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The Mojito is a rum drink… a Cuban cocktail that originated in Havana in the late 1800s. It gained popularity beginning in the 1930s as Americans were drawn to the Caribbean lifestyle. This is my favorite drink of all… not only for it’s wonderfully refreshing taste which results from the perfect balance of it’s sweet and sour ingredients but because of it’s fascinating history as well.

The Mojito even has a predecessor dating back to the time when pirates ran the Caribbean. Historians have found that the pirate Richard Drake regularly mixed up a rum drink of his own making by combining unrefined rum, sugar, lime, and mint. He named the drink “El Draque” (“the dragon”), the same as the the nickname of Sir Francis Drake. This cocktail certainly served as the influence for the Mojito as Drake frequented Cuba. As the pirate days ended, the Draque became a popular rum drink among the Cuban working-class.

Also popular with Cubans and many other Latin-American countries was guarapo… basically a sugar cane juice or simple syrup that was served with ice as a refreshing drink. Guarapo, when distilled, becomes rum. Over time marriage of guarapa (or simple syrup) added to rum instead of pure sugar was only natural. Add in the lime and mint and you have the staple Mojito ingredients. Some even thought the cocktail to have medicinal benefit as the mojito ingredients on their own were often the same ingredients of other concoctions consumed for medicinal purposes. This is probably how a more authentic but less common mojito ingredient (Angostura Bitters) came to be part of the Mojito recipe as well.

Certain parts of America came to enjoy the Mojito early on due to the proximity of Key West and American’s fascination with Cuban cigars and the influence of Ernest Hemingway. Sloppy Joe’s, opened by a friend of Hemingway’s, started serving mojitos in the 1930’s. The Cuban population in Miami made sure the Mojito was commonplace in South Florida.

Until Hurricane Andrew, the Mojito was almost a well kept secret to only the Floribbean region of the world as well as to those who sought the tropical lifestyle of the area. After Andrew, South Beach saw an amazing re-growth and a renewed, world-wide recognition as one of the trendiest destinations in the world of which the Mojito is somewhat of an icon. The Mojito is now known and enjoyed by more people than ever. With it’s popularity has come several variations on the recipe and there’s a good chance you’ve had a “mojito” but you haven’t had a true Mojito. While there are a few variations of the authentic recipe, we feel this one is the best as it is true to this fine cocktail’s culture and history. So, accept no substitutes and enjoy!

Here’s how to make a Mojito: Mojito Ingredients: 3 quarters of lime 2 oz simple syrup 3–4 oz lite rum (we recommend Havana Club Rum) 6–11 mint leaves (according to taste) 5 drops Bitters Club Soda (part of the tradition, but optional)

Mojito Preparation: Squeeze juice from 3 quarters of lime into tall glass. Set the squeezed lime wedges to the side. Throw in 11 mint leaves and use a muddler to release mint oil. Add squeezed lime wedges and remaining ingredients. Fill glass with ice cubes. Shake with cocktail shaker then top with a splash of club soda if desired and serve… just a splash though!!! For taller glasses, don’t be tempted to top off your glass with the club soda as it will water down the taste. Double the main ingredients instead!

 

Here’s how to make a Mojito Pitcher: Mojito Pitcher Ingredients: 3 whole limes 8 oz simple syrup 12–16 oz lite rum (we recommend Havana Club Rum) 24–48 mint leaves (according to taste) 20 drops Bitters Club Soda (part of the tradition, but optional)

Mojito Pitcher Preparation: Squeeze juice from 3 whole limes into a pitcher. Set the squeezed lime wedges to the side. Throw up to 48 mint leaves and use a muddler to release mint oil. Add squeezed lime wedges and remaining ingredients. Fill pitcher with ice cubes. Stir vigorously and then top with a splash of club soda if desired and serve. Double the rum if you like it strong!

 

Here’s some things that will help you make a great Mojito:

Here’s some great ways to serve your Mojito:



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There are many variations of this contemporary cocktail. For now, we’ve chosen this one to be featured on The Tiki Bar Is Open for three reasons: it’s flavor, it’s name and it’s tiki pop culture influences.

This version of the cocktail provides a true island escape because it’s main flavors come from pineapple and orange topped with a fizz that will remind you of the ocean waves. Somewhat unique is that fact that it is both shaken AND stirred. It’s bright green color is what primarily gives it it’s name. Bright green… radio-active… atomic.

Although a contemporary cocktail, it has retro influences. It’s tropical flavor is typical of post WWII Tiki Pop Culture which of course grew to it’s first peak during the Atomic Era. An era that was one of America’s best.

Hence… a great name, a great story and a great cocktail.

Here’s how you make it.

Ingredients:
2 oz Cognac
2 oz Grand Grand Marnier
1/2 oz Blue Curacao
1/2 cup crushed ice
4 large ice cubes
2 oz Pineapple or exotic fruit juice
1 oz dry Champagne
1 slice kiwi

Directions
Mix first four ingredients in a shaker and shake until cold and frothy.
Strain over 4 large ice cubes in a highball glass.
Add the fruit juice, stir and then top with Champagne.
Garnish with a kiwi slice.

