Episode 045 - Intro to Tiki

Archipelago Bar.jpg

What’s shakin cocktail fans?

Welcome back to another episode of the Modern Bar Cart podcast. We come to you today with a long-awaited episode.

If you remember, back when we launched the Embitterment Heritage Collection a few months ago, we dedicated an episode to exploring the cocktail history and culture pertaining to each of our new flavors...except Tiki.

In this episode, we fix that by sitting down for a Tiki crash course with Ben Wiley or Archipelago, a Tiki bar here in Washington, DC. Follow them on Instagram @archipelagobardc or email them at info@archipelagobardc.com.

Some of the things Ben and I discuss this episode include:

  • How to define Tiki, which isn’t as easy as it sounds
  • A brief history of Tiki, featuring the stories of Don the Beachcomber and Trader Vic
  • Common Tiki ingredients and spirits to have on hand
  • A handful of excellent cocktail recipes to start sampling at the bar and experimenting with at home
  • A new lightning round question
  • And much, much more

The story of how Ben rose through the ranks of the hospitality industry to carve out his own niche as one of the owner-operators of Archipelago is really inspiring for anybody who cares about flavor and good hospitality. So if you’re in the DC area, I do hope you’ll head on over to U Street and grab a drink and chat him up.

Featured Cocktail - The Mai Tai

This week’s featured cocktail is the legendary Mai Tai. If there were a Mt. Rushmore of Tiki drinks, the Mai Tai would definitely be up there. It’s complex, sweet, sour, fruity, and it packs quite a punch.

Mai Tai with a customarity elaborate garnish

Mai Tai with a customarity elaborate garnish

To make one, you’ll need:

  • 1 oz. amber Martinique rum
  • 1 oz. aged Jamaican rum
  • 1 oz. fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. orange curaçao
  • 1/4 oz. orgeat
  • 1/4 oz. simple syrup (1:1)

And to make one, you combine your ingredients in a shaker with crushed (not cube ice), shake for 10 seconds, and then pour the entire concoction into a collins glass or a large rocks glass and garnish with a sprig of mint.

Now, Ben and I spend a good amount of time on the Mai Tai this episode, and if there’s one thing to remember, it’s that this recipe is just a set of guidelines. Go into 10 Tiki bars, and you’ll get 10 completely different takes on the Mai Tai. But this recipe, which I took from Imbibe.com, is a great place to start your experiments.


Frederick Craft Spirits Festival - This Saturday, 4/21/2018, Modern Bar Cart will be hanging out at the Maryland Craft Spirits festival in Frederick, MD. You can find details and purchase tickets here.

Tiki Discount - Special for podcast listeners, you'll be able to pick up our Typhoon Tiki bitters for 50% off if you use the code FREAKYTIKI (all one word) at checkout.

Show Notes

Here are a couple of details from our discussion about Tiki that are particularly interesting and important.

Tiki History

The two figureheads at the forefront of the Tiki movement are Don the Beachcomber and Trader Vic, both of whom got their start in Los Angeles, CA in the 1930s. 

Trader Vic Menu.jpg
Don the Beachcomber Menu.jpg

These gents started a veritable Tiki arms race, especially when the style skyrocketed in popularity when servicemen began returning from the Pacific theatre of war following WWII. 

Their ability to create a rich "vibe" using lush tropical plants, running water, exotic music, mysterious ingredients, and highly stylized service and garnishes really put them on the map as frontrunners in the Tiki tradition.

Important Tiki Ingredients

  • Orgeate - An almond-based syrup that gives cocktails a rich, silky mouthfeel
  • Curacao - An orange liqueur that is essential to so many cocktails, including the Mai Tai.
  • Allspice/Pimento Dram - Exactly what it sounds like. Tastes like "Christmas in a glass."
  • Falernum - Sort of a cross between orgeate and allspice dram

Some Noteworthy Tiki Cocktails

Fog Cutter

  • 1.5 oz white rum
  • .5 oz gin
  • .5 oz brandy
  • 2 oz orange juice
  • 1 oz lemon juice
  • .5 oz orgeate
  • .5 oz Amontillado sherry
  • Mint garnish


  • 4 oz pineapple juice
  • 2 oz dark rum
  • 1 oz orange juice
  • 1 oz cream of coconut
  • Grated nutmeg garnish


  • 1/2 oz white rum
  • 1.5 oz gold rum
  • 1 oz dark rum
  • .5 oz overproof rum
  • 1 oz lime juice
  • 1 bar spoon superfine sugar
  • 1 bar spoon pineapple juice
  • 1 bar spoon papaya juice

Jungle Bird

  • 1.5 oz Jamaican rum
  • .75 oz Campari
  • 1/2 oz lime juice
  • 1/2 oz simple syrup
  • 1.5 oz pineapple juice

Lightning Round

Favorite Cocktail

The Mai Tai

If you were a cocktail tool or ingredient, what would you be?

Bar Spoon

Cocktail with Anyone, Past or Present

Mark Twain

Influential Cocktail Books

Advice for Home Bartenders

Take one Tiki drink, and try to master it. Then branch out with one or two new ingredients, and go from there. It's a natural evolution of both the home bar and the home bartender. Start slowly, and expand naturally.

*The Painkiller cocktail is technically copyrighted by Pusser's rum, which is a commercial entity. Modern Bar Cart's unofficial stance on this subject is that copyrighting a cocktail for branding purposes is a lame move that stifles cocktail culture.