Updated: Dec 22, 2020
An award winner from a giant in the Tiki-mixology world.
Despite my knowing better (this being written in what we currently consider to be mid-pandemic and 30 days out from the 2020 election) I was on Facebook when an ad caught my eye. It was selling T-shirts that were reprints of the matchbook covers from long gone Tiki bars. The ad in question was for "Billingsley's Outrigger". For those that might not know, Billingsley is my last name and I assumed it was just a clever bit of A.I. that had put my interests together from my browsing history. While I smirked at the cleverness of our robot overlords, if I was going to wear a shirt from a fake Tiki restaurant I was sure I could do better on my own. Bamboo Sam's t-shirts anyone?! Well, turns out it might have just been dumb luck as Billingsley's Outrigger was a real place in Laguna Beach, CA.
Billingsley's Outrigger was owned by Glenn Billingsley Sr., (first) husband of the most famous of us Billingsleys, Leave it to Beaver's Barbara Billingsley. At it's height, there were three Outrigger Polynesian restaurants in the Billingsley chain of 10 or 11 restaurants.
While I didn't realize it, I'd actually read about the Outrigger in Beachbum Berry Remixed in an entry on J. "Popo" Galsini that outlines two great drinks of his, the Skin Diver and the Saturn.
Popo was a Filipino man who worked in several Orange County Polynesian restaurants and is a legend among mid-century bartending aficionados. Today we're looking at what must be his most awarded drink, the Saturn.
The Saturn was originally called the X-15 after the rocket powered aircraft designed by Douglas Aircraft. Their engineers frequented the Kona Kai where he worked at the time. After a test pilot died in a crash in an X-15 he changed the name to the Saturn. Popo won first place at both the 1967 California Bar Guild's Championship and the IBA World Cocktail Championship with the Saturn.
It's an interesting drink to me for a couple of reasons. First of all, it contains no rum! This is a gin based drink. However, if you look at the other ingredients it's straight from the Tiki drink hall of fame; Passion fruit syrup, falernum, orgeat... Secondly, it's a blended drink. With the exception of the Pearl Diver, most classic Tiki drinks are not slushy (think Piña Colada). Interestingly, Popo's other famous drink, the Skin Diver, was also blended as it was a riff on the Pearl Diver that he made for the Outrigger. However, if you don't like slushy drinks, Smuggler's Cove serves this as a daiquiri. It's essentially the same drink with the exception being an additional 1/4 ounce of lemon juice and it being shaken instead of blended. They then serve it strained in a chilled coupe glass. Either way, it's a drink I'm sure you'll enjoy!
...and, Yes, I ordered the shirt.
Source -Beachbum Berry Remixed, Jeff "Beachbum" Berry
1/2 ounce lemon juice
1/2 ounce passion fruit syrup*
1/4 ounce orgeat*
1/4 ounce John D Taylor's Velvet Falernum
1 1/4 ounce gin*
Add all ingredients to a blender with a cup of crushed ice and blend until smooth. Pour into a footed pilsner glass. Garnish with lemon rings and a cherry; the more it looks like Saturn the better!
*Bamboo Sam's customizations: I'm completely hooked on BG Reynolds syrups at this point. While I like to make my own, passion fruit and orgeat are a bit beyond my enjoyment level, so I buy those. For the gin it's a safe bet that a drink created in 1967 used London Dry Gin. It certainly makes for a good drink, however, gin has come a long way in the past decade. I'm quite fond of this drink using a more botanical (i.e. less juniper tasting) gin like Uncle Val's Botanical Gin in the Saturn.