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Modern Tropical Cocktails
I first heard about Tiki: Modern Tropical Cocktails, by Shannon Mustipher, in this article from the LA Times. Shortly after receiving the book, I had the privilege of attending a seminar with Shannon Mustipher at the first ever Arizona Tiki Oasis. She sent me on a wild goose chase to find Hampden’s Rum Fire and some obscure juice I’d never heard of before called Soursop (See Kingston Soundsystem on page 78). The results were well worth the effort and her book is a go-to in my house when a cocktail is called for.
Tiki is a unique take on a genre that has seen a surge in popularity in recent years. Whereas many Tiki oriented cocktail books skew heavy on the syrups, Shannon relies on the natural sweetness of juices from both tiki-canon fruits as well as many unique, Caribbean inspired, additions. Each recipe pays true respect to its ingredients and the final product is always well balanced and interestingly complex.
Each recipe in Tiki begins with a brief overview of the drink to come. These overviews include the inspiration for the drink and an explanation of more obscure ingredients, as well as the results of interesting combinations within the recipe. This overview is followed by a specific suggestion for each spirit present in the recipe, making it easier to nail the flavor profile that Shannon intends for each drink. Any home-mixed ingredients are presented at the bottom of the recipe and most are accompanied by beautiful full-color photos which add a ton of enjoyment to flipping through the book cover to cover.
Getting down to the data, Tiki is clearly a book dedicated to discovery. To get the most out of the book, other than looking at the pretty pictures, you must be willing to embark on a bit of a quest. There are roughly two new ingredients for each of the 90 recipes. While 73% of the ingredients in the book can be found Off-the-Shelf (OTS), that leaves 46 ingredients that you’ll be whipping up at home. Half of those (23) are infusions and other time-consuming, multi-step preparations. On the plus side, fewer than half of the ingredients are used only once.
As noted earlier, one of the coolest things about Tiki is the de-emphasis of overly-sweet concoctions so prevalent in other books in this genre. This is evidenced by the lack of any sweetening syrups in the top 5 ingredients. Also interesting is the presence of the very particular Pot Still style of Rum from Jamaica. If you’re a fan of that high hogo style, this is definitely the book for you.
All in all I’d highly recommend this book to anyone looking to expand their repertoire of rum cocktails. If you’re usually put off by the Tiki genre, give Shannon a chance to change your mind. At the same time, the die-hard Tiki fan should buy this book with the knowledge that its much more a celebration of the drinks and ingredients, than of the culture, pomp and circumstance of the Tiki movement.