Planters Punch #3 – Trader Vic’s Delicious 1972 Recipe

Planters Punch 3
Planters Punch 3

The History Of The Planter’s Punch.

The truth is, no one alive knows the origins of this cocktail, and every best guess of its origin is just the best guess. The issue I have struggled with (and I’m sure many other drink writers have, too) is hoping to find that one true origin story. There are two common origins to the Planter’s Punch that get tossed around:

  1. Mid 1800s Jamaica.
  2. The Old Planter’s Hotel in Charleston, SC.

Had I been asked ten years ago, I would have pushed the hotel idea; then, I pivoted to the Jamaica one. Now I kinda say to hell with it; there seems to be a planter’s punch for every island in the Caribbean, with neither more “authentic” than the other. But the different significant versions are worth exploring. After much reading, I have concluded that every place that had a plantation probably had a version of the planter’s punch.

Trader Vic’s 1972 Planter’s Punch Recipe.

I include this one because it’s pretty on point. Like the others, it has a citrus, syrup (including grenadine), and rum. But something Victor Bergeron brought back that most other versions lack, but classic punches have water. Also, in his 1972 book, he has a special section for this cocktail where he includes six different recipes and says there is no such thing as a proper Planter’s punch. He mentions people coming into the bar trying to educate him on what makes an authentic Planter’s Punch. Each one is different, and Vic lays out that there is a Planter’s Punch for every island in the Caribbean.

  • 1/2 oz (15 mLs) Lime Juice
  • 1 Barspoon (5 mLs) Dark Simple Syrup
  • 1 Barspoon (5 mLs) Grenadine
  • 1 oz (30 mLs) Lemon Juice
  • 2 oz (60 mLs) Gold Rum
  • 2 oz (60 mLs) Soda Water

Why Are There So Many Planter’s Punch Recipes?

I include all these because they are all delicious, and one is not more authentic than the others. The oldest known recipe may be the Fun magazine recipe, but there is no certainty that it is even the original. There are more versions of this cocktail than I have included here, and they are all different and good. So don’t let anyone tell you your recipe is wrong because there is no right way to make the drink.

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Planter’s Punch – 1972 Recipe

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

1

servings
Calories

161

kcal
ABV

13%

Total time

3

minutes

Make Trader Vic’s 1970s Planters Punch

Ingredients

  • 1/2 oz Lime Juice

  • 1 oz Lemon Juice

  • 1 tsp Dark Simple Syrup

  • 1 tsp Grenadine

  • 2 oz Gold Rum

  • 2 oz Soda Water

Directions

  • Combine into a shaker, and add a scoop of shaved ice. If you do not have shaved ice then crushed ice will do.
  • Shake the shaker only a little since soda water will be added.
  • Pour the whole shaker into the serving glass. Ice and all.
  • Top off with soda water.

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Planters Punch #2 – The Fantastic 1933 Cuban Recipe

Planters Punch 2
Planters Punch 2

The History Of The Planter’s Punch.

The truth is, no one alive knows the origins of this cocktail, and every best guess of its origin is just the best guess. The issue I have struggled with (and I’m sure many other drink writers have, too) is hoping to find that one true origin story. There are two common origins to the Planter’s Punch that get tossed around:

  1. Mid 1800s Jamaica.
  2. The Old Planter’s Hotel in Charleston, SC.

Had I been asked ten years ago, I would have pushed the hotel idea; then, I pivoted to the Jamaica one. Now I kinda say to hell with it; there seems to be a planter’s punch for every island in the Caribbean, with neither more “authentic” than the other. But the different significant versions are worth exploring. After much reading, I have concluded that every place that had a plantation probably had a version of the planter’s punch.

Bar La Florida’s 1933 Planter’s Punch Recipe.

The Cuban versions are the first recipes I can find where grenadine is used, and it more closely resembles the Planter’s punch most people think of. Also, both Bar La Florida and Sloppy Joes have the same ingredients, but the recipe’s proportions vary a bit so I would consider this type the overall Cuban version of the planter’s punch. Bar La Florida’s seems a bit sweeter, and that’s the one I’m printing here.

  • 1/2 oz (15 mLs) Lemon Juice
  • 1 Barspoon (5 mLs) Orange Liqueur
  • 1 Barspoon (5 mLs) Grenadine
  • 2 oz (60 mLs) Gold Rum

Why Are There So Many Planter’s Punch Recipes?

