• Weekly Cocktail #57: The Kona Castaway

    The Kona Castaway.

    The Kona Castaway.

    More tiki here at the farm. Why? Well….why not? When is it a bad time for a tiki drink? In winter, tiki drinks remind you of summer. In summer, tiki drinks are a celebration of summer. And in spring or fall they are something to enjoy wistfully, or as a harbinger of the warm months to come. Besides, they give you an excuse to pull out that Hawaiian slack-key guitar CD that’s been gathering dust…

    castaway1The other reason to enjoy tiki is that you get to play around with all sorts of crazy ingredients. Special rums, orgeat, falernum, pineapple, cinnamon syrup, grapefruit, absinthe, passion fruit and just about anything else you can think of. Not surprisingly, the ingredient list of some tiki drinks looks like a congressional appropriations bill (and the likelihood of you making one at home is about the same as the odds of that bill passing congress). We do mix tiki drinks at home, but  we can’t stop buying cocktail ingredients we are silly that way. Occasionally we actually find a simple tiki drink with just a few common ingredients. So what do we do? Add more ingredients, of course…

    castawaycastaway5In this case we took the Castaway, a Beachbum Berry concoction of gold rum, Kahlua and pineapple juice, and decided to experiment. The Castaway is a good drink, as the pineapple and coffee play together way better than you might expect. A good sipping cocktail. But since we are often in Hawaii, and the local coffee is awesome, we decided to nix the Kahlua and use leftover Kona coffee as our base.

    castaway3And after some (mostly) enjoyable trials, we got the Kona Castaway. The Kona Castaway combines aged Jamaican rum, light rum, coffee syrup, pineapple juice, Tiki bitters with crushed ice and a lime wedge for garnish. The main change here is making coffee syrup with a 1 to 1 ratio of leftover coffee and sugar. The coffee syrup is much smoother (and tastier) than Kahlua and gives you room to add more layers of flavor.

    castaway6In this case, the aged Jamaican rum and Tiki bitters add spice and funk, and the lime wedge garnish (squeeze it into the drink) adds a nice citrus note to the coffee and pineapple. Overall you get a sweet sip with smooth, spicy coffee notes. The other cool thing you get is a nice frothy head from the pineapple juice. In some ways the Kona Castaway reminds us of a pint of Guinness with the frothy head and the coffee notes, but that only goes so far. It’s still a Tiki drink, after all….

    castaway9The Kona Castaway:

    • 3 oz. unsweetened pineapple juice
    • 1 oz. aged Jamaican rum (Appleton 12 yr.)
    • 1 oz. light rum (Bacardi)
    • 3/4 oz. coffee syrup (see below)
    • 2 drops Bittermen’s Tiki bitters
    • Lime wedge


    1. Combine all the liquid ingredients in a cocktail shaker with crushed ice. Shake until well-chilled and pour everything into a chilled wine glass or highball. Garnish with a lime wedge.
    • For the coffee syrup, combine a 1 to 1 ratio of coffee (preferably Kona coffee) and sugar. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat and simmer until it reduces by 1/3. Keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

    The Castaway:

    (From Beachbum Berry)


    • 3 oz. unsweetened pineapple juice
    • 3/4 oz. Kahlua
    • 1/2 oz. gold rum (Virgin Islands or Puerto Rican)


    1. Shake well with crushed ice. Pour unstrained into a pilsner glass. Add crushed ice to fill, if necessary.
  • Weekly Cocktail #20: The Otto’s Grotto

    Otto’s Grotto Cocktail.

    As we noted in our previous post, we recently hosted a small Hawaiian-themed dinner party for a close friend and made macadamia nut tart. The tart was great, but we wanted to be sure to have a cocktail to match, so we looked no further than Jeff “Beachbum” Berry, probably the world’s biggest expert on Tiki drinks. We happen to have his tiki drink iPhone App (so cool) and looked for a tiki cocktail that would go with dessert. We searched on the keyword “coffee” and after browsing a few results, the Otto’s Grotto almost jumped of the screen. It sounded like a perfect summer “dessert” cocktail. So we gave it a try (of course, we tested it before we served it to our friends.. ;-).

    The Otto’s Grotto is a cold drink that features coffee, white rum, coffee liqueur (Kahlua, Tia Maria or home-made), Licor 43 and a dash of heavy cream. But this is not a syrupy white/black russian, but more of an ice-coffee with a kick and some depth. Coffee is clearly the main ingredient, but the rum, coffee liqueur and Licor 43 all add extra flavor. The cream adds a smooth note and mellows the bitterness of the coffee. While we served the Otto’s Grotto for dessert, you could serve this cocktail almost any time of day and get a very welcome reception. It’s good.

    Float cream on top for a good presentation.

    As for the ingredients, good coffee is the key here. Great coffee = great coffee cocktail, ’nuff said. As for the other ingredients, this is where you have some flexibility. And decent white rum will do, the alcohol will mainly boost the flavor of the coffee. As for the coffee liqueur, we use Kahlua (without shame), but Tia Maria will work. And coffee liqueur is one of the best DIY liqueurs you can make at home, here is a good article on the subject from Marcia Simmons at Serious Eats (they have some really good cocktail writers). Finally we have the Licor 43, a vanilla and citrus liqueur that is sometimes hard to find. We like it in the drink and it is worth having in your bar, but you could substitute Tuaca. And in a pinch, vanilla syrup and an extra dash of rum will work just fine.

    Iced coffee, just better.

    Building this drink is by no means difficult, but a few little steps will help. Firstly, when you mix the coffee and liqueurs, check for taste. Coffee is a highly variable ingredient, you may want to add an extra dash of coffee liqueur or Licor 43 to balance the flavors. And finally, when adding the heavy cream, it helps to drizzle it on a spoon just above the drink. This will help float the cream on top. While not a necessary step, it will look good. And if a drink tastes this good, you may as well rock the presentation. Happy Friday!

    Otto’s Grotto:

    (Adapted from Jeff “Beachbum” Berry)


    • 5 oz. iced coffee
    • 3/4 oz. coffee liqueur (we use Kahlua)
    • 3/4 oz. Licor 43
    • 1 and 1/2 oz. white rum
    • 1/4 oz. heavy cream
    • Mint, for garnish (optional)


    1. Place all the ingredients, except the cream, and ice into a cocktail shaker. Shake thoroughly and pour unstrained into a highball glass or goblet. Float cream. Garnish with a sprig of mint, if you like. Serve.