Dr Frankenstein.

It’s Frankensteen!

Dr Frankenstein.

We’ve been riffing on the the Dr Funk a lot recently but we need to be careful not to change it too much in case we create a monster. Hang on. I think I just had an idea…

What if we took a few limbs from the Dr Funk and Dr Faust then stitched them onto the torso of a whisky sour and then run a couple of million volts through the combo and serve it on the stem. More intense, more powerful, less pink. What would we call such a drink? I’m sure I’ll come up with something before the next deadline.

Dr Frankenstein.

2oz / 60ml bourbon (I’d use a high voltage one such as Wild Turkey 101).

0.75oz / 22ml lemon juice (instead of the usual lime juice).

0.5oz / 15ml grenadine (preferably home-made).

1 tsp / 5ml absinthe.

Shake with ice and strain into a chilled champagne coupé.

Toast Mary Shelley (1797 – 1851)

You could also make this with Scotch instead of bourbon in which case it would be a Dr Jekyll and which would bring us full circle to the Robert Louis Stevenson connection of the Dr Funk. A gin version would be the Dr Watson. While I don’t recommend it (you know how I feel about flavourless spirits) a vodka version would be a Dr Zhivago. You get the drift.


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Dr. Faust.

Is there a Doctor in the house?

Dr. Faust.

Recently we looked at the tropical Doctor Funk cocktail and I promised you some variations of it. When embarking upon a variation voyage the first thing we consider is a change of base spirit. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t but its always worth a bash. A couple of years back I created the Doctor Tulp by using Veld tulip vodka instead of the rum, shaking with crushed ice and using a reduced dose of absinthe as an aromatic float and it proved quite delightful. This time let’s make something a little more diabolical. Enter Doctor Faust (cue puff of smoke). Mezcal, as well as having a striking flavour afinity with absinthe, conjures the right image of smoke and brimstone and the labeling on some of the bottles does no harm either. There’s not much more to be said other than that a straight substitution of mezcal for rum works right out of the box. Plying a middle ground in the preparation by simply shaking all the ingredients with a mix of cubed and crushed ice simplifies matters and gives a more concentrated outcome which suits this iteration well. We can skip the Tiki garnish as well and leave this looking more medicinal. Now we can all have a little taste of the underworld without selling our soul to the devil.

Dr. Faust.

1.5oz / 45ml Good quality mezcal (I used Los Siete Misterios Doba-Yej).

0.75oz / 22ml fresh lime juice.

0.5oz / 15ml grenadine (preferably home-made).

1 tsp / 5ml absinthe.

1oz / 30ml soda water.

Shake hard with a mixture of cubed and crushed ice and pour unstrained into a DoF glass.

Toast Marlowe and Goethe.

Watch this space for more Doctor Funk variations.

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Doctor Funk + absinthe.

Absinthe makes the heart grow funkier. 

Doctor Funk.

The Doctor Funk is an interesting summer cooler that I don’t feel gets nearly the attention it deserves. In one sense it stands entirely alone: While the whole Tiki genre pretends to be Polynesian only the Doctor Funk actually is Polynesian. Almost. We’ll get to the story in a bit but first we need a brief introduction to the key ingredient of the Doctor Funk; absinthe.


