Mixing tiki drinks could appear to be a warm-weather endeavor, however shaking and stirring my means by Shannon Mustipher’s stunning, ingenious “Tiki: Trendy Tropical Cocktails” has provided a much-needed serotonin increase on this extraordinarily indoor winter. “Tiki,” which got here out in 2019, is considered one of only a few cocktail books by an African-American bartender. In it, Mustipher weaves her information by a lavishly photographed information, presenting the recipes for her layered, balanced drinks and—for these with the boldness to improvise—outlining rules for concocting your personal.
It’s instantly apparent that Mustipher is aware of her rum. She was the beverage director at Gladys Caribbean, a rum bar in Brooklyn, earlier than it closed below pandemic-related stress in June, and her guide is dedicated to imparting at the least a little bit of tiki historical past to its readers. Within the first recipe, for a predecessor to the Previous-Normal known as the Bombo, Mustipher suggests a Navy-style rum or an extra-aged or blackstrap rum—spirits that have been used when the drink was invented, she writes. Earlier than the world shut down, I might probably pull out the Bacardi Superior and name it a day. Now, with out dinner plans, or journey plans, or any plans in any respect, I obsessively hunt for Mustipher’s urged bottles: an aged white rum for a variation on the Daiquiri, a rhum agricole blanc for a drink known as the Royal Peacock, a pot-still Jamaican rum for a spin on a Mai Tai.
Mustipher takes the presentation of her drinks simply as critically because the spirits she mixes into them. After graduating from the Rhode Island College of Design, she threw speakeasy-themed events full with “set up items,” together with beer fridges stacked with forties and champagne chilled in bathtubs. Her penchant for aptitude seeps into “Tiki.” A garnish “is rarely an afterthought or arbitrary ornament,” Mustipher writes. “Garnishes fulfill a vital operate, participating all 5 senses to finish the drink.” To current the Flaneuse, a cocktail that requires rhum agricole, sherry, and coconut syrup, she suggests an edible flower, a dehydrated pineapple wedge, and a banana leaf. For the S.O.S. Mai Tai, Mustipher explains tips on how to D.I.Y. a flaming lime shell utilizing a sugar dice soaked in 151-proof rum. “Sprinkling floor cinnamon over the flame will create spectacular, if transient, sparks,” she writes, earlier than a bolded paragraph of security ideas.
A yr into a world pandemic, I’ll take any thrill I can get. So, on a current thirty-seven-degree college night time, I perched a sugar dice on a Mai Tai, lit it till it glowed blue, and shook a jar of cinnamon excessive. An orange flare shot about 4 inches above the glass, lighting up the kitchen in my tiny studio condominium for lower than a second. By the point I gasped, the hearth was gone and my counter was coated in cinnamon. The drink, although, was chic.