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Tiki Central Forums Tiki Drinks and Food Fassionola?
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Fassionola?
Hurricane Hayward
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 07, 2008
Posts: 700
From: 16 miles from The Mai-Kai
Posted: 2014-10-29 01:57 am   Permalink

I would not expect a positive response from the Bum, assuming he has time to respond. I'll bet his advice would be to not bother with fassionola. And I would agree to a point (especially when you consider its artificial ingredients). It's not mentioned in any of his books, and I get the feeling that he feels it's unnecessary. It's too obscure to include in his published recipes and expect readers to be able to find it. And it's fairly easy to use passion fruit syrup and/or grenadine in most of the classics that may have used fassionola at some point.

However, you can't deny that it was indeed one of Donn Beach's many secret ingredients, though it's rare to find in print. Beyond references in old Hurricane recipes, I've only seen it mentioned in "Hawaii - Tropical Rum Drinks & Cuisine by Don the Beachcomber." It's included in five drinks in that book, which inspired me to track it down at The Mai-Kai, where Donn's old recipes are still followed religiously. That led me to include it in five current drinks and two retired drinks in my tribute recipes.

Which leads us back to the question of which of the Jonathan English products is preferred. I've long used the "Red" Tropical Gold product, which I've recommended in all of the aforementioned drinks. But I just picked up a bottle of the other Tropical Gold fassionola. The only major difference on the bottle is the word "red" is not included. It looks (and tastes) very similar. It's indeed not as red, though in the bottle it's hard to tell the difference.

I'm in the midst of some head-to-head comparisons. So stay tuned for the results.

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Quince_at_Dannys
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Joined: Mar 29, 2004
Posts: 164
From: Command Records International HQ
Posted: 2014-10-29 1:41 pm   Permalink

I finally broke down and ordered some; a bottle of Red and a bottle of Gold are both on the way!

 
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Hurricane Hayward
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 07, 2008
Posts: 700
From: 16 miles from The Mai-Kai
Posted: 2014-10-30 12:55 am   Permalink

Here we go ...


What's interesting (or concerning, depending on your point of view) about these two products is that they contain the exact same ingredients: Corn sweetener, water, orange juice concentrate, citric acid, xanthan gum, natural and artificial flavor, etc. The difference is obviously those unnamed flavors, and whatever also affects the color.

Comparing the two straight-up: The Red Tropical Gold syrup is fruiter, with more of a cherry taste. It's also distinctly more red in color. The plain Tropical Gold syrup has more sweet and tart nuances, along with more up-front passion fruit-like flavors (probably artificial, but you never know).

The true test is using them in a cocktail. As part of this research, I identified all the drinks in the Don the Beachcomber book by Phoebe Beach that call for fassionola:
Pi Yi (1/2 ounce)
Beachcomber's Rum Barrel (1/4 ounce)
Cherry Blossom Punch (1/4 ounce)
Cobra's Fang (1/4 ounce)
Q.B. Cooler (1/4 ounce)
http://www.hawaiibeachcomber.com/id4.html

Plus all the Atomic Grog tribute recipes that I've surmised contain The Mai-Kai's version of fassionola:
>> Current tribute recipes:
Cobra's Kiss (1/2 ounce)
Jet Pilot (1/4 ounce)
Tahitian Breeze (1/4 ounce)
Special Reserve Daiquiri (1/2 teaspoon)
Mai Tai (1/4 teaspoon)
>> Retired tribute recipes:
Impatient Virgin (1/2 teaspoon)
Suffering Bastard (1/4 teaspoon)

Since it appears in both lists, I decided to go with the Cobra's Kiss (Cobra's Fang) for this test ...


The drink containing the red fassionola (left) is decidedly more red, which fits the M.O. of The Mai-Kai's version. The color is perfect, but the drink could have used just a tad more sweetness. But it's certainly possible that The Mai-Kai's version of the syrup has just a slightly sweeter flavor profile. The regular Tropical Gold yields a drink that's less red and also a little too sweet.

If you look at the list of drinks above, most seem to benefit more from Red Tropical Gold, particularly from the added color. In The Mai-Kai tribute recipes especially, that boost of red color is needed to make them match up with the look of the originals. And there's a whole different list of drinks (Rum Barrel, Mara Amu, etc.) that feature a more pure and potent passion fruit syrup than the non-red fassionola.

