Ahhh. It’s June. The frigid temperatures are solidly behind us in much of the country, and even if they’re not, you can mentally transport yourself via tiki drinks. Shannon Mustipher, the Brooklyn-based rum expert and bartender and author of Tiki: Modern Tropical Cocktails, shared three of her best concoctions with us. We’re so lucky to have her as part of our 2021 Chefs’ Collective.
Shannon takes inspiration from her base spirit of choice, building on it with aromatics and seasonal elements. She’s particularly partial to rum, which you’ll see in two of the three recipes featured here. Check out her Instagram to learn how she elevates even a banana daiquiri, making it delicate but with a “spritz of attitude” thanks to the addition of mezcal. Come meet the the woman whose drinks The New Yorker called “beautiful, inventive.”
You know what ate the tiki movement, at least temporarily? Disco. The Jungle Bird was among the last original tiki drinks to appear before the genre was swallowed by syrupy dancefloor drinks. The Aviary Bar at the Kuala Lumpur Hilton concocted the original Jungle Bird, but Shannon’s riff nods to the Negroni, substituting fruit juices for vermouth. Think: gingerbread notes thanks to Jamaican rum; herbaceous Campari; sillky, aromatic pineapple juice. That striking garnish? It’s just a lime wedge, scored with a channel knife.
Tiki might conjure difficult, expensive recipes using tough-to-find ingredients. You know what’s as easy as a nap on the beach? The Mai Tai. So many renditions have appeared over the years (such as blended ones or those using blue Curaçao) that they have become confusing. Shannon dials into the rum base, using a blend to achieve the same effect as Trader Vic’s original recipe (with a rum that is no longer on the market). Sweet orgeat, an almond syrup, mingles with bright lime and mint in this version. No fussy blending or mashing required; just shake until very cold, and drink somewhere comfortable and breezy.
Don’t blanch when you see the ingredients list for this stunner; it requires only a five-minute prep time, with two elixirs you’ll re-use for other cocktails. One is the famous “Don’s Mix,” a cinnamon-honey-grapefruit concoction that’s precisely as good as it sounds, and beautifully aromatic. The other, “avocado-washed tequila,” makes you sound like you should open your own bar, but is as simple as combining avocado oil and tequila and waiting! From there, you just shake everything with chile liqueur, papaya puree, and fresh lime juice. Strain into a chile salt-rimmed glass. There you go: a spicy tiki margarita-esque drink that screams of summer.