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Tiki Central Forums » » Tiki Drinks and Food » » An honest comment from an occasional drinker
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An honest comment from an occasional drinker
TikiTacky
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 23, 2010
Posts: 1305
Posted: 2013-06-29 11:27 am   Permalink

Let me start by acknowledging that I don't drink very often. Due to this, I realize that likely means I don't have a very developed sense of taste when it comes to cocktails, but after a recent experience mixing up a variety of tiki drinks for friends, I realized that most of them tasted, well, pretty much the same. Of course most if them are made using the same basic ingredients, so it's not really surprising.

I know there are likely exceptions, but so many of the drinks had the same flavor profile that I'd be surprised if even the seasoned drinkers could name many of them by taste alone. Maybe it's akin to wine tasting, where blind tests have shown that even the experts can't consistently tell the difference between cheap and expensive wines.

Can you name a tiki drink that you could identify by taste alone? If so, please list it, because I'm looking for some more unique drinks to try.

Sorry if anyone is offended, but I'd still love to see some people try an honest blind tasting at a tiki event and see how many drinks they can identify from a list. Might be a fun "party game."


 
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Atomic Tiki Punk
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 19, 2009
Posts: 6181
From: Costa Misery
Posted: 2013-06-29 12:05 pm   Permalink

Tell us what Rums & ingredient's you used?
which drinks did you mix?


 
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AceExplorer
Grand Member (3 years)  

Joined: Apr 03, 2008
Posts: 999
From: Deep in the Jacksonville Florida jungle.
Posted: 2013-06-29 12:06 pm   Permalink

I appreciate your honesty, but let me point out that you may have answered your own question in the body of your message - if you don't drink very often, and if that also means you haven't personally tried a variety of tropical cocktails, then you may also not yet have been exposed to the gamut of tropical drinks and their flavorings. You may not yet have enough personal experience to make many general assertions. From the standpoint of ingredients in tropical cocktails, various citrus juices and types of rum and flavorings make a huge difference in flavors, so I'm not sure your point is one I would spend much time discussing. I would also point out that everyone has a different palate, and the range of personal tastes is vast - some prefer sweeter cocktails, others more tart cocktails. So I would encourage you to continue to explore tropical cocktails and find what you like. I think you will enjoy gaining many additional insights as others have before you. It would be great to see your progress as replies in this thread - what things are you discovering and learning? I encourage you to keep moving forward, trying things, exploring. And you won't need to "drink a lot" to do this, there are many different ways to begin a journey of cocktail discovery. I think you'll come to enjoy the experience, and it will likely pleasantly surprise you along the way. One way to start would be to pick up one of Jeff "Beachbum" Berry's books as a starting point. Cheers!

 
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The Blue Kahuna
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 01, 2011
Posts: 365
From: Points East & West
Posted: 2013-06-29 12:22 pm   Permalink

I think that if you use different rums/alcohols in different drinks (which is usually the case) you'll notice a distinct difference . . . its very easy to discern a properly made Mai Tai from a Zombie from a Rum Barrel from a Fog Cutter from a Tiki Puka Puka from a Shingle Stain from a Monkey Pod, etc. Most tiki cocktails were developed to highlight particular rums and rum styles . . .

I have many, many different types of rum, i.e. country of origin, distillation method, aging process, etc. I will often make the same drink substituting different rums . . . changing out the agricole in a Three-Dots-And-A-Dash for a Barbados rum changes the drink significantly . . .

I think you need to experiment more with different rums it rough, but somebody has to do it!


 
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MadDogMike
Grand Member (7 years)  

Joined: Mar 30, 2008
Posts: 7362
From: The Anvil of the Sun
Posted: 2013-06-29 12:26 pm   Permalink

TT, I too am only an occasional and I know what you mean about some basic ingredients that seem to be included in many drinks. I live near the Mexican border and the same accusation exists about Mexican food - that it is all the same ingredients presented in a slightly different manner. A taco, a tostado, and a flauta all contain mostly the same ingredients but are served folded, flat, and rolled (respectively). However anyone who regularly eats Mexican food can easily tell the difference.

And while many drinks taste similar to me, I have no doubt that others can tell the subtle nuances between different rums and different ratios of mixers. There are also plenty of widely dissimilar Tiki drinks out there. No one would confuse a Mai Tai, a Pain Killer, and a Dark & Stormy
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AceExplorer
Grand Member (3 years)  

Joined: Apr 03, 2008
Posts: 999
From: Deep in the Jacksonville Florida jungle.
Posted: 2013-06-29 1:04 pm   Permalink

Quote:

On 2013-06-29 12:26, MadDogMike wrote:
There are also plenty of widely dissimilar Tiki drinks out there. No one would confuse a Mai Tai, a Pain Killer, and a Dark & Stormy



Well said. There is a lot of good stuff to explore.


