Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Trader Vic's Best Tropical Cocktails

During the summer there are few drinks that hit the spot like a nice tropical beverage. Although commonly high in alcohol, the tropical drinks that follow in this post also contain a fair bit of juice and water, in the form of ice, which helps with maintaining hydration.

Trader Vic, the self-proclaimed creator of the Mai Tai, has a number of famous tropical drinks which were served in his restaurants and came with specifically designed glassware for the purpose. The Trader Vic's Bartender Guide, revised is a great repository for vintage tropical drink recipes. I have tried many of these recipes and what follows is a personal "top ten" of the drinks in the book. For this post, I am specifically focusing on tropical drinks. The book contains many cocktails including such non-tropical classics as the Manhattan and the Martini, but the Trader Vic signature cocktails are what really set it apart.

The following are my favorite ten recipes for tropical drinks from the book. Regarding mixers, see posts for passion fruit nectar and grenadine separately. Specific brand recommendations can be found in the recipes and are not necessarily repeated if mentioned once.

#1 Babalu (p. 144)
3/4 oz. frozen concentrated pineapple/ grapefruit juice (I use separate cans of concentrate)
1/2 oz. lemon juice
2 oz. golden Puerto Rican rum (e.g. Bacardi)
1/4 oz. rock candy syrup (Trader Vic lingo for saturated simple syrup. 1:1 simple syrup is fine)
1 c shaved ice or crushed ice
Blend in a mixer and serve in a highball glass (or vintage Trader Vic Voodoo glass) with cracked ice. Garnish with mint and fruit stick.

#2 Fog Cutter (p 153)
2 oz. light Puerto Rican rum
1 oz. brandy
1/2 oz. gin
2 oz. lemon juice
1 oz. orange juice
1/2 oz. orgeat syrup (Torani is good, with no HFCS)
sweet sherry (such as Harvey's Bristol Cream)
Shake everything but the sherry in a shaker with ice cubes. Pour into a highball glass (or vintage Trader Vic Fog Cutter mug) Float the sherry. Serve with straws.

#3 Mai Tai (p 164)
1 lime
1/2 oz. orange Curacao (not triple sec, I use Bols)
1/4 oz. rock candy syrup
1/2 oz. orgeat syrup
2 oz. rum* (1 oz. dark Jamaican such as Meyers or Coruba, 1 oz. Appleton Estate V/X)
Cut the lime in half and squeeze, reserving one shell. Combine ingredients in a shaker half filled with cracked ice. Shake and pour into a double old fashioned glass (or vintage Trader Vic Mai Tai glass) Serve with mint and a fruit stick.

*Note on the rums: According to Trader Vic, the original Mai Tai was made with J. Wray 17y old Jamaican Rum (no longer available). While I believe that using a 17y old rum is unnecessary for this drink, I do think that using Jamaican rums helps with the authenticity. In his book, he recommends 1 oz. Dark Jamaican rum and 1 oz. Martinique rum. I've heard that if you order a Mai Tai "made the old way" in a Trader Vic's today, it is made with Coruba and Lemon Hart Demerara (Guyana) rum.

#4 Rum Keg (p. 176)
1 oz. rock candy syrup
1 oz. passion fruit nectar
2 oz. pineapple juice (Dole)
4 oz. lemon juice
1 oz. apricot liqueur (Bols apricot brandy)
5 oz. light Puerto Rican rum
1 oz. dark Jamaican rum (Meyers or Coruba)
Blend in electric drink mixer with 2 cups shaved ice. Pour into 2 highball glasses over ice cubes (or vintage Trader Vic rum keg)

#5 Rum Pot (p. 176)
3 oz. lemon juice
3 oz. orange juice
3 dashes vanilla extract (1 dash = 1/4 oz)
3/4 oz. passion fruit nectar
1 oz. rock candy syrup
3 oz. golden rum or 1.5 oz. white Puerto Rican rum and 1.5 oz. dark Jamaican rum.
Blend in electric drink mixer with 2 cups shaved ice. Pour into 2 highball glasses over cracked ice (or vintage Trader Vic sugar pots)

#6 Scorpion (p. 179)
1.5 oz. lemon juice
2 oz. orange juice
1/2 oz. orgeat syrup
1 oz. brandy
2 oz. light Puerto Rican rum
Blend in electric drink mixer with 1 scoop shaved ice. Pour into highball glass with ice cubes. (or triple recipe and pour into vintage Trader Vic scorpion bowl)

#7 Bamboo Punch (p. 337)
juice of 1 lime
2 dashes Peychaud's bitters
1/2 oz. passion fruit nectar
1 dash rock candy syrup
1 oz. light Puerto Rican rum
1.25 oz. dark Jamaican rum
1/2 c shaved ice
Blend in electric mixer. Serve in highball glass with ice cubes (or vintage Trader Vic bamboo cup). Decorate with fresh mint and fruit stick.

