Summer Cocktails from Mr. Booze

Late Summer Coolers & Sippers


As we scratch, pant and paw our ways into the dog days of summer, I slowly turn my head away from the rich rum tiki concoctions so satisfying in the warm months’ beginnings, to drinks that take just a little bit of juicing pre-prep and you’re mostly done. Once the limes are squeezed or the other juices are extracted, you can throw these liquids in the fridge and pull ‘em out in a jiffy to concoct quick, thirst quenching drinks which serve one main purpose…they cool you down.

Be reminded that these are the hot weather drinks; the drinks for when it’s tough to even open the back door to check on how brown the grass is turning or to flip and drain the kiddy pool, full of hot brackish water and dog fur. I serve these drinks in tall, frosted white glasses produced in the 50’s and 60’s, back when air conditioners were found only in parents’ bedrooms and maybe the living room if you were lucky. We drink these in carports with oscillating fans plugged in and Sammy Davis Jr. on the player, bug-spray nearby.

Watermelon Cooler

It’s new, and I confess I first read about it in a house-keeping and craft magazine, but I’ve tweaked it and made it more of a “wow” drink. You’ll need a Cuisinart or small food processor, but who doesn’t have one by now. I made a pitcher of these this summer and had to make two more by 8pm. It was a hit and one I’ll stand by each time the neighbor’s pool becomes too tempting a target.

Here we go –

  • Start with a medium, seedless watermelon and remove all the fruit.
  • Cut the fruit into pieces small enough to fit into your food processor.
  • Puree till liquefied, pour into large bowl, and repeat till melon is all gone.
    • Strain this juice through mesh; a strainer (I used my clean flour-sifter) till all you have is the sweet, cool juice.
    • In a large plastic pitcher, muddle 10 fresh mint leaves, ½ oz ginger or plain simple syrup.
    • Fill pitcher with enough ice to chill the drink, but remember you’ll also be adding ice to the recipients’ glasses so don’t go crazy in the pitcher.
    • Divide the watermelon juice and pour half into the pitcher.
    • Add a cup and a quarter of vodka, stir, and fill the rest of the pitcher with ginger ale.
    • Pour into tall, ice-filled glasses and serve with a straw. You’ll be pouring another pitcher so…make it ahead of time and keep in the fridge.


I first tried this after reading the recipe in the July/August 2009 issue of Imbibe magazine and really liked it. It was like summer in a glass. To make the called- for honey-syrup, just stir a cup of honey into a cup of hot or just boiled water till dissolved. Let mixture cool to room temperature & refrigerate. It’ll last a couple months in your bar fridge.

Here we go –

  • 1 ½ oz Gin
  • ¾ oz lime juice
  • 1 oz apple juice
  • ½ oz honey syrup
  • 2 fresh torn basil leaves

Shake in a cocktail shaker with ice till very cold and strain into cocktail glass or over rocks in an old-fashioned glass. Garnish with a fresh basil leaf.

Papa Doble

Without a doubt, this Hemingway favorite jumped right to the top of this summer’s drink list. I had my first at a great little bar on a hot June day, went home and whipped up a few more. I don’t know if it’s the grapefruit or the maraschino, but something in this drink refreshes in a great and unique way. I prefer this one on the rocks but plenty like it as an ice-blended drink more.

Here we go –

  • 2 oz Silver or White Rum
  • 1 oz lime juice
  • ½ oz grapefruit juice
  • ¼ to 1/3 oz (to taste) Maraschino liqueur

Mix ingredients with ice and pour it all into a tall glass or blend in a blender with ½ cup of ice and pour into a medium glass. Lime wheel as garnish for either.

Vero Beach Lemonade

Knocked back a couple of these while watering the lawn the other night. They were an ice-cold, slice of heaven. Very refreshing and easy to make and will make the gnats forget you’re there…or the other way around.

Here we go –

  • 1 ½ oz Bourbon
  • ½ oz Cointreau or Triple Sec
  • 1 oz lemon juice

Pour above over ice in a tall glass then stir with straw. Fill glass to top with 7-up and garnish with a lemon wedge.

Lager and Sour Cherry

Here’s one that’s pretty self-explanatory. Fill a large, clear pitcher with cubed ice. Pour bottles of your favorite weiss, lager, or ale till around 2 inches from top. Pour sour cherry nectar or juice (unsweetened) over top beer in pitcher. Let the juice just settle into the iced beer. Pour ice and drink into frosted pilsner or tall glasses. The combination of the ice, beer and sour really quench the thirst and cool the brow.

Cherry & Peach Sangria

Picture yourself standing barefoot on the shade-cooled cement of your back patio or balcony, a small garden table stands next to you. On it, sweats a pitcher of cold sangria so summery and flavorful you debate whether or not to share. You could just sit there…read your book and drink the whole damn thing by yourself, screw the neighbors. This is that kind of drink.

Here we go –

  • 2 bottles of chilled, inexpensive, dry sparkling wine
  • 8 oz Maraschino liqueur
  • 1 oz peach bitters (you can find these around now, just ask your liquor merchant)
  • ½ lb pitted sweet cherries
  • 2 fat ripe peaches sliced into smallish pieces

Pour the Maraschino over the bowled fruit, toss & cover and set in your fridge for 4-5 hours. Pull the fruit/liqueur mixture and place into a large pitcher. Add the bubbly and stir gently. Ladle into ice filled short glasses.

Santa Cruz Rum Daisy

You can make a Daisy with almost any liquor. This is a pretty basic & simple cocktail to make, yet with the addition of summer fruit, she sings. A tall glass and lots of ice add up to a great chugger.

Here we go –

  • Crushed ice
  • ½ oz simple syrup
  • ½ oz Curacao
  • ½ to ¾ oz lemon juice
  • 3 oz Rum

Shake above ingredients with ice in shaker till ice cold. Pour everything, including ice, into a tall glass or hurricane. Float summer fruit – melon balls, peach slices or blueberries – in the glass and top with club soda.