 
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djmont
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 03, 2011
Posts: 374
From: Potomac Falls, VA
Posted: 2013-06-29 2:15 pm   Permalink

There are definitely a lot of Tiki drinks that taste similar, as a result of containing the same or very similar ingredients. So if you don't have much experience with them, you probably won't be able to discern much difference. Similarly, to a novice drinker, a Gin Martini and a Vodka Martini might taste pretty much the same. But to anyone who knows their spirits or drinks Martinis, the flavor profiles are actually quite different and easy to discern.

Identifying and differentiating flavors, either singularly or in combination, isn't something that you can do right off the bat. It does take some practice and some effort to analyze what you're tasting. A lot of people, of course, have no desire to do that, and that's perfectly fine. After all, the primary point of drinking is to enjoy it!

I agree with the above posters, though, that drinks like a Mai Tai, a Navy Grog, a Singapore Sling, a Pain Killer, a Daiquiri, a Pina Colada, a Zombie or so many others don't taste very much alike.

And while it's true that a lot of wine drinkers can't tell cheap from expensive, I wouldn't put much stock in the claim that the experts can't tell. Robert Parker might be insufferable, but I'd bet good money he could tell you the difference between Chateau Lafite and Two Buck Chuck.

(Also, don't confuse expensive/cheap with good/bad. The scales aren't exact equivalents.)

Welcome aboard!
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TropicDrinkBoy
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Feb 27, 2011
Posts: 275
Posted: 2013-06-29 3:09 pm   Permalink

I can easily taste the difference between many of my favorite drinks: Mai Tai/Honi Honi, Trader Vic's Grog, Queens Park Swizzle, Raffles Bar Gin Sling, Tortuga, Siboney, Port Light, Eastern Sour, Maui Fizz, Moku Nani, (Flaming) Coffee Grog, Tiki Puka Puka and the Navy Grog, all copied from my post on the recent Trader Vic's drinks thread. Throw in the 1934 Zombie Punch, Puka Punch, Donga Punch, Boo Loo and many other drinks from Beachbum Berrys books and you will taste a broad spectrum of flavors. I agree that some of the drinks in Beach Bum Berry's books can taste similar since many are knock-offs of the classics served by old time Tiki joints attempting to duplicate the success of the big three (Donn Beach, Victor Bergeron and Steve Crane).

Try tasting the difference between the Trader Vic Mai Tai and Honi Honi as they are exactly the same drink except the Honi Honi substitutes bourbon for the rums. Both are great drinks but taste very different due to the different spirits.


 
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TikiTacky
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 23, 2010
Posts: 1305
Posted: 2013-06-29 3:22 pm   Permalink

There are lots of studies that show how expectation affects discernment (read http://m.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2011/10/you-are-not-so-smart-why-we-cant-tell-good-wine-from-bad/247240/ for some examples). I'm not talking so much about whether one drink or liqueur is better than another, but how easily identifiable they are by themselves.

My dad was a high-fi guy. He participated in a famous test where many noted audiophiles couldn't tell the difference between expensive speaker wire and bent coat hangers, although they just *knew* they could hear a difference. I've seen too many people too confident in their ability to differentiate something who couldn't when tested on it. I'm not saying there's no difference between tiki drinks, but I am challenging that many enthusiasts couldn't identify a particular drink by flavor alone. Mix a drink at random from one of the Beachbum's books and serve it to someone in a plain glass with no garnish and have them sip it with their eyes closed—I'll bet they often can't tell you what they're drinking.

I do appreciate that some drinks taste very different from others and that's exactly what I was after. Thanks to those who have listed a few, such as the Dark and Stormy and the Painkiller.


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Atomic Tiki Punk
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 19, 2009
Posts: 6181
From: Costa Misery
Posted: 2013-06-29 3:27 pm   Permalink

Not to mention the required skill a good Bartender (Mixologist for you youngsters)
bring to the art.

It's not Rocket Science, but it is Cocktail Science, Baby!


 
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djmont
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 03, 2011
Posts: 374
From: Potomac Falls, VA
Posted: 2013-06-29 4:24 pm   Permalink

If you served me a half-dozen Tiki drinks blind, I have no doubt that I couldn't identify most or all of them. I don't have that kind of memory to say, "Ah! This is a Jet Pilot." But I think I could pick out some of the flavors in the drinks, and I could certainly tell you which ones I liked better. And ultimately, I really don't care much more than that.

I've conducted blind tastings of spirits on several occasions, and the results can definitely be interesting. I've found that, more often than not, the results are about what you'd expect. But there's often a time when someone will give high marks to something they claim to hate, and that's always worth a laugh.

