Cocktail & Other Recipes By Spirit Rum Cocktails

Pearl Diver

Pearl Diver cocktail in a clear Tiki mug, garnished with a pineapple frond and orchid flower
Image: / Tim Nusog

Tiki drinks include a bevy of ingredients that are rarely found outside the Tiki-tropical canon, including orgeat, falernum and gardenia mix. Jeff “Beachbum” Berry is credited with reviving the latter, as well as a historically accurate version of the mix‘s raison d’etre, the Pearl Diver cocktail, back in 2006. At his bar Latitude 29 in New Orleans, he continues to showcase gardenia mix in the Pontchartrain Pearl Diver, which also includes Jamaican rum, passion fruit and lime.

But this is the classic Pearl Diver, combining two types of rum—an aged column-still rum and rich demerara rum—along with gardenia mix, fresh lime and orange juices, and aromatic bitters.

Gardenia mix, or more accurately Don’s Gardenia Mix, combines honey, butter, cinnamon syrup, allspice and vanilla, whipped together with a spatula or electric mixer. It’s one of the many flavor-bomb concoctions imagined by the Tiki legend Donn Beach, proprietor of famed bar Don the Beachcomber and inventor of many now-classic cocktails.

“Gardenia mix is a spiced honey-butter cordial,” says Anthony Schmidt, the beverage director of San Diego’s Consortium Holdings projects, which includes Tiki bar False Idol. In the Pearl Diver, it adds rich spice and vanilla notes to the cocktail, but he says that gardenia mix doesn’t need to be confined to this drink or Tiki drinks in general. “It adds a desirable richness to beverages while limiting the impact of sweetness. In other words, you can develop texture and richness while maintaining a not-too-sweet beverage balance. It’s highly versatile and adds depth and body when used effectively.”


  • 1 1/2 ounces aged column-still rum

  • 1/2 ounce demerara rum

  • 1/2 ounce Don’s Gardenia Mix

  • 1/2 ounce lime juice, freshly squeezed

  • 1/2 ounce orange juice, freshly squeezed

  • 1 dash Angostura bitters

  • Garnish: edible orchid

  • Garnish: pineapple leaf


  1. Add the column-still rum, demerara rum, Don’s Gardenia Mix, lime juice, orange juice, and bitters into a blender with 1/2 cup pebble ice and blend on high for 20 seconds.

  2. Fine-strain into a Pearl Diver glass (or Tiki mug) and top with more pebble ice.

  3. Garnish with an edible orchid and a pineapple leaf.

  4. Serve with a straw.