Mr. Booze’s Drinks for Hot Weather

It’s hot……I’m thirsty!

Ready for a couple drink ideas to carry with you to the beach, pool, lake-house or patio?  I’ve put together a short list of a few drinks guaranteed to change the pace, tickle the tongue and wash the summer gnats out of your throat.  Let’s face it… the novelty of the season is only just starting to wear off.  We’ve been swimming; the kids have been out of school for a little while now; your grill’s had a work out; and yard work’s become a huge drag.  Time for a couple “unique” ice-cold cocktail experiences that will bring back that joy you had on the first few warm days of early summer.  Just so you know, these drinks are far from the “classic cocktails” I praise so much around here, but when it’s this damn hot outside, even an old soul like me is willing to bend the rules.

Rum Swizzle

Tart and sweet, will remind you a little of a lime-aid, only with a punch. The crushed ice component kicks it into the land of summer-sipper.  I’ll drink one or two of these in the early evening when the heat of the day’s behind you, but you still have that glorious summer glow in the sky and the lightening bugs are doing their thing.  The “swizzle” in the drink’s name suggests that you really swizzle/stir the drink as you build it.  A bar spoon or long iced-tea spoon works quite well.  Just insert spoon side down and swirl the handle between your palms rapidly – the drink will agitate.  Add ice and ingredients in stages  taking time to “swizzle” as you go along.  This mixing of flavors, when stacked on top of each other, creates a drink that will surprise you right when you need it most – after a hot day  when you’re winding down.

Here we go –

  • 2 oz dark rum
  • juice from 1 lime (little under an oz.); keep the lime peel shell
  • 3/4 oz of falernum (I use Fee Brothers)
  • 4-5 dashes Angostura bitters
  • crushed ice
  • sprig mint for garnish

Combine rum, lime juice, falernum into a tall glass & add a handful of crushed ice and swizzle/swirl like your life depended on it. Drop the lime shell into the drink, some more crushed ice & swizzle some more. The glass should be frosted at this point & ready for a bit more crushed ice and the Angostura bitters sprinkled on top.  Long straw and a little time to kill should be all you need next.

Thieves’ Punch

Doesn’t get any easier than this one.  This is a classic that goes as well with burgers & dogs on the grill as it does with lamb chops and fillet. You make it when you foresee having little time to make it back to the bar anytime soon.  Guests + booze + busy = Thieves’ Punch.  Syndicated columnist, Jason Wilson, turned me onto this one in one of his recipe listings.  I made it & never looked back.  Dee-lish & easy right when you need things to be that way.  Oh, and did I mention that it’s absolutely delicious & one heck of an early summer cocktail?  It is.

Here we go –

  • 16 oz (a little more than half a bottle) of cachaca (look in the rum section)
  • 5 oz ruby or tawny port (go cheap)
  • 10 oz fresh lime juice
  • 5 oz simple syrup ( )
  • 20+ dashes of Angostura bitters

Add everything in a pitcher & stir.  Add ice & stir some more.  Pour over rocks into rocks glasses.  No garnish, get back to the charcoal.

Freddy Fudpucker

I imagine you’ll only be able to make a couple rounds of this drink.  Your guests will be unable to say the name after two.   Another Jason Wilson gem, he included it in a great article on the resurgence of the last-spotted-in-the-70’s Fern Bar.  Maybe Jack Tripper & Larry drank these at the Rusty Dog, I don’t care!  I drank a few during an early summer poker game and found it to be a great seasonal cocktail.  It screams “beach drink” but I’m ok with that.  Bring the ingredients with you to the shore.   It would be perfect for a balcony or porch, say around five.

Here we go –

  • 1 1/2 – 2 oz tequila
  • 4 oz fresh orange juice
  • 3/4 oz Galliano (you can make Harvey Wallbangers later)

Fill a tall glass with ice & add the o.j.  and tequila.  Stir then add the Galliano.  Squeeze in a lime wedge & plop the wedge into the drink. Put on some Donna Summers and enjoy.

Lynchburg Lemonade

Far from a tried ‘n true old-school cocktail, the Lynchburg Lemonade has only been around since 1980. Named after the town in which its main ingredient is distilled, this thirst-quenching neo-classic  is not bad at all. When the thermometer is still going up after 90 degrees, you just may want to consider this drink as your “in case of emergency” cooler.  I’ve found no two recipes alike, but I will draw the line at bottled sour mix unless it’s high-end and made with all natural & fresh ingredients.  After a few times at bat, here’s the recipe I make at home.

Here we go –

  • 1 3/4 oz Jack Daniels Whiskey
  • 1/4 oz triple sec
  • 1/4 oz lemon juice
  • lemonade to fill

In a tall glass filled with ice, pour all but lemonade & stir. Fill to top with lemonade & garnish with a lemon slice. Be careful… Just because they go down easy, remember they still pack a serious punch.

Peach Donkey

I only just tried this drink, but I thought it was wonderful and full of the flavors I love in the summer.  You’ll need to puree in a blender or processor one or a couple ripe, sliced peaches. You can leave the skin on but be sure to remove all the pit. The drink also calls for ginger liqueur but I upped the vodka call a little and used fresh ginger simple syrup which you can find here on the Mr. Booze site under “simple syrups.”  The ginger liqueur you should use would be the delightful Domain de Canton which, at this point, is pretty easy to find.  You want to go with fresh, as close to local sweet peaches as you can find and make this cocktail seasonally.  When the peaches go bye-bye, so should this drink till next summer.

Here we go –

  • 2 oz vodka
  • 1/2 oz Domain de Canton or ginger simple syrup
  • 3 oz pureed peach
  • ginger beer

In a tall glass add vodka, peach and ginger liqueur or syrup.  Stir and add ice. Fill to top with cold ginger beer and stir. Garnish with a peach slice.

