Up Your Tiki Tipple Game with These Cocktail Syrups

Beachbum Berry's Latitude 29 Forumla Orgeat and Formula Falernum tiki syrups. Credit: Jochen Hirshfeld

Fassionola, saffron and pistachio orgeats, and falernum. Master these recipes and your concoctions will be skull mug- and volcano bowl-worthy.

 

The syrup: Fassionola

What it is: Less familiar than orgeat and falernum, “fassionola is the original fruit syrup for the Hurricane and is in essence a tropical fruit syrup,” says Owen Thomson, owner and bartender of tiki bar Archipelago.

What it’s used for: Dr. Moreau’s Vacation Retreat, where it’s mixed with Cotton & Reed Spiced Rum, Cotton & Reed White Rum, Luxardo Triple Sec, kalamansi, honey syrup and Pernod. Fassionola also makes a mean Strawberry Daiquiri, says Thomson.

Fassionola recipe

Courtesy of Owen Thomson, owner and bartender, Archipelago

Thomson cobbled together this recipe based on historical text he came across as well as the work of Cocktail & Sons, who recreated the long lost syrup. “I often substitute it in where grenadine is called for in tropical recipes to give some additional flavor components” he notes. “[But] this syrup along with many others seems to have met its end with the onslaught of powdered collins mix and the like,” he bemoans.

  • 1 quart Strawberries
  • 1 cup Mango puree
  • 1 cup Guava puree
  • 1 cup Passion fruit syrup
  • 2 ⅔ cups Sugar
  • 1 ½ quarts Water
  • ¾ teaspoon Citric acid
  • ½ cup Hibiscus
  • 1-2 Limes and peels

Bring all ingredients to a simmer until the sugar is incorporated. Remove it from the heat, allow it to cool and strain out the solids. Store the syrup in the refrigerator.

 

Dr. Moreau's Vacation Retreat

Recipe courtesy of Owen Thomson, owner and bartender, Archipelago

This convivial cocktail uses two kinds of rum that are locally produced in DC not too far from the bar. Kalamansi is a citrus fruit similar to lime with a very sour taste; in this drink, it offsets the sweetness of the fassionola, triple sec and honey.

  • 3 ¾ oz. Cotton & Reed Spiced Rum
  • 2 ½ oz. Cotton & Reed White Rum
  • ¼ oz. Luxardo Triple Sec
  • 2 ½ oz. Fassionola (see recipe above)
  • 2 oz. Kalamansi
  • 1 oz. Honey syrup (equal parts honey and warm water, stirred to combine)
  • 4 dashes Pernod

Combine all ingredients in a large shaker tin, add one cup of crushed ice, and serve in a volcano bowl.

 

The syrup: Saffron Orgeat

What it is: For this syrup, Christina Russo, lead bartender at The Boardroom and Kendall’s Brasserie, blanches and grinds almonds and cooks them with sugar, water, heady orange flower water, and prized threads of saffron.

What it’s used for: Blanco de Almendra, a cocktail whose name means “whites of the almonds” in Spanish that was inspired by a combination of the “yemas de avila” pastry and Spain’s quintessential flavors of almond and saffron.

Saffron Orgeat recipe

Courtesy of Christina Russo, lead bartender, The Boardroom and Kendall’s Brasserie

This exotic take on orgeat is designed for Russo’s Blanco de Almendra, but it would work equally well in a Mai Tai or Brandy Daisy.

  • 16 oz. ground Blanched almonds
  • 12 oz. White sugar
  • 10 oz. Water
  • ¼ tsp. Orange flower water
  • 5 Saffron threads
  • ½ oz. Vodka

Grind and blanch the almonds, then let them set in water for up to 8 hours. Using cheesecloth, squeeze out the water. Combine them with the sugar, water, orange flower water and saffron threads in a small saucepan. Stir over low heat until the sugar is dissolved and the syrup has reached the desired viscosity. Let it cool, add the vodka, and bottle.

 

Blanco de Almendra by Christina Russo at The Boardroom in Los Angeles - Tiki syrup cocktails
 
Blanco de Almendra

Recipe courtesy of Christina Russo, lead bartender, The Boardroom and Kendall’s Brasserie; Photo credit: Eugene Lee

“The syrup is the cocktail, as the rich almond and saffron flavors and colors are purely complimented by the vodka and citrus,” Russo declares. “The egg white in the citrus is also very important as it gives just enough texture to the drink without it being a full-on sour.”

  • 1 ½ oz. Vodka
  • 1 oz. Saffron orgeat (see recipe above)
  • 1 oz. House citrus blend (see note)
  • Smoked paprika, for garnish

In a cocktail shaker combine the vodka, orgeat and citrus blend. Add ice and shake until well-chilled. Double-strain into a chilled coupe glass, and garnish with the smoked paprika.