Expectation, presentation, environment, etc. play such a large part of the experience. That's why good bartenders know which glass to serve a drink in, which garnish to use, which temperature at which to serve the drink, etc. All of those factors can affect not just our enjoyment of a cocktail, but how we perceive its taste.

Another thing I would add is that poorly-made Tiki drinks, or even indifferently-made ones, will almost always taste very similar. They'll likely be made with the same tasteless white rum, the usual mix of fruit juices, the pre-packaged mixes, the overly sweetened syrups. And thus the "flavors" are fake and indistinct, and they all just run together. It's like when you go to a bar like TGI Friday's and order a Frozen Margarita or Frozen Daiquiri or Pina Colada or whatever, and you can't tell any difference between them. They all just taste like slushies. It's because they're made cheaply and lazily, with little or no actual resemblance to what they're supposed to be. But when they taste the way they're actually supposed to taste, it's a whole new world.


 
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Atomic Tiki Punk
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 19, 2009
Posts: 6181
From: Costa Misery
Posted: 2013-06-29 4:52 pm   Permalink

Yea, That's what I said........

 
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thePorpoise
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jan 23, 2011
Posts: 1249
From: Tampa Bay
Posted: 2013-06-30 12:08 pm   Permalink

TikiTacky- you are correct; and, so are the above responses.

If you're going to mix through the hundreds of tiki drinks in books out there, imo many are going to be very similar tasting. (which is perhaps why some cocktail enthusiasts pooh-pooh tiki drinks as just rum and juice).

what to me are the tiki drinks with the most name-recognition among cocktail and casual drinkers are the MaiTai, Scorpion, Fogcutter, Zombie, and Navy Grog. they are distinctive drinks (altho the scorpion and fogcutter are quite similar, with one being more orangey and the other more lemony).

I encourage you to continue exploring tiki drinks for several reasons:

--you will learn a lot about rum. Rum is an overlooked spirit by most, even though it is inextricably tied in to the history of this country and region. until i looked into tiki drinks, i really didnt know about Spanish v. English v. French styles of rums. (given what the economy has done to whiskey and cognac prices, this is an opportune time to explore rums.)

--tiki drinks are good party drinks. (chicks especially, dig the tiki drinks). the scorpion is always a party hit served in a communal bowl.

--tiki drinks frequently have cool historical stories to their creation. Most classic cocktails were created before Prohibition. Tiki drinks comprise the second wave of cocktail creativity- mostly from the 40's and 50's. Seems like every city has a local tiki bar/restaurant history with fondly remembered drinks and cuisine.

so, if you're getting bogged down in the tiki menu, try a re-set with different styles of rums, and drinks that have unique flavor profiles.







 
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GentleHangman
Grand Member (7 years)  

Joined: Jun 23, 2006
Posts: 464
From: Stuart, Florida
Posted: 2013-06-30 1:15 pm   Permalink

Most Tiki drinks served at various establishments (The Mai Kai included) serve their own "version" of a Tiki Original. I can't tell you how many variations of a Mai Tai I've had (I'm an 'Old Fart" of 66+) - and I guarantee I couldn't tell you which was which - same goes for the Suffering Bastard, Jet Pilot, Hurricane, Rum Runner,Zombie and many others. However... were you to serve me an "Original Recipe" of, say a Mai Tai, or a Jet Pilot . . . I would be able to tell is was "original recipe"- even if you were not using "Top Shelf" rum. Their flavor profiles are unmistakeable. True, most Tiki drinks use one or more of these fruits: Lemon, Lime, Orange, Pineapple, white grapefruit, Guava, Mango,passionfruit and pommegranate - giving them a 'sameness' in overall flavor changed only by the quality and combinations of rums used and other flavor enhancing ingredients such as cinnamon syrup, falernum, Orgeat, pimento dram and various other liquers.
What you have to do is DRINK MORE, get the bum's books and train your palate!
I'm done . . . thank you very much.

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[ This Message was edited by: GentleHangman 2013-06-30 13:17 ]


 
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TikiTacky
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 23, 2010
Posts: 1305
Posted: 2013-06-30 1:36 pm   Permalink

Thanks for all the great responses, guys. I'm definitely still enjoying everything I'm reading about tiki culture, tiki drinks, and of course, rum. For a guy who doesn't drink a lot I've spent an awful lot on liquor! The good news is that most of it will apparently keep just fine for many years.

Tonight I plan to make a Mai Tai with my new bottle of Pierre Fernand Dry Orange Curaçao. I don't have any Martinique rums (sigh), but I've heard some good things about mixing Smith Cross with Appleton V/X, both of which I've got. Should make for a strong drink, though. I realize it isn't a proper Mai Tai, but it should make for a better comparison once I get some proper Martinique Rhum Agricole.


 
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