#8 Kava Bowl (p. 360)
2 oz. unsweetened pineapple juice (Dole)
4 oz. lemon juice
1 oz. grenadine
1 oz. orgeat syrup
1 oz. Siegert's Bouquet rum*
6 oz. light Puerto Rican rum
3 c shaved ice
Blend all ingredients in an electric mixer . Pour into 2 highball glasses (or vintage Trader Vic scorpion bowl). Decorate with gardenia. Serve with long straws.

*See here for Siegert's Bouquet rum info. Siegert's Bouquet rum was available on the export market in the sixties, and seventies and was very similar to the OLD OAK GOLD Blend but a slightly darker color and mellower. A similar rum today will be ROYAL OAK, according to Angostora. . Substitute a gold rum in lieu of any of the Angostura rums mentioned above.

#9 Trader Vic's Grog (p. 381)
1 dash Angostura bitters
1 oz. lemon juice
1 oz. passion fruit nectar
1 oz. unsweetened pineapple juice
2 oz. dark Jamaican rum
Pour into mixing glass half filled with shaved ice. Shake an pour into a double old fashioned glass (or vintage Trader Vic ten-pin pilsener glass). Decorate with fresh mint, cherry and a stirrer.

#10 Zamboanga Punch (p. 384)
juice of 1 lime
3 dashes Angostura bitters
1 dash grenadine
1/2 oz. passion fruit nectar
1/2 oz. light Puerto Rican rum
1.5 oz. dark Jamaican rum
Blend in electric mixer with 1/2 c shaved ice. Pour into a highball glass (or vintage Trader Vic bamboo cup). Add ice cubes. Decorate with fresh mint and a fruit stick.

Final Notes and acknowledgements:

These are very enjoyable beverages, great for getting together with friends and relaxing. They take a bit of work and a lot of counter space to prepare as well as some shopping to obtain the wide list of ingredients, but all are well worth the effort.

There are a number of recipes in the book which call out Trader Vic's Navy Grog mix. There is a general concensus among Tikiphiles that the navy grog mix used in the restaurants is quite different (and superior) than that currently marketed by the company. I have not been able to secure an authentic sample, nor have I settled on an authentic recipe, so there are no drinks on this list which use this ingredient.

The color pictures of vintage Trader Vic's barware are from Ooga Mooga. The b&w photos are from the Bartender's Guide pictured above. The Menehune swizzle stick is mine (vintage unknown).

14 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Matt, although you posted this list 7 years ago, I'm enjoying your recommendations as I tour Trader Vic's Guide.

    A suggestion for you about TV Navy Grog Mix: based on some recipe comparisons in various books and my own testing, I strongly suspect that the Grog Mix was Allspice Dram mixed with rum. I made the Navy Grog using a dash of Allspice Dram and the taste is as close as I can get to what I remember of that drink when I tasted it about 30 years ago. I wrote to the TV Company via their web site about this several months ago and I never got a reply.

    To anyone who might give it a try, go very light on the Allspice Dram - it's got a strong flavor that can easily overwhelm a drink. I found out the hard way the first time.

    Ben B., Powell (Columbus area), Ohio

    ReplyDelete
  3. Ektarao- Our Agency provides the High Class and the Elite independent Escorts in Chennai to the customer for enjoying the pleasure of our Escorts



    busty Chennai escorts girls

    escorts in Chennai

    escorts service in Chennai

    call girls in Chennai

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hello there gentelmen I am Rakhisen, Independent Escorts Hot and Bold younger girl in Bangalore ,If you're searching for the most sweltering escorts in Bangalore, you're at the right place! You can contact me 08123770473.

    bangalore escorts
    escorts in bangalore
    Bangalore Independent Escorts
    Independent Bangalore Escorts
    Bangalore escort Girls
    Independent Escorts in banglore
    Bangalore Escorts Call Girls
    escort service in bangalore
    bangalore escort
    bangalore escorts service
    escort bangalore
    escorts bangalore

    ReplyDelete