Mangoes are a problem here, I have too many, thus I made this cocktail, the Mango Bird. Currently I am throwing about 75-100 Lbs. (30-40 kg) of mangoes away each day. The mango tree in question is about 60 feet (20 metres) high and is dropping mangoes at an alarming rate. Of course in the tropics this brings rats and raccoons along with insects that destroy the fallen fruit. Even with this waste I have so many savable mangoes. I have been making mango everything. Including this delicious riff on a Jungle Bird, the Mango Bird.
What is a Mango Bird?
A Jungle Bird is one of my favorite tiki cocktails, with a few slight modifications I was able to make a very tasty riff I call a Mango Bird. The base cocktail is essentially rum, Campari (bitter Italian amaro) and pineapple juice and demerara syrup. The Mango Bird is a swap of some of the pineapple for my mango elixir, which you can find here, a more complimentary rum. Hope you enjoy the Mango Bird, I sure do!
Goslings Black Seal Rum. Mango Elixir. Campari. Pineapple. Lime. Demerara.
Try our other amazing Tiki and Tropical cocktails:
A Jungle Bird is one of my favorite tiki cocktails, with a few slight modifications I was able to make a very tasty riff I call a Mango Bird.
- 2 oz Mango Elixir (see link in text)
- 1 oz Pineapple Juice
- 1/2 oz Lime Juice
- 1/4 oz Demerara Syrup
- 3/4 oz Campari
- 1 1/2 oz Goslings Black Seal rum
Place all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with 4-5 ounces of small ice cubes.
Shake for 10 seconds.
Dump contents into hurricane or tiki mug.
Fill reminder with ice cubes. leaving 1/2 inch of space on top for the float.
Garnish with a skewer with lemon wedge, lime wedge and a cherry, and cocktail umbrella.
Serve with straw.
The Gods of Tiki
Here is where I need to apologize. Real Tiki drinks are not simple, they are not the “life hack” internet easy so common today. If you find a post that maybe says, “5 simple Tiki drinks”, they probably loosely based on the original concept. I am not saying are bad. In all likelihood they are great drinks, just not true to form Tiki cocktails. After making so many traditional Tiki cocktails, I will proclaim making them worth the effort. But make no mistake there is effort.
Rhums, Rums, Rons and What the Heck is Donns Mix?
Many Tiki drinks use 3 and up to 5 different rums. The call is oddly specific, so having all the rums is a real expensive pain. You can sub in other rums, but a black strap rum, sadly is not replaceable with a captain Morgan spiced. Also you will either have to buy or make things like Donns Mix, Orgeat, Allspice Dram, Fassionola, or Pearl Driver Mix. I’m a bit of a purist, but I cheat on this stuff too, so I’ll try to offer recommendations if there a riff or substitution. The difference in Rum, Ron or Rhum is the country of origin. It turns out in the rum world the flavor of a rum has almost nothing to do with the color, but nearly everything to do with where it is produced.
Luckily TIKI and tropical drinks are strong and the flavor profile is very forgiving, if you don’t have an ingredient and substitute, usually you will be okay. A substitute will usually taste great, and it will still suggest the flavor of the original. I riff Tiki drinks nine ways to Sunday, and within the reasonable bounds of the cocktail they are always good, usually fantastic.
Tale of Two Bartenders
This is not my story, but it is well researched. In fact there are several cocktail books that do a fantastic job of explaining the story of Donn Beach (born Ernest Gantt) and Trader Vic (Victor Bergeron Jr.). The basic gist is these two very successful bar owners were also fierce competitors, and exceptional showmen in their own right. Each bar, Don the Beachcomber, and Trader Vic’s are iconic and legendary bars that created the Tiki culture. While they shared a style, they did not share recipes. Quite the opposite. Unlike today where a recipe is plastered all over the internet, (guilty as charged here) their recipes were fiercely guarded. But guarding a recipe can only take you so far.
In addition they had secret ingredients in their drinks. Little mixes and concoctions that had special names, and ingredients only a trusted few knew. These ingredients are not complex, but important. I will share how to make many, but some you may want to buy.
Why bother with these shenanigans? In the 1950’s a bartender with the knowledge to make their wildly popular yet proprietary drinks could make a lot of money elsewhere. Sadly these recipes were lost until a research author Jeff “Beach Bum” Berry spent years meticulously uncovering them. Only recently have all these ingredients been known.
This level of secrecy has its benefits, but it has its downsides too. As the actual ingredients were a secret, bartenders all over the world just made their version of the cocktails with the same name and passed them off as the real thing. Think about unless you have been to the actual bars, how would you really know.
Navy Grog, Mai Tai, & the Zombie
The most popular Tiki drink is probably the Mai Tai. Until I started making my own I thought a Mai Tai was just a rum punch. Basically, fruit juice and strong rum. It is also so much more. Once I had a real Mai Tai, I was hooked, the other big drinks were the Navy Grog and the Zombie. A zombie is my absolute favorite Tiki drink, if you were wondering. These three are the trinity of Tiki. There are many more but this is the holy three. You will find these secret elixirs from the past are amazingly delicious.