Mr. Booze’s Five Martinis That Are Perfect For Warm Weather

Don’t know about you, but the rum & the lime juice are starting to get a little tired.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m certain I still have room for a few more daiquiris & rum punches this summer;  I’m just hankering something a little cleaner, stronger, with a bit of a bite.  A couple weeks back, a friend poured me a seasonal martini which was so refreshing, cold and delicious, I made up my mind then and there to share it with you along with a couple other  cold glasses of martini-type experiences that should be perfect for that balmy night when it’s way too hot to consider sleep and you just don’t feel like something sweet.   An ice-cold martini, made with care and served in the proper, chilled glass, is indeed the period set on the end of the day’s sentence.  It’s the proper finish when shared or sipped alone in the quiet of a dark driveway with only the sounds of a muggy night to keep you company.  You’ve earned a good martini after a long day, especially in the summer when the drive home feels as if doubled and the house is warm regardless of the thermostat.  Here are five of my faves, in no real order except the best on top.  Keep an open mind, and try each at least once….before it’s time to substitute the gin, vodka and white rums for the whiskeys, brandies and applejack of cooler weather.

* On a side note, hopefully, I don’t need to remind you that “cold is king” when it comes to the martini-type cocktail.  Leave the glasses in the freezer an hour before cocktail hour so the glass is properly frosted;  don’t skimp on the ice in the shaker or pitcher, gently swirl-shake or stir ’til the drink is thick with cold.  If someone sips a little too slowly, ice their drink back up with a splash from the shaker.

Jalapeno Martini

Saving the best for first on this list!  This is the drink I told you about.  A friend mixed this cocktail for me on a muggy night a while back, and I was just amazed at the complexity, beauty, and flavor of this drink. I grow jalapenos in my garden, so the peppers used were still warm from the day when muddled into the drink.  Don’t worry… it’s not like eating a fresh hot pepper. Instead, the warmth of the jalapeno works its way through the vodka & wraps itself around each bite you take from the glass.  As you lift the glass off the bar for your first sip, you’ll notice the most amazing green hue carried over from the muddling. This translucent green sparkled at me, and I hadn’t even had a drink yet.  If you like a bit of spice in your food at all, then you simply must try this drink.

Here we go –

  • 1  1/2 oz vodka
  • 3/4 oz lemon juice
  • 3/4 oz simple syrup (look up simple syrup here on the site if you don’t know how to make it)
  • 1/2 of a slightly seeded (more seeds = more heat) fresh jalapeno pepper
  • 1 basil leaf optional

In a short shaker or mixing glass, muddle the jalapeno, basil (if desired) in the simple syrup.  Add ice then lemon juice and vodka. Shake or stir till ice-cold then strain up into chilled martini glass.  Garnish with a jalapeno slice. * Note – the addition of the 1 basil leaf adds a garden like taste component and depth of color to the drink which is a nice accent.

Opal Martini

Orange, especially when not the dominate flavor but used sparingly, is a thirst quenching additive to a martini type cocktail.  Believe me, there are dozens of orange flavored drinks out there, but I especially like this citrusy shot in the arm because it’s easy on the pallet, yet still has the kick of a Brahma bull. Opaque orange & satisfying through the last sip, this is a delicious cocktail to mix through August.  This isn’t a spiked o-j, this is a serious yet silly martini mixed to take the edge off a long, hot weekday.

Here we go –

  • 3 oz gin
  • 1/2 oz triple sec
  • 1 oz fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 tsp granulated sugar

Shake all the ingredients in a shaker with plenty of ice.  Strain up into a chilled martini glass and garnish with an orange slice.

Boardwalk Martini

While you’re sitting around in your shorts watching reruns of Boardwalk Empire, Mad Men & Game of Thrones this summer on TV, pull up your sock-garters and wander on over to the bar.  While there, mix up one of these smooth-as-silk martinis then kick the air conditioner up a notch. This is close to a standard vodka martini with some nice subtle flavor through additions going on.  Maraschino liqueur combines w/ tart citrus of lemon juice in an amazing manner (see Papa Doble) to create a very unique, nutty, sour flavor.  Nothing dominates in this drink.  All flavors combine in concert and will leave you nodding your head after each sip. There’s an old-world flavor found here that you’ll enjoy.  I am going to stop writing while I go mix one up…. There, I’m back and sipping a Boardwalk Martini as I finish this sentence.  “Mmmm.”

Here we go –

  • 3 oz Vodka
  • 1 oz dry vermouth
  • 1 teaspoon Maraschino liqueur
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Shake it all together with plenty of ice.  Strain up in glass and garnish with a lemon twist.

Alconquin Martini

This cocktail, when served ice cold, is a delight – the perfect drink to have two of before a summer supper.  Part martini, part sour, part manhattan w/ a touch of tiki thrown in for good measure, the Alconquin martini is a great summertime sipper.  I like it ’cause she’s a whiskey based cocktail which can be just what the doctor ordered in a season taken over by white liquors.  I’m a seasonal drinker, but come July, my pallet begins to miss the bourbon & the rye.  Not strong enough to offend the casual drinker, this one would be a nice addition to an adult affair.  Drinkers sometimes need to be reminded that there is more to cocktails than friendly juices and tasteless vodkas.  A slight punch in a person’s drink ain’t gonna kill ‘em.

Here we go –

  • 1 1/2 oz re or bourbon (notice how I put rye first)
  • 1 oz dry vermouth
  • 1 oz unsweetened pineapple juice
  • 1 oz club soda

Shake everything but club soda in a shaker with plenty of cracked ice.  Strain up into martini glass then gently pour in the club soda and softly stir.  Garnish with an orange twist.