I include all these because they are all delicious, and one is not more authentic than the others. The oldest known recipe may be the Fun magazine recipe, but there is no certainty that it is even the original. There are more versions of this cocktail than I have included here, and they are all different and good. So don’t let anyone tell you your recipe is wrong because there is no right way to make the drink.

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Planter’s Punch – 1933 Recipe

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

1

servings
Calories

154

kcal
ABV

30%

Total time

3

minutes

Make a Cuban style planter’s punch

Ingredients

  • 1/2 oz Lemon Juice

  • 1 barspoon Grenadine

  • 1 barspoon Orange Liqueur

  • 2 oz Gold Rum

Directions

  • Combine into a shaker, and add a scoop of shaved ice. If you do not have shaved ice then crushed ice will do.
  • Vigorously shake till the shaker is ice cold and frosted.
  • Pour the whole shaker into the serving glass. Ice and all

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.

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Planter’s Punch #1 – Delicious Original 1878 Recipe

Planters Punch No1
Planters Punch No1

The History Of The Planter’s Punch.

The truth is, no one alive knows the origins of this cocktail, and every best guess of its origin is just the best guess. The issue I have struggled with (and I’m sure many other drink writers have, too) is hoping to find that one true origin story. There are two common origins to the Planter’s Punch that get tossed around:

  1. Mid 1800s Jamaica.
  2. The Old Planter’s Hotel in Charleston, SC.

Had I been asked ten years ago, I would have pushed the hotel idea; then, I pivoted to the Jamaica one. Now I kinda say to hell with it; there seems to be a planter’s punch for every island in the Caribbean, with neither more “authentic” than the other. But the different significant versions are worth exploring. After much reading, I have concluded that every place that had a plantation probably had a version of the planter’s punch.

Fun Magazine’s Sept 1878 Planter’s Punch Recipe.

This is the oldest currently known reference to the Planter’s punch. It was printed on page 102 of the September 1878 issue of Fun Magazine in the UK. Here is a link to that digitalized issue if you want to check it out. That first recipe is a pretty straightforward punch (I’ve updated the measurements to modern units from the older antiquated ones like wineglass or pony etc.):

  • 2 oz (60 mLs) Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 cup (120 g) Sugar
  • 6 oz (180 mLs) Gold Rum
  • 1 cup (240 mLs) Cold Water

That’s the extent of the recipe in Fun. The Recipe had no context or story. Just a simple recipe told as a ditty. The song is.

A wine-glass with lemon juice fill,
Of sugar the same glass fill twice
Then rub them together until
The mixture looks smooth, soft, and nice.

Of rum then three wine glasses add,
And four of cold water please take. A
Drink then you’ll have that’s not bad—
At least, so they say in Jamaica

Why Are There So Many Planter’s Punch Recipes?

I include all these because they are all delicious, and one is not more authentic than the others. The oldest known recipe may be the Fun magazine recipe, but there is no certainty that it is even the original. There are more versions of this cocktail than I have included here, and they are all different and good. So don’t let anyone tell you your recipe is wrong because there is no right way to make the drink.

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Planter’s Punch – 1878 Recipe

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

1

servings
Calories

300

kcal
ABV

11%

Total time

3

minutes

Make the oldest known planter’s punch recipe

Ingredients

  • 2/3 oz Lemon Juice

  • 1.5 oz Simple Syrup

  • 2 oz Gold Rum

  • 3 oz Water

Directions

  • Combine all ingredients in a large punch bowl or pitcher.
  • Add Ice to chill and pour out individual servings.

Make Cocktails Like A Pro

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Pi Yi – Make The Most Amazing Classic Tiki Cocktail

Pi Yi
Pi Yi

What Does The PI YI Taste Like?

This is a fantastic spiced tropical juice-flavored cocktail. It’s one of my favorite tiki drinks and, in my opinion, is much better than many of the more popular tiki cocktails. The honey and juice perfectly match the strength of the rum and the spice of the bitters. Not much to say other than this is a must-try and one you will most likely make again.

Making A PI YI With A Fresh Pineapple.

