Funny thing about tiki drinks, when you are in the “real” world of tiki some of the ingredients are hard to find. Orgeat syrup and Falernum don’t grow on trees out here. I should know, I asked a local about the Orgeat trees and he looked at me kinda funny. No Falernum bushes either, go figure….;-)
Happily, the fresh fruit and rum are in good supply and we brought some of our own cooking and cocktail gear- so the eating and drinking has been good (real good, actually). Not so happily, this week’s cocktail is aptly named. It is raining. Hard. Thus we start our adventure in tiki cocktails with the Rain Killer.
The Rain Killer could be called “Tiki 101”, it is as basic of a tiki drink you can get. You can go to any liquor stor and/or supermarket and get the ingredients for this cocktail. And it takes just a few minutes to make. Lime juice, orange juice, pineapple juice, rum, bitters and simple syrup. Think of this recipe as a “foundation” for tiki drinks.
But the Rain killer is still a tiki drink. The whole point of tiki drinks is to have layers of flavor that blend into something more than the sum of its parts. By having multiple fruit juices, liquors, sweeteners and spices you get a drink that keeps you coming back. A common adjective for a good tiki drink is “beguiling”. The best tiki drinks really do take you “somewhere else”, and that is the magic. Famous bartenders / impressarios like Trader Vic Bergeron and Don the Beachcomber created tiki drinks like the Mai Tai and the Zombie that are still with us today. And even in today’s world of advanced mixology, their drinks are still great. (More from these two as we go though the week.)
Nowadays, we have a new resource in tiki; Jeff “Beachbum” Berry. Berry has written a number of books on tiki drinks and culture- he even has a tiki drink recipe app for the iPhone. Berry has catalogued most popular tiki drinks and he helped us discover the Rain Killer. From what Berry tells us, the Rain Killer was one of the signature cocktails of a now-defunct tiki restaurant chain of the 1960’s called the Kon-Tiki. We know nothing of the Kon-Tiki restaurants’ food, but at least one of the drinks was good.
We did adapt the Rain Killer recipe a bit. The original asked for just light run, we went half-and-half with light and aged rum. The original also asked for Angostura bitters, but we “happened” to have Bitterman’s Tiki bitters- so we used it, but Angostura bitters will work fine.
As for the final product, the Rain killer is a very tasty drink. Anyone you serve it to will say “oh, a tiki drink”. And if a drink is “tiki 101”- that’s the point. The fruit flavors are more forward in the Rain Killer than some tiki drinks, so fresh juice (if available) will be most helpful with the final drink. Give it a try, maybe the “tiki karma” will bring the sun.
The Rain Killer:
(Adapted from Jeff “Beachbum” Berry)
- 1/2 oz. Lime juice
- 1/2 oz. Orange juice
- 1/2 oz. Pineapple juice
- 1/2 oz. Simple syrup
- 3/4 oz. Light rum (Bacardi)
- 3/4 oz. Aged rum (We used Appleton V/X)
- 1 Dash Angostura or Bitterman’s Tiki bitters
- 1/2 Cup of crushed ice
- Lime and mint for garnish (optional)
1. Place all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously. Pour all contents into a pilsner or highball glass. Garnish with lime and mint, if you like. Add a straw. Serve.