Pineapple Martini

I get it.  I know it’s summer, and you want to be a little silly and tropical while relaxing; remind yourself that you can relax a little harder.  I do make this drink and often before, or while, I’m grilling.  There’s just something about pineapple and the smell of sizzling meat that goes very well together.  Make it cold. You may even want to batch ten for when the company arrives.  Just make sure you serve these ice-cold and in a pretty martini glass. This isn’t a tiki cocktail; it snaps like a martini and has earned the name.  Delicious and potent, nothing wrong with that.

Here we go –

  • 2 oz vodka
  • 1/2 oz peach schnapps
  • 1/2 oz apricot brandy
  • 1 oz unsweetened pineapple juice

Shake above ingredients in an ice filled shaker then strain into chilled martini glass. Garnish with a pineapple piece.

* BONUS MARTINI ’cause I’m thinking about cha.

French Martini

Not the best lookin’ drink walking down the street, but she tastes good and, like the French exchange student I dated for a few weeks in college, with the lights down low, it’s not that hard on the eyes.  I’ve had a bottle of the French raspberry liqueur, Chambord on my bar-shelf so long, that the dust on it was dusty.  I re-cracked it back in May to mix up a round of French Martinis when we were having some sort of social gathering, and I stumbled upon this recipe in a modern bar bible. Dale DeGroff, in his The Essential Cocktail, points to this drink as the one responsible for kicking off the entire flavored martini craze of the 1990’s. “Shame on you” French Martini….because I’m sure you were the gateway to the chocolatini and the rest of the too sweet faux-tini landslide, but at the same time, you were quite tame by comparison and quite tasty. The drink was a hit and one I’ve mixed several times since and by request.  Get this one very cold while shaking, but don’t shake too hard ’cause she tends to foam.

Here we go – (this will make 2 drinks or one big fatty)

  • - 2 oz vodka (use a good one)
  • - 2 oz chambord
  • - 4 oz unsweetened pineapple juice

Shake with plenty of ice till creamy and cold.  Pour up w/ no garnish.  I’d drink this one indoors in a cool, dark room.

Remember to check out our recipe list. We have dozens of other hot weather drinks right here!  Try a Buck or a Fireman’s Sour, a Planters Punch or a Tiki drink!  Whatever you decide on, just remember to drink responsibly & never let a guest drive away after drinking.


Time Out

Tequila’s a tough one in terms of cocktails. I’m learning to appreciate its many nuances as a sipping liquor, its wonderful complexity, and the more-than-subtle differences between distillers. But as far as remarkable cocktails out there, I find only a few and far between when tequila’s involved. Well, that’s slowly changing, and the Time Out is a tequila drink that can stand up against many of the rum summer and spring drinks. It’s kind of in the mojito family — only different. We had them with friends on an early spring evening and all agreed that the drink was amazing. Put on your Brubeck record of the same name and unwind with a Time Out.

Here we go –

  • 1 ½ oz tequila
  • ¼ oz simple syrup
  • 3 – 4 dashes Peychaud bitters
  • ½ large lime cut into small pieces
  • Club Soda
  • Mint to garnish.

Muddle the lime, simple syrup and bitters together in a double old-fashioned glass. Add cracked ice and tequila. Fill to top w/ club soda and add a healthy mint sprig as garnish.

Seventh Heaven

You can serve this one as a straight-up cocktail or over rocks in an old-fashioned glass. I prefer it strained into a chilled martini glass. This is just one of those cool little finds that is extremely refreshing, potent, and fun for the senses. The mint sprig garnish, floating, suspended in this beautiful cocktail adds that wonderful mint aroma as you taste. This is a great dinner party cocktail, guaranteed to fetch the “ooohs” & “ahhhhs”. The addition of the liqueur and juice in such spare amounts really work together in such a clean and subtle way. This is a perfect spring, early summer drink.

Here we go –

  • 1 ½ oz gin
  • 1/3 oz maraschino liqueur
  • 1/3 oz grapefruit juice

Shake with cracked ice and strain into chilled martini glass or pour all ingredients, ice and all, into a chilled old-fashioned glass. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.


I’ve yet to find a ginger-beer cocktail that I don’t like. There’s just something about the snap and spice you get with the ginger that elevates a drink into the land of yum. Usually, I’ll recommend that ginger-beer drinks are best served in the colder months, from say September through January, on account of that gingery tang, but the Bulldog’s an ideal spring/summer cocktail. The orange-juice crosses the seasonal line making this a perfect cooler. Easy to make so you can always whip one up when you’re hot and bothered.

Here we go –

  • 2 oz gin
  • 2 oz orange juice
  • Ginger beer (or ginger ale)

Mix gin and orange juice in a double old-fashioned glass with plenty of rocks. Add ginger beer (or ginger ale, if you prefer) to fill. Garnish with an orange wheel.

Exotic Drinks

big mug shot

Tropical Drinks, Tiki Mugs, Bongo Music & Hawaiian Shirts

Such a firm believer in the Tropical Home Bar experience am I, that I feel an entire Mr. Booze article devoted to the pleasures of warm weather and rum drinks is called for. Spring is in the air, and that’s kick-off as far as I’m concerned. This celebration of the Island way of life can run from April through September, as long as the barbeque grill is still out and the mosquitoes buzz playfully ‘round the back of your neck. Weekends devoted to yard work and shuttling kids from one swim meet to another can be pleasantly fun-filled if punctuated by evenings out on the patio with something appropriate on the stereo, something smoky on the grill, and a coconut-pineapple spiced drink cooling your palm.

