Thursday Drink Night: Trader Tiki’s Syrups
Another Thursday Drink Night is upon us, meaning that … it’s Thursday again. (These things happen.) Meet the CSOWG and various and sundry cocktail geeks at The Mixoloseum Bar (i.e., the cocktail-geekiest online chat venue) at 4pm PT / 7pm ET / 0h GMT for drink-making, insult-hurling and general verbal mayhem.
Tonight will be a fairly special one, however, as one of our own — Blair Reynolds, a.k.a. Trader Tiki — has burst upon the cocktail ingredients scene with his own line of flavoring syrups for tiki cocktails and beyond.
I was very happy when the Tiki Fairy brought these earlier this week, because (among other reasons) I’d been wanting to make orgeat for ages but have been too frakking lazy. Blair’s orgeat is complex, with a rich almond flavor and a bit of tannin and bitterness, where I’m tasting the almond skins as well. Apricot kernels are included in the formula as well, providing that lovely bitter almond flavor in the background without any of the annoying hydrogen cyanide that bitter almonds bring to the table. This is much more complex than the cloudy white brands you see from Monin and the like, and the sweetness is kept in check. Blair favors the original French recipe, calling for rose and orange flower water in the mix. I can’t wait to try this in a Mai Tai, plus classic non-tropical cocktails like the Japanese, and one I found that fascinates me, called the Alligator (time to make some eau de melisse, looks like).
The cinnamon syrup is thick and sweet, flavored with two kinds of cinnamon — the spicy, sweet and strong cassia, and the slightly more mellow Ceylon cinnamon, with a complex, fruity, citrusy flavor (I love sprinkling Ceylon cinnamon on fruit). Perfect for some of the more famous tiki drinks (like a Jet Pilot, mmm) and whatever you can concoct.
The vanilla syrup is just as thick and sweet, with a lovely vanilla bean flavor and would be just as lovely on pancakes as it would in your drinks.
Perhaps the most fascinating flavor he’s released is Don’x Mix, named after Don the Beachcomber (aka Ernest Beaumont Gantt), who in Los Angeles in the 1930s invented the exotic tropical cocktail as we know it. “Don’s Mix” was one of his secret ingredients, mixed and bottled away from the bar and provided to the bartenders so that if one or more of them left to work for a competitor they wouldn’t be able to take his drink recipes with them. A recipe isn’t much use if one of the ingredients is listed as “Mix #6.”
In this case, though, we now know that Don’s Mix was 2 parts grapefruit juice and 1 part cinnamon syrup, used to flavor Donga Punch, Zombies and other tropical drinks. If you don’t want to make your own, this is the perfect solution. Lighter than the regular cinnamon syrup, less sweet and with a really nice tang of grapefruit, this is the one I want to get creative with. I’ve got a couple of ideas for TDN tonight and I’m going to focus on this one. Here’s hoping my drink tastes as good in the glass as it does in my head. (Then again, it might suck, but then we go back to the drawing board.)
So! Needless to say, order some syrup and get your tiki on!
Jeez, I got busy … Thursday Drink Night starts in five minutes!