Episode 110 - Tiki: Modern Tropical Cocktails

Tiki Modern Tropical Cocktails Shannon Mustipher Banner

What’s shakin, cocktail fans?

Welcome to episode 110 of The Modern Bar Cart Podcast!

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This time around, I get to chat with bartender and author Shannon Mustipher about her new book, entitled Tiki: Modern Tropical Cocktails. Shannon is a New York-based bartender and brand ambassador for Bertoux Brandy, and she swung through DC to do a shift behind the bar at Archipelago on U Street and promote her book. So naturally, we couldn’t resist having a fun tiki-driven chat with her before the doors opened for service.

In this fun chat with Shannon Mustipher, some of the topics we discuss include:

  • How Shannon shifted her passion for art from the canvas to the bar

  • What cocktails and great coffee and lattes have in common

  • What it looks like to go from designing a simple brunch menu to an entire cocktail program featuring over 50 rums

  • The discipline, sacrifice, and passion required to assemble a book that contributes meaningfully to the Tiki discussion

  • How to think about Tiki as a “modern” cocktail genre

  • What to drink in Cuba with actress and philanthropist Rosie Perez

  • And much, much more

You can follow Shannon on Twitter (@shannonmusty) and Instagram (@shannonmustipher).

Her book, Tiki: Modern Tropical Cocktails, can be purchased online, or by visiting your local bookseller and requesting that they carry it. Personally, we love how this book is organized, and how the photography that accompanies the cocktail recipes - each picture really whets your appetite and inspires you to spend time on the presentation of the drink. So please, if you’re in the market for a good read and some awesome recipes, grab your copy today.

Featured Cocktail - The Junglebird

This episode’s featured cocktail - in keeping with our Tiki theme - is the mighty Jungle Bird. It’s a drink that’s come up before on the podcast, and for good reason. Created by bartender Giuseppe Gonzalez in 1978 at the Kuala Lumpur Hilton, this formulation sends a classic Negroni careening into the tropics.

To make a Jungle Bird cocktail, you’ll need:

Jungle Bird Cocktail
  • 2 oz Jamaican pot still rum (Smith and Cross is a solid go-to here)

  • ¾ oz Campari

  • 1 ½ oz Pineapple Juice

  • ½ oz Fresh lime juice

Combine these ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice, shake vigorously for about 15-20 seconds, and then strain into either a large rocks glass or a Collins glass over cubed ice.

For a garnish - go tropical, yet restrained. After all, this is a Tiki drink - but one that contains far fewer ingredients than your classic Zombie or Mai Tai. In her book, Shannon recommends several pineapple fronds and a scored lime wheel.

Show Notes

Shannon began her journey at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) as a painting and art history student. Later, she moved to New York City and found herself really delving into the mysteries of great coffee, espresso, and lattes as a barista. This was when she first applied her creativity to painting with flavor.

Then, she gradually worked her way up through various roles at Glady’s Caribbean restaurant in Crown Heights. At first, she was designing brunch menu drinks, but as her talent and expertise developed, she was tasked by the owner to create an entire cocktail program with a back bar containing 50 different rums.

Over the course of a single month, she tasted around 250 different rums to narrow the field. Her apartment walls were covered with Post-It notes tracing the genealogies of various Tiki cocktail families. Some days she worked such long hours that she ended up sleeping at the restaurant. In the end, she developed a program that put her on the cocktail map in the world’s most legendary cocktail market.

Lightning Round

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Favorite Cocktail

A classic La Floridita Daquiri. Caster sugar instead of simple syrup, nice dry white rum, fresh lime, shaken.

If you were a Cocktail Ingredient, What Would You Be?

Fassionola - I call it sugar, spice, and everything nice.

Cocktail with Anyone, Past or Present

Daquiris, Mojitos, and other Cuban classics with actor and philanthropist Rosie Perez.

Influential Cocktail Books