“Bali Ha’i may call you, any night, any day. In your heart, you’ll hear it call you. Come away, come away.”
Tiki Culture predates World War II; however, it took on a life of its own after American servicemen returned home from the Pacific Theater of Operations. James A. Michener’s Tales of the South Pacific encapsulates some of their tales. Written as a series of short stories, Tales of the South Pacific provides a glimpse of the horrifying perils of war; however, Michener does a far better job describing the monotonous days and weeks between battles. As any veteran can attest, modern war is rarely a state of constant combat. Time between firefights is often boring, filled with menial tasks to occupy time. I am more than certain that a few of these Pacific Theater veterans developed the perfect hooch during these “dull” moments. The addition of local fruits and spices probably made their battlefield cocktails all the more special. Tales of the South Pacific does not vest much page space describing the distillation process of some of these libatious characters; however, the recipe books and Tiki Culture brought back by America’s servicemen gives ample proof of the tropical elixirs discovered in the South Pacific.
Ernest Gantt – better known of Don the Beachcomber – is arguably the founding father of Tiki Culture in the United States. As a young man, Don sailed through much of the South Pacific, falling in love with its lush tropical splendors. Returning to California, Don opened his “Don the Beachcomber” Polynesian themed restaurant in 1934. The restaurant had wonderful success by introducing Americans to the savory tastes of the South Pacific; although, it was not until after World War II that Tiki Culture exploded with returning servicemen craving the tropical punches of Polynesia. For that, tonight’s cocktail will pay a tribute to our World War II veterans and an homage to Don the Beachcomber. Slice open a pineapple, pull out your favorite rum, and put three sheets to the wind with a little Perry Como in the background. Bali Ha’i is calling, come away, come away.
Beachcomber Tiki Cocktail
There are a number of variations to the Beachcomber; however, tonight’s recipe comes from original published in Trader Vic’s Bar-Tender’s Guide (1947). The original recipe calls to blend with ice. Instead, we’ll shake.
2 oz white rum
3/4 oz triple sec
3/4 oz lime juice (fresh)
1/4-1/2 oz maraschino liqueur
1/4 teaspoon simple sugar (if you must)
Fill your shaker with ice. Pour in all liquids. Shake vigorously for no less than 15 seconds. Strain into your Tiki goblet… or, your favorite cocktail glass.