No spirit is more misunderstood than absinthe. To understand what it really is we have to peel off layer upon layer of myth about this most unusual spirit. While often thought to have magical hallucinogenic properties absinthe, also known affectionately as “the green fairy”, is simply a strong neutral spirit infused with two key botanicals – anise and wormwood. Although originally Swiss it gained an enormous popularity in late 19th century France especially amongst those of a more Bohemian outlook. While it was simply strong (45-74% ABV), available and dirt cheap it soon got the blame for all of societies ills much as gin had in England a century earlier. Absinthe even got the rap for Vinnie van Gogh slicing his ear off, although we now know that had more to do with him being as mad as cheese. When a Swiss farmer murdered his family in 1905 after drinking two small glasses of absinthe (never mind the seven glasses of wine, six glasses of cognac, two creme de menthes, a brandy coffee and a partridge in a pear tree) enought was apparently enough:  Bans on absinthe were in force in much of Europe and the US before the outbreak of the Great War. In fact Pernod, Ricard and Herbsaint (which is very nearly an anagram of absinthe) are simply de-wormwooded absinthes created to comply with the ban. Being outlawed for the best part of a century has only added to the absinthe mythos and it was that air of notoriety that fostered a cult following† in the 1990s around Hill’s absinth from the Czech Republic where there had never been a ban. Hill’s was pretty nasty stuff and was a completely different product that lacked the anise component and was astonishingly bitter but that didn’t stop if from becoming a popular underground bravado shooter. At least this had the effect of the bans being gradually lifted in the early naughties as science investigated and dismissed all of the alleged psychotropic effects. Thankfully the green fairy is now fully rehabilitated with much more authentic formulations coming out of France, Switzerland and further afield. As a general rule a spelling of absente or absinthe (with an “e” at the end) denotes the real stuff and please do take care as there is still a lot of BS absinthe out there. I particularly like the Grande Absente 69 brand for mixing. It is an extremely powerful flavour and usually used in very small amounts – such as in a Sazerac – so a small bottle (100ml or 350ml) is probably all you’ll ever need. I find it helpful to consider absinthe as a type of bitters and I find an atomiser loaded with it to be the most convenient method of dispersal – although in this case we’ll be using a whole teaspoon of the stuff.

Let’s get Funky.

Legend has it that this drink, or at least something like it, was created around 1890 in Samoa by a German gentleman whose name it takes. Doctor Bernhard Funk was the physician to the Scottish writer and traveller Robert Louis Stevenson, author of a couple of slightly popular books such as The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Treasure Island and Kidnapped and who spent his later years there. Mr Stevenson was a frail and sickly fellow and Dr Funk created a drink to provide him some relief from the sweltering heat. I’m totally buying into this theory as I can affirm that the Doctor Funk works admirably in this capacity and is my cooler of choice on those extremely rare days when the mercury hits 30ºC here in Amsterdam. It’s unlikely that the original recipe included rum but once Tiki legends Don the Beachcomber and Trader Vic got their hands on it a few decades later it most certainly did. It’s a cracking little tiki drink that serves as a friendly introduction to the green fairy yet it somehow hasn’t quite found its place in modern cocktaildom such as, for example, the Jungle Bird. Let’s see if we can change that. I’m going to be exploring some variations of this drink soon but for now let’s familiarise ourselves with the classic version based on the recipe in Jeff “Beachbum” Berry’s indispensable Tiki manual, Remixed!

Doctor Funk*

1.5oz / 45ml white rum (some recipes allow for darker rum – your choice).

0.75oz / 22ml fresh lime juice.

0.5oz / 15ml grenadine (preferably home-made).

1 teaspoon / 5ml absinthe I used Grand Absente 69).

Shake with ice and strain into a tall glass or goblet full of ice. I prefer a mixture of crushed and cubed ice for this drink but either would do.

Add 1oz / 30ml soda water and stir in gently.

Garnish with a mint sprig. Feel free to Tiki it up a bit.

Toast the good Doctor and his illustrious patient.

†To which must admit to being a part of as a young man.

*Or should that be Doktor Funk?


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Chief Lapu Lapu.

Tiki max?

Chief Lapu Lapu.