Let’s Start With Music (gotta’ set that mood)

As you may have gathered from perusing our music picks, I’m a fan of most tunes old. Music from the 40’s, 50’s & 60’s can permeate a cocktail hour or two with mood so appropriate one can almost consider it a member of the party. Exotica, Mambo, Lounge, Swing…these genres beguile the bash with a sense of time out of place. You’re no longer quaffing back a brewskie in 2010, worrying about how to pay for braces on your kid’s teeth, you’re transported to a Havana evening, circa 1954, making witty banter with a baroness in some tropical bar. This is the music to sip a drink by, close your eyes and get lost with. Look, I have no aversion to modern music, but when you’re sipping potent rum concoctions out of chilled totem-tiki mugs, a little something thick with age and instrumentation, something with bongos and melodic tempos, will take you deeper into that leafy jungle and closer to that tropical beach, albeit just in your head for the evening. Take a chance, and even if you’re just drinking alone or with a pal, get lost in the breezy combination of exotic libation and exotic music. Here are six solid picks, which will up the “exotic” level of your tiki party or barbecue:

Mambo With Tjader Mambo With Tjader – Recorded back in the fall of 1954, this Mambo record debuted at the near pinnacle of the tiki wave. I became hypnotized by this album’s cover (just look at this cat, he’s definitely caught the fever), but went on to discover that Cal Tjader had caught lightening in a bottle. It’s like the artist combined the cool, NYC style jazz of the era and combined it with tight, rhythmic, Mambo cha-cha-cha-strong accents. Tjader’s bongo and vibes playing combined with the rest of his band’s established 1950’s jazz background will really send you. Sophisticated, fun, and very reminiscent of the Cuban sound invasion of the previous decade, if you kick off a tiki party with this one, buddy, you’re setting a strong vibe. Songs include This Can’t Be Love, Cherry, Miami Blues and Midnight Sun.

The Very Best Of Tito Puente "King of Kings"The Very Best Of Tito Puente “King of Kings” – After being turned on to traditional big band Cuban Mambo in the movie “The Mambo Kings”, I tried to go out and find some of this 1950’s vinyl and delve deeper into this gorgeous, Latin sound. A swing and a miss because I can’t find any of the old originals. Next best thing, in my book and especially when you’re learning, are these “best of” packages. This one was released back in 2002 and is quite affordable. You get 21 Mambo powerhouses on this record. An ultimate twilight album, this one is ripe for that golden hour between late afternoon and darkness when the grill is hot, the party lights are swaying in the breeze, your guests are on their 3rd daiquiri and you’ve just put the meat on. Big Band Mambo is a thick, heavy sound, which will permeate your gathering like a cool breeze. No familiar standards Latinized for your listening enjoyment, these are all original, bold, brassy, bongo and vibe-laden songs which will absolutely get your hips swaying or at the very least your palms tapping the top of the tiki bar. Songs include Dance of the Headhunters, Dance Mania, Mambo Gozon and Night Ritual. This is a collection from a legendary percussionist and band leader, all great songs.

Elvis Presley, Blue HawaiiElvis Presley, Blue Hawaii – I’ve mentioned this over in our regular record reviews section, so I’ll be brief here. This is a must-have if you’re planning a tiki gathering. This is the quintessential Elvis’ Hawaii Album and pretty much a perfect combination when teamed with rum punches, pineapple and bamboo backyards. Even those with only a cursory knowledge of the King and his movie music will smile and quickly learn to appreciate his heartfelt attempt to capture on vinyl a bit of the Island’s warmth and hospitality. Is it Island authentic? I doubt it, but it’s grown to represent, and represent it does. It has the required bongo, steel string guitar, rhythmic sound of Hawaii, and if you just take a little time and a few sips of your Mai Tai, and remember that Hawaii was once a mysterious and exotic place most only visited with Elvis Presley’s help, this album will charm the cargo pants off ya. Songs include Blue Hawaii, Rock-A-Hula Baby and Hawaiian Sunset. If you can’t find one on Amazon, you can on ebay.

Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66 Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66 – I’m trying to stay away from records I’ve already blogged about, honest I am, but I’d be failing as a cyber bartender if I didn’t point this one out again, especially for a night of exotic drinking. This is just such a cool, tropical album that I promise you’ll thank me for if you take the plunge and buy it. It’s truly a musical representation of a cool breeze blowing through tall ferns and on to you as you sip your cocktail. So cosmopolitan, so sophisticated and slightly dangerous this record is, that it will and should be the musical highlight to your tiki party. Play it in the shank of the night when you’re through mixing complicated drinks and have settled down to coconut rum and pineapple pours. It’s a Bossa Nova jazz album torn from the pages of the mid 1960’s that will have your guests thinking, “Man, this is a great party”. Songs include Mais Que Nada, Going Out Of My Head, and Tim Dom Dom.

The Exciting Sounds of Martin Denny: Exotica Volumes 1 & 2The Exciting Sounds of Martin Denny: Exotica Volumes 1 & 2 – Wow, do you get a lotta bang for your buck with this collection. For those of you out of “the know”, Martin Denny was a pianist and composer who fathered a 1950’s style of music known as Exotica. He literally created a style of orchestration which celebrated tiki culture which, believe me, was huge 60 years ago. Basically, Martin’s Exotica was supposed to be played when you were sipping rum drinks out of scorpion bowls with long straws and eating the, as then unheard of, egg roll and mu-gu-gai-pan. By playing Denny’ Exotica at your exotic drink get-together, you’re merely continuing a tried-and-true tradition just forgotten. Well, I believe it’s time we welcomed this tradition back to our candlelit patios. This music is less demanding than other records I’ve recommended here; this is background music designed to invoke thoughts of exotic and mysterious locales. Very imaginative, provocative and conducive to ice cold, layered drinks, adult banter and soft conversation. If you’re up for something cool and different, you can’t go wrong with Exotica…just open your mind a little (rum helps). Songs include Lotus Land, Jungle Flower, Singing Bamboos and Ah Me Furi.

