At Nine Mile Station in Atlanta, beverage director Randy Hayden’s winterized tropical drink, uses dark rum instead of white for a richer, fuller flavor, layering notes like apricot, pineapple, baking spices and mint into the mix for refreshing complexity. Drinks like the Winterbird live in an interesting gray area that ventures into Tiki territory (sort of), but rum and fruit juice do not a Tiki cocktail make—there’s a distinct difference between tropical and Tiki, as we explore in this breakdown with the team at JungleBird in San Juan, Puerto Rico, which managing director Chuck Rivera sums up nicely: “Tropical drinks are refreshing, light and crisp on the palate with fresh, fruity notes,” he says. “Tiki, on the other hand, focuses more on robust flavors and rich textures.”
On the subject of Tiki, we’d be remiss not to acknowledge the important conversation surrounding Tiki’s cultural context and its problematic nature, prompting many bartenders and other industry professionals to consider moving away from the use of the term altogether. “The major problems that we need to address are not in the cultural appropriation of Tiki but in the effects of colonialism/imperialism/militarism in our islands and how Tiki was born out of that,” says bartender Sam Jimenez in an earlier Liquor.com article entitled “Rethinking Tiki: How to Do Tropical Escapism Better.” In this piece, author Jimenez and fellow bartender Ari Daskauskas explain the issues with the use of the word Tiki in cocktails, suggesting that they’d both like to see the term “tropical” be used instead.
While this corner of the drinks world continues to evolve, there’s one thing we can’t deny, and that’s the deliciousness of tropical ingredients. Learn how to make Hayden’s Mai Tai riff at home (paper umbrella optional).
This recipe originally appeared as part of “Can the Classic Drinks of Summer Be Transformed for Winter? Yes. And This Is How.”
- 1 1/2 ounces dark rum
- 1/2 ounce Fernet-Branca liqueur
- 1/2 ounce apricot liqueur
- 1 ounce lime juice, freshly squeezed
- 1/2 ounce orange juice, freshly squeezed
- 1/2 ounce pineapple juice
- 1 ounce simple syrup
- 4 dashes Angostura bitters
- Garnish: quarter orange wheel
- Garnish: brandied cherry
Add all ingredients into a shaker with ice and shake until well-chilled.
Strain into a Collins glass or a Tiki mug over ice.
Garnish with a quarter orange wheel and a brandied cherry.