For the house citrus blend:

Combine 2 oz. lime juice, 2 oz. lemon juice, 1 ¾ oz. orange juice and 1 egg white in a food processor or blender. Store the mixture in an airtight container for up to three days.

 

The syrup: Pistachio Orgeat

What it is: Brian Nixon, owner and barman at Truxton Inn (which is currently running an all-tiki cocktail menu), blanches and soaks pistachios, blends them, then cooks them down with water, sugar, brandy and orange flower water.

What it’s used for: Grant’s Hour, with Brugal 1888 Rum, Angostura Amaro, orgeat and lemon.

Pistachio Orgeat recipe

Courtesy of Brian Nixon, owner and barman, Truxton Inn

Nixon uses either almonds or pistachios for his orgeat. The former is more traditional, but the latter gives an unexpected taste to cocktails. “Orgeat adds a nice richness and depth to a cocktail,” he points out. “Secondly, it’s a vegetarian option to egg whites, in my opinion.”

  • 17 oz. Blanched shelled pistachios
  • 3 ½ cups Water
  • 3 ½ cups Sugar
  • 3 ¼ oz. Brandy
  • ½ oz. Orange flower water

Place the pistachios in a bowl, cover with water and let them soak for 30 minutes. Drain and discard the water, and crush the pistachios using a blender on pulse. Transfer them to a large bowl, mix them with the water and let stand for one to two hours.

Into another bowl of equal size, strain the almond and water mixture through a layer of cheesecloth, squeezing the cloth to extract all of the liquid. Put the chopped almonds back into this strained almond water, let stand for another hour, and then strain again.

Pour the strained liquid into a pan, discarding the almond pulp. Add the sugar to the pan and cook over a gentle heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat when the sugar is completely dissolved. Let cool for 15 minutes and then add the orange flower water and the brandy. Store the orgeat in a clean glass bottle.

 

Grant’s Hour

Recipe courtesy of Brian Nixon, owner and barman, Truxton Inn

Sweet, sour, spicy and creamy – this cocktail has it all. Brugal 1888 Rum hails from the Dominican Republic and it’s double-matured in ex-American Bourbon barrels and first-fill Sherry casks, both of which give it sweet notes of toffee, caramel, wood and licorice that pair well with the orgeat and amaro.

  • 1 oz. Brugal 1888 Rum
  • ½ oz. Angostura Amaro
  • 1 oz. Housemade orgeat (see recipe above)
  • ¾ oz. Lemon juice

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker, add ice, and shake until well chilled. Double-strain into a chilled coupe glass.

 

The syrup: Falernum

What it is: Invented in the 1800s in Barbados, falernum has notes of lime, clove, ginger and almond that make it indispensable to any tiki bar, points out Jeff Berry, owner of Latitude 29, who collaborated with Adam Kolesar of Orgeat Works in Brooklyn on his line of syrups, including falernum.

What it’s used for: Mid-twentieth century drinks like the Zombie, Jet Pilot, Cobra’s Fang and Pukka Punch, which just wouldn’t be the same without falernum.

Where to get it: Beachbum Berry

 

Latitude 29 Zombie by Don the Beachcomber and Jeff Berry - Tiki syrup cocktails
 
Zombie

Recipe courtesy of Don the Beachcomber and Jeff Berry; Photo credit: Cass McClure

This cocktail – which launched the tiki craze – contains three kinds of rum (including one that’s overproof). Falernum is a key ingredient, of course, as is Don’s Mix, a blend of white grapefruit juice and cinnamon syrup that was pieced together after studying Don the Beachcomber’s codes for his proprietary tiki ingredients and asking a descendent of one of his bartenders.

  • ¾ oz. Fresh lime juice
  • ½ oz. Falernum
  • 1 ½ oz. gold Puerto Rican rum
  • 1 ½ oz. gold or dark Jamaican rum
  • 1 oz. 151-proof Lemon Hart Demerara Rum
  • 1 tsp. Grenadine
  • 6 drops Pernod
  • 1 dash Angostura Bitters
  • ½ oz. Don’s Mix (see Note)
  • Mint sprig, for garnish

Add all ingredients except garnish to an electric blender along with ¾ cup crushed ice, then blend at high speed for no more than 5 seconds. Pour into a Zombie glass or other tall glass, and garnish with the mint sprig.

For Don’s Mix:

Crush 3 cinnamon sticks and place them in a saucepan with 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Lower the heat, cover the saucepan, and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat, let set for at least two hours, strain, and store in the refrigerator for up to a month. To make Don’s Mix, combine two parts white grapefruit juice with one part cinnamon syrup.

 

Kelly Magyarics, DWS, is a wine, spirits and lifestyle writer, and wine educator, in the Washington, D.C. area. She can be reached through her website, www.kellymagyarics.com, or on Twitter and Instagram @kmagyarics.