The authentic way to prepare this was to scoop out a small pineapple and use the inside, blend it, and use its juice in the drink. Once the drink was shaken and done, it was poured back into the hollowed-out pineapple. To keep with tradition, I cut pineapple and used a small bit of blended fruit as the juice for this drink, which turned out good. I did not pour it back in since I wanted the drink to be visible in a glass. Also, I ate most of the pineapple on its own, and hollowing out a pineapple would give me way more than 1 oz of juice. My assumption is all the extra fruit and juice from the fresh pineapple was used in other drinks too, at Don The Beachcombers.

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Pi Yi Cocktail – Vintage Donn Beach Tiki Cocktail

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

1

servings
Calories

181

kcal
ABV

17%

Total time

3

minutes

Learn how to make the Pi Yi.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 oz Lime Juice

  • 1 oz Pineapple Juice

  • 1/2 oz Passion Fruit Syrup

  • 1 tsp Honey Syrup

  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters

  • 1 oz White Rum

  • 2/3 oz Gold Rum

Directions

  • Combine all ingredients into a shaker and add a scoop of shaved ice. If you do not have shaved ice then crushed ice will do.
  • Vigorously shake till the shaker is ice cold and frosted.
  • Pour the whole shaker into the serving glass. Ice and all.

Notes


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.


Hot Toddy – Delicious Classic 18th Century Style Toddy

Hot Toddy
Hot Toddy

The History Of The Hot Toddy.

Many of these old drinks that we still make today are hard to find information on—hot buttered rum, hot ale flip, buttered beer, toddies, etc. Most actual written recipes are from the mid-1800s and later. Books mainly were published for histories and stories, but skills and trades were just taught from master to apprentice. There were a few, but not like there is today. One tries to piecemeal as much as they can together.

In a 1769 book, “A Dissertation On The Oleum Palmae Christi,” by Peter Canvane mentions adding medicines to “warm milk punch, common punch, or toddy, in which a hot poker has been quenched.” as ways of administering medication to those who complain about the taste. (Total side note. All the older English writing has the long “S” character ( “ʃ” ), but I changed it to a standard “s” in the quote, it looks kinda like an f, but it’s just another symbol for s that we don’t use anymore. That’s why the Declaration of Independence looks like they spelled everything wrong.) In a 1783 fictional book “Smyth’s Tour of The United States” by J.F.D. Smyth notes that his character likes to “take a draught of Bumbo, or toddy, a liquor composed of water, sugar, rum, and nutmeg.” There was also a funny romance story from 1741 I found, where a beautiful lady walks into the kitchen and asks the lord of the house for a toddy. “Would you like it hot or cold? warm I replied.”

All silliness aside, the point I am trying to get at is that there is no actual formal recipe to make a toddy but the parts and qualities. There are as many toddies as there are people. The parts matter, so based on the works I referenced, let’s break those parts down.

  1. The first reference points to the colonial American way of heating drinks. Not by using a stove but by using a hot fireplace poker, often called a toddy rod or loggerhead. In a home setting, a stove probably was used as it was already fired up for cooking food, but in a tavern, it was more efficient to place iron rods in the already running fireplace. Rather than having a stove run all night to be ready for the occasional warm drink, they could dip the toddy rod into the drinks people request warmed.
  2. The second reference gives us the ingredient of the toddy. The four parts are water, sugar, rum, and nutmeg. Now any spice will do, but it is worth noting that only nutmeg is mentioned in the early 1862 Bartenders’ guide when adding spice toddies.
  3. The third reference shows us that toddies were served both hot and cold and sometimes warm. Now I am willing to bet that a cold toddy was not a heated one. Commercial refrigeration was not invented until the 1850s, so access to ice blocks was mainly limited to businesses. And while they did have ice houses that saved ice for most of the summer (some stayed in use up to the 1930s), something as special as the ice was not going to be wasted on a single drink.

So for this hot toddy recipe, I will stick to those points. It used only rum, water, sugar, and nutmeg. It was heated up with a toddy rod. Almost every recipe you find has lemon juice added it to add to its medicinal qualities, but since that is not traditional to the 18th or 19th century, I will leave it out and stick to the classic structure. On a fun side note, did you know the original name for the muddler was the toddy stick? That’s right, It was based on the pestle from the mortar and pestle but made of wood so it wouldn’t shatter glass cups. The shape was perfect for smashing together fruits, spices, and sugar cubes.

Do Hot Toddies Actually Help You Feel Better When You Are Sick?

