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Posts Tagged ‘Trader Vic’

*LUPEC Boston’s latest ruminations, in case you missed ‘em in this week’s Dig.

by Pink Lady

Our Tiki Bash is just a few short weeks away, and LUPEC Boston has assembled a class-act event. With hula instruction, burlesque dancers, ukulele-sensation Uke Springsteen reinterpreting “the Boss” on his tiny, tiny guitar, plus cocktail historian/Boston music legend Brother Cleve spinning records, this is an event you won’t want to miss.

It wouldn’t be a LUPEC party if cocktails weren’t the main attraction. In the next few columns, we’ll offer a taste of what’s in store on November 14th to whet your appetite and introduce you to hallmarks of the tiki drinks that inspired the party, considered so delicious in their heyday, they begot a craze that outlasted every cocktail fad before and since.

First, we should note that “tiki cocktail” is a “retro” term. Inventors of these fine concoctions referred to them as “exotic drinks” or “faux tropics” (“faux” because they were invented far from the real tropics, in the continental US). Modern drinkers may feel silly about the umbrellas and the skull-shaped glassware, but for many decades, “exotics” were the height of cocktail chic. Their popularity among the Hollywood set at Don the Beachcomber’s was inspiration enough for Victor Bergeron to rip the moose heads off the walls at his Northwest-themed eatery, Hinky Dinks, transforming it from “lodge” to tropical paradise and himself into “Trader Vic.”

The Fog Cutter, one of two drinks we’ll serve at the LUPEC Boston Tiki Bash, is commonly credited to Trader Vic, though Ted “Dr. Cocktail” Haigh casts doubt upon these origins in Vintage Spirits & Forgotten Cocktails. Haigh traces the drink via expert barman Tony Ramos, an original bartender at Don the Beachcomber’s in Los Angeles, who recalls the Fog Cutter as the signature drink from Edna Earl’s Fog Cutter bar in LA. Regardless of who invented it, this potent combination of three unlikely bedfellows—rum, brandy and gin—plus fresh juice, orgeat and sherry—is a memorable beverage. Provided you don’t tipple too many, of course.

If you’ve never heard of or tried orgeat, you’re in for a treat. Originally a health tonic popular among Romans, the early formula for orgeat was simply boiling water, barley and honey for several hours, then straining it (the word derives from the Latin “hordeata” meaning “made with barley”). In its modern incarnation, orgeat is a typically sweet, milky-looking almond syrup (who knows where the barley went?) made by boiling almonds and sugar and adding a little orange flower water or rosewater at the end.

Orgeat appears in many tiki cocktails, including two of Trader Vic’s most famous concoctions, the Mai Tai and the Fog Cutter. You’ll have a chance to sample both at the LUPEC Boston Tiki Bash. Or, try one at home today, proceeding with caution, as this drink is potent. As Trader Vic said, “Fog Cutter? Hell, after two of these, you won’t even see the stuff.”

FOG CUTTER

ADAPTED FROM TRADER VIC’S BARTENDER’S GUIDE, REVISED by Victor Bergeron
2 oz light Puerto Rican rum
1 oz brandy
0.5 oz gin
2 oz fresh lemon juice
1 oz orange juice
0.5 oz orgeat
0.5 oz sweet sherry

Shake all ingredients except sherry with ice cubes. Pour into 14-ounce glass. Add more ice cubes. Float 0.5 ounces of sherry on top. Serve with straws.

PURCHASE TICKETS TO THE LUPEC BOSTON TIKI BASH ONLINE AT THEBOSTONSHAKER.COM, GRAND IN SOMERVILLE, TORO IN THE SOUTH END, DRINK IN FORT POINT, TRINA’S STARLITE LOUNGE IN SOMERVILLE, OR BUCKAROO’S MERCANTILE IN CAMBRIDGE. CLICK HERE FOR MORE DETAILS.

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*LUPEC Boston’s latest ruminations, in case you missed ‘em in this week’s Dig.

by Pink Lady

Ever tried a Zombie or a Suffering Bastard, or any drink served in a scorpion bowl or skull mug? With out-there names and kitschy vessels, tiki drinks are apt to inspire a giggle among cocktail neophytes. In their original incarnation, these were balanced, palatable drinks built upon rum, fresh juices and flavorful syrups—legitimate cocktails that would make modern bar snobs swoon.

The tiki craze has roots that reach all the way back to Prohibition, when thirsty Americans took to the Caribbean seas (where rum flowed freely) for rum cruises. They developed a taste for exotic island cocktails, meaning the market was ripe by the time Ernest Beaumont-Gantt opened his “Don the Beachcomber” bar in Hollywood in 1934, just after repeal. Victor Bergeron soon followed suit, revamping his Oakland eatery into “Trader Vic’s,” complete with South Seas décor. Post-World War II, the tiki phenomenon blossomed into a true craze that lasted well into the 1950s.

If Ernest Beaumont-Gantt, aka “Don the Beachcomber” and Victor “Trader Vic” Bergeron were the emperors of American tiki, a cornerstone of their empire was the mai tai—a drink they both take credit for inventing. Trader Vic alleges he innovated the drink as a simple way to make use of a bottle of 17-year-old J. Wray Nephew rum from Jamaica in 1944. He served it to Ham and Carrie Guild, two friends visiting from Tahiti, and after one sip, Carrie pronounced it: “Mai tai—roa aé,” Tahitian for, “Out of this world—the best.” And the mai tai was born.

Don Beach’s last wife, Phoebe, purports to have written proof Don invented the drink, in the form of a letter from a journalist describing a 1972 incident where Victor confesses that Don was the drink’s true progenitor. Some say both accounts are false, and the drink originated somewhere in Tahiti. Debate rages on, even after the movement and its founders are long gone.

When properly made, a mai tai is a revelatory cocktail; it’s no wonder Americans clamored for this delightful beverage and its tiki cousins for decades. Start your own tiki craze at home with one of these as you get in the mood for the LUPEC fall fundraiser this November: It will be a tiki bash of epic proportions.

MAI TAI

2 oz aged Jamaican rum

0.75 oz fresh lime juice

0.75 oz orange curaçao

1 tsp orgeat syrup

Shake well with ice and strain into an old-fashioned glass filled with ice. Garnish with a lime wheel, a mint sprig and, if possible, an exotic orchid

CIN-CIN!

MARK YOUR CALENDARS FOR THE LUPEC TIKI BASH SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 14TH! CHECK BACK SOON FOR DETAILS!

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