Friday, May 15, 2009

"Why?" I hear you ask.

You will be pleased, dear Internet. No, really. Slightly relieved, but mostly pleased.

On the worrisome side, things are improving at a glacially s-l-o-w pace. So keep up your spiritual regimen -- anything which doesn't involve anyone getting 72 virgins in the afterlife is highly appreciated -- on my behalf. But enough about that.

You may have been wondering where I have cyber-been. (Then again, you mayn't, but this is my blog, and therefore such curiosity will be imputed to you, jointly and severally.)

It's a fair question. The answer to which requires a bit of a back story, so sit back and let the glow of the narrative envelop you.

Coming up soon is NOS's 12th birthday party. NOS -- like me and wholly unlike NTS -- really cares that he has parties which people remember. He enjoys the social-arbiter status of conferring standing and prestige upon invitees when they have been invited to a given NOS bash. (TFBIM, being the Goldilocks is somewhere in between.)

Therefore, he likes his parties to verily kick arse. Especially now that having girls hold you in great esteem dawns as something of ever-growing importance. The way that our parties seem to work out is that there are usually +/- 15 children (NOS was born in the middle of the summer, so there are a significant number of his friends who are gone.) about half of whom tend to be drop-offs and the other half, obviously, aren't.

This means the non-dropoff-ees usually drag along at least one parent (80% of these are mothers). Some drop off for the excursion or movie part, but come over for the edibles and potables. They skip the wedding, but attend the reception, if you will.

Interestingly, this represents a fairly streamlined affair from 3-4 years ago when a brigade of children was the norm.

Anyway.

Last year, the plan was to go to the wave pool for what passes for surfing in wave-free Fringe o' Paradise and then repair back to Chez Joke for Tiki-ish potables and edibles. That proved an epic smash. Hold that thought.

So NOS decides that, since last year was such a smash, and since last year his best friend's wildly overprotective mother wouldn't allow him (the friend) to go, but this year she will, that he should reprise the festivities -- this was a close call with the release of the 6th Harry Potter film, to which NOS is greatly attached -- and execute this plan all over again. When mentioned in casual chatter to people, many had said this was excellent and how much they loved it or how deeply they regretted having dropped off and not loitered around to "hang out with you guys.**"

At around this time, I got an email stating Trader Vic's in Chicago had FINALLY* reopened. I mentioned this lightly to Fiddledeedee and to the exceedingly lovely and amazingly gracious
Poppy (who had nurtured and fostered my silliness in this direction and who allows me to venerate her first class relic first edition copy of the Trader Vic's Guide to Food & Drink whenever I'm visiting), and then went to look at their site. Which led me to think that, if I planned a little bit ahead of time, unlike last year when the thing popped up last minute, I could do something more impressive and cheaper.

OK. The reason I have told you all that is so I can tell you this:

Doing the above takes research.

Which is where I have been.

Researching.

Thankfully, the Internet is scrofulous with people who are, in varying degrees of mental disturbance seriousness, really into this whole Tiki thing.

AND!

(
Tere, stay with me, you're in this.) One of the original "Polynesian Pop" outposts, like a coealacanth*** swimming through the ocean of the hospitality industry, the Mai-Kai, is practically in my backyard.

So.

I got to looking.

First off, it's a ton(ne) of effort to pull off the whole Poly-Tiki Castaway trip full-time. I, for one, do not have the DNA to do this, but my battered straw hat is off
to those who do.

Of those who do, there are two in particular to whom I'd like to draw your attention.

The first is a respected beverage journalist and author,
Jeff Berry. He needs no plug from the likes of me, but his blog is an excellent resource and crazy-fun.

The other is, by all indications, a regular guy named
Blair Reynolds. That is, until, you pore deeper into his bloggery. This guy is to cocktails what I am to food. A manic, obsessive mad scientist. Here is a guy who thinks nothing of making his own orgeat syrup (as well as a lot of the exotic ingredients that go into drinks like the Scorpion, Zombie, Navy Grog, etc.) because the commercial stuff is either unavailable or unacceptable.

If he had stopped there, he should be one of your heroes. But he didn't. If he had stopped at owning more different bottles of rum than the Caribbean Council of Distillers -- and not cheap ones, either -- that'd be pretty stunning, too.

