Monday Classics: The Jungle Bird
The Jungle Bird is a fairly modern cocktail that falls into the classic category of tiki drinks that was extremely popular back in the 1940s and 50s, and has been experiencing a resurgence since then. I read a recent article written by Colleen Graham for thespruce.com in which she does an excellent job of defining the tiki category. There are a number of things that characterize a tiki drink and give it it’s signature taste and presence. First, there’s usually rum, and often more than one kind of it. This thrills me because it gives me the opportunity today to use Cooper River Distillers Driftwood Dreams, which is their version of a spiced rum that stands head and shoulders above some of the other options that are available. Secondly, there are lots of tropical fruits like pineapple, mango, passionfruit, and coconut, which often mask the strong rum content in the drinks, one of the reasons why tiki cocktails are said to be so particularly dangerous. And finally, the tiki category also includes drinks that have many layers of flavor, and quite the number of ingredients. The classic example here is the Zombie, which can have 9 to 11 different things in it.
The Jungle Bird was created at the Kuala Lumpur Hilton back in 1978 when the tiki craze was was barely breathing, and this drink may have disappeared into obscurity if it had not been written about in a book by tiki historian Jeff Berry called Intoxica. Bartenders love the Jungle Bird because it generally contains only 5 ingredients and it’s wide open to personal interpretation just by swapping one thing out for another. It’s also a pretty drink, due to the presence of Campari which also gives it a bitterness that balances out the sweetness of the pineapple juice. For my version, I’ve used the aforementioned Driftwood Dreams rum which is infused with vanilla, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, coffee beans, and allspice, and is rested on toasted applewood chips for a month with just a tiny amount of molasses added back in. I’ve also swapped out the regular simple syrup for a passionfruit syrup to infuse even more of a tropical taste to the drink. The result is a definitive tiki cocktail with tons of flavor, a beautiful texture from the rum, and just a touch of bitterness brought in by the Campari.
The Jungle Bird
1 ½ oz Petty’s Island Driftwood Dreams rum (from Cooper River Distillers in Camden NJ)
¾ oz Campari
½ oz Liber & Co. passionfruit syrup
1 ½ oz pineapple juice
½ oz lime juice
Add all the ingredients to cocktail shaker with ice and shake until very cold. Double strain into a tiki mug, a moscow mule copper mug, or a rocks glass over one large cube. Imagine you’re on a tropical island. Cheers!