JUNE 2020 - TIKI GIN

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 Why Tiki Gin

This box was created using Beefeater 24 gin, the premium offering from one of the world's most well-known gin producers. Featuring a unique profile, this gin lends itself to sweeter ingredients, making it ideal for this Tiki-themed box. Inspired by the flavors of the Far East, the botanical profile includes green and sencha teas, citrus peel, and deeper flavors like coriander and angelica root. Smooth and flavorful, this superior gin is perfect for mixing up amazing Tiki cocktails.

The rise of the Tiki bar culture in North America has an extremely interesting history and one that is full of many anecdotes and yarns.  While the first Tiki bars, with their palm leaves, bamboo décor, and idols of carved wood, started appearing in America in the 1930s, there was a sharp rise in the fascination with the culture of the South Pacific occurring in the first decade of the 20th century.

As travel to exotic locations for leisure expanded, so did the appetite for the cultural traditions of these places, making their way into the mainstream through books, advertising, and early movies. By the time Donn Beach opened what is argued to be the earliest Tiki bar in 1933 in Hollywood, the cultural appeal of the South Pacific had permeated the American consciousness. Add delicious cocktails with extravagant garnishes to an atmosphere of a tropical paradise and it is easy to see why this theme took the world of bars by storm. We at Crafty’s wanted to honor this wonderfully zany iteration of drinking establishments with a selection of Tiki style drinks that will put you in a tropical mood even if your house isn’t covered in jungle-themed décor. Of course, we had to put our own twist on it, so instead of using rum, the universal Tiki spirit, we turned to Gin, which has its own special place in Tiki lore. Its wonderfully complex bouquet lends itself extremely well to the flavors found within this box.

The Gin Tai is a twist on the king of tiki cocktails, the Mai Tai. Featuring sweet orgeat, sour lime, and the herbal flavors of two different bitters, the drink is simple but out-of-this-world flavorful. It is the perfect introduction into the world of Tiki cocktails. The Sling-a-Ling plays on another classic, the Singapore Sling, with a tropical blend of pineapple, grenadine, and orange, all balanced with a spicy hit of angostura bitters. The Ka’ukama is the result of experimentation within the larger umbrella of Tiki-style cocktails. Leaning on the classic pairing of gin, cucumber, and juniper berry, a tropical twist of Hula Hula syrup brings the beach to the party, providing layers of passionfruit and guava. An additional touch of pineapple anise bitters provides the perfect background for yet another layer of flavor. Classic and new-age at the same time, this drink will reshape your view of “Tiki”.

 Immerse yourself into the storied history of Tiki culture with this month’s Crafty Cocktails box, Captain Crafty's Tiki Gin Expedition. Don’t just stop with this limited view of tiki history however, as there are plenty of blogs, books, articles, and documentaries out there to keep you informed. So, while you’re mixing, read up on the lore behind these drinks. What you find might surprise you and give you a new appreciation for tiki culture and bar culture in general.

 

GIN TAI

Although well known, the lore which surrounds the creation of the Mai-Tai is extremely complex. According to legend, one night in 1944, Vic Bergeron, the proprietor of Trader Vic’s, was creating cocktails for friends and stumbled on to a concoction that caused them to exclaim “Mai Tai Roa Ae!” which translates from Tahitian to “Out of this world!”. Over the next few decades, the popularity of this drink skyrocketed, to the point where nowadays it is synonymous with Tiki cocktails. The entire story is much more complex, interesting, and worth looking into (poor Don the Beachcomber). Researching this drink inspired the Crafty’s team to create a drink in honor of this iconic beverage. While the original recipe has a base of rum, our version features gin, along with many other creative twists. The result is a drink anchored in the classic, but with many elements which are all it's own. Sweet nutty orgeat clashes with a refreshing hit of lime, while a pairing of two bitters, pineapple/anise, and classic angostura enhance the tiki vibe. A perfect summer libation, this drink has one foot in cocktail history and the other in modern mixology.

KA'UKAMA

As much as Tiki style drinks have a long and well-documented history, their eclectic style lends itself very well to new ideas and flavor combinations. Being packed with flavor and incorporating many different ingredients, balance is the name of the game. However, this can often prove to be a tall order. With perseverance, however, one can find that perfect equilibrium between intensity and balance, and the result can be something novel and special. This is the case with the Ka’ukama, which in Hawaiian means cucumber. The name is extremely fitting as the drink sets tropical flavors such as passionfruit and guava against the customary companions of gin; cucumber and juniper berries.  A velvety and herbaceous background of pineapple anise bitters brings everything together and provides a finish that will leave you wanting more. Tiki cocktails have a way of defying logic, overloading drinks with flavors while somehow remaining layered and balanced, something the Ka’ukama delivers in spades.  Reinvent your idea of what a Tiki cocktail can be with this unique offering.

 

SLING-A-LING

Slings are among some of the oldest cocktails mentioned in the first bartender’s guides, appearing as early as 1883. However, they have undergone a dramatic evolution, progressing from a simple drink of gin, sugar, and nutmeg, into the colorful, frothy, impeccably garnished cocktails ubiquitous with the sling of modern cocktail culture. This stems from the invention of the Singapore Sling, created by Ngiam Tong Boon, around 1915 in, of all places, a hotel in Singapore. The Crafty’s version of this fantastic tropical drink features many of the elements found in the Singapore Sling; delicious pineapple, sweet rich grenadine, classic maraschino cherry, spicy Angostura bitters with a touch of orange citrus. This wonderfully nostalgic drink packs in a lot of different flavors but all exist in perfect harmony with each other. Don’t be afraid to get creative and dress this one up with some crazy garnishes, after all, that’s half the fun of making Tiki-style cocktails.

 

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