Ultra-Lounge: Tiki Sampler Ultra-Lounge: Tiki Sampler – I’ve mentioned these Ultra-Lounge collections before, although not this one. I’m scared kids! These are now starting to get hard to find, so I urge you to scramble and gather as many of them as you can find before it’s too late. I’m not too sure how much of these forgotten gems will be available for download later, there’s just not that much of a demand. This is a great, fun album that’s light enough to play during your party. It’s a collection of exotic and tiki themed songs from the rest of the ultra-lounge albums. A real mish-mash of songs, this is a kinda perfect one to put on when things begin to go a bit zany. In no way coherent, your guests will be bounced around from one rummy song to another. Bottom line? Tons o’ fun. Songs include Munsters Theme, Boy From Ipanema (take that, Stan Getz), Come On-A My House, and Brazil. These are all songs by different, popular artists from back in the day, all of whom you should recognize. The TV themes are orchestrated versions. This is tough to find (should take you about an hour on the Internet) but well worth it.

These picks should get you started but remember to check our regular record review page, too (film noir star, Robert Mitchum, cut a Calypso album that will blow your mind & it’s reviewed there). I have more than a few more records there that should fit the bill for your exotic party. Just click on the music section at the top of the page.

Tiki bar

Tiki Barware (The “ooohs” and “ahhhs”)

I’m not going to suggest that tiki mugs, a tiki totem and some Hawaiian leis would help with your tiki/exotic drink gathering…I’m going to insist. You need them in the same way you need a chilled martini glass for your chilled gin martini. Sure, you could drink it out of a Dixie-cup and, if slammed quickly, it would taste the same, but lost is the chilled and balanced sensation of cold glass, slick with icy condensation on your fingers. Tiki mugs and thin-glassed tulip-shaped glasses are more of an experience than they are a tool to hold your drink. People can’t help but smile as you hand them a hedonistic, devil-carved goblet, frothy with iced-coconut and rum, fruit cascading over the side. I love these mugs and collect them as others would stamps. big mug shot 2You can find them at garage sales, on ebay, in curio shops, and new on the Internet. Just buy a few. Your guests will be so appreciative and even one, with flowers on the bar, makes a statement that you’re trying to pull off something special tonight. In the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s, tiki-themed restaurants had their own mugs designed with their own logos and themes; these are the sought-after items today. You can spend a little money (just go to a party store and buy cheap ceramic or plastic ones) or a little more. My favorite site is . I try and scoop at least one a year from this site. Somewhere near this section should be a pic of my collection. Finally, don’t forget the Scorpion Bowl. This is a giant bowl-shaped tiki mug, designed to hold a lot of booze and enough long straws to feed 6 of your guests for a minute or two. You know…. it’s the little details that add up to the full cocktail experience. Tiki touches are prime examples of why doing it at home can be so much more enriching than paying for it at a bar or restaurant. You’re setting the mood, you’re providing a great atmosphere, you care about your guests’ evening. How cool is that?

Hawaiian Shirts (Is he for real?)

Tiki ShirtsI’ll be brief with this one. No matter how silly or goofy you feel they may be, a colorful, original wood-buttoned Hawaiian shirt demonstrates a commitment to your tiki party that no one can deny. You’re steering the ship tonight pal. You are setting the tone, spirit, and frivolity of the evening. Dammit…announce your presence with a lack of authority. Wear a freaking’ Hawaiian shirt! You’ve got chicken and steak on the grill, you’re mixing up wild, exotic drinks, you’ve lit the torches and splashed on the cologne, let your guests know that you mean business, even if it’s on the silly, laid-back side. I find my Hawaiian shirts at used clothing stores. I always look for Hawaiian tags and wooden buttons — the older, the better. I also see many new, cool ones but make sure that they’re all cotton, poly/cotton blends will kill you by the grill. Here’s a link to the real McCoys, expensive but worth it. Here’s one for the fun and affordable.

But, like I’ve mentioned with many things on this page, at one time these were extremely popular and in fashion. With a minimum of effort, you should be able to find cool ones in used clothing shops, on ebay, or in your dad’s closet.

Ladies, not to forget you; there are plenty of tropical themed, garish equivalents for you to wear, too. I’m at a loss, most of the time, when it comes to the fairer sex, but, by all means, perform your hosting duties in Hawaiian style with an appropriate dress or outfit.

Tiki Bars, Totems, Orchids, Torches and Decorations

Tiki-monster-smUp for the next step? As easy as switching out a few light bulbs for blue and red ones, and lighting a few tiki torches in the backyard, to as detailed as building or buying a bamboo covered tiki bar and stringing up dozens of colored party lights, setting the tone for an outdoor or inside tiki party should be a ton of fun. I was fortunate enough to find a tiki bar that a new homeowner pulled from the house’s old basement to throw away. All I did was repaint it, add some exotic touches, and throw a porta-fridge underneath it. Alternately, you can open a long folding table, cover it with a Polynesian styled table cloth, set a couple of lanterns on it, throw an ice bucket and blender behind it, and be good to go. Cut some bamboo from a neighbor’s yard with their permission, and sink the stalks in milk jugs filled with sand. Place these bamboo accents all around the party area. Get a bunch of pirate-themed paper cutouts and hang them around, add some Xmas light strings and an oscillating fan, and “badaboom”, instant tiki party setting. Hell, Target and K-Mart sell thatched tiki bars in the spring and summer, if you put it away during the cold months and clean it after each use, they can last for years. If you can find a beat up old basement or freestanding bar at an estate or garage sale, you can cover it with bamboo window blinds or treatments and thatch found at most craft stores. You just want your guests to feel as if they’ve stepped into some place a little special for the evening. It doesn’t take much to pull it off. Here’s a link to a tiki bar wholesaler if you want some ideas or wish to buy.

mugs 2I have a buddy in the Army who never fails to schlep back a hand-carved tiki totem for me when he travels to Hawaii on business. What a pal, and he’s always the first served at the tiki bar he helped to decorate. These little one-foot carvings, sporadically spaced around your patio, on tables or on the bar, really make a statement and remind folks that, at least for tonight, they’re drinking some place far away. Here’s a link to some cool ones. I’ve also seen cheap knock-offs at Target and at party stores. Why not? I say. Check out Tropical Tikis to get started.

