Today’s Monday Classic is the Sidewinder’s Fang, my first real venture into the world of Tiki drinks inspired by a recipe in the book Smuggler’s Cove by Martin Cate. There are two gentlemen who share responsibility for introducing Tiki cocktails to the world. The first is Ernest Gantt, aka Donn Beach, a world traveller with an obsession for everything having to do with the South Pacific and the Caribbean, and the creator of the famous Tiki drink called the Zombie. He went on to open his Don the Beachcomber restaurant in Hollywood in 1933, where he offered cocktails with a crazy blend of flavors and exotic presentations served alongside Hawaiian and Polynesian cuisine. It quickly became a favorite watering hole for many famous movie stars and celebrities. Next up is Victor Bergeron, or “Trader Vic” as he liked to be called. Inspired by Donn Beach, he went on to open his own chain of Tiki restaurants in Northern Califiornia in the years after WWII. Interest in Tiki cocktails began to wane in the late 60s and early 70s, and all but disappeared from bar menus everywhere. The craft cocktail movement brought about a revival in Tiki drinks as well, with the effort being spearheaded by the world’s biggest fan of all things Tiki, Jeff “Beachbum” Berry who researched cocktail recipes by talking with original bartenders from both Don the Beachcomber and Trader Vic’s. Berry has written a number of books on the subject, has his own website, and his own phone app for Tiki recipes.
If you’re going to make Tiki drinks, the first item in your bar cabinet has to be several different kinds of rum. This is easy for me since I work at Cooper River Distillers where we make three. Secondly you’ll need fresh juices like lime, orange, and pineapple. Since Tiki drinks are known for their layered flavors, the third absolute basic has to be inclusion of various liqueurs like Velvet Falernum, and syrups like orgeat (made from almonds) and passionfruit. And finally, Tiki drinks are all about the garnish and the glass (or mug) in which the drink is served. The rule here is the crazier, the better. The Sidewinder’s Fang was originally created in 1960 at The Lanai, a restaurant in San Mateo, California. It includes a blend of an aged rum and a dark rum, so I went with Petty’s Island Rye Oak Reserve and Driftwood Dreams, both from Cooper River Distillers. If you’re not local to this area, then Appleton Estate and Goslings would work equally well. The blend of the orange and lime juices, along with the passionfruit syrup from Liber & Co., brought a sharp tang to the drink and worked beautifully with the two rums. The addition of club soda added lots of fizz. The Sidewinder’s Fang garnish is a mint sprig and a continuous length of orange peel that is then curled into the glass before filling it with ice. This drink is refreshing, fun, and totally Tiki! Cheers, everyone. Happy Monday!
1 oz of aged rum
1 oz of dark or black rum
1½ oz fresh lime juice
1½ oz fresh orange juice
1½ oz passionfrut syrup
3 oz club soda
Curl the Fang peel into the glass and secure by filling with ice. Shake all the ingredients over ice and pour into the glass. Garnish with a mint sprig. Enjoy!
Note: this cocktail is meant to be served in a very large brandy snifter. If you’re using a smaller glass like mine then you’ll be able to pour two drinks.