Category Archives: tropical drinks

Planter’s Punch


Rum and pineapple are made to go together, so could you blame me for getting all excited when a bottle of Beenleigh golden rum AND a pineapple-shaped glass AND a real pineapple appeared in 52 Cocktails’ HQ today? Course not. It seemed like fate. And so you probably also couldn’t blame me for getting halfway through making a classic rum-based Planter’s Punch before I realised there’s, er, actually no pineapple in it at all… and that it requires dark rum, not golden.

Yeah, it was one of those days.

Luckily I had some spiced rum on hand, so I finished making the Planter’s Punch using Sailor Jerry spiced rum, and adorned it rather exotically with some pineapple leaves (because why not) and some swizzle sticks that some rather generous pubs had, er, donated to the cause. Yes, that is an Angostura swizzle stick, and no, I didn’t nick it – someone else did, just so they could give it to me. There’s nothing like receiving stolen items to lift the spirits, right?


Well, I tell you, the spirits certainly did need lifting after I tried this rather one-dimensional, overly sour drink. I’d used 50ml of spiced rum and 40ml citrus juice so it was no wonder it was too sour. And the spiced rum didn’t add enough sweetness, either because I should have used more or because it was –


Because it was spiced rum.

Not dark.

Right-o then, let’s try this again, shall we?



50ml dark rum (dark rum. DARK!)

20ml lime juice

20ml lemon juice

10ml sugar syrup

Hefty shake of Angostura bitters

soda water, to top up

slices of fruit/other garnishes and/or swizzle sticks of your choice (stolen or not)


In theory, this is a punch, so you should be able to add a ‘zero’ to the measurements above (so 500ml rum, 200ml lime juice, etc) and make the drink in a punch bowl or large jug. But I was making a single serve so I built mine in a tall, pineapple-shaped glass. A collins glass would be fine.


Half-fill the glass with ice. Add all ingredients except the soda and garnishes, and stir well. Top with soda and stir again. Taste – if it’s not sweet enough, add another 20ml or so of rum, and/or just a bit more sugar syrup. (I added more rum because it added flavour and sweetness, and because by this stage I really needed a drink.) Garnish and hope like hell you’ve got it right this time.


This is adapted from Shaken: 250 very sexy cocktails (Murdoch Books, 2004), where it’s presented as the kind of punch you make in a big bowl full of fruit slices. Made properly, it’s a drink with a good depth of flavour and a sharp, tangy sourness that offsets the rum’s treacly notes. It is VERY easy to drink.

Oh, and you know what? I just checked out a few other recipes for Planter’s Punch, and it turns out you SHOULD add pineapple juice…


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Jungle Bird and Jungle Boogie


In my ongoing quest to learn to love Campari (shudder), this week I whipped up a Jungle Bird (pictured above). I figured that, seeing as it contained numerous other ingredients that I like – rum, citrus, pineapple – there was a good chance I’d appreciate what the Campari added to the mix, and wouldn’t reject the drink simply because I could taste, well, Campari in it.

As usual I was partly right and partly wrong. I did appreciate the way Campari added a bitter complexity and notes of burnt orange to the cocktail.

But that didn’t mean I liked it.

For me, the Campari flavour overrode the nuances of the rum, though perhaps that’s because I was seeking it out, the way a beautiful person will look for a flaw in their appearance. The CTO said he liked the way it balanced out the rum’s sweetness, and that it was an interesting and well-rounded drink. I thought the drink might be better without it, and so I made another one, omitting the Campari.

It was much more approachable – a refreshing, if a bit run-of-the-mill (rum of the mill?), sweet-sour concoction, with notes of Christmas spice and vanilla courtesy of the rum. I called it a Jungle Boogie (pictured below) and it was only when I was halfway through it that I realised I’d made something akin to a Pisco Sour, but with rum instead of pisco. No wonder I liked it – I love Pisco Sours. Did I love the Jungle Boogie enough to start making it instead of Pisco Sours, though? Would it be on high rotation at my bar, like its very distant Peruvian cousin? Would I start offering it to all and sundry? Er…


It just didn’t have enough ‘wow’ factor for me.

So in the end, the best thing I can say about this experiment is that it gave me an excuse to open my first bottle of Kraken black spiced rum, which I’ve been wanting to try for ages simply because of the label (yes, I’m a sucker for packaging). I’m no rum aficionado, but it’s delicious. And hey, I got to try out two new cocktails – can’t complain about that. If you want to try them out, the recipes are below.



45ml black spiced rum

25ml Campari (include this if you are making a Jungle Bird; omit if you are making a Jungle Boogie)

45ml pineapple juice

15ml fresh lime juice

15ml sugar syrup


Tumbler or old-fashioned


Add all ingredients to a shaker that’s half-full of ice, and shake hard. Strain into a tumbler that’s half-full of ice and garnish with pineapple pieces and pineapple leaves (failing that, use mint, as I’ve done…or don’t garnish at all!)


The Jungle Bird recipe is in Dan Murphy’s Cocktail Discovery Guide – edition 2.

