Cocktail & Other Recipes By Spirit Rum Cocktails

Jet Pilot

Jet Pilot cocktail / Tim Nusog

Cocktails are often evocative of their eras, and this spiced riff on the Tiki favorite Test Pilot indeed took flight during the Jet Age. Jet engines were invented by the military in the 1930s and ’40s, and by the 1950s, civilians were flying in style on turbo-powered commercial airplanes.

This exciting time in U.S. aviation history coincided with the Tiki craze in the United States. The Test Pilot was the creation of Donn Beach, the godfather of Tiki himself. Inspired by his travels in the South Pacific, Beach opened his bar Don the Beachcomber in Los Angeles as Prohibition was winding down in 1934, ushering in a new rum-soaked era of cocktail history best encapsulated by his motto: “If you can’t get to paradise, I’ll bring it to you.” He invented the Test Pilot around 1941, combining a blend of rums, Cointreau, falernum, lime juice, Angostura bitters, and Pernod with crushed ice in a blender. Many quirky Jet Age variations took off, including the Astronaut and the Space Pilot, but perhaps the most well-known is the Jet Pilot, which was invented in 1958 at the now-shuttered Beverly Hills hotspot Luau, a Tiki bar owned by actor Steve Crane. 

This Tiki cocktail hews fairly closely to its predecessor, but calls for the addition of a cinnamon syrup, which lends spice notes to the classic. It omits the Cointreau entirely, as the cinnamon syrup helps to sweeten the drink, and it also adds grapefruit juice to the lime. As is the case with the Test Pilot, it continues the Tiki tradition of blending rums, another legacy of Donn Beach, combining two overproof rums and a milder gold rum. Lime and grapefruit juices brighten the mix, and falernum, a spiced almond syrup that adds richness to many Tiki drinks, also goes into the blender. Dashes of absinthe and Angostura bitters, meanwhile, lend complexity and round out the drink’s flavors without overpowering them.

The Jet Pilot might technically be a frozen drink, but you should still keep an eye on the blender: You’ll want to blend your ingredients until they’re combined but not completely smooth, so the drink has a pleasing crushed-ice texture. 

One sip will transport you to the tropics, no flight required.


  • 1 ounce overproof Jamaican rum

  • 3/4 ounce overproof demerara rum (such as Plantation OFTD)

  • 3/4 ounce gold rum

  • 1/2 ounce grapefruit juice, freshly squeezed

  • 3/4 ounce lime juice, freshly squeezed

  • 1/2 ounce cinnamon syrup

  • 1/2 ounce falernum

  • 1 dash absinthe

  • 1 dash Angostura bitters

  • Garnish: maraschino cherry (and more, if desired)


  1. Add all ingredients into a blender with a cup of crushed ice and blend on high until combined but not smooth, about 5 seconds.

  2. Pour into a double old fashioned glass.

  3. Garnish as desired.