Bamboo torches, raffia grass huts, Polynesian gods, coconut cups, little umbrellas, exotic drinks – who can resist the lure of Tiki? Tiki offers a bright and happy escape, and all the aforementioned novelties capture the magic perfectly. Tikiwonder.com tells us that current Tiki subculture (file under “Lounge”) is a revival of the Polynesian craze of the 195o’s and 60’s, when people were enchanted with the south pacific.
Tiki bars and cocktails are seeing quite the resurgence. Places like Don the Beachcomber’s and Trader Vic’s are the founding fathers of tiki bars and cocktails (both claim to have invented the Mai Tai), but only one is still in existence. Solomon’s Island, Md., has a great Tiki Bar, and when that place opens for the season, it is apparently quite a to-do. Squidoo’s also has a top ten ranking of the best tiki bars in the country, in case you’re looking.
Last month, Jason Wilson, The Washington Post’s spirits columnist, wrote an excellent article on tiki cocktails that led Ms. S&C to Agraria, on the Georgetown waterfront, for a Zombie and a Pancho Villa. While her drinks were top-notch, there was something missing. And that something was the tiki allure. There was no hut, no ceramic mug, no adornment, not even an umbrella. She wanted that as much as she wanted a tasty, tropical cocktail.
Tiki drinks have many ingredients, and most of them are not your staples, which is why Ms. S&C likes to go out for hers. Or, she recommends that you invite enough people over to make it worthwhile. The Mai Tai, the most well-known of tiki drinks, contains the classic ingredients of rum and orgeat (an almond-flavored syrup). Here’s one of many versions.
makes one serving
- Ice, preferably crushed ice
- 0.750 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice, reserving a spent half-lime for garnish
- 0.500 ounce orange curacao
- 0.500 ounce orgeat syrup (see related recipe)
- 0.250 ounce simple syrup (see NOTE below)
- 1 ounce aged Jamaican rum, preferably Appleton XV
- 1 ounce amber rhum agricole, preferably Rhum Clement VSOP
- Mint sprig, for garnish
Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice. Add the lime juice, orange curacao, orgeat syrup, simple syrup, Jamaican rum and rhum agricole. Shake well, then pour (unstrained) into a double old-fashioned glass or wineglass. Garnish with a mint sprig and the spent shell of half a lime.
NOTE: To make simple syrup, combine 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a slow, rolling boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 5 minutes. Transfer to a glass container and let cool to room temperature. Cover tightly and refrigerate until chilled before using; store indefinitely.
Recipe Source: The Washington Post, Adapted from “Sippin’ Safari,” by Jeff “Beachbum” Berry (SLG Publishing, 2007). Picture: Mark Finkenstaedt for The Washington Post.
And, the perfect shoes to complement grass huts and fruity cocktails? Behold the espadrille! The bright colorful prints and the woven wedge heels definitely speak to the tiki vibe. We love these Oscar de la Renta ikat espadrilles that Fashion Washington highlighted in their Lush Life section, but the $400 price tag has us looking for other options. These navy floral ones and these morracan paisley ones, both from Tommy Hilfiger for $70, will do. Also like the bright tropical fabric and wicker heel on this pair on sale for $35 at Piperlime. Wear them with a solid colored maxi dress, break out the ukulele, and don’t forget the little umbrellas, please.
posted by Ms. S&C