That's not to say that either of these could find many more uses beyond the drinks listed above. I've yet to try them elsewhere, but I'm sure the plain Tropical Gold would work fine in a Hurricane. However, with so many better (and fresher) syrups at my disposal, I'll likely only use them for these niche purposes.

Okole maulua!


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Atomic Tiki Punk
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Joined: Jul 19, 2009
Posts: 6300
From: Costa Misery
Posted: 2014-10-30 04:50 am   Permalink

The corn sweetener is a deal breaker for me.

 
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PalmtreePat
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Oct 07, 2014
Posts: 14
From: Los Angeles, CA
Posted: 2014-10-30 5:11 pm   Permalink

I've put in an order for the red stuff per your conclusions.I'm not much a fan of bottled anything-I-could-make-myself, but before I start trying to concoct a fassionola knock-off I'm going to have to try the original, just to be sure I know where I stand. The corn sweetener doesn't scare me enough to pass up any of the wonderful looking drinks on that list.

 
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Tonga Tiki
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Joined: Nov 14, 2006
Posts: 154
From: The Tonga Lounge in Safety Harbor, FL
Posted: 2014-10-31 1:34 pm   Permalink

I got my response from Bum. I know that this thread seems to deal mainly with fassionola's part in replicating Mai Kai cocktails and not necessarily Donn's actual recipes. But I was curious to what his opinion was anyway. BTW I want to thank Hurricane Hayward for his tireless quest of providing the most accurate Mai Kai recipes possible. I have enjoyed his Mai Kai tribute cocktail recipes for years and they are a staple at my parties. Anyway, here is the Bum's opinion on fassionola:

Aloha Tonga Tiki!

I tried the original (gold) Fassionola in the early 1990s, when I found a bottle in a Burbank liquor store. It was awful: artificial tasting, vaguely passion fruit-orange. Using actual passion fruit is MUCH better. I have to think that the Don recipes that call for it in Phoebe's book date from the 1980s, when every restaurant chain started switching over to artificial mixers. In the 1940s Don would not have been using that stuff, IMHO.

The gold was the standard, but red would have been used for Hurricanes and the like. It had a cherry taste. Green was only used as food coloring for drinks that called for "green syrup," like the Cleopatra. It was kind of minty."

Hope that helps,

Bum


[ This Message was edited by: Tonga Tiki 2014-10-31 13:35 ]


 
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mikehooker
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Joined: Jul 17, 2014
Posts: 119
From: Austin via SoFla
Posted: 2014-10-31 1:47 pm   Permalink

Hayward: Thanks for sharing your comparisons. It's good to know the red isn't the "wrong" English flavor for the few drinks that call for fassionola as I imagine this bottle will take some time to work through and I wouldn't want to feel obligated to also buy the Gold.

I've tried your Cobra's Kiss and Jet Pilot recipes with it and they are wonderful. If you can, please revisit your Special Reserve Daiquiri tribute and let me know your thoughts. I tried it with both my homemade and the English red and it's not quite how I remember it at the Mai Kai. Wondering if the recipe could use some tweaks or maybe my memory of it is just off.

Palmtreepat: If you decide after trying the English red that you want to make homemade fassionola based on the Smuckers and grenadine recipe, I suggest you do the method I illustrated above. The Smuckers raspberry syrup and Fee Bros grenadine both have HFCS and artificial ingredients. They'll produce a more concentrated flavor than the fresh raspberry and pom juice approach but if your goal is to eliminate bottled syrups you might as well make it as fresh as can be. Unless of course your plan is to recreate the color, flavor and consistency by other means than just using those ingredients, then I'd be very interested to know what you come up with.


 
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PalmtreePat
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Oct 07, 2014
Posts: 14
From: Los Angeles, CA
Posted: 2014-10-31 5:26 pm   Permalink

Mikehooker: My plan for a fassionola knock-off was to follow the 3rd substitute recipe posted on the atomic grog (1/4 cup each raspberry syrup and grenadine, plus 1/2 tsp orange extract) by making and mixing raspberry coulis, hibiscus grenadine (for that extra-red color), and an orange peel tincture made from everclear (which will hopefully also extend the shelf life). I've always assumed that bottled raspberry syrups and sauces were raspberry coulis under a different name, but it occurred to me today that I've never actually tasted the bottled stuff and that a mixture based on my usual coulis recipe could be way off target in terms of sweetness/thickness. About how sweet/thick should the raspberry component be?

