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Luau Scorpion - Dr. Bamboo - August 2014

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Luau Scorpion

  • 2 oz. Orange juice
  • 1 oz. Fresh lime juice
  • 1 oz. Simple syrup
  • 2 oz. Gold Virgin Islands rum (Cruzan aged dark rum works well)
  • 2 oz. Gin (I prefer a straightforward London dry like Beefeater or Bombay)
  • 1 oz. Brandy or Cognac (Martell VSOP is a good choice)
  • 3/4 oz. Orgeat

Shake everything with ice and strain into tiki bowl or very large tiki mug filled with crushed ice. Garnish with whatever fun stuff you can find (see below). Serves two, so bring a friend!

~ Adapted from "Beachbum Berry Remixed" by Jeff "Beachbum" Berry

There's a lot of discussion about what should go in tiki drinks. However, there needs to be attention paid to what goes ON them as well. Garnishing tiki drinks is crucial, and arguably no other category of cocktail demands as much care and creativity with those final touches. As with any drink, the garnish should ideally provide both a visual and an aromatic element, and tiki drinks allow for an abundance of each.

So what are some of our options? A bartender friend of mine once observed, "You can put an entire party store on top of a tiki drink." There's a bit of truth in that statement, and while a little restraint is advisable with most things, garnishing your tiki drink is one of those few times when being excessive is encouraged (and expected). With that in mind, here's a brief list of ideas to help accessorize your tropical tipples.

Citrus: Things like lemons, limes, oranges and grapefruit are the backbone of any respectable tiki drink garnish. Use wedges, wheels, peels, or whatever shape you can coax out of a nice, fresh piece of fruit.

Other Fruit: Mango, papaya, guava, banana, apricot, melon, kiwi fruit, star fruit, passion fruit...all are welcome at the party. Get creative.

Pineapple: Possibly with the exception of the coconut, pineapples are the ultimate tropical drink component. Pluck off individual leaves or use several at once. Cut the fruit itself into wedges, chunks, or rings. Once you begin playing around, you'll realize virtually every part can be used as a garnish.

Coconut: Although mostly used as a drinking vessel rather than a garnish, you can still use fresh bits of coconut meat and shell fragments as part of the display. Dried coconut flakes are also sold in many places and come in various sizes.

Cherries& Berries: Maraschino-style cherries add a great dash of color, and are available in either the neon-hued type made with artificial coloring or more authentic-looking/tasting varieties. Strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries etc., also add to the spectrum.

Mint: Mint is a staple garnish in many "regular" cocktails, but is right at home in tiki drinks. Whether you're carefully layering in a single leaf or plunking in a lush sprig, fresh mint is a great choice.

Sugarcane Sticks: Not just for mojitos. They add a nice exotic touch and give you something to chew on if you're the nervous type.

Miscellaneous: Dusting your drink with things like freshly-ground nutmeg, cinnamon, and clove lend an intense spicy note that finishes off a tiki drink beautifully. Also consider thin slices of fresh ginger root, chocolate shavings, vanilla beans, and star anise.

Flowers: Tropical types like orchids and hibiscus are perennial favorites, but anything sufficiently pretty and colorful will do the trick. Some types of flowers may be toxic, so if you're in doubt, get packaged edible flowers.

Bamboo/Wooden Skewers: These range from small and unadorned (like a standard toothpick) or several inches long and decorative. Choose according to how elaborate your garnishing ambitions are.

Plastic Picks: An alternative to natural material skewers. These were once offered by many restaurants as signature souvenir items (much like tiki mugs) that were emblazoned with the name and logo of the establishment. Many have survived over the years and can be found very cheaply in vintage stores, flea markets, etc. Simpler, generic styles can be easily bought at almost any grocery store.

Miniature Umbrellas: Arguably the most iconic item in the drink decoration pantheon. Putting one of these on your drink immediately lets everyone know you're not having an ordinary cocktail. Available in a variety of bright colors. Guaranteed to elicit smiles.

Toys: There are tons of great pocket-sized playthings that can find a home atop your tiki drink. Skeletons, skulls, devils, monkeys, birds, lizards, fish, sharks, backscratchers and rocket ships are just a few of your choices. Hit up novelty stores and party suppliers to find a good selection.

Fire: Set something on fire. Use common sense and caution, but set something on fire. Seriously. It's great.

Straws: Technically not a garnish, but if you've gone to the trouble of doing all this other stuff, your straws shouldn't fall short. Get the colorful, bendy ones.

As with many things in life, using your imagination will reap rewards. Life is too short for dull drinks.

Thanks for drinking!

~ Dr. Bamboo

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