So the short answer is, I guess… sure. The long answer is it depends on what ailment you hope to relieve. Western medicine has come a long way since the 18th century, but there are three reasons a person makes a hot toddy today other than tasting good. 1). When they have a soar throat. 2). When their sinuses are congested, and 3). It just feels nice to cozy up with one during the winter. The main health benefit of a hot toddy comes from honey; if you use sugar, you are missing most of the benefits of a hot toddy. Honey is pretty awesome nectar and has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties. In some lab studies, if it is found to reduce pro-inflammatory cytokines, this combined with the warm steam from the drink can help reduce congestion as that is an inflammation of the sinuses. Or you can pop some Sudafed during the day and Benadryl at night, as those are some of the present-day gold standards of over-the-counter anti-inflammation medication.

Ignoring mechanical irritation of one’s throat like screaming a bunch, the most common reason for a sore throat is an infection, and the body’s natural response to infection is inflammation. So again, it’s honey with that anti-inflammatory response, or you could pop an ibuprofen or naproxen as they would be a more effective treatment. And the last point is it just feels good to cozy up with one, and it does. Being cozy makes you feel happy, but did you also know that nutmeg is a hallucinogen. The dose is so low that it’s hard to credit any effect on the brain to the nutmeg, but it does contain myristicin, making people trip in large amounts. Maybe that good feeling is just a psychedelic nut and alcohol-induced surface. Some people are susceptible to nutmeg and its active chemicals and get pounding headaches from even the smallest amount. So don’t ever use too much nutmeg, don’t use it to get high, and be careful as it can be dangerous in large doses. Make wise choices.

I will be using a traditional toddy rod, or as it is also called a loggerhead, to warm the hot toddy. A stove works too, but a toddy rod imparts a slightly toastier final flavor. If you are curious to learn more, check out this fantastic article that goes into early American toddy culture.

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Hot Toddy

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

1

servings
Calories

180

kcal
ABV

10%

Total time

3

minutes

Learn how to make a vintage style hot toddy.

Ingredients

  • 2/3 oz Honey Syrup

  • 2 oz Gold Rum

  • 5 oz Water

  • light dusting Nutmeg

Directions

  • Combine honey and rum into heat resistant or ceramic mug.
  • Either add hot water and stir or add room temperature water and dip a hot toddy rod in. Stir with the rod as the water boils.
  • Garnish with a dusting of nutmeg.

Recipe Video

Notes


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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.


Hot Ale Flip – A Delicious Early Colonial Beer Cocktail

Hot Ale Flip
Hot Ale Flip

A Short History Of Cooking Beer.

Before the days of bottling and refrigeration, fresh beer had a minimal shelf life, and having to waste any brought a tear to many people’s eyes. So like any food item on its way out, people tried to find ways to get just a couple more uses out of it. I’m sure you do this all the time. Strawberries are starting to get soft. Make a smoothie. Worried about your gigantic bag of onions getting too old, make French onion soup. There are many things you can do before food turns and during the 17th century cooking beer with honey and spices was one way to mask the flavor of a beer going bad.

Earlier forms of the hot ale flip we simple hot ale and honey drinks, and if you want to find these recipes, you’ll need to look in old cookbooks. One such recipe from the 1669 book “The Closet” by Sir Kenelme Digbie is an ale recipe with honey specifically for beer that is about to go wrong. Sir Kenelme Digbie described cooking old beer with honey would help the turned old beer and “set the whole a working a fresh, and casting out foulness.”

Some very old books had tips and tricks for the old food, but with the invention of commercial refrigeration in the mid-1800s, that stopped being such a big problem. Most of those recipes either got lost to time, but many still live on as things you usually eat—fruit pies, jellies, alcohol, pickles, hell, even banana bread. Hence, most recipes specifically call for nasty old soft brown bananas no one wants to eat. It’s for flavor, but it comes from a much older tradition. Old meat was a little harder to repurpose and was something you needed to persevere before it started to turn. Although old meat could be used as bait to catch fresh meat or go fishing, once meat goes bad, it needs to be discarded.

What Does The Hot Ale Flip Taste Like?