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Pineapple, lychee & mint daiquiri


Some cocktails are best suited to a particular time and place. The Fluffy Duck, for example, is best suited to a time long gone in a parallel universe. And most tropical cocktails, such as this super-fruity, tart daiquiri, are best suited to, well, the tropics. Sure, it’s delish at any time of year, but unless you’re surrounded by palm trees, dripping sweat onto your sand-covered feet and really, REALLY in need of refreshment, it just won’t taste as good as it can be.

So here’s my tip: don’t bother making this at home. Go to a tropical island and get somebody to make it for you. It’s good for the tourist economy and it means you don’t have to clean up. Winning.


4 mint leaves

45ml white rum

80g diced fresh pineapple (confession time: I used canned instead. Shoot me)

4 lychees, peeled and seeded (yes, you should use fresh. Yes, I used canned instead)

15ml pineapple juice (you can probably guess by now that I used store-bought, not fresh)

15ml lime juice (but hey, I’m not THAT bad that I’d use bottled lime juice. I used the fresh stuff)

15ml sugar syrup

1 cup crushed ice

mint sprig, for garnish

pineapple leaf, for garnish (obviously you will only have one of these handy if you used fresh pineapple. If you used canned pineapple, do not use the pineapple can lid as a substitute garnish!)


cocktail glass


Place everything except the crushed ice and garnish(es) in a blender. Blend.

Add crushed ice and blend until mixture has the consistency of shaved ice.

Pour into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish.

Drink on a tropical island or, failing that, drink it on a hot day while thinking about a tropical island. And if no tropical islands or hot weather are coming your way, drink it to console yourself…


Let’s see, you’ve got to either peel pineapples or open cans, and you need to crush ice, and then you have to clean a blender. It’s probably best to get someone else to make this for you, preferably a hot waiter on a tropical island.


This recipe appears in the mighty tome that is Shaken: 250 very sexy cocktails (Murdoch Books, 2004).

The Littlest AD


Years ago, the 52 Cocktails crew went drinking every week at a student pub with a great pal called AD. It was the kind of pub where the bartenders would have a drink with you, the whole place was covered in kitsch Aussie memorabilia and if you ordered the same drink often enough it’d get named after you. That’s what happened to AD, who once asked for a Tequila Sunrise, but made with vodka and served in a pint glass. While this may sound as twisted as some coffee orders these days (‘I’ll have a decaf latte with biodynamic almond mylk sprinkled with sugar-free soy carob, thanks’), the bartenders took it in their stride and served the huge, colourful drink without even rolling their eyes. AD took a liking to it and ordered it again, and from that point on it was known as the ‘Little AD’. Similar stories abound about how cocktails get their names, but unless the drink spreads to other drinking establishments it dies out and the name dies out along with it. And since that much-loved student pub is now a gastro-pub, with none of the kitsch decor remaining (and possibly the staff have moved on, too), it seems the Little AD is no more.

At least, that was until recently, when the 52 Cocktails crew had a measly one shot of tequila left in the bottle and a few bits of half-squeezed citrus lying around, and a challenge was thrown down to use everything up in the one drink.

The result was reminiscent of the Little AD, in that it was a successful experiment that used some key ‘sunrise’-style ingredients (namely OJ and grenadine), and so it was named the Littlest AD in honour of AD and his original cocktail. It’s sweet and tastes a bit like a Mai Tai, but with a mineral element coming to the front of the palate courtesy of the tequila.


45ml blanco tequila (we used Espolon Tequila Blanco)

Juice of half an orange (roughly 90ml)

15ml sugar syrup

5ml orgeat

1/2 teaspoon grenadine




Half-fill a rocks glass with ice, add all ingredients and stir.


It’s easier to make this than it is to order it at a bar. So go on, make one!


Proudly created by 52 Cocktails

PS Oh, and that bar we mentioned? It’s the Lincoln in Carlton, Melbourne. It’s still around, and it turns out the kitsch decor was hiding a gorgeous art deco interior – go have a look, have a drink (there’s a short but decent cocktail list, along with a great range of wine and beer) and definitely have something to eat – the food’s great. Just don’t ask for a Little AD or you might be disappointed!

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In Watermelon Sugar


I wasn’t really sure what to call this cocktail, invented one day when I was desperate for some fruit but also really needed a drink. ‘Watermelon Wonder’ seemed obvious enough as it contains watermelon juice and was made after I’d spent some time wondering what the hell I was going to do with a 5kg watermelon a house guest had kindly given me. But ‘Watermelon Wonder’ sounds like it belongs at a juice bar (or on a menu written by someone with no imagination) and really, this tastes much better than ‘Watermelon Wonder’ sounds.

Lots of bartenders reckon part of the fun of inventing cocktails is naming them, which is possibly why Melbourne vodka bar After the Tears has a cocktail called ‘Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries.’ I’ve always liked that name and recently discovered it’s a quote from Monty Python, which made me wonder if I could just use a quote to name this refreshing watermelon drink.

