Gardenia Mix – Classic Tiki Recipe

Gardenia Mix
Gardenia Mix

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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Gardenia Mix

0 from 0 votes Only logged in users can rate recipes
Course: DrinksCuisine: American
Servings

4

servings
Calories

150

kcal
Total time

15

minutes

Make gardenia mix for a classic pearl diver.

Ingredients

  • 4 oz Honey

  • 4 oz Unsalted Butter

  • 4 dash Vanilla Extract

  • 1 tsp Ground Cinnamon

  • 1 tsp Ground Allspice

  • Optional Ingredient
  • 1 g Lecithin

Directions

  • 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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Cocktails That Use Gardenia Mix

Pearl Diver – Best Recipe

Pearl Diver
Pearl Diver

What Does The Pearl Diver Taste Like?

The Pearl Diver is a unique cocktail. Even in the tiki world, its inclusion of Creamed spiced honey butter is unusual. The Gardenia mix adds a creamy texture and hot buttered rum flavor to a tropical drink. I have consistently found that people who don’t like hot buttered rum also don’t like this. I have also noticed that people who want hot buttered rum also like this. It tastes like a citrusy cold buttered rum, and I love it.

Don the Beachcomber’s Forgotten Recipes.

Immediately after the 21st amendment had repealed prohibition, Donn Beach opened Don the Beachcomber in Hollywood, California. Donn single-handedly created the first Tiki bar and, with it, tiki culture. But like most innovators, Donn was worried about others copying his Hollywood-style Polynesian-themed bar and profiting off his ideas. Donn would show up a few hours before the bar opened, mix large batches of his spice mixes and mixers, and give them nondescriptive labels like Donn’s spice mix #1, #2, #3, or Donn’s Zombie Mix, Grog Mix, Gardenia mix. This was all done to hide the recipes. Donn never told the other bartenders or published a recipe, and while he did open other bars, his recipes never got out. Thus Donn’s original recipes died with him in 1989. So keep that in mind anytime you see a Don the Beachcomber cocktail; it is never an original recipe, just the best guess. And some guesses are better than others. Tiki was a lawless free for all for a little over a decade with no continuity between drinks of the same name. There is still a lot of that today. How many Mai Tai recipes have you seen even though we know the original canon recipe for it?

In the late 90s, a Tiki cocktail enthusiast named Jeff Berry came along with the intent of preserving the old recipes and Tiki culture and helping revitalize the public interest in it. Jeff interviewed old bartenders of Donn the Beachcombers and set out to recreate Donn’s secret recipes to the best of their knowledge. Gathering whatever information he could and testing recipes against people who remembered what the old drinks tasted like, he is credited with having saved recipes that would otherwise be lost to time. Remember that these are not Donn’s original recipe but Jeff’s best attempts at recreating them and that Jeff Beachbum Berry is probably the closest one to get it right.

What is Gardenia Mix and How to Make It.

The secret Gardenia mix recipe Jeff Berry eventually settled on was:

  • 1 oz Honey
  • 1 oz unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla Syrup
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon Syrup
  • 1/2 tsp Allspice Dram.

The stuff taste and smells fantastic. Although not everyone has vanilla or cinnamon syrup around, I wrote a recipe that is a bit more accessible. Here is my specific article on gardenia mix and how to make it.

The Most Important Part Of This Cocktail.

The most important part of the pearl diver is how you mix it. Butter is mostly milk fat and protein, and it does not stay emulsified in water. So you have two options. 1). Use a blender and turn it into a slushy. 2). Use an emulsifier like gum syrup or something to mix the gardenia mix while making it evenly and it is still warm. If you don’t blend it or use an emulsifier, the butter oddly sits at the top and looks pretty gross.

The first option of using a blender is the more common one. There will still be tiny butter particles, but the blender’s speed helps to mix them evenly, and the slushy ice prevents them from forming together. If slushies are not your style, then try option #2.

The second option is to use an emulsifier while making the gardenia mix while it is still warm. You’re not fighting the fat when the cocktail is cold. I’m not the most versed in that method but guides online talk about how to do it that way.

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Pearl Diver – Classic Don the Beachcomber Cocktail Recipe

5 from 1 vote Only logged in users can rate recipes
Course: DrinksCuisine: American
Servings

1

servings
Calories

456

kcal
ABV

19%

Total time

3

minutes

Learn how to make the Pearl Diver.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 oz Lime Juice

  • 1 oz Orange Juice

  • 1/2 oz Simple Syrup

  • 1 oz Gardenia Mix

  • 1/3 oz Falernum

  • 1.5 oz Gold Rum

  • 1 oz Anejo Rum

Directions

  • Combine all ingredients into a blender with a single scoop of ice cubes.
  • Blend on low for 10 seconds or till the ice is mostly pulverized. Now blend on high for 5-10 seconds to completely crush the ice and turn the drink into a slushy texture.
  • Pour into serving glass. Garnish with an orchid flower.

Recipe Video

Notes

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Make Cocktails Like A Pro

If you have ever struggled with a recipe or wonder why yours are not turning out like they do at the bar then check out my simple step-by-step videos. I will walk you through how to expertly build each drink so you get consistently great results.

  • Free and simple step by step videos.
  • Tips and tricks from years of experience.
  • Historically accurate and balanced recipes.