Check out my article here, where I have taste-tested many different beers to see which make the best flips. Depending on the beer you use, these can be good or bad. To make it more difficult, it’s almost impossible to know which beers are suitable as a flip and which are not without actually trying them. You think a dark flavorful beer would be tasty warmed with spices, whiskey, and sugar, but most are awful. The flavorful beers seem to turn too bitter, but lighter, more drinkable beers like Boston lager and Budweiser are excellent. The only way to know is to try. I started doing a whole YouTube series on which beers taste good and which taste bad, and my goal is to try every beer I can get my hands on hot. I have a hot beer tier list of my favorite beers so far. I like fat tire, to begin with, but hot it was amazing.

Keep in mind that this is a way of making old beers taste good again. I opened a bottle of beer, poured it, set it on the counter for a day, and it made a better flip than a fresh bottle of the same beer. The new beer tastes better cold, but the old beer tastes better flipped. My mind was blown. No of these results were expected. I believed the opposite to be true of what the actual results were. I only tried it with this one beer (Boston lager since I liked it flipped, to begin with), but I feel I should do the same experiment for others. Doing this will likely make me gain quite a few pounds in the next year, but I think it will be fun.

What Is A Flip?

No one knows where the term flip came from. Some guesses are that it described the bubbles leaving the drink. Like the bubbles flipped from the inside to the outside, or the drink was so strong it would make you flip out of your chair. No one knows, but I have my idea. Some 18th century and earlier books provided ways to repurpose food that was going bad or losing its freshness. I wrote a bit about that in the paragraphs above. It is often referred to as the food or drinks turning. My guess is the term flip was a clever play on words to describe making a turned beer taste good again. Again I have no evidence of this. It’s just a feeling.

I will be using a traditional toddy rod or, as it is also called, a loggerhead to warm the Flip. A stove works too, but a toddy rod imparts a slightly toastier final flavor. If you are curious to learn more, check out this fantastic article on early American toddy culture.

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Hot Ale Flip

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

1

servings
Calories

330

kcal
ABV

9%

Total time

3

minutes

Learn how to make a hot ale flip.

Ingredients

  • 2/3 oz Dark Simple Syrup

  • 2 oz Gold Rum

  • 12 oz Amber Ale

  • Light dusting Nutmeg

Directions

  • Add rum and simple syrup to a large beer glass.
  • Stir rum and syrup together and next add beer.
  • Dip a hot toddy rod into the drink and stir with the rod as the drink boils.
  • Garnish with a dusting of nutmeg.

Notes


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.

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Hot Buttered Rum – Classic Early Colonial American Drink

Hot Buttered Rum
Hot Buttered Rum

The History Of Hot Buttered Rum.

Adding butter to hot drinks was not new during colonial America. Butterbeer dates back to the 16th century, but hot buttered rum was an early American twist on this type of drink. In the Americas, rum and molasses were plentiful and reasonably cheap because of their proximity to the Caribbean. Rum was the first real spirit of the Americas, not whiskey. I looked high and low, but I could not find a hot buttered rum-like recipe till the 1860s with Jerry Thomas’s book. I scanned drink and food recipe books and eventually just started looking for any historical book older than 1860 that might have a recipe or at least mention a hot buttered rum. Trust me; I put more effort into this cocktail than any reasonable person should. I did find a mention of it in the 1826 edition of the Pennsylvanian Historical society. I mentioned how it is common for “good women” to have hot buttered rum, wines, and cordial water served to guests at birthing. And if the baby is unwell or fretful, a dose of spirit, water, and spices could help too. I found an 1855 British book called the Practical housewife, which gave a very similar recipe to the one provided but called the drink a buttered toddy. A book from 1830 named “Three Courses and a Dessert” mentions the hot butter rum and says how it’s a terrible meaty drink. I found this referred to as a buttered toddy a couple of times, but not much, the much more common name was still hot buttered rum.

Lord knows I tried, but the earliest I could find this drink mentioned was in the 1826 Pennsylvanian Historical society. The titles of most of the books that had hot buttered rum recipes were like the domestic blah blah blah, housewife so and so, or friendly neighbor such and such. They all revolved around the house and made no mention of going out to a tavern, which made me think this was a homemade cocktail. This ultimately means its history is a bit muddy, and there is no single canon recipe, so take this recipe, modify it, and make it your own have fun.

What Does Hot Buttered Rum Taste Like?

