Tag Archives: tropical

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…


Tagged , ,

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.

Tagged , ,

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!

Tagged ,

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.

Tagged , , ,

Thanks for checking out fiftytwococktails.com – Mai Tai offer you a drink?

Mai Tai 3

In the past few days fiftytwococktails.com and its associated Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/52Cocktails have received a lot of attention from YOU, dear readers. As such, fiftytwococktails.com’s CEO (Cocktail Experimentation Officer) and CTO (Cocktail Tasting Officer) would like to say THANK YOU – your support is what makes creating and drinking cocktails such a worthwhile cause.

Anyway, enough sucking up, it’s time to celebrate with the most celebratory cocktail I can think of – the Mai Tai.

One of the many reasons I like making Mai Tais is because they are so damn cheerful. They look like a sunset in a glass. And they taste like a holiday in the tropics – minus the sunburn, shitty low-grade alcohol and sand in your whatsit. Sure, they take a while to make, because they involve fifty bajillion ingredients, but that just helps build up the anticipation for a memorable drink.  Plus, I can say “Mai Tai offer you a drink?” as I hand them over to unsuspecting visitors, who don’t know whether to clutch their stomachs and groan at the TERRIBLE word play or gratefully accept a cocktail of such beauty and retro cool. Seeing their tiny brains implode as they try to decide the correct course of action just adds to the pleasure of making – and imbibing – this delicious drink.

You can read more about Mai Tais – and many other retro cocktails – here.


There are loads of Mai Tai recipes out there. This is the first one I tried creating at home and I still think it’s one of the best. Don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients – all the ingredients are easy to obtain (I’ve seen other recipes requiring chargrilled pineapple juice, among other things that frankly sound like a pain in the arse to procure or create), it’s easy to make and it’s well worth the effort (and by ‘effort’ I mean buying a shiteload of booze).


30ml white rum (I use Havana Club or Bacardi)

30ml dark rum (I use Mount Gay. Come on, who could resist that name?)

15ml Cointreau

15ml Amaretto (I use orgeat instead – it’s an almond syrup that you can buy at specialty shops)

15ml lemon juice

90ml pineapple juice

90ml orange juice

15ml sugar syrup

dash of grenadine

lime slice

mint leaves


The recipe suggests a goblet glass, but I prefer a highball or Collins glass.


Half-fill the glass with crushed ice (I use ice cubes, either is fine). Add all liquid ingredients. Stir, then garnish with lime slice and some mint leaves.


Once you’ve got all the ingredients, this is a cinch.


This recipe is from Shaken: 250 Very Sexy Cocktails (Murdoch Books, 2004). This is the first cocktail book I ever owned. It was given to me by the CTO (it was more of a subtle hint than a birthday present). It is full of lush photography and easy recipes and is partly to blame for my obsession with cocktails. As such, I highly recommend you buy a copy.


Isn’t this supposed to be a NEW cocktail, since that’s the ENTIRE POINT of this website? Why, yes. Yes, it is. Thank you for noticing. I’ve made loads of Mai Tais following the above recipe. But recently when I was craving one I realised, after an eternity of preparation…well, after juicing the orange and the lemon and lining up all the necessary bottles….that I didn’t have any white rum.

And the local bottle shop was already shut.


Naturally I kept my cool and did not have a screaming fit about this. No sir. That was not me. I was NOT the one lying on the floor kicking my feet and sobbing about the unfair cruelty of this world. Although strangely, while I was definitely not having a ground-level tantrum, I spied an old bottle of Malibu on the bottom shelf of the bar and thought, hang on, that’s basically rum – why not use that instead? And so I did. It added a coconutty vibe that was not out of place with the tropical flavours of the drink. While I was bastardising the drink I went a step further and used orange curacao instead of Cointreau, because it’s cheaper and for ages I’ve been wondering if you can get away with using it in a mixed drink (you can) or if that’s some kind of heresy (it probably is but I haven’t been burned at the stake yet). And, as mentioned above, I use orgeat instead of amaretto as a matter of course – because for the longest time I had orgeat handy but not amaretto, and now I’m so used to the orgeat I’m reluctant to change. And so I think I’ve made some kind of new Mai Tai by accident, or at least it’s a new version of a Mai Tai, and that’s close enough to a new cocktail that I’m happy to share it here.

Mai Tai 4


Yep, that’s what I’m calling this baby. Although saying “Might I offer you a Mai Tai Offer You a Drink?” might get confusing…but after the first few cocktails no one will care.


30ml Malibu

30ml dark rum (regular, not the spiced kind)

15ml orange curacao

15ml orgeat

15ml lemon juice

90ml pineapple juice

90ml orange juice

15ml sugar syrup

dash of grenadine

small bunch of mint leaves


Highball or Collins glass.


Half-fill the glass with ice cubes. Add all liquid ingredients except the grenadine. Stir with a bar spoon, then add a dash of grenadine and stir gently – you will hopefully get a sunset-ish effect. Garnish with mint leaves (as in, pick all the crappy leaves off the bottom of the bunch of mint, then shove the stems into the glass. You want about 5 stems of mint per glass). Add a cocktail umbrella if you’re feeling retro, a lime slice if you’re feeling classy, and a straw if you don’t want a bunch of mint hitting you in the face as you drink.


Time-consuming but easy – and a good way to use up that Malibu you’ve got leftover from an ’80s party.


Tagged , , , , ,