A Wet Drunk Midwestern Summer (a tale of Tiki Cocktails)

We might be at the unofficial end of summer, but we’re still in the thick of it. The wet, hot, hair-glued-to-your-forehead, soggy crotch thick of it. Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about. It’s a classic Midwestern Summer.

A Wet Drunk Midwestern Summer (a tale of Tiki Cocktails)
Note: Thanks to the fine folks at The Countryman Press for providing us with a copy of Tiki Drinks for review and giveaway with no strings attached.

We might be at the unofficial end of summer, but we’re still in the thick of it. The wet, hot, hair-glued-to-your-forehead, soggy crotch thick of it. Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about. It’s a classic Midwestern Summer.

The only way to survive a Midwestern Summer? Inebriation. Constant inebriation from June through August. (September, if you want to play it safe). This brings me to why we are here: you can only drink so much Summer Shandy before demanding Wisconsin secede from the Union. I’m assuming most of you have reached that breaking point.

Just kidding. I know none of you distinguished bourbon drinkers are pouring that alcoholic lemonade down your throats. But that doesn’t undermine the fact making delicious summer drinks is a certified survival skill in the stumble-through states. And it’s a great way to celebrate what’s left of the season.

So I set out to master the most summery of the summer drinks: tiki cocktails. Being a rather smart gal, I decided I first needed to consult some literature. In this case, that meant cracking open Tiki Drinks: Tropical Cocktails for the Modern Bar, and the modern woman.

(No, not really. “Modern women” is an awful phrase. But “modern bars” I like.)

As a cocktail idiot who couldn’t tell the top end of a shaker from the bottom, I appreciated how the authors laid out the basics to tiki cocktail history, ingredients, lingo, necessary tools, glassware and garnishes.

The recipes were all easy to follow and provided helpful commentary on background, taste and recommendations for each cocktail. In all honesty, it gave me a new respect and appreciation for what I had only previously associated with the neon pink garbage that coats the floor of every college bar. You will not find “Sex on the Beach” (or anywhere else for that matter) in this book.

You’ll find the book much more helpful and informative than this blog is going to be, albeit not nearly as hilarious. But hey, while I would have liked a little more of a distinct voice from the author, they have clearly prioritized the needs of the reader over their ego, unlike the author of aforementioned blog.

From here on out, all commentary is rather subjective, unhelpful and pretty much garbage. You’ve been warned.

On that note, let’s get on with this tiki adventure. Where was I? I decided a little help wouldn’t hurt. So I grabbed the most modern woman I knew, Ms. Joselyn Howell, and set off on a sweet, summery smash fest.

(enter Joselyn)

Tiki Cocktail Book Review Photo 7

Joselyn: When the idea was presented, I loved it. Who would not want to spend the day drinking delicious tiki drinks? But after thumbing through the book, I quickly realized that this was a terrible idea. I hated it. Why? Because each drink had one million ingredients. Some of the ingredients were recipes (that’s right, a recipe for an INGREDIENT) and then the recipes for the ingredients, HAD MORE RECIPES. But being a (modern) woman of my word, I had to move forward.

Lindsey: If you need to know one thing about Joselyn, it’s that nothing she does is half-assed. And while that is a very respectable quality, it made shopping for these one billion ingredients the most excruciating experience of my (modern) woman life. When I wanted off-brand canned pineapple juice, she insisted instead on fresh, squeezed by the hands of locals, half my paycheck juice. You get the picture.

Joselyn: Annnd by squeezed by locals, Lindsey means squeezed by me. I freshly squeezed all the juice, which is a detail that the book rightfully suggests. Now, onto the drinks!


Tiki Cocktail Book Review Photo 6

Although the name sounds like a gnarly fart, we chose this drink because it was one of only two in the whole book that contained bourbon. And it seemed like the worst of the two bourbon drinks, so we wanted to get it out-of-the-way. This might be a good time to mention that we also invited our cocktail loving friend, Stephanie, to join us. Three is always better than two in case of a taste-test tiebreaker.

Overall, we were pretty indifferent to this one. Not bad. Not good. Just “meh”. And it had way too many ingredients. I mean, it had THREE KINDS OF JUICES (orange, lime and pineapple to be exact) some shit called Orgeat (yeah, we had to google that too, and then make it as per the recipe in the book), bourbon, gin and rum. Oh and honey syrup, another ingredient that we had to make. But we all agreed: it did taste better with a tiny tropical umbrella in the glass.

3 out of 5 coconuts


Tiki Cocktail Book Review Photo 2

Next up – the second of the bourbon drinks. This was much more simple, requiring only four ingredients, including the one ingredient we opted to buy instead of make: Allspice Dram. (Again, Google came in handy, helping to not only figure out what the heck this ingredient was, but to find a liquor store that sold it. Randall’s, you’re always there when we need you most.)

Stephanie and Lindsey were sold at first sip, describing the drink as “a mix of chi tea, incense and whiskey.” Joselyn had to take a few drinks before she decided it was a winner. Would make and drink again.

Lindsey: Joselyn enjoys referring to herself in the third person and has apparently decided she no longer needs to introduce herself when speaking because she has asserted herself as the dominate writer. Sorry to interrupt. Please, continue on Joselyn.

AH HEM, 4 out of 5 coconuts


After seeing the Dark and Stormy on the roster, Lindsey was a bit perplexed. She claims she doesn’t “feel” like it’s a Tiki drink. Not really sure what gives her that authority, but after making the mix of dark rum ,ginger beer, lemon and lime juice she exclaimed “this is the best Dark & Stormy I’ve ever had!”

I also like the drink and I will assume Stephanie did. However, I didn’t have anything written in my notes by her name, so she must have been too busy chugging away.

3.5 out of 5 coconuts

Tiki Cocktail Book Review Photo 4


Things start to get hazy at this point in the evening, so I’m just going to tell you what is in this drink: aged rum, dark rum, lime juice, Allspice Dram, simple syrup, and ginger beer.

We’ll just let the notes explain what happened next:

Lindsey:  “Not bad. It’s like a shittier dark and stormy”

Stephanie: “What is this?!?!”

Lindsey: “Did I make it right?”

Jos: “Yes, it’s just gross.” (Throws drink over balcony)

Stephanie: “It’s growing on me.”

Lindsey: “I still hate it!”

.5 out of 5 coconuts (the way we made it)

Tiki Cocktail Book Review Photo 3

In summary, two of the drinks were great, one was okay, and one was terrible. We had planned a 5th (the Scorpion Punch), but you can probably guess why that never happened.

Although cumbersome, this book and the tiki drinks included are definitely worth the effort, especially if you appreciate a well-crafted cocktail. (Lindsey: I disagree.) Lindsey does not appreciate a well-crafted cocktail, but she also eats ravioli out of a can so there’s that.

Also, don’t skimp. Get all the proper ingredients and fresh squeeze your juice, like the book says. (Lindsey: I’m not convinced). Otherwise, I don’t think these would have turned out as good as they did (most of them).

Lindsey: Fine, they were good. But next time, I wouldn’t really be opposed to dumping 12 bottles of Mad Dog into a baby pool and calling it a day. Half the money, twice the fun.

Good luck, and good drunk!