This is a fantastic drink spiced well with great texture and flavor. The butter doesn’t come across as heavy or greasy. It adds a nice creamy mouthfeel similar to gum syrup, egg whites, or a full-bodied wine. This drink is not weak either. You can feel the warm rum but the light creamy butter and pumpkin pie spices make it pleasant and not too strong. When I was younger, I used to think of this drink as more of an overly sweet, almost milkshake-like, but it doesn’t have to be. And again, since there is no authentic single canon recipe for this, the recipe I have here is an amalgamation of older recipes I liked. The sweetness and spice toned down a bit with more rum. The 2 ounces of rum helps keep the drink from feeling flat, and the sugar and spice level makes it, so the drink tastes like a cocktail and not a dessert. The hot buttered rum batter is great on anything. I sometimes add it to coffee, on toast, biscuits, pancakes, etc. Add a little more sugar, spice, or butter if you feel the drink needs it. Here is the recipe for the batter, but feel free to check out my article on Spiced Butter Batter.

Spiced Butter Batter Recipe.

  • 1/4 tsp (1.5 g) Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp (1.5 g) Ground Nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp (1.5 g) Ground Clove
  • 1/4 tsp (1.5 g) Ground Allspice (or 1/2 tbs: Allspice dram)
  • 1/2 tsp (2.5 g) Vanilla extract 
  • 1/2 cup (120 g) Brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (120 g) Unsalted butter
  1. On low heat or using a double boiler, melt the butter and turn off the heat. Don’t cook and separate the butter. Only melt the butter.
  2. Next, add all the other ingredients to the melted butter.
  3. Stir till the brown sugar has thoroughly mixed in. Cover spiced butter batter and refrigerate.

This recipe will make about a cup (240 grams) of spiced butter batter mix, about 12 drinks. This is good on biscuits, too, and my kids love this spread on toast.

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Hot Buttered Rum

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

1

servings
Calories

220

kcal
ABV

10%

Total time

3

minutes

Learn how to make a Hot Buttered Rum.

Ingredients

  • 2/3 oz Spiced Butter Batter

  • 2 oz Gold Rum

  • 6 oz Hot Water

Directions

  • Drop spiced butter batter into a ceramic or heat resistant mug.
  • Add hot water and stir till the butter is completely melted and incorporated into the water.
  • Lastly add the rum and give a couple last stirs to finish mixing the drink.

Notes


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.

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  • Tips and tricks from years of experience.
  • Historically accurate and balanced recipes.


Pearl Diver – A Fantastic Donn Beach Tiki Cocktail

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


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.

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Zombie – Don The Beachcomber’s Classic Tiki Recipe

Zombie
Zombie

The History Of The Zombie Cocktail.

On the menu, it seems from day one, or at least very soon after, the Zombie is one of Donn Beach’s most famous tiki cocktails. The Zombie was so strong that it would put someone into a blackout drunk automaton state. The Zombie proved to be so renowned it was probably one of Donn’s most copied cocktails. Even though Donn tried to keep the recipe a secret, even from his bartenders, Zombies started popping up at other tiki bars all over the USA. The Aku Aku at the Sahara Casino in Las Vegas, La Mariana Sailing Club in Honolulu, The Tonga Room in San Francisco, and Even Trader Vic’s had a Zombie on the menu (but he did credit Donn for inventing it). The Zombie gained the slogan of being often imitated but never duplicated. As with all Donn Beach cocktails, there is no definitive recipe because he never published them and kept them secret from everyone, even the staff. You couldn’t do anything like that today with allergies and such. You don’t want to be known as the bar that withheld information that ended up killing somebody. Donn is also believed to have changed the Zombie recipe several times to improve it and stay ahead of the competition.

I also find it very cool that he went with this name as Night of the Living Dead didn’t debut till 1968, starting the American zombie craze. Zombies are also traditionally Haitian folklore and not Polynesian. This shows that Tiki was a mish-mash of exotic island Hollywood imagery and not something born of actually Polynesian tradition.

From just looking at the Don the Beachcomber menus, nothing is exciting. It just has the zombie listed as a cocktail with a little voodoo man next to it on some versions. If you wish to google it yourself and check it out, the primary menu years you can find online are 1934, 1941, and 1954, and there is a separate 1960s drink menu.

What Does The Zombie Cocktail Taste Like?

This drink will knock you on your ass. It goes down like a tropical Long Island Ice Tea, and I won’t lie, I had just one of these (the one in the picture), and I had a hard time walking straight. In 1934 Don the Beachcomber sold these for $2.00 and had a limit of 2, and even that seems a bit generous. This cocktail is perfect and very successful at having just enough juice and sweetener not to make the volume of booze overwhelming. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still very alcohol forward, and you feel it, but it toes the line that even a non-old fashion drinker would like it—something the Long Island does not do.

