet Leopold from Colorado. This is a very minty take on the spirit, a bit more so than I prefer for sipping (though some of my friends love it), so I’ve been wanting to try it mixed. If you’d like to sample a mintier version of the Bitter End, give it a shot.
Finally, here a few other loosely Tiki-themed drinks from the archives:
Transatlantic Mai Tai — An all-grain version of the Mai Tai substituting rye and genever for the usual rums.
Kooey Kooey Kooey Cocktail — Rum, coconut milk, coconut porter, allspice dram, and a few other ingredients combine in this Tiki-themed beer cocktail.
Lazy Bear — One of the best-selling drinks at Metrovino, featuring the fantastic Smith & Cross rum from Jamaica.
Seigle Sour — It’s a whiskey drink, but the plantain syrup arguably takes it into Tiki territory.