Gardenia Mix – Classic Tiki Recipe

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Gardenia Mix

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Course: DrinksCuisine: American




Total time



Make gardenia mix for a classic pearl diver.


  • 4 oz 4 Honey

  • 4 oz 4 Unsalted Butter

  • 4 dash 4 Vanilla Extract

  • 1 tsp 1 Ground Cinnamon

  • 1 tsp 1 Ground Allspice

  • Optional Ingredient
  • 1 g 1 Lecithin (as an emulsifier)


  • On very low heat or using a double boiler, just melt the butter and then turn off the heat. Don’t cook and separate the butter, just melt it. (Optionally blend the butter with Lecithin and whisk together till the lecithin is fully incorporated.)
  • Next simply add all the other ingredients to the melted butter.
  • Stir till the honey has fully mixed in. Cover gardenia mix and refrigerate to store it. Let it come room temperature before you use it.

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Gardenia Mix Recipe.

A Google search for gardenia mix will yield a few recipes, and most are variations of Jeff “Beachbum” Berry’s recipe. Jeff Berry’s recipe is:

  • 1 oz honey
  • 1 oz unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla syrup
  • 1 tsp cinnamon syrup
  • 1/2 tsp allspice dram

You heat it a little, just enough to melt the butter, and then blend it all. Easy enough. I don’t have cinnamon or vanilla syrup around all the time or feel like making it, so a recipe without those would be:

  • 2 oz honey
  • 2 oz unsalted butter
  • 2 dash vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice

I also doubled the volumes as the normal recipe makes too little batter. There are other variations for emulsifying the butter fats better, so they don’t clump, and others to be different and “improve” the recipe.

What Is Don The Beachcomber’s Original Gardenia Mix Recipe?

The issue for everyone alive today wanting to make Pearl Divers is Donn Beach never published his recipes and went to great lengths to make sure no one ever knew them. He even named it gardenia mix, even though the mixture has nothing to do with a real gardenia flower. It was all to throw people off. There is also a high likelihood that he even slightly changed his recipes several times during his career and ultimately took those recipes to the grave in 1989. (read my general tiki description for more information) During the mid-90s, Jeff Berry met with former bartenders, gathered information, and tested recipes with people familiar with how the cocktails tasted and were constructed. All that hard work ultimately paid off in giving us the Donn the Beachcomber recipes we have today.

The Benefits Of Adding An Emulsifier.

Gardenia Mix can be made by combining the butter and spices together, which will taste great. Unfortunately, It will separate in a cold drink from the rest of the liquid. Butter fats solidify around 65f (18c), which needs to be kept above that to stay liquid. Obviously, cocktails are much cooler than that, so once a cocktail is chilled, the fats will turn solid and clump together. That’s not a big deal in blended drinks, but it’s pronounced in shaken drinks or stirred ones. This is why drinks like the pearl diver, pina colada, blue Hawaiian, etc., are all blended.

The solution to this is to add an emulsifier. Common emulsifiers in food are lecithin and casein. These are naturally present in foods like eggs and milk but can be bought online as purified powders. Lecithin powder is pretty easy to get and easy to work with. Use 1% of lecithin to the amount you are looking to emulsify. So to emulsify 400g of coconut milk or butter, add 4g of lecithin and thoroughly mix. Bonding lecithin to the fats (or water) will ensure that the fats stay evenly suspended and incorporated in the final drink. It makes the fats water soluble and opens these ingredients to use beyond just being blended.

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