But look at what this guy
has done with his basement. (Special awe and wonder for his wife who not only let him, but helped. Mrs. Reynolds: "Respect.")

Anyway, all this took me out of my loop for a while. I looked up crazy stuff on eBay, dredged up drink**** recipes, food recipes, tracked down crazy fonts and clipart, etc. That, dear Internet, is how I spent the time otherwise allotted to bloggery.
I was able to scratch out a prototype menu (and save-the-dates invitations, etc.) and cheaper than finding something that's not quite what I wanted.

So, to be a pal I will now share with you MY recipe for the Mai-Tai, which, I assure you, is the definitive one.

1 oz golden rum (I like Appleton VX, but Bacardi or equivalent is fine)
1 oz dark rum (I like Myer's, but Bacardi or equivalent is fine)
[the original recipe called for 2 oz of J. Wray & Nephew 17 Year Old Rum, which these days costs -- get this -- $2K if you can find it. You can try substituting any of those aged rums like Zacapá or Matusalén. I haven't gotten that far yet.]
½ oz orgeat
½ oz Cointreau (you can go crazier with Gran Marnier or milder with any triple sec)
½ oz "rock candy" syrup (which is basically simple syrup infused with vanilla, figure 2 drops of real vanilla extract into a half ounce of simple syrup. You can cut this in half if you are using one of those hyper-mellow, gigabuck aged rums.)
1 oz fresh lime juice, not that flourescent green stuff in the bottle.
Mix all ingredients (including the spent lime shells!) and shake with ice. Strain into a glass over fresh, crushed ice. Garnish with lime shell and a sprig of mint. Maybe a cherry and orange or pineapple.

There you go.

-J.

P.S. Yes -- and I cannot believe you ever doubted me -- I made my own orgeat and rock-candy syrup.

* They had lost their lease at their original location and between scouting for a new one and fixing that up it took 3 years or so.

** Enjoy the potables and edibles.

*** Utterly unchanged since 1956, and having survived the boom and the bust of the original Tiki fad.

**** Including alcohol-free "mocktails" for the kids, as NOS particularly enjoys playing with a blender and shaker
.

Posted by Joke at 9:14 AM

10 Comments

  • Anonymous Jen posted at 1:09 PM, May 15, 2009  
    When I first began reading I wondered what sort of crazy *ss parent would stay at a child's birthday party when she didn't *have* to, but now I understand completely. Dang, I miss Mai-Tais.
  • Blogger Joke posted at 1:23 PM, May 15, 2009  
    I promise to devise a "Mock Tai" for ya.
  • Blogger Poppy Buhk-suhm posted at 3:37 PM, May 15, 2009  
    Upon dutifully following your links, this caught my eye:

    Here are a few images of Reynolés Galley, one of the top home Tiki bars in Portland, OR.One of the top home Tiki Bars in Portland, OR? Portland, OR has more then one? Portland, OR has a plethora of home Tiki bars, of which this might not necessarily be the most elaborate?

    Yet more proof that I'm doin it rong.
  • Blogger HEATHER posted at 3:57 PM, May 15, 2009  
    Dude-I bow to your awesomeness!!
    Wish I was invited! ;-)
  • Blogger Joke posted at 4:14 PM, May 15, 2009  
    P. - Not only is Portland, OR positively turgid with home Tiki bars of a certainly high standard, there are enough of those of a sufficiently high standard to warrant a tour.
  • Blogger Joke posted at 9:12 PM, May 15, 2009  
    Here's something in the Greater Metropolitan Newtopia Area:

    http://www.critiki.com/cgi-bin/location.cgi?loc_id=494
  • Blogger shula posted at 11:11 PM, May 15, 2009  
    I am suitably gobsmacked.
  • Blogger kim at allconsuming posted at 7:23 AM, May 17, 2009  
    I have no idea what you just said.

    No.Idea.
  • Blogger Joke posted at 7:51 AM, May 17, 2009  
    Wait for the pix. All shall be revealed!

    -J.
  • Blogger Badger posted at 10:33 AM, May 17, 2009  
    For my boy child's recent birthday, I invited my parents over and reconstituted some frozen tortellini.

    He and NOS must never meet.
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