If there’s one drink that is represents the Tiki genre better than any other I believe it’s this one. Yes, Mai Tais, Zombies and Navy Grogs are better known these days but the Chief was a staple that almost ever Tiki bar worth its salt made during the late Tikizoic era (c.1950 – c.1970). While there endless variations this one sticks close to the one Jeff “Beachbum” Berry calls the “standard mid-century recipe” in Remixed! (which is essentially the Tiki Bible). Endless variation can be the death of a cocktail and while the Mai Tai and Zombie managed to – just barely – survive intact the Chief was not so lucky. Indeed Portugese explorer Ferdinand Magellan didn’t survive his encounter with the real Chief Lapu Lapu (Mactan, modern-day Phillipines, 1521) and thus the first true world tour was brought to an end on the wrong end of a bamboo spear – although some of the crew did later manage to complete the first circumnavigation of the planet. Where were we? Oh, yes. The liquid Lapu is a lovely citrus-heavy cooler with an excellent sweet/sour balance and full-on tropical hit courtesy of the passion fruit syrup. Assuming you’ve got (or have made) some PF syrup this is one of the simpler Tiki drinks to assemble and trust me when I tell you that it’s a real crowd-pleaser. It’s a rather large drink – which is a plus on a hot day – but is also suitable for splitting into two smaller ones or serving as a shared drink with two straws. But if you want the other half of my Lapu you’d better some more heavily armed than Magellan did.

Chief Lapu Lapu.

1.5oz / 45ml Dark Jamaican rum (Myers’s works well in this).

1.5oz / 45ml white rum.

1oz / 30ml fresh lemon juice*.

1oz / 30ml fresh lime juice*.

1oz / 30ml simple syrup (1:1 preferably demerara).

1oz / 30ml passion fruit syrup.

3oz / 90ml orange juice (good carton juice is fine here**).

Shake with ice and pour, unstrained, into a Tiki mug*** or tall glass. Add more ice to fill.

Toast Chief Lapu Lapu and Magellan. Pity they couldn’t have sorted out their differences over a drink or two.

*I’ve tweaked it just slightly by splitting the original 2oz of lemon juice into one each of lemon and lime. You can also use 2oz of lime. They all work but taste slightly different – the choice is yours.

**I prefer to use a good quality carton orange juice in this drink as it gives it a creamier texture than using freshly squeezed.

***I tend to use transparent Tikiware in my pictures to show the colour of the drinks but would normally use a ceramic novelty mug for a drink like this. The Lapu is a big drink so be sure to select a decent sized receptacle.


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John the Revelator + coffee infused bourbon.

Who’s that writing?

John the Revelator.

I’ve recently become very fond of the combination of Suze and Amaro Montenegro. The marriage of the gentian bitterness of the Suze and the sweetness of the Montenegro play a great supporting role to quite a few base spirits – which I’m slowly working through to identify particularly good candidates. One that was really a revelation was some coffee infused bourbon that I’d made as an experiment and hadn’t yet found a home for. Time out while we make some of that:

Coffee infused bourbon.

I was very pleased with the way my tea infused rum turned out and a logical progression was to turn to coffee. Could we pull off a similar trick with that? Coffee is, of course, bitter, so a spirit with a little natural sweetness was the logical choice. And we’d already done rum so bourbon was going to be the way to go. The good news is that this is even easier. Put 300ml (10oz) of bourbon whisky in a clean jar. Fill a 2oz (60ml) jigger with whole dark roasted coffee beans and chuck them in the jar too. Wait 3 hours, shaking or stirring a few times if possible. Strain. Done. See told ya it was easy. Now what was I writing?

John the Revelator.

So 2 parts of our coffee bourbon and a part each of Suze and Montenegro is getting pretty close to something good. If I have a weakness it’s firing a couple of dashes of orange bitters at everything I see but, as usual, it seems to tie the whole room the other ingredients together. Stir with ice yada, yada, yada – you know what to do by now. The name? Well what was playing on the stereo?

John the Revelator*.

1.5oz / 45ml coffee infused bourbon (see text).

0.75oz / 22ml Suze.

0.75 / 22ml Amaro Montenegro.

2 dashes of orange bitters.

Stir with ice and strain into a DOF glass containing a chunk (or ball) of clear ice. Can also be served “up”. Garnish with an orange twist.

Toast Blind Willie Johnson or any of the thousands of others who sang about this cocktail.

*He wrote the book of the seven seals.




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Spanish Dancer.

Do your dance, do your dance, do your dance quick.

Spanish Dancer.

