The Educated Tiki Drinker
When was the last time you had a strawberry daiquiri, Mai Tai, or Pina Colada? Chances are, you have probably eschewed these summery drinks for other sweet alternatives such as a mojito, Moscow mule, or mint julep. You most likely had your last tiki drink when you were in the Dominican Republic or on a Caribbean cruise. To be honest, I haven't really seen many tiki drinks on DC bar menus. As Founding Farmer's chief mixologist, Jon Arroyo, points out, most people do not know how to make a true tiki drink. During his two-and-a-half hour long mixology class at LivingSocial's 918 F Street building, Arroyo not only shared the history of tiki drinks but also taught eager drinkers pupils how to make real tiki drinks such as the Painkiller.
Tiki became popular in the 1930s after the repeal of Prohibition, which lasted from 1919 until 1933. Don the Beachcomber, who was a Hollywood bar owner, became the father of tiki and created the first tiki drinks, or rum-based drinks with usually a sweet fruit flavor. He popularized Polynesian decor. You could connect the growing popularity of sweet tiki drinks in the 40s and 50s to the increasing number of women who drink. (Before the end of the Prohibition, women were not allowed in bars.) Well, Don the Beachcomber created the Zombie, and this potent drink was the first drink Arroyo served up. The Zombie showcases how multiple rums are mixed together to create a complex taste (and quick tipsy-ness). Really, the Zombie contains 4 oz. of alcohol. Arroyo taught us that you never shake tiki drinks in a cocktail shaker with ice. You do a "dry shake" of only the sweet, sour, and alcohol and added in that order. Why a dry shake, you ask? Because tiki is served over crushed ice, so if you were to shake 4 oz of pure Caribbean rums with ice, your rums would become further diluted. Good tips to know. And the Zombie seriously lived up to its name. After one of these, we were all tipsy tiki-ers. (This was only the beginning of the class!!)
Throughout the class, Arroyo presented the information in a fun way, trading barbs with his audience and getting his assistants involved. The atmosphere was relaxed, and the room certainly did not feel like a class. Each drink was like a mini-class, and you graduated to the next class by finishing your drink. After downing the Zombies, Arroyo taught us about the Mai Tai. This iconic drink made the tiki fad go global, and it was created by Victor Bergeron, or "Trader Vic". In Tahitian, Mai Tai translates to "out of the world" or "the best." This drink was my favorite of the night with its hint of bitters, various rums, and taste of almond. While the Zombie took a little bit to go down, this cocktail was smooth.
Arroyo then demonstrated the Scorpion cocktail, which I am sure many of you have shared with friends. It is a communal drink that is bound to help you make new friends. Finally, the knowledgable mixologist had us make our own Painkillers. We mixed together homemade toasted almond milk, pineapple syrup, OJ, and Pusser's Rum, and topped the blended drink off with a dash of nutmeg and plenty of flamingo straws and umbrellas. By this time, the audience was giggling so hard every time someone tucked another pink straw into his or her drink. Arroyo took a bow with everyone loudly clapping, and the bar continued its tiki celebration.
Tickets ($45) to this mixology class by LivingSocial in partnership with Founding Farmers and Gosling's Rum are sold out, unfortunately. If you have already purchased a ticket, consider yourself a lucky tiki pupil.
Short URL: http://bit.ly/S5TfI2