Mixology Monday: Pain In The Ass Drinks

by Matt Robold on April 26, 2010

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The merry months continue to pass on by in their irresistible march towards a future full of rum and riches for yours truly (that is where we’re headed, right?  I really hope this isn’t like the time I got on the wrong train and ended up in Oceanside when I meant to go to LA).  Of course, such a passing of time inevitably brings us our next Mixology Monday.

This month’s mixological mayhem is being brought to us all by the McSology blog, run by Seattle’s own Mike McSorely.  Mike, being a bartender by trade, has had his fair share of time stuck behind the stick at 1:35 AM when a customer has wandered in and ordered a Ramos Gin Fizz or some 27 ingredient Tiki concoction that means rather than getting a start on cleaning up, he’s going to be mixing one drink for the next 10 minutes.  Mike, it would appear, wants revenge.

So my charge to you all is to document your (least) favorite drink that is the proverbial thorn in your side. It can be virtually anything stylistically- The point here is to have fun and share that little ticket item that throws you off your cleaning game 10 minutes before last call!

Now, Mike and I probably have different criteria for Pain In The Ass drinks.  I don’t work behind a bar.  If I’m making drinks, I’m probably standing at what was designed to be a breakfast counter just off of my kitchen, talking to my brother or whoever happens to be visiting the apartment that evening.  Last Call is when I decide I’m done making drinks.

That being said, there are still some drinks that, when requested, I’ve found myself debating the “heave a long sigh and start mixing” or “be a draconic host and respond with something mature like ‘Why don’t YOU make one?‘” responses.

The answer is easy to give, and strikingly broad in its application:

Tiki is a gigantic pain in the ass.

tiki_faces

Some drinks are easier than others, but even my beloved Mai Tai – a drink I made for myself more than 60 times in a single month as a home research project – has its pain in the ass features.

Travel into Tiki and you’ll find that there are syrups to be bought or made (Falernum, Orgeat, Don’s Mix, Don’s Spices, Cinnamon Syrup, Passion Fruit Syrup, Unicorn Smurfberry Syrup).  There’s ice to be crushed.  There are the 3-300 different rums you have to pour before you even get to the 16 different liqueurs you need to add to the tin.  If you’re really lucky, you can end up with cans of coconut cream being emptied into a blender full of ice that you’ll spend plenty of time cleaning up afterward.

Oh, and let’s not forget the small grove of citrus that will be wiped out as you pour in your measures of lime, lemon and grapefruit – probably mixed with some pineapple, guava or banana juice.

tdn_aftermath

OK, fine, I made up that last bit about banana juice.  I don’t even know if you can make banana juice.  I’m hoping you can’t because I can think of at least one person that will take this post as a challenge to create a drink that requires juicing a banana.  He’ll probably garnish it with an entire fig tree.

Really though, within the Tiki category, I don’t know if there’s a bigger pain in the ass than the Zombie.  Oh sure, there are drinks that require more prep work or more exotic ingredients that have to be imported from Oompa Loompaland, but the Zombie has special circumstances that enhance its pain in the ass factor.

Zombie Punch TallZombie Punch
from “Sippin’ Safari

.75 oz Lime Juice
.5 oz Don’s Mix
.5 oz Falernum

1.5 oz Jamaican Rum
1.5 oz Gold Puerto Rican Rum
1 oz 151 Demerara Rum
1 dash Angostura Bitters
1/8th tsp Herbsaint or Pernod
1 tsp Grenadine
.75 cup crushed ice

Put everything into a blender, saving ice for last.  Blend at high speed for no more than 5 seconds. Pour into a chimney glass and fill with ice.  Garnish with fresh mint.

First of all, if someone that isn’t a Tiki aficionado orders a Zombie, you have a 1 in 3 chance of picking the right recipe.  That’s because Donn The Beachcomber, genius though he might have been, couldn’t leave his drinks alone.  He was constantly tweaking and modifying them.  Thumb your way through Jeff Berry’s Sippin’ Safari and count the number of Don Beach’s Zombies.  You can go ahead and ignore the 7000 knock-offs, you’re still left with 3 choices – all different.

Personally I prefer the original 1934 ZombieBlair at TraderTiki happens to like the 1950 or Spievak Zombie (which he admits is more from a bartender’s point of view that the Spievak is less of a pain in the ass than the ’34).  I don’t know if anyone prefers the 1956 Zombie.  There’s got to be someone.  And they’ll probably tell you that they love it while secretly wishing that it wasn’t so good so that they’d never have to toil under its tyrannical power ever again.

Even setting aside the trouble of managing expectations or reading minds or guessing which version of the Zombie your guest has had that they so desire, the Zombie is still a drink comprised of NINE INGREDIENTSNINE!  A third of those ingredients are rums, so get ready to start grabbing bottles.  If you’re making the ’34, I sure hope your syrup supply is in good order, because you’re going to be grabbing Don’s Mix, Falernum and Grenadine.

DonnBeachDemiseFinally, this being a drink invented by Donn The Beachcomber, you find yourself victim to Don’s most evil signature in his recipes: the drops of absinthe.  If your home bar is small, imagine having to buy a 750mL bottle of liqueur so that you can get out an eyedropper and put in 6-8 drops of the stuff into each drink at a time.  You can always cheat and just go for teaspoon measures like I do, though when you go from 6 drops to 8 drops you wonder exactly how much that alters your 1/8th teaspoon measure, as well as whether or not those 2 drops in a drink that has almost 6 ounces of other liquids in it really matter.

Add all of this to the other ritualized requirements of making a Tiki drinks: your crushed ice, fresh mint and, “preferably,” healthy collection of special mugs just for serving these things, and the Zombie can quickly become a royal pain in the ass that could drive one to swear off any drink that isn’t called “Rum, neat.”

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a sticky counter to clean, 15 bottles to put away and a blender to take apart and wash.

Question of the Day:

What drink that you love do you find yourself loathing to make?

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