And so I went with the most obvious choice – no, not ‘nice melons,’ which I’m sure is a quote from a trashy teen movie, but In Watermelon Sugar, named after the excellent 1968 novella by Richard Brautigan, which features the creepily prescient name iDEATH. Which, now I think of it, would also make a great cocktail name…


About 1/2 highball glass watermelon juice (you can make this by whizzing chunks of watermelon in a blender)

30ml mandarin vodka

90ml pineapple juice

mint and pineapple piece, to garnish




Chill all ingredients (if you store your watermelon and your pineapple juice in the fridge, they will already be cold enough to use.) Pour liquids into glass, stir to combine, then garnish.


So much easier to make than it is to name!


This one’s by 52 Cocktails, as is the next one. What? There’s another one? Yes, that is your reward for reading this far. Well done you. OK, so the next one is a great way to use up any leftover watermelon chunks. Half-fill a blender with cold watermelon chunks. Add a good slosh of Chambord and some Absolut Vanilla vodka. (Sorry folks, I didn’t measure this one so I can’t be any more accurate than that.) Blend everything together, pour into a highball glass and then demand everyone leave the house so you don’t have to share the resulting light, fluffy, sorbet-like, heavenly concoction that’s best eaten with a spoon and the knowledge that it’s 100% yours.



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Modern mango daiquiri


Just as it’s hard to get children to eat vegetables unless you hide them in chocolate cake (the vegetables, not the children – though in some cases that would improve the children), sometimes it’s hard to get adults to eat their required intake of fruit and veges every day. Make it easy on that recalcitrant adult in your life (come on, we all know one) with this delicious fruit-filled cocktail.


A hint of passionfruit adds an intriguing note to this cocktail, but what makes it truly modern is the garnish of Thai basil leaves. Instruct your imbibers to nibble a leaf before taking a sip – the combination of aniseedy Thai basil and fresh tropical mango works surprisingly well.


1 ripe mango, peel and stone removed, flesh roughly diced

30ml Havana Club anejo rum

15ml passionfruit syrup (we used the 1883 brand)

15ml lemon juice

15ml sugar syrup

1/2 cup ice

Sprig of Thai basil, to garnish


Cocktail glass, preferably chilled


Place all ingredients in blender and whizz until the ice is crushed. Pour into cocktail glass, garnish with Thai basil and serve.


Loads easier than getting kids to eat their vegetables.


This one’s by us. We’re clever like that.

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Indus Colada


Potato Head Beach Club in Bali make a dreamy, creamy, heavenly cocktail called the Indus Nesos. It’s so good that I can remember the first time I drank it – and that was several years ago. Given that most nights spent in bars end with some kind of memory loss, that’s a hell of a drink.
The 52 Cocktails crew visited the bar recently and foolishly didn’t order one, so this week I thought I’d try making one at home. Then all I’d need is a huge C-shaped structure built out of colourful old window shutters surrounding a vast lawn and swimming pool overlooking the ocean and it would be just like drinking at Potato Head. Easy. Oh, and I’d also need the recipe, and some sunny weather, and a crowd of good-looking people swanning about wouldn’t hurt, either…
Luckily, the menu is on their website and helpfully describes the drink as containing vanilla vodka, vanilla-infused arak (the local rice liquor), apricot brandy, coconut cream and lychee puree, blended and served long. It’s practically a recipe, I thought rather arrogantly as I read it, so, despite not having any arak in the house, it shouldn’t be too hard to re-create. I’ll just double the vanilla vodka content or add some brandy or something. That’ll do.
What was I saying before about drinking and memory loss? I forget. But I know that a list of ingredients does not a recipe make, and – oh yeah, I remember now – I know that I went out to buy some lychees and forgot to get them, so I had to improvise. Long story short, I used pineapple juice instead of lychee puree and ended up with something that tasted like a cross between an Indus Nesos and a pina colada – not a bad thing at all, though next time I will try making it with the correct ingredients to see if it’s closer to the drink I remember. It’s not very strong but it is a super thick, rich drink – serve it with a spoon so you can scoop the foam up off the top. And if you’re ever in Bali, go to Potato Head and order the real thing so you can compare them!

Serves 4 if you use tumblers, or 2 if you use Collins glasses. I find the coconut cream so rich that I only want a small amount, so I prefer to divide the mix among 4 tumblers.

60ml vanilla vodka (I used Absolut, but if you have a house-infused one, go for it)
45ml apricot brandy (I used a homemade one)
90ml coconut cream
30ml Solerno (a delicious blood orange liqueur; if you can’t get it, use Cointreau)
30ml sugar syrup
5 drops Fee Bros peach bitters
250 ml pineapple juice

Tumbler or Collins

Chuck everything in a blender with a handful of ice cubes and blend away. Pour into whichever glasses you’re using and sip while pretending you’re somewhere tropical.

It’s a lot harder than ordering an Indus Nesos at the bar, but at least you don’t have to pay the airfare.

This one’s brought to you by the forgetful folk at 52 Cocktails. Who are you again?!

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