The Jungle Bird, which was created in the 1970s at the Kuala Lumpur Hilton in Malaysia, is a bit of a sleeper hit. The drink combines rum, pineapple juice and lime juice with Campari, the bittersweet Italian liqueur. While it took it a while to grow in popularity outside of the country, it now crops up relatively often on cocktails menus. And while it’s nowhere near as popular as other plenty of other rum drinks, or Campari drinks like the Negroni or Boulevardier, it’s admired enough that it gets the occasional tweak or variations.
Vuelo de la Selva translates to “Flight of the Jungle,” or simply Jungle Flight, in Spanish. The drink comes from bartending icon Ivy Mix, owner of the New York City bar Leyenda and founder of the feminist bartending competition Speed-Rack. One of the most salient changes is to the base spirit: rather than the rum traditionally used in a Jungle Bird, Mix substitutes some of it for Torres 15 brandy, a well-regarded and reasonably priced Spanish brandy. However, there’s still a splash of rum in the drink: half an ounce of any Jamaican rum you’d want to use.
The other major change is to the liqueur. Instead of Campari, Mix uses Contratto Bitter liqueur, one of the many relatively new liqueurs on the market that compete with Campari. Much like its crimson predecessor, Contratto Bitter is bittersweet, crimson and heavily botanical, infused with orange peel, cardamom, gentian, juniper berries, mint, ginger, rhubarb and sage.
The rest of the drink is essentially the same as making a Jungle Bird, with pineapple and lime juice as well as some simple syrup for sweetness. The Vuelo de la Selva is a good example of how changing a few of the base ingredients, even to something similar, can bring a new take to the drink.
- 1 ounce Torres 15 brandy
- 1/2 ounce Contratto Bitter liqueur
- 1/2 ounce Jamaican rum
- 1 1/2 ounces pineapple juice
- 3/4 ounce lime juice
- 1/2 ounce simple syrup
- Garnish: pineapple wedge
Add the brandy, Contratto Bitter liqueur, rum, pineapple juice, lime juice and simple syrup to a cocktail shaker with ice and shake until well-chilled.
Strain into a highball glass filled with fresh ice.
Garnish with a pineapple wedge.