Fresh cut, colorful spring and summer flowers placed in a tiki mug or vase scream Hawaii. This is a pretty affordable way to make a statement. Finally, you can’t swing a dead cat at a Home Depot after April without toppling over a tiki-torch display. I love ‘em and frame my back patio with them when entertaining. As always, if kiddies are present, keep fire out of reach or just don’t use them (and NEVER leave unattended with or without kids around). Believe me, they get to it no matter how hard you watch them. Hanging party lights can be just as effective without the risk.

tiki drinks

Finally, the Drinks (about damned time)

Besides the sizzling meat, the cooler nighttime breezes and the company, it’s the booze that brings neighbors and friends. You’ll need lots of rum and over at our facebook page, I’ve been advising readers to stockpile a different type or bottle for the past few months. Unlike a manhattan, martini or gimlet, which call for one liquor, tiki drinks can ask for as many as six or seven. While you can cut corners and just pour one or two, I promise that you won’t get the full potent experience you’d have with making the drink the proper way. If you’re having more than 6 over for a party, I recommend batching your drinks ahead of time. If it’s just a few friends gathered ‘round a torch-lit bar, build the more complicated ones, have fun and experiment. This is a great way to spend a hot Saturday night.

Mai Tai

This is my “go to” tropical drink. I love it, and you can batch up a gallon or two pre-party. Keep ‘em cold in the fridge and just add ice as you pour into a tiki mug. This calls for “orgeat syrup” — sweet, non-alcoholic white syrup with a strong almond flavor. I see it now in liquor stores where they keep the bitters and mixers. The Fee Brothers make great Orgeat Syrup.

Here we go – (multiply by a large number if batching)

  • 2 oz Dark Rum
  • 1 oz Apricot Brandy
  • 1 oz Curacao
  • 1 oz Light Rum
  • 3 oz Limejuice
  • 3 oz pineapple juice
  • 1 oz Orgeat Syrup (or tsp of Almond Extract if you can’t find the Orgeat)
  • Serve over ice in a tall frosted glass or tiki mug, garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.

zombie , bananna daiquiri ,heavens above


I know you all have seen this one here before, and I apologize for cracking it out again, but it’s just such a great drink, the very essence of tiki, that I’m gonna dust her off once more and post it here. Keep your ducks in a row, I always say. We’re sliding to our more complicated builds, and this drink’s a fine way to kick the multiple rum drinks off. Not a drink to be served when you’re having a bash, the Zombie’s perfect for small gatherings. Like I’ve said earlier, teach a pal at the bar, and have them take over when it’s time for a second round. Delicious, potent, tropical, mysterious, strong & spicy, the Zombie’s an almost perfect tiki drink.

Here we go:

  • - ¾ oz 90 proof Rum
  • 1 ½ oz Gold Rum
  • ¾ oz Light or White Rum
  • ¾ oz pineapple juice
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 tsp powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon 151 proof Rum

Combine all the ingredients except the 151 proof rum and sugar into a shaker with plenty of cracked ice. Shake the concoction till ice-cold. Pour the shaker’s liquid and ice into a hi-ball glass or cool tiki mug, garnish with a pineapple spear and a cherry and a straw for sipping. Float (I’ll explain below) the tablespoon of 151 rum on the top of the drink then finally dust with the powdered sugar.
To float a liquor on the top of a drink, slowly and softly pour the spirit over the round, backside of a tablespoon held very closely over the drink. The liquor should suspend and float on the drink’s top.

Banana Daiquiri

Very easy to make and delightful on a warm evening, this one does have the tendency to back-up on you, so why not make it a component to a night of exotic drinks. Serve banana daiquiris when you know you’ll be mixing more than one type of cocktail. You’ll need a blender so, if you’re outside, have it and the extension cord all set up at the start of your party. Banana bunches sitting on the bar will make for great tropical decorations until later when butchered up to use in the drink. I pour my banana daiquiris into traditional cocktail glasses with a maraschino cherry or banana slice garnish. You can often find tropical-themed cocktail glasses with little bamboo stalks or palm trees etched on them. Look for ‘em at 2nd hand shops.

Here we go – (double or triple up in the blender)
2 oz Light or White Rum
½ oz Banana liquor
½ oz lime juice
½ small banana, cut into pieces
½ cup crushed ice
Blend everything till silky smooth and icy in your blender. Pour and garnish.

Heaven’s Above

The coffee and chocolate flavors combining with the pineapple juice really impart exactly what many search for in a tropical cocktail; far from the average, exotic and fun. This is one for poolside, positively. Not as sweet as you might think with the addition of unsweetened juice. (This recipe is a modification of a drink in the Top of Toronto restaurant circa 1970. I discovered it in Beachbum Berry’s book Intoxica.)

Here we go –

  • 4 oz unsweetened Pineapple juice
  • ¼ oz Kahlua
  • ¼ oz Crème De Cacao
  • 2 oz Gold Rum

Shake well with ice cubes, and then strain into tall glass or tiki mug that you’ve filled with crushed ice.

planters punch 1940s , blue hawaiian 2010

Planters Punch (1940’s recipe)

I found this recipe on the excellent Hawaiian Drinks blog, I like this version more than the one we have up on site (hopefully, this one will be joining the original). When you entertain or just go out to your driveway or balcony to have a cocktail, moonlight and madness have a way of finding you, and you’re soon and suddenly surrounded by people wanting to join you. This is just how it works. You can make a pitcher of Planters Punch and keep it in the fridge. I enjoy this drink over ice in a tiki mug or over ice in a tall, pretty glass. Delicious and deadly.

Here we go – (batch accordingly)

  • 2 oz Dark Rum
  • ½ oz lime juice
  • 2 oz pineapple juice
  • 2 oz orange juice
  • 1/ oz Roses Grenadine juice
  • Club Soda to fill if desired and it does provide a nice effervescence.