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Inspired by the candy bar.

You know… the one with the coconut center topped with almonds and milk chocolate. The one with the famous ads: “Sometimes you feel like a nut… sometimes you don’t! Almond Joy’s got nuts… Mounds don’t!” Almond Joy and Mounds were two similar candy bars (one with almonds, one without) that were advertised together and made famous by each other by a company that no longer exists… Peter Paul.

Peter Paul was started by Peter Paul Halajian in the early 20th century. The Almond Joy bar was introduced in 1946 and was a perfect fit to the post WWII era so heavily influenced by Polynesian and Tiki Pop culture. One bite took you away to the islands. One bite was an escape.

As time went on, Peter Paul merged with Cadbury and later Hershey. Hershey eventually began producing variations of the product in it’s true spirit and tried to take us away to the islands with limited edition versions such as the Piña Colada and Double Chocolate Almond Joy in 2004, a limited edition White Chocolate Key Lime and Milk Chocolate Passion Fruit Almond Joy in 2005, and a limited edition Toasted Coconut Almond Joy in 2006.

So, while not the typical cocktail you’d find here at the Tiki Bar Is Open as it it is a bit more contemporary in it’s roots… we bring you the best variation to this candy bar of all… a cocktail. Any cocktail influenced by a cool story like this and one that has a great flavor made with coconut flavored rum, creme de cacao, amaretto and heavy cream is a bound to be a great cocktail. One sip and you’ll be hooked as this cocktail takes you away to summertime childhood memories and island fantasies as the heavy cream smooths the sweetness and the alcohol while the coconut rum and liqueurs add the perfect flavors to emulate the famous Almond Joy candy bar. It has one of those great balances that is a true tribute to the art of mixology.

Here’s How to Make an Almond Joy Cocktail

Start with a cocktail shaker and fill it with ice and add:

  • 1oz of Coconut Rum
  • 1oz of Amaretto
  • 1oz of Creme de Cacao
  • 1oz of Heavy Cream
  • Shake it up and pour into a cocktail glass
  • Garnish with almonds, chocolate shavings or syrup and some mint if desired

Enjoy!

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First, imagine a place on the east coast of Florida. Early 1900s and heavy Spanish influence. The wealthiest in America are migrating in and around Daytona Beach, lead by John D. Rockefeller. All along the Halifax River and all along the mighty blue Atlantic you find beautiful mansions that are winter homes and even permanent homes for America’s millionaires – “Millionaire’s Row”. Everyone from Henry Ford to the founders of Palm Beach frequent the area and hold large parties. Many of these places still stand today and owned by a new wave of American millionaires or are simply a part of protected American history – from The Casements to The Doldrums.

If you find yourself among one of these places, Oysters Rockefeller is a great tribute to the area and the history. If you can’t be there in person, this is a delicacy that will take you there in just one bite.

Named “Rockefeller” strictly for its richness, this is a simple yet unique dish to prepare. As a bias, I of course recommend Florida oysters, but fresh oysters from any locale will do and will be your best bet.

Here’s what you need and here’s what you do:

Ingredients:

1/3 cup chopped parsley

¼ cup celery leaves

¼ cup watercress leaves

1 cup fresh breadcrumbs made from French bread

4 tablespoons butter, melted

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large shallot, thinly sliced

4 lightly packed cups fresh baby spinach leaves

1/3 cup Sambuca

Rock salt

12 fresh live oysters, shucked and shells reserved

Directions

Use a muddler to ground the parsley, celery leaves and watercress. Then chop the herb mixture with a sharp knife.

Toss the herb mixture in a large bowl with the fresh breadcrumbs and drizzle the melted butter over the mixture and toss. Season to taste with sea salt and pepper and set aside.

Place a large sauté pan over a medium to high heat and pour the olive oil into the pan. Add the shallots and sauté until just tender. Add the spinach and Sambuca and sauté until the spinach wilts and most of the juices evaporate. Once the spinach wilts, remove the pan from the heat.

Preheat the oven to 450°. Spoon 12 mounds of rock salt over a heavy, large baking sheet. Remove the oysters from their shells and set them aside on a plate. Place the spinach mixture on each oyster shell, dividing equally. Place one oyster on top of the spinach mixture in each shell. Spoon the breadcrumb mixture over the oysters, dividing equally.

Place each prepared oyster atop a mound of rock salt on the baking sheet. The mounds of rock salt will help keep the oyster shells in place and prevent them from toppling over and spilling their ingredients while they cook.

Bake for 15 minutes or until the breadcrumb mixture is golden brown. Meanwhile, form 12 mounds of rock salt on a large platter. Remove the oysters from the baking sheet and place on the mounds of rock salt on the platter and enjoy immediately.

This is a great Bahamian recipe given to me by a friend of mine who was raised in the Bahamas and whom I’ve known for nearly 18 years.

Much like Tiki Pop Culture, Bahamian cuisine is a fusion of many things – African, British, Spanish, French, Dutch and Indian to name a few. Over time, food creations evolved that are unique to the region. The Bahamas are particularly known for foods such as conch, Johnny cakes, tomato-based stews, breadfruit, callaloo, alot of great sea food and great rum drinks.

