Jungle Bird – three versions.

A-well-a ev’rybody’s heard about the bird…

Three little birds.

Created at the Kuala Lumpur Hilton in the mid to late 1970’s the Jungle bird is an unusual Tiki drink in a number of ways. How many bona fide Tiki drinks were created during The Dark Ages? Approximately one. How many Tiki drinks contain Campari? Roughly one. And how many Tiki drinks re-jigged themselves to become modern revival classics? Not all that many. But this little bird had a long and troubled flight to fame. Soon after its birth the poor Jungle Bird was all but extinct, killed off by – yep, you guessed it – The Dark Ages. As so often we have Jeff Berry to thank for the Bird’s resurrection in his 2002 book Intoxica! (which was later folded into Remixed) but the Bird wasn’t done evolving just yet. We’re getting ahead of ourselves though. The original Jungle Bird was a an interesting drink thanks to the unusual inclusion of bitter Campari but it was still pretty mild due to a low rum count and a rather heavy hand on the pineapple juice pour. It was good but not yet great:

Jungle Bird (v1.0 1970’s).

1.5oz Myers Jamaican rum.

0.75oz / 22.5ml Campari.

0.5oz / 15ml fresh lime juice.

0.5oz / 15ml simple syrup (1:1).

4oz / 120ml fresh pineapple juice.†

Shake with ice and pour unstrained into a medium sized glass.

The internet says it was New York startender Giuseppe González* who made the key transformation of slashing the pineapple content and playing around with the rum component in 2010. That resulted in the inclusion of Cruzan Blackstrap, a unique, dark, rich, spicy and sweet Caribbean rum that does a nice little tango with the Campari. As a result it’s a much more satisfying drink than the original:

Jungle Bird (v2.0 2010’s).

1.5oz / 45ml Cruzan Blackstrap rum.

0.75oz / 22.5ml Campari.

0.5oz / 15ml fresh lime juice.

0.5oz / 15ml simple syrup (1:1).

1.5oz / 22.5ml fresh pineapple juice†.

Shake with ice and strain into a glass containing a big ice block.

The problem is that Cruzan has, in recent years, become impossible to acquire here in Europe and the secret pipeline I’m building to St Croix is barely past the Azores. Given this dilemma perhaps we should take a leaf from Giuseppe’s book and work on that rum component ourselves. While there is no close match for Cruzan Blackstrap on these shores we should be looking for something dark and deep. A little more kick wouldn’t go far wrong either. I think this might be a job for one of my favourite rums; Wood’s 100, a navy proof Demerara rum that is bottled and sold in the UK – and sometimes a little further afield. It’s powerful stuff that’ll put hair on your chest and, hopefully, feathers on our Bird:

Jungle Bird (v3.0 2017) aka Surfin’ Bird.

1.5oz / 45ml Wood’s 100 Navy Rum (57%ABV)

0.75oz / 22.5ml Campari.

0.5oz / 15ml fresh lime juice

0.5oz / 15ml simple syrup (1:1).

1.5oz / 22.5ml fresh pineapple juice†.

Shake with ice and strain into a glass containing a big ice block.

Toast the Bird.


*According to research by Thirst Magazine.

†The best option by far is juice squeezed from a fresh pineapple but the bottled juice from a good health food store is a reasonable second choice. Carton juice? Nah, not so much.

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