Mix everything together and pour over ice in a tall glass or tiki mug. Garnish with an orange slice & cherry tooth-picked together, add straw.

Blue Hawaiian

Doesn’t get more “colorful” than this one. If you’re going for that almost off-worldly, kitschy, hotel-bar vibe, then the Blue Hawaiian’s your drink. Far too blue for a traditional tiki mug, this one’s best served in a tulip style cocktail glass or anything see-thru. You’ll want to show this one off as you’re sipping; kind of like parking a new car in the drive.

Here we go –

  • 1 oz Light Rum
  • 1 oz Blue Curacao liqueur
  • 2 oz Pineapple juice
  • 1 oz Crème’ of Coconut

Blend above ingredients in blender with around a cup of cracked ice. Pour into glass and garnish with a pineapple chunk & cherry tooth-picked together. Perfect time to put on that Elvis album I spoke of earlier.

beachcombers punch , deep pacific

Deep Pacific

Found this one in the excellent book “Tiki Drinks” by Adam Rocke. I love the lemony taste of 7-Up much more than any other citrus soda, just something old-school about it. Probably the easiest cocktail here to mix, the Green Chartreuse can be kind of tough to find and a little expensive. However, many cocktails call for it so this drink could be the one to make you go out and get a bottle. This is a very refreshing, fun to give and receive tropical drink.

Here we go –

  • 1 ½ oz Vodka
  • 1 ½ oz light or white Rum
  • 1 oz Blue Curacao
  • 1 tbsp of Green Chartreuse
  • 7-Up

Fill tall glass or tall tiki mug up with ice and add all ingredients except 7-Up. Stir, then fill with 7-Up. Remember the straw.

I’m going to take a sec and give special credit to writer and Tropical Drink Guru, Beachbum Berry, from whose wonderful collection of researched and rediscovered tropical drink books, I picked up the following two recipes. His books can as easily be read for their informative history of the Tiki phenomena or for just the thrill of uncovering lost drink recipes. I have most of his books, and believe me when I say they’re juice-stained and rum-soaked from almost constant use from May through September.

Beachcomber’s Punch

I love punches. I find them very refreshing, relaxing and exactly what the doctor ordered during barbecue evenings. The sour blast in this one sets the tongue up perfectly for the grilled meats to come. Apricot brandy, which is just such an old fashioned flavor, works very well in this one. Like most drinks I adore, there’s something remembered in this drink; she’s an old one and you can taste it.
(Created by Don the Beachcomber around 1932, Beachbum Berry supplies this recipe in his book Grog Log)

Here we go –

  • ½ oz Lime juice
  • ½ oz Grapefruit juice
  • ½ oz Apricot Brandy
  • ½ oz Simple Syrup
  • 1/8 tsp of Pernod (I substitute Absinth)
  • 1 ½ oz Demerara Rum
  • Dash Angostura Bitters

Blend with 6 oz crushed ice for 5 seconds. Pour into a pilsner glass & add more ice to fill. Garnish with a mint sprig.

Also be sure and check our recipe list here on the site for drinks like the Singapore Sling, Pina Colada, Ordinary Seaman, the Buccaneer, Horny Monkey, and Suffering Bastard and more. Any one of them would be perfect for your tiki party or barbecue.

That’s About It (“Whew, ‘cause I need a drink!”)

So, there you have it, the Mr. Booze take on preparing your home bar or patio for some fun, warm weather entertaining. I will add that the actual history of Tiki in America, with pioneers like Don the Beachcomber and Trader Vic, tiki thatched bars welcoming home soldiers and those with a taste for the exotic, the music, food and the mad scientists behind forgotten bars is beyond fascinating. Great books have been written about the tiki phenomena. I highly recommend The Book of Tiki by Sven A. Kirsten and Tiki Quest, Collecting The Exotic Past by Duke Carter.

Take advantage of these coming warm days by hosting at least one tropical drink get-together in your home or back patio. I can’t tell you how much fun you’ll have if you just commit, give yourself a week or two to assemble the food, decorations, music mixers and booze, and call a few friends over. As simple as Satay Chicken on the grill and a pitcher of Planters Punch on the back porch to as tropically complicated as a bamboo-thatched bar, some Robert Mitchum Calypso music on the stereo, a dozen torches and 5 different cocktails, a night spent with friends and tropical drinks is a night well spent. Quality not quantity, in the end, and you can do it in the comfort of your own home, the Mr. Booze way.

Here are a few more Tiki inspired links to provide ideas, inspire, or just get you in the mood.

big mug shot 3

mugs 2

mugs 3mugs 4Tiki books

Watermelon Cooler

It’s new, and I confess I first read about it in a house-keeping and craft magazine, but I’ve tweaked it and made it more of a “wow” drink. You’ll need a Cuisinart or small food processor, but who doesn’t have one by now. I made a pitcher of these this summer and had to make two more by 8pm. It was a hit and one I’ll stand by each time the neighbor’s pool becomes too tempting a target.

Here we go –

  • Start with a medium, seedless watermelon and remove all the fruit.
  • Cut the fruit into pieces small enough to fit into your food processor.
  • Puree till liquefied, pour into large bowl, and repeat till melon is all gone.
    • Strain this juice through mesh; a strainer (I used my clean flour-sifter) till all you have is the sweet, cool juice.
    • In a large plastic pitcher, muddle 10 fresh mint leaves, ½ oz ginger or plain simple syrup.
    • Fill pitcher with enough ice to chill the drink, but remember you’ll also be adding ice to the recipients’ glasses so don’t go crazy in the pitcher.
    • Divide the watermelon juice and pour half into the pitcher.
    • Add a cup and a quarter of vodka, stir, and fill the rest of the pitcher with ginger ale.
    • Pour into tall, ice-filled glasses and serve with a straw. You’ll be pouring another pitcher so…make it ahead of time and keep in the fridge.