Bahamians were among the first Caribbeans to migrate to the mainland US. This happened in the late nineteenth century as many Bahamians went to Florida to work in agriculture, especially in Key West to work in fishing, sponging, and turtling industries. Thus, this great culture became infused into America’s melting pot and brought awareness to another great tropical culture.

In regards to this recipe, Grouper is a wonderful fish that is abundant in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. Many in the area regard it as the best fish you could possibly eat. They are actually part of the sea bass family and there are many varieties. The Goliath Grouper may be the most fascinating as they can grow to about 8 ft and there have been many reports of them swallowing small sharks as food.. The Black Grouper is probably the most common for humans to eat.

One other interesting thing about grouper is that the are almost all born as females and later transform into males as they grow larger.

As for the coconut… it’s the tropics!

Ingredients 2 Grouper fillets Meat from one coconut 5 Tablespoons oil Flour Salt 1 teaspoon curry powder 1 clove of garlic (crushed)

Prep Grate the coconut, soak in water and then squeeze the coconut shavings over a bowl to make “milk”.

Mix the salt and flour together to make a simple coating for the grouper. Cut the fillets into strips and coat with the flour/salt mix. Fry the cutlets in hot oil just to seal in flavor, then stir in the curry and garlic. Add in the coconut milk and reduce heat to simmer. After 10 minutes, remove the fish and add flour and coconut shavings to the pan to create a sauce. Stir for a few minutes and allow to thicken.

Here is a great twist on a vintage cocktail, the Tom Collins.

The Tom Collins is made from from gin, lemon juice, sugar, and carbonated water… essentially a gin and sparkling lemonade.

There is kind of a funny story about this concoction that dates back to around 1874 in New York and the surrounding states where locals would jokingly start bar conversations with visitors by saying, “Have you seen Tom Collins?” (knowing the response would be that they did not know a Tom Collins). The local would then continue the prank by explaining that a Tom Collins was talking about them and that they were “just around the corner”, in another (local) bar, or somewhere else nearby. The prank was all in fun to see how much of a reaction they could get out of the visitor. The prank became so popular it was even featured in several newspapers that year.

For this variation, we give it more of an island twist Read more…

Use Illy ground espresso. Dark or medium roast.

Fill your espresso mug 3/4 full with espresso.

Top to rim with 1 part Sambuca, 1 part Seven Tiki Rum.

Garnish with three espresso beans – an Italian tradition that represents love, luck and happiness.

Something different you may notice about many of my cocktail recipes versus others is that I often emphasize the importance of adding Angostura Bitters. Angostura Bitters is the simple, secret ingredient for making just about any cocktail a great cocktail. This is because a great cocktail is about the balance of flavors (sweet, sour and bitter and sometimes salt). Most cocktail recipes cover the sweet, the sour and the salty ingredients but they hardly ever call for a bitter ingredient. It’s the bitter flavor that often adds the final balance need to ensure a cocktail is not too sweet or too sour.

This is where Angostura Bitters comes in.

If you’ve followed my posts before, you already know something about Bitters. If not, I’ll bet you still know something about Bitters or have at least seen it around… it comes in a very distinctive bottle thanks to it’s over-sized label.

Angastora Bitters often makes all of the difference in achieving the right balance of flavors in many cocktails. This opinion is common amongst mixologists, yet it is hardly (if ever) mentioned as an ingredient for any cocktail in any common recipe you find. This is a bit odd given it is a very inexpensive ingredient you can find in most grocery stores and it really does make the difference between a good cocktail and a great cocktail.

So… use this advice to your advantage! Add a few drops to just about any cocktail you make and you’ll be surprised of the reaction you get from those you serve. They will taste the difference!

Read more…

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Tiramisu is Italian for “pull me up”.

It is a very popular Italian cake and for good reason. When you take a bite, the flavors just jump in your mouth, wake you up and bring you to life. Tiramisu is awesome.

There are also some terrific variations of Tiramisu… including this Tikified variation.

Tiramisu is made of biscuits (usually lady fingers) dipped in espresso and layered with a whipped mixture of egg yolks and mascarpone cheese. Extra flavoring is provided with liquor and cocoa.

To prepare the biscuit/ladyfinger layer (Savoiardi in Italy), you use espresso to soak them and add in some coffee flavored liqueur along with some sweet marsala wine.

Rare variations add in some dark rum and if you haven’t guessed by now, this is where my Tiki variation comes in… I use Marsala as well as some of my favorite Seven Tiki rum.

Here’s the ingredients and instructions. Enjoy:

Read more…

In general, I prefer to my cocktails shaken… not stirred. However, every once in awhile, it is quite acceptable (necessary even) to use a blender.
Here’s a cool fact about the coolest blender to ever exist – the Waring Blendor:
The Waring Blendor is named after Fredrick Malcolm Waring, a popular musician, bandleader and radio-television personality in the 1930s. With his financial backing, this first modern electric blender was created. The blender itself was invented by Frederick Jacob Osius who went to Waring in regards to his invention which he had patented. With $25,000 in backing, the “Miracle Mixer” was introduced. It retailed for $29.75 in 1937.

Read more…