The dean of American bartenders — who have nicknamed their mentor “King Cocktail” — Dale DeGroff is widely credited with bringing mixed drinks out of the dark ages of the 1980s (when wine spritzers and chemical Margarita mix ruled the day) with new twists on classic recipes, made with fresh ingredients.
The King is also no stranger to Tiki, having in 2005 revamped the drink menu at the Halekulani on Waikiki Beach. And now, in his new book The Essential Cocktail: The Art Of Mixing Perfect Drinks, he devotes an entire chapter to tropical punches and short hoists. Called “The Essential Tropicals,” the 24 page section doesn’t just offer recipes, but provides historical background and ingredient notes, including mini-treatises on navy rum, nutmeg, and Galliano (that versatile but oft-ridiculed liqueur, which has never quite recovered from its association with Harvey Wallbanger).
Essential also includes the first Trader Vic’s Navy Grog recipe we’ve ever seen that doesn’t just call for three ounces of industrial “Navy Grog Mix.” If this sort of thing keeps this up, we’ll have to change that nickname to Kahuna Cocktail.