Category Archives: Tiki

Tequila Surprise


Here’s an easy twist on the once-trendy tequila sunrise that might just bring it back into vogue – or, at least, into Cosmo. (It’s already winning points for its ability to inspire both a terrible magazine pun AND a cocktail pun in one phrase.) Adding orgeat or falernum (use whichever you have on hand) adds a luxurious or tiki vibe, respectively, to this brightly coloured crowd-pleaser.


30ml tequila

15ml orgeat or falernum

5ml grenadine

fresh orange juice (enough to fill the glass)




Half-fill the glass with ice. Add the tequila, orgeat or falernum and enough fresh orange juice to fill the glass, and stir. Pour the grenadine over the back of a bar spoon – it should slowly settle into the glass to create the ‘sunrise’ look.



I really shouldn’t take credit for just adding an ingredient to a classic cocktail…but I will.


Falernum Fizz


Ever since I stumbled across the word ‘Falernum’ in a cocktail book, I’ve been keen to get my hands on some. It’s fun to say, sounds vaguely mysterious and medicinal (probably because it sounds like ‘Phenergan’, an antihistamine that apparently has a sedative effect on kids – bonus!) and has its origins in tiki drinks, which are fun all round. Whee! Falernum! Good times. But what, exactly, is it?

In a nutshell, falernum is a mixture of lime and spices that was invented in Barbados sometime in the 1800s. There’s a great article about it here if you’re interested in its history. It adds an intriguing note of sweetness and baking spice to drinks and may just be that key ingredient you can taste in a tiki drink, but not name. Commercially, I’ve come across falernum as a non-alcoholic syrup and as an alcoholic, rum-based liqueur (several brands are available from the legends at Only Bitters). There are also many recipes available if you’d like to make your own, most of which use rum and various spices and sound delicious.

Homemade anything usually beats store-bought, but I confess I decided to cheat and buy a bottle of the non-alcoholic syrup instead of making my own, partly because it was cheaper than the liqueur kind and partly because I wanted to experiment with it and find out if I even liked it before taking the plunge and making my own. The Monin falernum syrup (pictured above) is thick, sweet and almondy with a heady aroma of vanilla and a kick of clove on the palate; it’s a bit like orgeat but with extra flavours. It adds a slightly thick, syrupy texture to drinks and would probably work well in my favourite tiki drink, a Mai Tai – I plan to use it in one instead of orgeat just as soon as we get some hot weather.

In the meantime I’ve experimented and come up with a simple cocktail recipe that I’m calling the Falernum Fizz. Here it is:


20ml falernum syrup

30ml orange liqueur (eg triple sec, Cointreau or a citrus-infused vodka)

about 150ml freshly squeezed orange juice

soda water, to top up


Short tumbler/Old Fashioned glass


Add all ingredients except soda water to the glass and stir briefly to combine. Add enough ice cubes so that the level of fluid rises to about 3/4 full, and stir again. Top up with soda water and garnish with mint. Drink when you wish it was hot enough for a Mai Tai!


This depends on which orange liqueur you use. Triple sec gives this drink a Tang-like flavour; Cointreau adds depth and makes it more sophisticated; orange or mandarin vodka keep things more neutral so that all you’re really tasting is the falernum and OJ, and that ain’t a bad thing. Overall, this is a very easy cocktail to drink – it’s basically alcoholic breakfast juice, and so sweet a kid would love it (but do not use it as a substitute for Phenergan, no matter how badly you’re tempted).


This recipe is by 52 Cocktails and is the result of many hours spent sweating over a hot stove. Well, I’m sure someone had to sweat over a hot stove in order to make the syrup that got used in the recipe, anyway. (Thank you, Monin.)


Bar review: Potato Head, Bali

52 Cocktails is on holiday! Naturally, it’s a working holiday – we’re flat out sampling cocktails in Bali so you’ll know which ones are the best. Yeah, we’re nice like that.


We tried these beautifully presented concoctions at Potato Head, one of the most architecturally stunning bars on the island. Words won’t do it justice, so take a look at the pics on their website (or better still, go visit.) This place pretty much defines cool, with nattily attired staff, well-written menus, funky furniture that’s been carefully chosen to look like it doesn’t quite match, plenty of space to lounge by (or in) the pool and a brilliant view of the sunset over the sea. We’ve visited many times over the years and it’s as popular as ever, though it must be said the drinks are (sadly) not always as good as we remember them.

A new menu was presented to us this year and, although it contained some old favourites that we were longing to get stuck into, there was no way we were going to pass up the chance to try something new – namely, the Volkano Agung, described as being ‘served in a bubbling volcano bowl’. Yep, a bubbling volcano bowl. Who could resist!? That’s it on the right (kindly forgive us for not capturing the moment actual bubbles were coming out of the central funnel-y bit into the bowl. You’ll just have to believe us when we say it looked really, really ace). And the taste? It was a strong mix of rum and pineapple, heavy on the rum and not as well-balanced or interesting as previous drinks have been here. But hell, it looked good.
In keeping with the Tiki theme, we also tried the Bobobobo (presented in a bamboo cannister – that’s it on the left), a much more interesting mix of rum, pineapple, peach and honey (among other ingredients, such as arak, the local rice liquor) blended with ice to create a thick, chunky, slushie-style drink. It was refreshing and lively, but also frustrating to drink – turns out sucking up ice through a thin straw actually is hard work. No wonder 7-11 provide larger straws with their Slurpees – one of those suckers would have been perfect.

In short, the presentation was excellent, but a lack of attention to detail was the downfall of these drinks. We’d like to say it’s not enough for Potato Head to look cool, and that the drinks need to taste as amazing as the venue looks if they want to keep their customers happy, but judging by the constant stream of bright young things piling in at all hours of the day, perhaps it doesn’t matter. When a place is as buzzing as this one, you’re prepared to forgive their transgressions – which roughly translates to, despite not loving our drinks we decided to order another round.


This time we tried two more newbies, the Timun Tonic (left) and the Kopi Colada. The Colada was a blend of coffee bean-infused arak, chocolate spread and peanut milk that tasted rather like a chocolate milkshake. Meh. But the Timun Tonic – wow. This long, refreshing mix of lemongrass-infused gin, cucumber syrup and tonic water (with a dash of absinthe and celery bitters for good measure) was a fantastic reminder of why we love drinking at Potato Head: the drinks are (usually) innovative and delicious and worth returning for. Which we did, the next day. The place is like a magnet and we were drawn back for another Timun Tonic – because when you’re onto a good thing, stick to it, right?

Well. From defining cool to defining inconsistency, Potato Head could pretty much start publishing their own dictionary, with the Timun Tonic illustrating the latter. What happened overnight to this amazing drink? How did it go from rave-worthy, crave-worthy, I’ll-take-the-memory-of-this-drink-to-my-grave-worthy to being a fairly flavourless g and t with a bit of cucumber shoved in for garnish? Were the bartenders distracted by their amazing surroundings? Did we simply visit on a bad day? We don’t know, but we do know we’ll probably be back to try just one more drink – maybe an old favourite like the delectable Indus Nesos (a dreamy blend of vanilla vodka, apricot brandy and coconut cream). After all, you can’t quality-control a bar with only two visits…

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