The Spanish Dancer is a subtle Daiquiri variation designed to be a minimum effort cocktail to make while on holiday. When you’re kicking back catching some rays outside your Spanish villa the last thing you want to be doing is going to all that effort to make some simple syrup so I cast a net [ouch!] a bit wider and snagged a bottle of the super sweet Spanish Licor 43. It’s one of the sweeter liqueurs so you can use it at the same ratio as 1:1 syrup and as an added bonus you get a kick of vanilla and some other spices to add a little complexity. Cuarenta y Tres, as it’s also known, is tricksy stuff and doesn’t mix well with just any spirit but if used with a light touch (and preferably a dash of Angostura) it mixes quite nicely with any dry Spanish style rum. Which is quite handy as when you’re on vacation your choice of rums can be limiting but wherever you roam a bottle of such a nice dry gold rum should be readily available. The likes of Havana Club, Brugal, Abuelo, Matusalem, Bacardi 8, Don Q and Flor De Cana are all suitable candidates. Look, the Spanish Dancer certainly isn’t the best drink I’ve ever come up with but it’s one of the easiest, which is the whole point. It also batches up easily, doesn’t need a garnish, it’s great in hot weather, it isn’t too fussy about glassware and it’s relatively forgiving of small errors. Word up!

Spanish Dancer.

2oz / 60ml Spanish style gold rum.

0.75oz / 22ml fresh lime juice.

0.5oz / 15ml Licor 43 (aka Cuarenta y Tres).

1 dash of Angostura bitters (optional, but recommended).

Shake with ice and strained into a chilled champagne coupé – or a chilled wine glass, small tumbler etc. Can also be served on the rocks or even with a splash of soda.

Toast Carmen Amaya (1918 – 1963).


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Mr Mojo Risin’


I owe the mighty Mojito an eternal debt of gratitude. For (around these parts at least) it was the Mojito craze of the 1990s that kick-started the cocktail revival. Indeed the Mojito was my introduction to the world of “proper” cocktails at Amsterdam’s Cafe Cuba*. I’m not sure they were technically the best Mojitos ever but they made me realise there were more things to drink than just beer and whisky. And here we are.

You can consider the Mojito to be simply a lengthened minted Daiquiri but that doesn’t really do it justice as if you look at the Mojito just the right way it might just be the oldest cocktail ever. One version of events has Sir Francis Drake accidentally inventing it in the Caribbean in 1586 to prevent his crew from getting scurvy. The problem was that rum didn’t even exist yet so while the Navy were waiting for it to be invented they made do with aguardiente (a kind of proto-rum) and called it the El Draque – which was Franky’s nickname. It worked and, sailors being sailors, the fire-water got the credit rather than the lime juice. The true Mojito evolved on Cuba in the following centuries and acquired its name which is thought be of African (because: slavery) origin meaning a little spell – think “mojo”. Quintisentially Cuban the Mojito was a favourite – along with the Daiquiri and, indeed, all other forms of booze – of Ernest Hemmingway and to this day might be the single most accessible cocktail for the un-initiated.


There’s a lot that can go wrong with a Mojito and very often it does. An incomplete list would be: inferior rum, too little rum, non-fresh lime juice, use of 7Up/Sprite as a shortcut, use of mint syrup or other bypassing of fresh mint, over-muddled/mangled mint and too much soda. And sometimes all of the above. The one that really gets my goat is the pulverising of the mint; it clogs up your straw, sticks to your teeth and loses its fresh taste and it’s just so un-necessary. Mint doesn’t need to be battered to death to release its precious oil – it does so quite willingly. Simply place 6-8 large mint leaves in your palm and clap your hands firmly a couple of times. Job’s a good ‘un. Hang on. I’m getting ahead of myself. First fill a Collins glass about 2/3 with crushed ice and set aside to chill. In your shaker add two ounces of white rum (IMHO if it’s anything other than Havana Club 3 Años** you’re doing it wrong), one ounce of fresh lime juice and an ounce of 1:1 simple syrup (preferably demerara). Shake and strain into the prepared glass. Now you can give the mint a clap and gently stir it in with a bar spoon. Add some soda but don’t drown it – 3 or 4 ounces at most – stir again and add a sprig of mint and a straw to finish. This way your mint should be fairly intact and floating in a nice layer of crushed ice in the upper part of your glass allowing you to sip unimpeded from the bottom of the glass. Heavenly.