 
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Hurricane Hayward
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Joined: Jun 07, 2008
Posts: 700
From: 16 miles from The Mai-Kai
Posted: 2014-11-18 01:41 am   Permalink

PalmtreePat, I'm interested to know how your syrup-making experiments are going. Sorry it's taken me a while to get back to this thread, but I've had time to gather up some news on my research ...

At Mike's suggestion, I decided to revisit the Special Reserve Daiquiri and make sure it's accurate. While I was at it, I thought I'd compare the Jonathan English red syrup head-to-head against the combination of Fee Brothers grenadine and Smucker's Red Raspberry Syrup.

In the interest of time, I had to forgo the ice shell...


The drink containing fassionola (left) is noticeably more red, and also has a slightly more intense fruit flavor. Tasting the syrups both straight-up and in the cocktails, I would consider them very similar. But the Jonathan English product, as artificial as it is, still works best if you're looking to duplicate the taste of these drinks exactly. The substitute is perfectly fine, just not quite as strong.

I also made an interesting discovery at my local Total Wine store. They sell a 100% organic raspberry simple syrup made by Royal Rose that appears thick and dark and could be a fine substitute for the Smucker's (which lists high fructose corn syrup as its top ingredient). I mixed up a fassionola substitute using the raspberry simple syrup and Fee's grenadine and the results were just as good, if not better, than the batch with Smucker's ...


Get more info on Royal Rose at
http://www.royalrosesyrups.com (they also have a bunch of other interesting flavors)
If you're leery of the corn sweeteners, this could be a fine alternative. It could probably be combined with a rich, homemade grenadine (along with perhaps some orange extract) to make an all-natural fassionola. It will just be tricky to get the same intensity you get with the bottled red fassionola.

I also tinkered with the Special Reserve Daiquiri recipe after finding it a tad too sweet. There's not much room to improvise since the drink is so simple, but I got better results by swapping the amounts of lime and honey. Mike, try it with 3/4 ounce of lime juice and 1/2 ounce of rich honey mix and let me know what you think. I'll probably update the recipe on the blog soon.

A few other quick tips: If you're not using the ice shell, you'll need to duplicate the chilling effect, along with the dilution caused by the ice. This also quells the sweetness. I would just add some crushed or cubed ice to the glass. Also, I'm fairly certain that this drink is pulse blended with crushed ice, not shaken, which also changes its consistency slightly. Since I posted this and other tribute recipes, I learned that all The Mai-Kai's cocktails are either pulse blended in a top-down mixer like Donn Beach used to do, or blended until smooth in a traditional blender (Derby Daiquiri, Floridita Daiquiri, etc.). Nothing is shaken. I would just strain the pulse-blended Special Reserve Daiquiri into a glass with an ice shell, or a chilled coupe with a few cubes.

Okole maluna!

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The official blog of The Hukilau

Featuring The Mai-Kai Cocktail Guide


[ This Message was edited by: Hurricane Hayward 2014-11-18 01:42 ]


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mikehooker
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 17, 2014
Posts: 119
From: Austin via SoFla
Posted: 2014-11-18 10:33 am   Permalink

Thanks for the update! I will try the amended SRD recipe soon. When I made mine with the homemade fassionola last month I only did a half-assed attempt at an ice mold, lining crushed ice around the edge of a martini glass and freezing it for a bit. I didn't make it to sno cone consistency or work the mold upward like you demonstrate on your blog. I did flash blend the drink in a top down mixer though and strained it into the glass but maybe the rate of dilution was off which is why I didn't get the intended result I was hoping for:



Or perhaps the homemade fassionola just didn't have enough kick. I don't recall it being too sweet as you mentioned. Next time I'll attempt a proper mold and use the English red along with the changes you stated and see how it goes. Looking forward to it!


 
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Hurricane Hayward
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 07, 2008
Posts: 700
From: 16 miles from The Mai-Kai
Posted: 15 days ago; 01:16 am   Permalink

Tonight I tried the regular Tropical Gold fassionola, the version with the passion fruit overtones, in The Mai-Kai's Mara-Amu and compared it head-to-head against the same drink containing a rich homemade passion fruit syrup. While is wasn't horrible, I would not recommend it in place of traditional passion fruit syrup. As I suspected, the taste would lend itself more toward a vintage Hurricane, and not much else.

I continue to recommend using only the Red Tropical Gold (or a viable substitute) in cocktails such as the Cobra's Kiss that need that extra boost of color and rich fruity flavor.


 
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