This is week 51 in The Year of Drinking Adventurously. On the home stretch. While it is 16° out, it seems like the perfect time to discuss tiki cocktails.
I have spent a good portion of this year really trying to embrace Tiki. I have not been very successful. What I have been successful in, is amassing an incredible collection of rum.
As I have lamented many times before, Memphis is a wasteland of quality spirits. Every time I travel, I explore new bars and new liquor stores looking for their gems that I cannot find it in my new home town.
Back in January, I spent an inordinate amount of time reading about the tiki culture, tiki cocktails, and the assorted and varied rums that are used to make up the elaborate cocktails. Never having tried many of these drinks in a bar, and not having access to the assorted rums that make up these drinks, I had to make some substitutions. I was not entirely thrilled with how some of my drinks turned out, but some were pretty tasty.
In August when I went to Chicago on my whirlwind booze trip for malort, I also went to a tiki bar. I ordered a mai tai, my first ever professionally prepared, and made the determination that I really did not care for this drink. I find it too sweet, and unbalanced. In my cocktail exploration I have come to find that I absolutely prefer classic cocktails that are nuanced and subtle. The mai tai was neither of these. I also ordered some other cocktail, one of their house specialties that was not terrible, but still not what my palate was looking for. I will absolutely grant you that tiki cocktails are truly some of the prettiest works of art in their assembly and delivery methods.
Jump ahead a few more months, to Thanksgiving and my recent trip to New Orleans. I intentionally sought out and made a point of going to Beachbum Berry’ Latitude 29. For those of you who don’t know Beachbum Berry is a legend in the tiki world. He has spent an incredible amount of his life researching and re-creating many of the original classic tiki cocktails that were lost by history. It was here at Latitude 29 that I develop a greater appreciation for what tiki can be.
I will continue my tiki exploration in the new year without the mai tai, but with lots of pretty flowers and very yummy rums. Let’s see how Meg did this week.