• 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.
  • Weekly Cocktail #17: The Tahitian Postcard

    Tahitian Postcard cocktail.

    A delightful week here at the farm. We were lucky enough to have our post on the El Diablo cocktail featured on Freshly Pressed, the Huffington Post Kitchen Notes featured the Rose Pearl cocktail and then Debra Samuels, the cookbook author commented on our adaptation of her Sushi Balls recipe. Her words were so kind and gracious. We are so grateful to everyone who reads our blog and shares their blogs and comments with us. Food, drink and the garden really do build the soul and connect you with others.

    Food and drink also take you, at least temporarily, all over the world. And this week’s cocktail, The Tahitian Postcard, certainly takes us to another place. The Tahitian Postcard is our creation and is another “sparkling” cocktail for summer (can’t resist, sorry). It combines rum, lime juice, passion fruit syrup and champagne or sparkling wine. We also include Licor 43, a Spanish liqueur with citrus and pronounced vanilla notes, as an optional ingredient. The recipe itself is an adaptation of the Airmail Cocktail (rum, lime, champagne and honey syrup), but we use the passion fruit and Licor 43 to give a touch of “tiki” to the drink.

    Tahitian postcard and ingredients.

    The key here is a “touch” of tiki…just a touch. The passion fruit syrup, Licor 43 and the rum can all drown out the champagne and lime, so we use relatively small amounts for a balanced, lighter drink without any cloying sweetness. The end result is a bright, sweet and sour cocktail with light body from the champagne. Our friend Roger tried the drink, liked it quite a bit, but noted that he liked the passion fruit “because I couldn’t tell it was passion fruit” and that is the point, a light touch helps with this style of drink. A good tiki drink leaves you wondering what all the ingredients are, and we hope the Tahitian Postcard fits that description.

    As for the ingredients, passion fruit syrup is cheap and widely available. It is also a common tiki drink flavor and worth buying, if you like tiki drinks. The Licor 43 is an occasional tiki ingredient that, as we noted earlier, has pronounced vanilla flavor. The Licor 43 is optional in this recipe. We use a scant amount of the Licor 43 and you could substitute a dash of vanilla syrup or use a golden rum that has vanilla notes and get a similar flavor impact.

    Finally, if you are curious about the name of the cocktail, Tahiti is famous for its vanilla and tropical fruit. About 17 years ago, Carolyn and I were returning from our Tahitian honeymoon. We loved the islands, but have yet to return. With this cocktail we sent ourselves a postcard, and it bought us back, at least for a moment.

    The Tahitian Postcard:


    • 3/4 oz. white or golden rum (we use white Demerara rum)
    • 1/2 oz. lime juice
    • 1/3 oz. passion fruit syrup (1/4 oz. if you like drinks less sweet)
    • 2 dashes Licor 43 or vanilla syrup (optional)
    • 5 oz. champagne or sparkling wine
    • Lime twist, for garnish


    1. Comine the rum, lime juice, passion fruit syrup and Licor 43 (if using) in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake thoroughly and strain into a chilled flute, cocktail glass or coupe.
    2. Top with the champagne and add the lime twist. Serve.