To make great exotic Tiki cocktails, it takes a few Tiki Potions & Elixirs. None are hard to make, and almost all are readily available for purchase, and you will need them. To make a great Mai Tai, or a Zombie for example there is no substitute for some of these. Trust me if you take a moment to make your own Tiki Potions & Elixirs the cocktails you make will be on par with the best in the world.
There is a nagging question here, an elephant in the bar, why are Tiki Potions & Elixirs different from other cocktails?
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 brought the Tiki culture to the main stream. 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 them here, but some you may want to buy from time to time.
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.
Storing Tiki Potions & Elixirs
All of these will need to be refrigerated. One thing to consider is bottles to store them in. I bought a bunch of swing top bottles off amazon, but with all the cocktail syrups I make, I soon ran out. I now use all sorts of bottles, which makes for a cool collection. Used maple syrup bottles are great, interesting screw top wine bottles, used honey bottles. When I make grenadine the bottle from the pomegranate juice is repurposed immediately, its a cool bottle.
Keep an eye out and save the bottles you come across, they can be a life saver.
Tiki Potions & Elixirs
Below are the closely guarded secrets of the Tiki Gods, beware there be dragons here.
A creamy potion of almond, orange and rose water, this recipe makes 750ML (Fills an empty wine bottle), perfect in a Mai Tai | Tiki Royalty at its Finest |
2 1/2 cups Cane Sugar
1 3/4 cups Califia Unsweetened Almond Milk
1/2 tlbsp Cognac
1 tlbsp Amaretto Liqueur
1/4 tsp Rose Water
1 dash (drip) of Orange Extract
Heat sugar and almond milk gently (medium low) until sugar is dissolved. Stir frequently. Remove from heat. Let cool. Add remaining. Pour in bottle. Will keep for several weeks in the refrigerator.
A simple mix or Grapefruit Juice and Cinnamon Bark Syrup Syrup. Use it in a Zombie | The Dangerous Tiki Cocktail |
Half Cinnamon Bark Syrup and Half Grapefruit Juice.
For the Cinnamon Bark Syrup
Cinnamon Bark Syrup
1 cup of Cane Sugar
1 cup of Water
6-8 Cinnamon Sticks
Place sugar and water in a sauce pan on medium low heat, stir until dissolved. Add cinnamon, turn up to medium, and heat for 15 minutes, stir occasional. Remove from heat, let cool strain into a bottle. Will keep for several weeks in the refrigerator.
Passion Fruit Syrup
This is a must have for me at all times. There is a South African brand of juice called “Ceres” available in both the US and UK they offer passion fruit juice. I use this.
Passion Fruit Syrup
1 1/3 cup Passion Fruit Juice
2/3 cup of Cane Sugar
Place Sugar in Juice, stir until dissolved. Pour in a bottle. Will keep for several weeks in the refrigerator.
Useful for so many cocktails, a go to Tiki Potion. I prefer a heavy grenadine like this one, because it sinks, making beautiful cocktails. Use it in a Green Flash Cocktail | Tiki from the Maps Edge | or a Zombie | The Dangerous Tiki Cocktail |
1 cup Pomegranate Juice.
1 cup Cane Sugar.
1/2 tsp Citric Acid.
1/2 tsp Orange Extract.
Put all in a blender, blend until smooth. This makes a heavy grenadine that sink in drinks like a Tequila sunrise. No citric acid? Only add 3/4 cup of cane sugar.
Another versatile and exceptionally easy syrup to make.
2 cups of simple syrup.
1 and 1/2 tablespoons of real vanilla extract.
Put it in a bottle and shake.
This is one of the Tiki Potions & Elixirs long lost to the world, yet so amazing. I often buy mine on line, but once you have the ingredients it is easy to make it bulk, and if you make a lot of Hurricanes, you will use a lot of fassionola. I have two recipes to make this potion, one easy and very good, and one more complex and excellent. Here is the easy one.
1 cup each of mango, pineapple and tart cherry juice.
3 cups of cane sugar.
1 and 1/4 cups Passion Fruit Puree (I use Funkin Passion Fruit Puree I get from Amazon)
Add all to a large mixing bow and stir gently until the sugar is integrated probably off and on for 10 minutes.
Now taste, it should be a thick tart syrup, not unlike fruit punch.
This makes a decent amount, but it may go fast. I typically store mine in old clean screw top wine bottles.
Seven Seas Elixir
You will see this in a few of our Tiki cocktails, the Tiki of the Seven Seas. It adds a tropical light sweetness to the the drinks, almost like puffy clouds on a summer beach.
Seven Seas Elixer
1 cup Coconut Milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp Amaretto
Heat sugar and coconut milk gently (medium low) until sugar is dissolved. Stir frequently. Do not boil. Remove from heat. Let cool. Stir in Amaretto until combined. Pour in bottle. Will keep for several weeks in the refrigerator.
Mango Elixir (Puree)
When its mango season here in Florida its a dangerous time. Two reasons, first mangoes are huge heavy things, and they grow on very tall trees, in abundance. When mangoes fall from those tall trees its not very safe to by under them. We have several of those gigantic trees on our street, word to the wise don’t stand, park, or loiter under a mango tree in season. What you do do is pick mangoes from it. There are literally thousands to be had. Second reason mangoes are dangerous, cocktails. its wonderful in rum drinks especially. This is my simple mango elixir (puree) is useful in so many cocktails, and can be frozen for months. I make a gallon at a time, here is a more manageable half gallon recipe. Use this in Mango Bird Cocktail | Riff on a Jungle Bird | or a Tropical Itch Cocktail | Rare Bourbon Tiki |
4 large ripe mangoes
1 cup of orange juice
2/3 cup granular sugar
Remove mangoes flesh from the skin and fibrous seed. Put mango flesh, orange juice and sugar in a blender. Blend until smooth, 8-10 minutes. Pour in a 1/2 gallon container, like a clean old milk jug, and fill the remining volume with filtered water. Shake, and enjoy.
Coco Lopez Cream of Coconut
This stuff is fantastic, I always keep 3 or more cans around, it goes fast.
Try some of out Tiki cocktails while you are here: