Last July, the Beachbum was transported to a magical place where every cocktail was a lovingly constructed medley of exotic tastes. The place, for once, was not his drunkard’s dream, but the Mediterranean isle of Ibiza. And the drinks were made at the inaugural session of “Beachbum Berry’s and Captain Vadrna’s Faux-Tropical Bar School,” the brainchild of international spirits educator Stanislav Vadrna.
Now the school is back for a second session, June 30 through July 3, at the La Sal Rossa Beach Club. It’s a four-day Tiki Bar immersion course, with such topics as Tiki History, Tropical Mixology, and Tiki Bar Design. For extra credit, there’s a boat ride to a luau under the stars on a deserted beach. For the “final exam,” students create their own original Tiki drink using ingredients found on the island. Last year these “students” included top bartenders from across Europe, so some of the drinks were extremely complex. All were delicious. Here’s a sampling.
Sargantana is Spanish for gecko, and geckos rule Ibiza. So Barcelona Tikiphile Ivan Castro riffed on the Sidewinder’s Fang with his “Sargantana’s Lick”: 2 ounces gold Puerto Rican rum, 1 ounce each lemon juice and grapefruit juice, 1/2 ounce sugar syrup, and 3/4 ounce Frigola. Shake with ice, and pour into a tall glass. Garnish with a plastic gecko. (The Spaniards really “got” Tiki garnishing: Carlos Contini and Gegam Kazarian topped their Ibi-Tiki with a charred banana carved into a Ku war god, pictured below.)
Have you ever teased your dog by hiding peanut butter deep inside his chew toy? Here’s a comparable way to tease a human: Stockholm barman Scott Beishline’s “Windward Ballast.” Step one: Pour 1/2 ounce 151 Lemon Hart Demerara rum into a shot glass. Place an upside-down highball glass over the rightside-up shot glass, then firmly insert the shot glass up into the bottom of the highball glass, trapping the rum so that it doesn’t spill out when you turn the highball glass rightside-up. Pack the highball glass with crushed ice. Step two: Shake up 1 ounce each Clement VSOP rum, Clement white rum, tamarind juice, and grapefruit juice, plus 1/2 ounce each lemon juice, lime juice, and Hierbas Ibicencas infused with cinnamon. Strain the drink into the highball glass, and watch your friends try to get at the “ballast.”
Russia’s Alexey Shaposhnikov gave us “Midnight Luau Fever.” Muddle 4 watermelon squares and 2 basil leaves. Add 2/3 ounce coconut milk, 1 ounce ginger syrup, 2/3 ounce honey, 1 ounce each Lemon Hart rum and gold Bacardi rum, and 3/4 ounce lemon juice. Shake like hell with ice, then strain into a Tiki mug filled with fresh ice. Top with a splash of lemon soda. Float a lemon shell filled with mashed pineapple and 2 cloves.
Ben Belmans, who owns Ben’s Bar in Belgium, “wanted to create a drink based upon love and passion, that has to be shared by two people.” His “Happy Monday” (pictured above) is a true culinary cocktail. Step one: Combine 2/3 ounce Clement white rum, 1/3 ounce Clement VSOP rum, 1 ounce Appleton V/X rum, 1 ounce aged Puerto Rican rum, 2/3 ounce Hierbas Ibicencas, 1/3 ounce curacao, an orange peel, 2 barspoons crushed rosemary, and half a green pepper, seeds removed. Let everything steep for 30 minutes. Step two: Fine strain the mix, stir in 2 2/3 ounces pineapple juice, and set aside for another 30 minutes. Step three: In a quart-sized ceramic jar, place 20 mint leaves. Rest a napkin on top of the jar, and place a sugar cube on the napkin. Soak the cube with Angostura bitters, then remove the napkin so the cube falls into the jar. Drop in a large orange peel, then muddle everything for 5 seconds. Add 1 1/3 ounces lemon juice, and stir until sugar cube dissolves. Step four: Flash-blend your steeped pineapple-and-spirits mix in a blender for 5 seconds with a pinch of black pepper and salt, and just over 3 ounces of crushed ice, then pour it into the jar. Fill the jar almost to the top with crushed ice and swizzle for 1 minute, “thinking happy thoughts.” Then fill with more crushed ice, and swizzle for a few more seconds. Garnish with pineapple leaves, an orange-peel rose filled with white oleander, mint sprig, and a red pepper.
Rob Rademaker heads the Bols Bartending Academy in Amsterdam. For some reason, his “Pirate’s Fire” calls for Bols liqueur. In a cocktail shaker, muddle half a fresh pear in one teaspoon rosemary honey. Add 1 ounce each Clement VSOP rum, dark Jamaican dark rum, Hierbas Ibicencas, lime juice, organic pear juice, and 1/2 ounce Bols apricot liqueur. Shake well with ice, then fine-strain into a Tiki mug filled with fresh ice. Garnish with palm leaves and flowers, and float a lime shell filled with lavender tea buds sprinkled with lemon extract. Ignite the shell for your “pirate’s fire” (Rob and drink pictured below).
Six guys who run the Jerry Thomas Project mixology school in Rome — Leonardo Leuci, Luca Di Carmine, Oscar Quagliarini, Alessandro Procoli, Antonio Parlapiano, and Roberto Artusio — collaborated on a flaming volcano drink they called the “Rome Barrel.” Step one: In a large shaker, swizzle with crushed ice 1 2/3 ounces each Clement VSOP rum and gold Puerto Rican rum, just under an ounce each of lemon juice and “Abbozzo #2” (honey infused with frigola flowers or thyme), and 1/3 ounce each white vermouth and “Abbozzo #1” (a premixed infusion of 1 2/3 ounces each Fernet Branca and Lemon Hart 151 Demerara rum steeped with 4 dashes Angostura bitters, 5 mint leaves, 2 demerara sugar cubes, and dried malva and calendula flowers, or loose tea of same). Step two: Pour swizzled drink into a volcano bowl, ignite 1 ounce 151 Lemon Hart Demerara rum, and pour flaming rum on the drink.
Zoltan Nagy, of Boutiq’ Bar in Budapest, kept it classic with his “Balearic Dream”: In a blender place 1 ounce each lime juice, Clement VSOP, and Clement white rum; 2/3 ounce each Lemon Hart 151 Demerara rum and pimento liqueur; and 1 1/3 ounce pineapple juice. Flash-blend for 5 seconds with 6 ounces crushed ice. Pour into a Tiki mug and top with Angostura bitters.
“Beachbum Berry’s and Captain Vadrna’s Faux-Tropical Bar School” is geared toward professional bartenders, but all Tikiphiles are welcome. For info: