Elixir for the Soul

This is a blog about sophisticated drinking, because alcohol doesn't have to be a poison, it can be a medicine for the soul.

Shawn, 21. Currently studying foreign language at university in China. Researching about cocktails is one of my passions, and I hope this blog can introduce others to the true way of imbibing. Every drink on this page is mixed, tasted and photographed by me.

Feel free to ask.

Blackbeard’s Ghost
Light Puerto Rican Rum - 1 1/2 oz
Demerara Rum - 1/2 oz
Orange Juice - 1 oz
Lemon Juice - 1 1/3 oz
Simple Syrup - 2/3 oz
Falernum - 1/2 oz
Apricot Brandy - 1/2 oz
Angostura Bitters - 2 dashes
Shake everything with crushed ice and pour unstrained into a tall glass.
Beachbum’s version of the Pirate Grog, from Blackbeard’s Galley restaurant, Newport Beach, California, circa 1970s.
Quite a delicious and straightforward drink. Dry Puerto Rican rum flavoured with a hint of smoke from the rich demerara; orange and lemon providing the citrus sour; falernum and apricot brandy adds sweetness and various flavours like apricot, almond, ginger and lime; and Angostura just to round everything up.
Don’s Beach Planter
Amber Martinique Rum - 2 oz
Dark Jamaican Rum - 1/2 oz
American Brandy - 1/2 oz
Pineapple Juice - 2 oz
Lime Juice - 1 oz
Passion Fruit Syrup - 1 oz
Angostura Bitters - 2 dashes
Absinthe - 1 dash
Blend everything with 1 cup crushed ice for no more than 5 seconds and pour unstrained into a pilsner glass, add more crushed ice to fill.
Another version of Planter’s Punch by Don the Beachcomber, from 1937. A fine brandy and rum combo for spirit; pineapple and lime as citrus; passion fruit syrup for sweetness; crushed ice for water; and Donn’s Angostura + Pernod (or absinthe) for spices.
For the American brandy, the book recommends Christian Brothers, which I’m using a VSOP grade. It is the first time I’ve used a brandy other than French VSOP cognac. CB brandy is very different from your regular cognac, very rich, pungent, and full of fruity note, aroma-wise it actually reminds of American rye whiskey. A bottle of this is only half the price of a VSOP cognac, and it’s well worth it. I might make some brandied cherries with this in the future.
Instead of a regular pilsner, I felt like using a Don the Beachcomber mug for this Planter’s.
Tahitian
Rhum Barbancourt - 2 oz
Gold Jamaican Rum - 1 1/2 oz
Gold Puerto Rican Rum - 1/2 oz
Pineapple Juice - 1 1/2 oz
Lime Juice - 1 oz
White Crème de Cacao - 1/2 oz
Simple Syrup - 1/2 tsp
Angostura Bitters - 1 dash
Shake everything with ice cubes and pour unstrained into a collins glass. Garnish with a pineapple wedge and a parasol.
An original creation by Beachbum Berry. Four ounces of rum is no laughing matter, when drank too fast, you will feel like you’re in Tahiti.
This is a wonderful blend of three different and complex rums, full of spice and fruit aromas, with an accented vanilla finish. The chocolate notes from the Barbancourt was brought out by the cacao liqueur, which makes a fine accompaniment to the upfront pineapple flavour.
Only Rhum Barbancourt 3-Star upwards should be used, with 5-Star (8-year-old) being your best choice. For the other two I’m using Appleton Estate V/X and Bacardi Ron 8 Años. 
Don’s Own Planter’s
Dark Jamaican Rum - 1 1/2 oz
Light Puerto Rican Rum - 1 oz
Lemon Juice - 1 oz
Honey Mix - 1 oz
Soda Water - 1 oz
Angostura Bitters - 2 dashes
Shake everything with ice cubes and pour unstrained into a pilsner glass. Garnish with a pineapple wedge, a cherry, and mint sprigs.
From Beachbum Berry’s “Grog Log”.
In the same way that all mixed drinks evolved from the Punch, all Tiki drinks evolved from Planter’s Punch. Without this centuries-old cocktail, there would be no Mai Tai or Zombie.
The forefather of Tiki cuisine - Don the Beachcomber, built his career on Planter’s Punch, a drink that started off as nothing more than sugar, lemon juice, Jamaican rum, and water put together. He took the simple Planter’s Punch formula: “one of sour, two of sweet, three of strong, four of weak.” and enhanced it. Instead of just lemon juice, he added lime and grapefruit; using different sweeteners like falernum and honey to complicate the flavour; instead just one rum, he put in two or three different styles of rums; and lastly he didn’t rely solely on water from the ice, but also incorporate soda, as well as quick blending with small amount of crushed ice for a more controlled dilution.
Of course Donn had created numerous versions of Planter’s Punch, and this is a relatively simple but delicious one: using only lemon juice for citrus, honey mix as sweetener, a combination of dark and light rums, and soda and ice for dilution.
For the darker, use Myers’s, and for the light use Bacardi Superior; the dry Bacardi will thin out the heavy molasses from Myers’s. The honey mix can be made by combining equal amount of honey and water.

Don’s Own Planter’s

Dark Jamaican Rum - 1 1/2 oz

Light Puerto Rican Rum - 1 oz

Lemon Juice - 1 oz

Honey Mix - 1 oz

Soda Water - 1 oz

Angostura Bitters - 2 dashes

Shake everything with ice cubes and pour unstrained into a pilsner glass. Garnish with a pineapple wedge, a cherry, and mint sprigs.

From Beachbum Berry’s “Grog Log”.

In the same way that all mixed drinks evolved from the Punch, all Tiki drinks evolved from Planter’s Punch. Without this centuries-old cocktail, there would be no Mai Tai or Zombie.

The forefather of Tiki cuisine - Don the Beachcomber, built his career on Planter’s Punch, a drink that started off as nothing more than sugar, lemon juice, Jamaican rum, and water put together. He took the simple Planter’s Punch formula: “one of sour, two of sweet, three of strong, four of weak.” and enhanced it. Instead of just lemon juice, he added lime and grapefruit; using different sweeteners like falernum and honey to complicate the flavour; instead just one rum, he put in two or three different styles of rums; and lastly he didn’t rely solely on water from the ice, but also incorporate soda, as well as quick blending with small amount of crushed ice for a more controlled dilution.

Of course Donn had created numerous versions of Planter’s Punch, and this is a relatively simple but delicious one: using only lemon juice for citrus, honey mix as sweetener, a combination of dark and light rums, and soda and ice for dilution.

For the darker, use Myers’s, and for the light use Bacardi Superior; the dry Bacardi will thin out the heavy molasses from Myers’s. The honey mix can be made by combining equal amount of honey and water.

Tropical Collins
Gold Rum - 1 1/4 oz
Lemon Juice - 1 oz
Pineapple Juice - 2 oz
Pineapple Syrup - 1/2 oz
Shake everything with 1 cup crushed ice and pour unstrained into a collins glass, add more ice cubes to fill. Garnish with a cherry and a mint sprig.
One of the simpler recipes from Beachbum Berry’s “Intoxica!”. From Riccardo’s restaurant, Chicago, Illinois, circa 1940s.
Other than it’s served in a collins glass, it really doesn’t have anything to do with a Collins. I had to make a slight change, the original recipe didn’t include any sweetener at all, but when using unsweetened pineapple juice, it’s just too sour, so I put in 1/2 ounce of pineapple syrup. I’d also recommend increase the amount of rum to 2 ounces. The style of rum wasn’t specified, I’m going with Mount Gay Eclipse.
Mai Tai Swizzle
Aged Jamaican Rum - 1 oz
Light Cuban Rum - 1 oz
Grapefruit Juice - 1 oz
Lime Juice - 3/4 oz
Cointreau - 1/2 oz
Falernum - 1/4 oz
Pernod - 6 drops
Angostura Bitters - 1 dash
Shake everything with crushed ice and pour unstrained into an old-fashioned glass. Garnish with 4 mint sprigs.
This is Don the Beachcomber’s Mai Tai from “Hawaii Tropical Rum Drinks & Cuisine by Don the Beachcomber” by Phoebe Beach and Arnold Bitner, said to be invented around 1933, that’s roughly 11 years before the invention of Trader Vic’s Mai Tai.
There’s no doubt that one of them did “copy” the other, as both the ingredients and flavour are extremely similar. The Mai Tai can be dissected into four major parts: the citrus juice, the orange liqueur, the almond syrup, and the rum. Trader Vic’s is very basic, lime as the citrus, curaçao as the orange liqueur, orgeat as the almond syrup, and the rum was originally a 17-year-old J. Wray & Nephew. Don the Beachcomber’s recipe added grapefruit juice to the lime, used Cointreau instead of curaçao, falernum instead of orgeat, a combination of Jamaican and Cuban rum, and signed off with his signature Pernod + Angostura seasoning.
Either Trader Vic attempted to recreate Don the Beachcomber’s with simpler ingredients, or Don the Beachcomber tried to win the Mai Tai battle by creating a Mai Tai based on Trader Vic’s with a more complex recipe, somehow I think the latter is more believable.
Rum Julep
Demerara Rum - 1 1/2 oz
Aged Jamaican Rum - 1/2 oz
Lime Juice - 1/2 oz
Orange Juice - 1/2 oz
Honey Mix - 1/2 oz
Grenadine - 1/4 tsp
Falernum - 1/4 tsp
Pimento Liqueur - 1/4 tsp
Angostura Bitters - 1 dash
Blend everything with 1/2 cup crushed ice and pour unstrained into a julep cup, add more crushed ice to fill. Garnish with several mint sprigs.
Clearly this isn’t just a Julep made with rum, but a Tiki drink created by Don the Beachcomber back in the 1940s.
The focus is still on the rums: a rich and smokey demerara with a vanilla and buttery Jamaican. This is slightly flavoured with some citrus and various spices from the honey and liqueurs.
The honey mix is basically honey syrup, made by combining equal parts of honey and water.
Blue Reef
Light Puerto Rican Rum - 2 oz
Lime Juice - 1 1/2 oz
Blue Curaçao - 1 1/2 oz
Galliano - 1/2 oz
Shake everything with ice cubes and strain into a snifter filled with crushed ice.
From Beachbum Berry’s “Grog Log”. Unfortunately no information about the inventor was given.
It’s another blue drink that’s actually delicious; generally speaking, none of the drinks picked out by Mr. Jeff Berry are too bad.
This is a quite a mild drink with a dry base; pronounced lime and orange flavours; the Galliano adds that very needed extra sweetness as well as a beautiful anise and vanilla finish. The drink would have been very boring without it.
A few points about jiggers…
Here I’d just like to point out the importance of measuring your jiggers. The idea of measuring a measuring tool does sound funny, but you’d be surprised to know how many bartenders I’ve worked with had been using the wrong measurement for years, because they were never bothered to take this step.
First of all, do not trust the measurements that you’ve been told; if it says on the jigger’s packaging that it’s able to measure 30 ml and 45 ml, don’t just take their word for it, find out for yourself, and very often the information you were given were wrong.
Whenever I acquire a new jigger, I always measure them with a measuring cylinder, i.e. the long tube from a chemistry set. These things give the most accurate readings due to its long and thin shape, as oppose to a measuring cup that a slight tilting can affect the readings drastically.
In the picture above are the six jiggers I have at the moment, some are very dependable, some are less so. They are all bought from reliable sources, and not just some cheap knockoffs, so the comments I’m about to give on these should apply to all.
(From left to right)
The first one is the cheapest of them all: $8. A very common jigger in most bars in Asia. The smaller side measures 15 ml, 30 ml, and the larger side measures 45 ml, although that’s what the markers on the jigger tells me. The 15 ml marker actually measures 8 ml; the 30 ml marker is actually 28 ml; the 45 ml marker is 41 ml. This is the prefect example of why you shouldn’t trust your jigger without confirming it first.
The OXO jigger is $9, but cost twice as much to buy in China, but I’d still say it’s worth every penny. You can often see it being used in American cocktail bars. I’ve had this one for 3 years, and I can safely say, this is the most reliable jigger I’ve ever used: despite its average look, it’s extremely accurate, has all the measurements you will ever need in mixing drinks, and all of them are correct. It measures 1/4 oz, 1/3 oz, 1/2 oz, 3/4 oz, 1 oz, and 1 1/2 oz.
The third one is a multi-measure jigger, costing about $10, it’s more like a small measuring cup. Very simple in terms of design, doesn’t look very stylish, but the measurements are all accurate: 15 ml, 20 ml, 30 ml, 45 ml, 60 ml, 75 ml. It also translates these to ounces and teaspoons.
The U-Chida jigger cost about $25, quite popular in high-end cocktail bars in Japan, China, and many parts of Asia; because so many bartenders use it, it makes you feel safe, but do not be fooled by that. It is suppose to be able to measure 20 ml and 30 ml on the smaller side, and 40 ml, 50 ml, 60 ml, and 70 ml on the other. The 20 ml marker is slightly under, filling the liquid to that line will actually give you 19 ml, so if you want 20, you’re gonna have to go over that line slightly; the 30 ml marker actually measures 35 - 36 ml. On the larger side, the 40 ml marker is accurate and so is the 50 ml marker; the 60 ml is actually 57 ml, and 70 ml is actually 68 ml.
Mr. Slim jigger is $31, the one used by bartenders across the world, you’d often see them been used in cocktail competitions. It is elegant and accurate. It measures 10 ml, 20 ml, and 30 ml on the smaller side; 15 ml, 30 ml, and 45 ml on the other. All of them are correct.
The final one is a jigger built in the style of a measuring spoon. Cost $10. It measures 15 ml, 30 ml, 45 ml, and 60 ml, which is pretty much all the basic measurements you will need when composing a simple drink. I’d say they are fairly accurate, but the markers are a little bit hard to read, so takes some getting used to.

A few points about jiggers…

Here I’d just like to point out the importance of measuring your jiggers. The idea of measuring a measuring tool does sound funny, but you’d be surprised to know how many bartenders I’ve worked with had been using the wrong measurement for years, because they were never bothered to take this step.

First of all, do not trust the measurements that you’ve been told; if it says on the jigger’s packaging that it’s able to measure 30 ml and 45 ml, don’t just take their word for it, find out for yourself, and very often the information you were given were wrong.

Whenever I acquire a new jigger, I always measure them with a measuring cylinder, i.e. the long tube from a chemistry set. These things give the most accurate readings due to its long and thin shape, as oppose to a measuring cup that a slight tilting can affect the readings drastically.

In the picture above are the six jiggers I have at the moment, some are very dependable, some are less so. They are all bought from reliable sources, and not just some cheap knockoffs, so the comments I’m about to give on these should apply to all.

(From left to right)

  1. The first one is the cheapest of them all: $8. A very common jigger in most bars in Asia. The smaller side measures 15 ml, 30 ml, and the larger side measures 45 ml, although that’s what the markers on the jigger tells me. The 15 ml marker actually measures 8 ml; the 30 ml marker is actually 28 ml; the 45 ml marker is 41 ml. This is the prefect example of why you shouldn’t trust your jigger without confirming it first.
  2. The OXO jigger is $9, but cost twice as much to buy in China, but I’d still say it’s worth every penny. You can often see it being used in American cocktail bars. I’ve had this one for 3 years, and I can safely say, this is the most reliable jigger I’ve ever used: despite its average look, it’s extremely accurate, has all the measurements you will ever need in mixing drinks, and all of them are correct. It measures 1/4 oz, 1/3 oz, 1/2 oz, 3/4 oz, 1 oz, and 1 1/2 oz.
  3. The third one is a multi-measure jigger, costing about $10, it’s more like a small measuring cup. Very simple in terms of design, doesn’t look very stylish, but the measurements are all accurate: 15 ml, 20 ml, 30 ml, 45 ml, 60 ml, 75 ml. It also translates these to ounces and teaspoons.
  4. The U-Chida jigger cost about $25, quite popular in high-end cocktail bars in Japan, China, and many parts of Asia; because so many bartenders use it, it makes you feel safe, but do not be fooled by that. It is suppose to be able to measure 20 ml and 30 ml on the smaller side, and 40 ml, 50 ml, 60 ml, and 70 ml on the other. The 20 ml marker is slightly under, filling the liquid to that line will actually give you 19 ml, so if you want 20, you’re gonna have to go over that line slightly; the 30 ml marker actually measures 35 - 36 ml. On the larger side, the 40 ml marker is accurate and so is the 50 ml marker; the 60 ml is actually 57 ml, and 70 ml is actually 68 ml.
  5. Mr. Slim jigger is $31, the one used by bartenders across the world, you’d often see them been used in cocktail competitions. It is elegant and accurate. It measures 10 ml, 20 ml, and 30 ml on the smaller side; 15 ml, 30 ml, and 45 ml on the other. All of them are correct.
  6. The final one is a jigger built in the style of a measuring spoon. Cost $10. It measures 15 ml, 30 ml, 45 ml, and 60 ml, which is pretty much all the basic measurements you will need when composing a simple drink. I’d say they are fairly accurate, but the markers are a little bit hard to read, so takes some getting used to.
Coronation Royale
Dry Gin - 1 oz
Red Curaçao  - 1/2 oz
Dubonnet Rouge - 1 oz
Grenadine - 1 drop
Stir everything with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
From the “Café Royal Cocktail Book”, invented by Frank Pigott.
A fairly sweet apéritif cocktail, not quite as sickening sweet as I originally thought, I suppose I have Dubonnet’s bitterness to thank. The grenadine in my opinion is completely unnecessary, the drink certainly doesn’t need any more sweetness nor colour, so I kept it down to a drop, but if you do want an extra sweet cocktail, feel free to add more.
There was a time when curaçaos were produced in many different colours: white, orange, blue, red, brown, green etc. Orange and blue are the survivors; white curaçao was taken over by triple sec; brown and green are nonexistent; fortunately red curaçaos are still being made, DeKuyper is what I’m using. Of course no matter what colour they are, they are still identical in flavour, so just go with a regular orange curaçao if you can’t find this.