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Mixology Monday: Some Like it Hot

This month's Mixology Monday is hosted by The Backyard Bartender, and the theme is Some Like it Hot. As Nancy writes in her promo post, "make anything you want to, as long as its served hot."

I was a bit confounded by this one, to be honest - hot cocktails are a bit outside of my comfort zone. The Ace has tried a number of hot cocktails at various wintertime parties the past several years, but none were big hits with partygoers. I personally love a good mulled wine, but generally I am left with a bowl three-quarters full of tepid booze at the end of my holiday gala. Sure, there's the possibility that I just plain suck at making cocktails - but people seemed to enjoy all of the chilled drinks on the menu just fine. So what the hell - I figured I'd just go for it and have some fun with this while I am at it. 

In reading some of David Wondrich's writing about late 19th- and early 20th-Century cocktails in his excellent book Imbibe!, many of America's hot cocktail recipes come from way back in it's mixology history. Unfortunately, many of these drinks don't translate all that well today. The Hot Toddy, for example, is a drink of spirit (pick one, but Islay malt scotch was a favorite in Jerry Thomas' day) plus citrus peel plus water plus hot iron out of the fire. Oh - and if you're not man enough you might add some sugar. I whipped up a Hot Toddy with Scotch the other day - just as research - and all that I can say is that this flavor profile has officially exited the American palate. Something along the lines of drinking hot bong water...

So where to go from here? I thought about the hot drinks that I have liked in the past. Most of them were comprised of rum, a sweetener and hot milk or butter. Something about the dairy seems to calm down the acidic burn that spirits tend to develop when served hot. It needed to be a sweeter rum - perhaps a demarara rum. And not many things go with demarara rum better than falernum and allspice dram. Then it dawned on me... Hot Tiki. Huzzah!!!

I dug into the Tiki archives and found a source of inspiration in Donn Beach's classic Hot Tiger's Milk recipe. The Tiger's Milk batter is pure genius - who doesn't love butter, honey and coconut? Just add some falernum for its herbal sweetness and allspice dram for its warmth and voila - you've got a drink! 

So for The Ace Saloon's maiden MxMo voyage, let's do a hot Tiki-inspired drink designed to leave your punch bowl empty at the end of the evening. Okay okay - so KISS released Heaven's on Fire well after they lost their makeup (why, oh why?) and after Ace's departure. But the name still works for this hot little number. 

Heaven's On Fire (a.k.a. Hot Ace's Milk)
Adapted from Don the Beachcomber' Hot Tiger's Milk cocktail - circa 1937 
Special thanks to Jeff Berry's fine book Sippin' Safari (2007) 

1 1/2 oz. El Dorado 5-year demarara rum
1/2 oz velvet falernum
1/4 oz. allspice dram
3 tsp. Donn's Tiger's Milk batter (see below)
5-6 oz. milk, brought to just below boil 

Place the milk in a saucepan and heat over medium heat until just below boiling (be careful not to overcook the milk and get those nasty milk curds on top of the drink). While the milk is heating, combine the rum, falernum and allspice dram and Tiger's Milk batter in a coffee mug. Pour the hot milk into the cup over the mixture, stir the drink to combine the ingredients and serve.

Donn's Tiger's Milk Batter
Also from Don the Beachcomber circa 1937 (thanks again Bum)

1/4 oz. (say 1/2 tbsp or a 1/4" slice from a stick) soft butter
1/4 oz. honey 
1 oz. Coco Lopez

Combine ingredients in a small bowl or ramekin.  Measure out for drinks.  Makes about 3 drinks. 

So there you have it - February 2011's Mixology Monday theme Some LIke it Hot. Special thanks to The Backyard Bartender for hosting this month. Be sure to check out her wrapup post to see what all the real mixologists come up with.  Enjoy and stay hot!


You're in the Navy (Grog) Now

Mrs. The Ace just got back from a long weekend in Florida. Before she left, she was looking forward to:

  1. Getting out of the house for a few days; and
  2. Checking out this tiki bar in Ft. Lauderdale called the Mai-Kai.  

Unfortunately for me - the only part that ended being as good as advertised was the part about getting away from me.  Turns out the Mai-Kai has focused their energies away from that silly rum stuff (they only carried 10 rums on their menu - most were Bacardi) in favor of the Polynesian Islander Revue and a heart-healthy menu. What would Donn Beach say about that?

Just goes to show that good tiki bars have gotten very hard to find.  Oh sure, here in the SF Bay Area there are still a number of excellent ones (Forbidden Island in Alameda is my drop-dead fave, but there's also Smuggler's Cove in San Francisco, The Kona Club in Oakland and the newly redone Trader Vic's in Emeryville) to choose from. But it's getting harder and harder to find a good spot for a tiki drink out there...

So in light of my wife's failed attempt to replace The Ace with some tiki joint in South Florida, I thought that I'd break out my tiki recipes a little early this Spring. Call it self-preservation.

It's worth re-stating that any conversation about tiki history and/or mixology begins and ends with Jeff "Beachbum" Berry. Jeff's great books on all things tiki have been treasured titles for me since my first Mai Tai years ago. And his blog ain't bad either.

Let's jump right in with my favorite tiki drink - a potion called a Navy Grog. My apologies to Mr. Berry - I cannot find the link in to this recipe, but I am sure his site was the source for this recipe at some point along the way.

Navy Grog
Adapted from Jeff "Beachbum" Berry's blog

1 oz. Dark Jamaican rum (I used Coruba Dark - but if you're fancy use Appleton Estate Extra)
1 oz. Jamaican rum (I used Smith & Cross, but Appleton V/X is most widely used here)
1 oz. Demarara rum (use Lemon Hart 151 if you can find it - but I cannot so I used El Dorado 5) 
1/2 oz. fresh-squeezed lime juice
1/2 oz. fresh-squeezed white grapefruit juice
3/4 oz. honey mix*
1/4 oz. pimento (allspice) dram (I use St. Elizabeth's)
dash orange curacao (Cointreau or Combier)

* Honey mix is a 1:1 mix of honey and boiling water, stirred enough to melt and dissolve the honey.

Take a large handful (or two) of ice from the freezer and crush it using a device like this. Pour the crushed ice into your cocktail shaker - enough to fil the glass at least 2/3 full. Add the rest of the ingredients to the shaker and shake for at least 10-15 seconds, enough to make the metail half of your shaker frosty cold. Uncover your shaker and pour the drink (ice and all) into a tall highball glass and serve.

A word to the wise - this drink is not for the intrepid tiki drinker. The allspice dram packs a flavor wallop - one that not everyone out there will enjoy. But if you're one of the lucky ones that can handle the taste of allspice dram, then the world of tiki drinks is yours. Aside from the allspice dram wrinkle, this is a classic tiki drink all the way. It has plenty of delicious rum, some fruit juice, a strong flavor package and a little sweetness. 10 out of 10 in my book - I hope that you like it too. 

Like much of rum culture, there is a great backstory to the term 'grog' that dates back to British colonialism and the British Navy. Read this Wikipedia post, and then thank your chosen higher power that you weren't in the actual British Navy drinking the original Navy Grog.