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  • Writer's pictureBamboo Sam

Pineapple Paralysis

Updated: Dec 22, 2020

A modern take on the Polynesian Paralysis


Pineapple Paralysis

Given that my liquor of choice prior to my Tiki conversion was bourbon, the Polynesian Paralysis was one of the first Tiki drinks that I learned to make. Given that we are expecting our first frost of the season here in Nashville tonight, bourbon sounded like a good idea today too!


One of the best things about the recently released 3rd edition of Minimalist Tiki is the addition of a new chapter with a modern take on 30 classic Tiki recipes. These 30 modern takes are from some of the leading bartenders in tropical cocktails and best of all they include ingredients that are currently available. After spending so much time trying to recreate some long lost ingredient it's nice to be able to pick up exactly what the mixologist intended. Of course, this being the liquor industry it won't be long before some ingredient on the list will be discontinued...


One of these new ingredients (and the most difficult for me to find locally) is Bittermens 'Elemakule Tiki Bitters. If you've spent any time following this site or other tropical cocktail sources you know that spices are an essential part of Tiki cocktails. "Bitters" typically means Angostura Bitters unless otherwise noted. However, the recipe for the Pineapple Paralysis called for Bittermens 'Elemakule Tiki Bitters. After tracking down a bottle, I can see why. Compared to Angostura Bitters, the smell is more fragrant and sweet. The smell actually reminds me a bit of Coca-Cola syrup. The 'Elemakule Tiki Bitters have cinnamon, allspice, ginger, paprika and they types of spices you typically see in Tiki drinks from the golden age recipes. There is also a touch of heat to it. Its bitterness seems to be more a factor of its concentrated flavor than any of the flavors being actually bitter. I may have bought it for this drink but I have a feeling I'll be subbing it for other bitters for a few weeks. Try the Pineapple Paralysis without it and then then add it in and go for a second sip. The amount of depth 3 drops can give is astounding.


Another "modern" ingredient is the Plantation Stiggins' Fancy Pineapple Rum. I say "modern" because it is a recreation of a popular English rum based upon an 1824 recipe. If you hear Pineapple Rum and think of Cruzan, Malibu, or Blue Chair you're in for a suprise with the Stiggins. This isn't flavored it's Queen Victoria pineapples infused with Plantation Dark rum for 3 months and then blended with another batch that was macerated pineapple rinds that were also steeped in rum. Depending upon what you mix with it, it can come off as pineapple or even apple flavored. It's more similar to the oil of the fruit than the overly sweet flesh that influences so many "pineapple" rums. Incidentally, the name is from the Rev. Stiggins in Charles Dickens' Pickwick Papers. His preferred tipple being warm pineapple rum. That's the pineapple rum, a splash of boiling water, and three lumps of sugar for the more Dickensian amongst us.


In the end you get a very flavorful drink that somehow manages to avoid being sweet. As with anything the choice of dominant liquor (in this case bourbon) has a great effect on this. The recipe calls for a higher proof bourbon and I suspect this is to offset the sweetness of the pineapple juice. Bourbons can range from sour (Dickel 12 yr) to spicy (Bookers) to dry (Makers Mark Cask Strength). Keeping with my Nashville theme I'm using Belle Meade Straight Bourbon which clocks in north of 90 proof. I'm not sure how widely available it is but if you like bourbon I'd definitely give it a shot (well, sip. I'm not in college anymore).

Pineapple Paralysis Cocktail

Pineapple Paralysis

Source - Eric Bogan, Minimalist Tiki by Matt Pietrek and Carrie Smith

  • 3 drops Bittermens 'Elemakule Tiki Bitters

  • 1 ounce lemon juice

  • 3/4 ounce pineapple juice

  • 1/4 ounce cinnamon syrup*

  • 1/2 ounce orgeat*

  • 1/2 ounce orange liqueur*

  • 1/2 ounce Plantation Stiggins' Fancy Pineapple Rum

  • 1 1/2 ounce high proof bourbon*


Build everything in a mixing tin and flash blend with crushed ice using a spindle mixer. Serve in a coconut or a double old fashioned glass. Garnish is a mint sprig, an orchid, and a pineapple wedge.


*Bamboo Sam's customizations: I make my own cinnamon syrup. I promise I'll get it up here soon. There are several commercially available ones to choose from. Just make sure it's for drinks as the cooking and baking ones are too strong to make a good drink. When in doubt I'll hit BG Reynolds of Fee Brothers. For the orgeat I recommend BG Reynolds. Orange liqueur covers a lot of ground. Triple Sec, Orange Curaçao, Cointreau, etc. The recomended liqueur for the Pineapple Paralysis is Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao. It's top notch but I have a thing for Gran Marnier. Either one makes a great drink here. For the bourbon, Eric Bogan recommends Evan Williams Bottled in Bond. I'm fond of Belle Meade Straight Bourbon and Maker's Mark Cask Strength as well.





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