Zombie Cocktail Variations.

There are as many zombie variations as there are bartenders, and that’s fine, considering there is no definitive known recipe. The recipe I have provided here is the Jeff “Beachbum” Berry recipe, as it is regarded as the most accurate and probably the closest to one of Donn Beach’s Zombies. Again, Donn was thought to have changed the recipe several times, so this may be an amalgamation of several versions.

The Most Important Ingredient.

The essential ingredient in the Zombie is the 151. Surprising right? It’s only a half-ounce float on top, but the 151 you use will make or break this cocktail. I personally like Lemon Hart’s 151. It’s the original and surprisingly flavorful for being such a high proof. Donn Beach was said to hunt for this particular brand because it was just that good, and I agree with that. Other lighter 151s add booze (Granted, this cocktail doesn’t need more), but the Lemon Hart ads booze and flavor. If you do not find this particular brand, I would try using a navy strength (57% ABV) rum that is a bit darker in color instead. For an excellent article on 151 and its history, check out this link to The Lone Canner. The Lone Canner also has a great article on the proof system, its history, and technical details here.

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Zombie Cocktail

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

1

servings
Calories

414

kcal
ABV

27%

Total time

3

minutes

Learn how to make a Zombie.

Ingredients

  • 1 oz Lime Juice

  • 2/3 oz Pineapple Juice

  • 2/3 oz Papaya Juice

  • 1/2 oz Simple Syrup

  • 1/2 oz Apple Brandy

  • 1 oz Black Rum

  • 2 oz Gold Rum

  • 1 oz White Rum

  • 1/2 oz 151

Directions

  • Combine all ingredients into a shaker except the 151.
  • Add a scoop of shaved ice. If you do not have shaved ice then crushed ice will do.
  • Vigorously shake till the shaker is ice cold and frosted.
  • Pour the whole shaker into the serving glass. Ice and all.
  • Top Cocktail off with a float of 151.
  • Garnish with maraschino cherries, pineapple, and mint.

Recipe Video

Notes


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.


Brandy Daisy – The Original 1862 Jerry Thomas Recipe

Brandy Daisy Cocktail
Brandy Daisy Cocktail

The History Of The Daisy Style Cocktail.

The daisy was another early cocktail style emerging around the same time as the crusta and many other early standard sour cocktails. The Daisy is essentially a crusta with an ounce of soda water to cut the intensity and make the cocktail more refreshing. First appearing in the 1862 edition of the bartender’s guide by Jerry Thomas, The daisy is a beautiful cocktail if you find the standard sour is a bit too strong.

What Does The Brandy Daisy Taste Like?

The Brandy Daisy is a beautiful little cocktail that adds a bit of refreshing soda water to a delicious sour cocktail. The small amount of Orange Liqueur adds a pleasant orange flavor on top of the citrus. The primary flavor is still brandy, and the subtle flavors of the brandy shine through in this cocktail.

A Nice Brandy Taste Better In This Cocktail.

The most essential ingredient in this cocktail is the brandy you use. I don’t often use fine sipping spirits for cocktails. Still, the proportion of the other ingredients is so small that a nicer, more mellow brandy makes for a better-balanced drink where you can still appreciate the subtleties of a nicer brandy. The brandy daisy is a beautiful drink, but it’s not for everyone. If you love brandy and find the sidecar cocktail too sweet, this is the cocktail for you.

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Download The Official Vintage American Cocktails App

Discover what classic cocktails you can make right now with the ingredients you have. Check out the Vintage American Cocktail app.

Brandy Daisy

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

1

servings
Calories

300

kcal
ABV

21%

Total time

3

minutes

Learn how to make a classic Brandy Daisy.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 oz Lemon Juice

  • 1 tsp Gum Syrup

  • 3 dashes Orange Liqueur

  • 1 tsp Gold Rum

  • 2 oz Brandy Daisy

  • 1.5 oz Soda Water

Directions

  • Combine all ingredients except for the soda water in the shaker. Add ice to the shaker.
  • Vigorously shake till the shaker is ice cold and frosted.
  • Strain into glass to remove ice shards and add the soda water.

Notes


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.