Okay, I might be on a bit of a tiki kick. I’ve been seeing so many great, creative looking tiki drinks out there, I just want to join the party! Plus, I had a bunch of pineapple that I almost let go bad & had to do something to save it, so Pineapple Rum! Lately I’ve been enjoying rum a lot more than I used to. I suppose a wider palate is one of the upsides to the this journey of mine. So with all that in mind, here’s this week’s cocktail offering: a little sweet, a touch of earthy bitterness, & bright citrus. Pretty deliciously balanced if I do say so myself. Let me know if you give it a try this weekend, I’d love to know what you think!
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1 oz Gosling’s Black Caribbean Rum
1 oz pineapple infused light rum
½ oz Tattersall Amaro
¾ oz fresh blood orange juice
⅓ oz fresh lime juice
In a shaker tin combine all ingredients & shake well. Strain into your favorite tiki glass over a fresh cube.
Today I want to talk about some of my favorite beer, IPA’s. With the surge in popularity of craft beer over the last few years, IPA’s kind of became the popular kid. Everyone wants to be at their party, know what they think is cool, see what they’re wearing. But with all that comes a bit of hate too. Listening to my customers lately, it seems like IPA’s have been getting a bad wrap, like there’s this idea that they’re all bitter & no soul. It’s just not true! There’s so much interesting variety under the IPA umbrella which is why I love them.
Before I get too gushy, let’s start with what an IPA actually is. I.P.A. stands for India Pale Ale. In the late 1700’s English brewers started brewing ales specifically for export to the colonies. India had a high demand for beer, but was too hot for brewing, so brewers in London began making stronger versions of the popular, traditional pale ale. With extra hops & a higher alcohol content these “strong pale ales” could withstand the long journey overseas. Eventually these strong pale ales became popular & the name “India Pale Ale” stuck. These days there are endless varieties of IPA.
Now, the hops are what make an IPA, right? Well, yeah, but hops are in every beer. It’s the way a brewer uses hops & how much they use that makes an IPA. From talking with my customers, who obviously aren’t all going to be beer geeks, there seems to be a misconception that hops are only bitter. Sure, more hops equals a more bitter quality, but there’s a lot more going on in there too! Hop flavors can be citrus fruit or tropical fruit, herbal, floral, spiced or spicy, grassy, piney, or even woody & earthy. In addition to different flavors, different hops have varying levels of bitterness. But wait! You can’t forget the malts! Hops may be the star here, but you can’t have beer without malts, & in IPA’s the combination of hops & malt can be really interesting. Some IPA’s have a whole lot of malts added in, like black & red styles, while others are more evenly balanced & still others use the bare minimum. Once you start combining all these different flavors & factors you can get an endless number of options & fun things to try.
Above are some of my favorite IPA offerings from all over the country. You’ll notice they don’t all fall into one style guideline & that’s the fun part! I tend to prefer a more hop forward, bitter brew (like a west coast style), but that doesn’t mean I don’t love a really well done “juicy” east coast style. This less bitter variety has become quite popular lately. Being a beer lover, I’ll try ’em all as long as they’re well made. If you’re interested in diving head first into the hop pool, this is a great article from Craft Beer (.com) to give a bit of guidance & if you’re even more curious here’s a list of the 50 best IPA’s in America right now according to Draft Magazine. I hope you feel encouraged to go give hops another chance, cheers!
The other day I had the good fortune to check out Arches Brewing. Arches opened up in Hapeville, Georgia near the airport about a year & a half ago. Since then Arches’ brews have been making a splash on local tap lists, most notably their Unseasonal Lager & Queen’s Weisse. The brewery & tasting room are built out of an old auto parts store in the arts district of downtown Hapeville. The tasting room is open, comfortable, & stylish. There’s an art wall with local Atlanta works on one end & on the opposite side is a rustic wooden bar with eight taps. Outside there’s a beer garden where tour guests can enjoy a pint in the shade & some yard games. The brewing facility is small, but growing quickly. The company is getting ready to launch their first canning run & working on their next seasonal releases.
Arches’ follows an old-world, lager style profile & a European brewing calendar which means, considering their brief history, there’s plenty of offerings we haven’t seen yet coming down the line. Jamey, co-founder & brew-master, has been working on his recipes for about a decade so it’s no wonder that the Arches’ line is so solid. I had a chance to chat with him about their beers, the different ways Hapeville is shaking things up, & the new Georgia brewery laws. Basically, there’s a lot of good stuff happening in Atlanta & Arches is no small factor. As for the beers, I wanted to sample something I hadn’t yet tried, I went with the Bohemian Riot, czech style pilsner. It’s bright, crisp, slightly bitter, & super easy to drink: an excellent choice for hot Georgia summers. There are also a few brewery reserves, like the Grand Cru which was a lovely treat. Similar in taste to a belgian dubbel with a deep red fruit flavor, a bit of spice, & balanced out with french oak-aging to create a drier finish. I’m excited to try the next seasonal options as they come out. All around it was a great experience & I can’t wait to visit again (especially since my camera ate half the pictures I took!). You won’t be disappointed by the brews or the hospitality, definitely go for a tour. You can read more about their story & find their tasting hours on their website.
You may have noticed that tiki drinks are having quite a moment, I certainly have. Usually I try not to get swept up in fads. Sometimes though, I can’t help but go with the current. I’ll admit that I am a sucker for strong, citrusy cocktails & kitsch: ridiculous glasses, themed bars, an excuse for a party – it all sounds good to me. Not to mention I have fond (if fuzzy) associations with the annual Thursday night kick-off of the Dragon*Con weekend at Atlanta’s Trader Vic’s. All that being said, I figured I’d try my hand at the fad of updating classic Tiki cocktails. Thus, the Navy Frog.
The old school drink was basically just light rum, dark rum, demerara syrup, lime juice, & water. Nothing fancy, definitely pirate-y, does the trick. I’ve seen a few updated versions using honey & various citrus juices & my fig infused gin (with its smooth, sweet, ever so slightly darker flavor) was whispering to mix with rum. So here we go, an updated Navy Grog: strong, refreshing, & begging to get rowdy.
2 oz Fig infused New Amsterdam Gin
1 oz light rum
¾ oz lime juice
¼ oz lemon juice
barspoon of Honey
6 d tiki bitters
Passionfruit La Croix* In a shaker tin combine honey, lime & lemon juice. Stir together to “melt” honey into the juice. Add fig gin, rum, & ice to tin & shake hard to combine. Fill a “tiki” glass (or rocks glass) with crushed ice, top ice with tiki bitters, & strain drink over crushed ice. Top with a heavy splash of passion-fruit La Croix. *Any soda water will do, but the subtle tartness of the passionfruit really gives this drink an extra kick.