Article By: Pink Lady
Tiki drinks have seen a resurgence among cocktail enthusiasts in recent years, and for good reason. Who wouldn’t be tickled by sipping a cocktail with a pink umbrella from a skull mug? People are often surprised to learn, however, that these beverages are actually serious cocktails, considered so delicious in their heyday they beget a craze that outlasted every cocktail fad before and since.
First, we should note that “Tiki Cocktail” is a retro term. Inventors of these fine concoctions referred to them as “Exotic Drinks” or “Faux Tropics” (“Faux” because they were invented far from the real tropics, in the continental US). Modern drinkers may feel silly about the umbrellas and the skull-shaped glassware but for many decades, Exotics were the height of cocktail chic. Their popularity among the Hollywood set at Don the Beachcomber’s was inspiration enough for Victor Bergeron to rip the moose heads off the walls at his Northwestern-themed eatery Hinky Dinks, transforming it from “lodge” to tropical paradise and himself into “Trader Vic”.
The Fog Cutter is commonly credited to Trader Vic, though Ted “Dr. Cocktail” Haigh casts doubt upon these origins in Vintage Spirits & Forgotten Cocktails. Haigh traces the drink via expert barman Tony Ramos, an original bartender at Don the Beachcomber’s in LA, who recalls The Fog Cutter as the signature drink from Edna Earl’s Fogcutters in Los Angeles. Regardless of who invented it, this potent combination of three unlikely bedfellows – rum, brandy, and gin – plus fresh juice, orgeat, and sherry is a memorable beverage. Provided you don’t tipple too many, of course.
If you’ve never heard of or tried orgeat, you’re in for a treat. Originally a health tonic popular among Romans, early formulas for orgeat were simply water, barley, and honey, boiled for several hours then strained (the word derives from the Latin “hordeata” meaning “made with barley.”). In its modern incarnation, orgeat is typically sweet, milky-looking almond syrup (who knows where the barley went?) made by boiling almonds and sugar and adding a little orange flower water or rosewater at the end.
Try one today, proceeding with caution, as this drink is potent. As Trader Vic said, “Fog Cutter, hell. After two of these, you won’t even see the stuff.”
THE FOG CUTTER
Adapted from Trader Vic’s Bartender’s Guide, Revised.
2 ounces light Puerto Rican rum
1 ounce brandy
½ ounce gin
2 ounces fresh lemon juice
1 ounce orange juice
½ ounce orgeat
½ ounce sweet sherry
Shake all ingredients except sherry with ice cubes.
Pour into 14-ounce glass. Add more ice cubes.
Float ½ ounce sherry on top. Serve with straws.