2oz / 60ml Havana Club 3 Años white rum.

1oz / 30 ml fresh lime juice.

1oz / 30 ml simple syrup (or a bit under if you prefer it tart).

3-4oz / 90-120ml soda water.

6 – 8 fresh mint leaves and a sprig of mint.

Method: see text.

Optional, but possibly controversial, upgrades are to:

a) upgrade your rum to Havana Club Añejo Especial or Reserva.

b) add a dash or two of Angostura bitters

Toast Sir Francis Drake (c.1540 – 1596).

A word on mint.

Every cocktailista should have a spearmint mint plant growing at all times. Even if you only have small apartment, a little pot of mint will grow quite happily in on a sunny windowsill. The stuff grows like crazy needing just a small cup of water every morning to keep it lively (coffee for me, water for you Mr Minty). If your mint starts to get thin, dry, pale and spindly it’s done, just get a new one. Still not convinced? Well some of the very best cocktails need fresh mint as an ingredient or a garnish: Mojito, Queens Park Swizzle, Mai Tai, Zombie, Mint Julep, Southside. Exactly. You need mint. Do it. I’ll be checking on you at random.

*Still there and still churning out Mojitos at Nieuwmarkt 3, Amsterdam.

**The real stuff not some pale imitation made by Bacardi.

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Shot With a Diamond.

A shot in the dark.

Shot With a Diamond.

Sometimes you have a concept for a drink. Sometimes that concept stubbornly refuses to turn into anything anyone would actually want to drink. This is the story of such a drink. This is the story of the Shot With a Diamond. I’m telling this story in the hope that it contains some minuscule iota of hope for the frustrated cocktail architect.

The initial concept behind the Shot With a Diamond was to create a drink that was absolutely, positively, 100%, crystal clear. No tiny hint of colour would mar its perfect glacial transparency. Yet it would be perfectly balanced, packed with flavour and it would defy any expectations that might be based upon its simple appearance. For two or three years I’ve been working on this drink trying combinations of the (exasperatingly few) clear cocktail ingredients. Every sign of promise came to an eventual dead end. All was failure. I became a broken man.


Sometimes you just have to put a concept on the back burner and wait patiently for its time to come. I’d had the idea of using citric acid for sourness but it always ended up tasting too “bright” and “chemical” – close but never quite natural enough. But then whilst perusing Dave Arnold’s science-based cocktail manual Liquid Intelligence the solution was suddenly staring me in the face. Arnold says that a 2:1 combination of citric and malic acid comes close to the profile of lime juice but that he would never use it as a direct substitute. I, on the other hand, was willing to try anything to make my imagined drink a reality. Now if this sounds waaaay too like chemistry don’t worry; citric and malic acid are natural extracts of lemons and apples respectively. Better still they’re made from the by-products of the processing of those fruits and are therefore pretty environmentally friendly. You can buy them in powdered or crystalline form cheaply and easily – home-brew, wine-making and spice suppliers being good sources. One teaspoon of citric acid crystals, half a teaspoon of malic acid powder, 150ml of cold water and a teaspoon later and it was: sour component – check. I’d realised early on that the need for maximum flavour and clarity was going to make this a mezcal based drink but as we’ve discussed before mezcal can be a bit overpowering. This time I used gin to tone it down and add other subtle flavours. I’ve used a personal favourite, Blackwoods, but other citrusy dry gins would be equally suitable. A white 1:1 sugar syrup provides the balance to the sourness of the acids and I added a couple of squirts of absinthe because when you’re already colouring outside the lines so why not go all the way? Yes, well spotted; at its core the Shot With a Diamond is just a sour, but it’s a stirred sour which sets it quite apart from the rest of the genre. It also differentiates itself in that, while most sours are somewhat simple in flavour, the combination of gin, mezcal and absinthe, each with their own unique flavour elements, make the SWaD a far more complex creature. When all those elements finally came together and I took the first tentative sip I suddenly became a little dizzy and had to steady myself and, just like Colonel Kurtz in Apocalypse Now, I felt “like I was shot, shot with a diamond, a diamond bullet, right through my forehead“.  Mission accomplished. It only seemed appropriate to finish the drink off with a “diamond” of clear ice. I do realise this is exactly the kind of cocktail I’ve been known to rant against but I hope you’d forgive my hypocrisy just this one time.

Shot With a Diamond.

Spray a mist of absinthe (or swirl a few drops) in a perfectly clean and clear glass containing a single piece of perfectly clear ice, diamond shaped if possible.

In a chilled mixing glass full of ice stir well:

1oz / 30ml of good quality unaged “joven” mezcal (I used Atenco)*.

1oz / 30ml of dry gin (I used Blackwood’s)*.

0.75oz / 22ml citric/malic acid (see text).

0.5oz / 15ml simple syrup (1:1 made with white sugar).

Strain over the prepared glass.

Toast Marlon Brando and Loop.

*It’s a good idea to tinker with the proportions of these two until you find a balance you like which will depend on the particular gin and mezcal you have chosen. For example, if the mezcal flavour is overpowering the gin too much, cut the mezcal a little and boost the gin by the same amount (0.75oz mezcal / 1.25oz gin).

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Clear ice balls (and other shapes).

The icicle works.

Clear Ice Balls.

A while back we looked at a way to make clear ice and, while it works extremely well, it does have a couple of drawbacks. Not everyone can spare a whole shelf in their freezer for 24+ hours without seriously pissing off their family/flatmates. Some effort is required to shape the huge block into manageable sizes which tend to be a bit irregular (although I think that’s part of the beauty of them). And finally, the optimal shape for chilling a drink without diluting it is a sphere as it has the minimum surface area to volume ratio. Thus I have been directing my efforts to find a method of making appropriately sized clear ice balls with the minimum of equipment, expense and hassle for some time now. A variation of the directional freezing approach was always going to be the solution yet achieving that on a smaller scale is no mean feat. Various methods and devices I tried have failed for reasons too many and varied to discuss (although examples are; too cloudy, too small and too egg-shaped) but at last I have achieved my elusive goal. Or should that be “grail”. The method that follows uses a minimum of freezer space and churns out one perfectly clear and spherical ball every 24 hours with almost zero effort. It’s clearly not going to be much use for a busy bar but for home use it is truly the testes of the canine. If you too would like balls of diamond-pure ice proceed as follows:

Balls up! Freezer ready.

Buy a silicone ice ball mould of the desired size. If you wish to duplicate my technique exactly use one that makes 6cm balls and is physically about 7.5cm in diameter. Ebay or Amazon are good sources. Yes, if you really want you can get one in the shape of the Death Star, or a diamond or whatever will fit snugly. Part 2 of your kit is a squat double-walled vacuum flask. The Thermos Funtainer™ (with a slightly smaller ball mould) is often used for this method but I found this Proof (you can’t make this shit up!) branded one at Target for about $15 that was the perfect design being slightly wider at the top end (see picture below). When shopping for such a container take your ice ball mould with you to ensure a good fit. You want the mould to fit snugly into the container without dropping to the bottom or poking out too much at the top. And make sure that it’s not too tall for your freezer. Once you acquired both parts of your kit simply fill the container with water (tap, filtered or bottled – whichever you would normally drink*) right to the brim. Put it in your sink or a bowl as there will be some spillage. Now fill the assembled ice mould to the brim and tap a few times to remove any bubbles. Put your finger over the fill hole and place it upside down in the container allowing it to displace some water. Once the fill hole is under water you can remove your finger. Push down gently to seal and, if the seal is good, tip out the excess water. Simply place in your freezer for about 24 hours (depending on your freezer). You don’t need the whole container to freeze solid just the contents of the mould. Next day remove from the freezer and gently lever off the bottom half of the ice mould – which is now, of course, on top. If you have any difficulty it’ll do no harm to run some hot water over the mould to loosen it. Place your perfect sphere of clear ice into a clean freezer bag (or a fresh drink) and repeat – after removing the remaining ice and mould half with warm water. If your ice shape has a little stem from the fill hole simply chip it off with a kitchen knife. Try not to hold the ice with your fingers as the warmth can make it crack – I handle it by keeping it in a (still cold) mould half. After a few cycles you’ll have a small supply in your freezer and you can simply replace them as they are used. Simples. Use your beautiful clear ice ball in any cocktail where a large ice block is called for (such as a Negroni, Old Fashioned or Moral Turpitude) or as a way of chilling your favourite sipping spirit with minimal dilution.

Balls out! Note the shape of the inside of the container.

Oh, and clear ice balls are much easier to make – at least with this method – than they are to photograph as they mist up a bit at room temperature and show all sorts of reflections. The full clarity is only revealed when they’re floating in an ice cold stirred drink. Slight surface imperfections will also disappear once in a drink. If you’re wondering exactly what you’re supposed to do with a clear ice diamond – tune in next week for the next exciting episode of Proofcocktails.nl

Note: There are various pre-made solutions that claim to make clear ice balls but they are expensive, usually bulky and don’t seem to work for everyone – they certainly didn’t for me.

*There is a theory that water that has been boiled recently has less air in it and makes clearer ice. Despite some initial scepticism I’ve tried it and I think there really might be something to it. Although the improvement in clarity is marginal it can make the difference between almost clear ice and truly clear ice and it doesn’t take much extra effort.

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It runs rings around other cocktails.


Tiki means rum, right? Wrong. Ish. Tiki almost always means rum. The Saturn is a rare gin based Tiki drink that is really quite fabulous. I would have told you about it before but it needs three slightly quirky ingredients but, if you’ve been a good student, you’ll know all about, and how to make, orgeat, falernum and passion fruit syrup. Supposedly the winner of a cocktail of the year competition at the tail-end of Tiki in 1967 the Saturn is the work of J. “Popo” Galsini and one of a number of space-race themed Tiki cocktails (it was almost called the X-15). While the recipe has been kicking around for years in Beachbum Berry Remixed there seems to be a renewed interest in this one with it popping up in many bars and all over the internet. I’m not quite sure why as many of us Tiki-heads have been making them for ages. Maybe we’re at the start of a Tiki revival revival. If so, bring it on!

The Saturn is a very handy drink to have in your back pocket (no, not literally) for those who want a rum-free and relatively low alcohol drink but don’t want to miss out on all that Tiki fun. I’ve also discovered that the Saturn works rather well served “up” although some tinkering with the recipe is required. In fact tinkering is always required with the Saturn because the sweet/sour balance is heavily dependent on the sweetness of the three syrups, especially if they are home-made. Use the recipes below as starting points and adjust the lemon juice to match. Most of the online recipes call for a mere half ounce of lemon juice but I find this a bit light. Yes, drinks served with a lot of crushed ice – like this one – can handle a bit more sugar than those served strained but 2:1 sweet to sour is pushing the envelope of that rule. As always, we’re looking for this drink to be balanced. Not only in sweet to sour but also on the flavours each of those syrups bring. Your taste buds will tell you when you have it right. The original recipe calls for the Saturn to be blended until smooth but I’m no fan of slushy cocktails and always make mine the usual Tiki way with just a few short pulses of the blender. In any case, the Saturn is a drink that’s well worth the effort and an excellent choice to batch up for a Tiki cocktail party.


1.5oz / 45ml gin of choice.

0.75oz / 22.5ml fresh lemon juice.

0.5oz / 15ml passion fruit syrup.

0.25oz / 7.5ml falernum.

0.25oz / 7.5ml orgeat.

Pulse blend with crushed ice and pour unstrained into a Tiki glass.


Shake with cubed ice and strain into a chilled champagne coupé. In this case cut back a little on each of the syrups (or boost the gin and lemon juice by a quarter of an ounce each).

Toast “Popo”.

Saturn rising.

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