Cocktail & Other Recipes By Spirit Other Cocktails

Don’s Gardenia Mix

Don's Gardenia Mix in a clear glass beaker, with a pearl diver cocktail in the background / Tim Nusog

Tiki and tropical cocktails feature a litany of homemade and sometimes obscure ingredients, including orgeat (a sweet and nutty syrup usually made from almonds), falernum (a Caribbean liqueur made from ginger, lime, almonds and spices) and Don’s Gardenia Mix. The latter combines honey, butter and spices and is one of the many flavor-bomb concoctions dreamed up by the legendary Donn Beach of Don the Beachcomber.

Donn Beach was a Tiki pioneer. He opened his famed bar in Los Angeles in the 1930s, which helped to popularize Tiki culture around the country. During his tenure behind the bar, he is credited with inventing many classic drinks that are still enjoyed today, including the Zombie, and he also workshopped several DIY syrups and mixers, like his eponymous gardenia mix, to give his recipes extra flavor and flair.

The modern interest in Don’s Gardenia Mix, however, is largely owed to another Tiki luminary: Jeff “Beachbum” Berry. He resuscitated the mostly forgotten mix and the Pearl Diver cocktail, which prominently features it, back in 2006.

Making Don’s Gardenia Mix requires an electric mixer or a sturdy hand. Whip together honey, unsalted butter, cinnamon syrup, allspice liqueur and vanilla syrup in a bowl until smooth. Once ready, deploy the ingredient in a Pearl Diver or experiment to find new and creative uses for its rich taste and texture.


  • 1 ounce honey

  • 1 ounce unsalted butter

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon syrup*

  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice liqueur

  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla syrup


  1. Add the honey, unsalted butter, cinnamon syrup, allspice liqueur and vanilla syrup into a bowl. Using a spatula or an electric mixer, whip until smooth and creamy.

  2. Bottle and refrigerate for up to 1 week.

*Cinnamon syrup: Add 2 crumbled cinnamon sticks, 4 cups sugar and 2 cups water to a large pan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove from the heat and cover. Let sit 20 minutes, then strain and chill. Store in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator.