The Golden Barnacle
A modern cocktail from the Tiki Revival
Tiki revivalists are some interesting folks. While we all have some level of respect for the originators of Tiki bars, creators of Tiki's Golden Age, and those that helped save the disappearing art form in the 1980's and 90's, that's about all we have in common. Below that big tent there are a multitude of factions. From originalists that are just waiting to type "THAT'S NOT TIKI!" the first time you post a drink in a Star Wars Geeki Tiki mug, to people that only want Tiki ephemera if it has Disney® stamped on it. Thankfully, most of us still enjoy the big tent!
I started out as a bit of an originalist when it came to drink recipes but as far as mugs and such, I'm good with whatever floats your boat. This bend toward the old school is probably connected to the fact that I started with Beachbum Berry books. However, it soon became apparent that with all of the changes in rum styles and availability, inaccurate syrup recipes, and ever changing natural ingredients (especially fruit) I was never going to make an exact replica of any of those drinks. My new goal became one of just making a great drink as close as possible to the original's intent. Eventually, one starts to experiment. With me it was typically out of necessity. Making a Tradewinds and don't have any Apricot Liqueur? Let's try substituting peach brandy; that's close, right?! Next thing you know you're writing down those deviations that you like and you're making your own from scratch.
I'm always on the lookout for cocktail recipe books and a few weeks ago I came across an article where different bartenders were naming their favorites. Tiki: Modern Tropical Cocktails by Shannon Mustipher was on multiple bartender's lists so I grabbed a copy. Shannon (he says as if he knows her...) has a lot more experience than I do creating menus for bars and her book goes for a mix of classics with a heavy does of originals that she has developed for various bars. The Golden Barnacle is one of her originals.
There are several reasons the Golden Barnacle calls to me. First of all it's square in Don the Beachcomber's flavor profile even going so far as to use Don's Mix #1. Secondly, it adheres very closely to the proportions Trader Vic used so well in the Mai Tai. Lastly, it's flavor profile is complicated without being overly anything. We tend to think of something with no extremes as bland but subtlety can be exquisite when done right.
For those unfamiliar with Don's Mix #1, it's simply a 1:1 mix of cinnamon syrup and grapefruit juice. It should be noted that Don made this before the proliferation of red grapefruits. As such he used white grapefruit juice which is nowhere near as sweet as many modern grapefruits like the Ruby Red or Rio Red varieties. I rarely make this mix as there are many more drinks that use cinnamon syrup than Don's Mix so I just mix it on the fly when needed, in this case 1/2 ounce grapefruit juice and 1/2 ounce cinnamon syrup.
When it comes to the flavor profile of the Golden Barnacle is a short sipper that lands in my "Tiki spices" wheel house. Allspice dram can be overpowering but the funk of the pot still rum seems to cancel it out a bit. The result is more delightful than a barnacle has the right to be.
The Golden Barnacle
Source - Tiki: Modern Tropical Cocktails, Shannon Mustipher
1/2 ounce lime juice
1 ounce Don's Mix #1
1/2 ounce Allspice Dram*
1/2 ounce Jamaican Rum*
1 ounce Rhum Agricole*
Put everything together with a small amount of pebble or cracked ice. Flash blend in a spindle mixer and open pour into a rocks glass over cubed ice. Garnish is a blood orange wheel.
*Bamboo Sam's customizations - Shannon recommends Hamilton Pimento Dram but unfortunately, I have a hard time finding anything Hamilton here in Tennessee. As a result I typically use St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram. For the record pimento and allspice are the same thing. Shannon calls for a Pot Still Jamaican rum and name checks Two James Dr. Bird - another not easily found in TN. I'm using Plantation Xamayca. Rhum Agricoles can be very different given their ability to convey terrior in a way that traditional rums can't. She recommends Neisson Rhum Agricole Blanc. I'm using Clemént Select Barrel Rhum Agricole, cause that's what I got on hand!