Hailing from Sweden, the syrups by Gustav Almèn have now seen the light! the first two out is a orgeat and a grenadine and I can assure you these are very tasty and well made with all natural ingredients and no artifical things added.
Gustav started to make homemade syrups for drinks that they served in the bar that he worked it at the time, Papa Gede`s in Sydney. A bar which on their website says – Papa Gede’s bar is infused with the spirit of witch-doctor apothecary, home-made herbal elixirs, plenty of classic & tiki cocktails, a smorgasbord of absinthes traditionally served, great wine, funk, soul, reggae & rituals of relaxation.
Sounds like a quite ecclectic and creative environment to work at! And while working there Gustav made many different flavors like orgeat, grenadine, ginger & sugarcane, falernum…
One day a friend said to him that he should start selling syrups and the more he thought about it the more he realized that there were no companies in Sweden selling cocktail syrups. So during the last 6 months in Australia he started to experiment even more with different flavors and studied different kinds of sugar syrups.
Just in time when he was back in Sweden he felt that his syrups finally were as good as he wanted them to be and so it was then he decided to start his company – Alméns Syrups. His goal is to sell cocktail syrups to bars in Stockholm.
I have tried the homemade orgeat (which is made with real almonds) and grenadine and they are both very tasty! the only thing I could think of that would benefit by a change is the bottle desgn, it`s beautiful bottles, tall and elegant but not very practical in a bar 🙂
But the syrups are not yet out for sale so a few changes will most likely be made before the final product is out on the market.
Here are two drinks I have made, one with the orgeat infused with Kombu seaweed and one with grenadine.
Fire and Brimstone!
1 oz/30 ml aged Cuban style rum ( I used Rational Spirits 141 Cuban rum)
1 oz/30 ml Mezcal (I used Del Maguey Crema de Mezcal)
2 oz/60 ml fresh pineapple juice
0.5 oz/15 ml Almèns grenadine
0.75 oz/22.5 ml fresh lime juice
Hibiscus powder to rim the glass and top the ice
Rim half a snifter with hibiscus powder and half fill with crushed ice. Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into the snifter, add more crushed ice to fill and dust some hibiscus powder on top, garnish with a lime wedge.
0.75 oz fresh lime juice
0.5 oz kombu seaweed infused Almèns orgeat
1 oz aged Cuban style rum ( I used Rational Spirits 141 Cuban rum)
1 oz Mezcal ( I used Del Magey Vida)
1.5 oz fresh grapefruit juice (yellow)
1 small piece of kombu, lime wheel for garnish
Small pinch hibiscus powder
Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a cocktail coupe with a cracked ice chunk.Garnish with kombu, limewheel and a pinch of hibiscus powder on top.
Infusing the orgeat – Add orgeat to a small pan ( I added a half cup, about 1.25 dl) or pot and add a piece of kombu seaweed (about 2 inches, 5cm long) you can brake it in two if you want and slightly heat up the mix, Then take off heat and leave to sit for a couple hours or overnight, taste to see until you find the flavor nice. It should add a bit of a sea-salty flavor to the orgeat.
I really like these syrups and have nothing more to say than I think it would be better with smaller more practical bottles 🙂 apart from that the syrups are very good, tastes wonderful!
When they are out for purchase I know I`ll buy them!
Here`s a couple of exotic spirit syrups, they are made by Cent´Anni Spirit Syrups, created by Victoria D’Amato-Moran who hails from San Fransisco. I first met her at the Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans back in 2009 and now seven years later I hold her new syrups in my hand ready to try them out, see how Tales brings people together!
She`s the daughter of a local bartender and started her career in the restaurant business and her family, the D’Amato-Moran’s family owned D’Amato’s Bar on the historical Broadway strip, and with her grandparents – who were talented chefs themselves – making wine, grappa, liqueurs and vinegars.
Victoria managed her cousin’s bar, Tony Nik’s, in North Beach in 2000, where she knew classic bartending and cocktail design would be her art, along with creating innovative syrups to compliment.
She entered and won her first drink competition in 2003, and voted the Best Sidecar Cocktail in 2005 by San Francisco Magazine, and now 21 successful winning competitions later, which includes the most recent WSWA Las Vegas 2014, the Las Vegas Nightclub & Bar Show’s, Battle of the Mixologists 2012 & 2013.
Victoria has created cocktail portfolios for a whole number of companies including Square One Spirits, Pur Spirits, Campari USA, Preiss Imports, Iconic Brands, Arta Tequila, and started from the ground up the bars and cocktail menus for among many more, the Michael Chiarello’s Bottega, Yountville, Gaston Acurios’ and La Mar Cebicheria San Francisco and currently working in Half Moon Bay at the historical San Benito Ale House.
She has been recognized for her work in many noteworthy magazines such as the Examiner, Gary Regans’ 2011 & 2012 Bartenders Guide, Tasting Panel Magazine, San Francisco Magazine, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Don Julio Recipe Book 2011, Natalie Bovis’ Garden Cocktails 2012, Pur Spirits Cocktail Book and many more and was assistant to Tim Federle’s Tequila Mockingbird.
Cent’Anni Spirit Syrups started in 2004 and were used in both cocktail menus and cocktail competitions. Getting these syrups to bottling has been a long journey and with the support of many fans, and 10 years in the making!
Cent’Anni Spirit Syrups will initially launch these three signature syrups: Lemon Spice, Pineapple Spice and Chocolate Chili Spice, offered in 750 ml. size bottles. Her syrups were created for ease of cocktail preparation behind the bar, for the home bartender, helping cocktail enthusiasts create delicious cocktails at home, and for culinary recipes. The syrups can be used with any base spirit as well as in cooking.
The complex flavor profiles will create innovative cocktails and enhance the classics as well as create wonderful non alcoholic beverages. These syrups are an exotic blend of spices, real juice, and pure cane sugar. The three new syrups are these:
Lemon Spice – Lemon juice and spices and tastes like concentrated lemon juice, very “zingy”!
Pineapple Spice – Pineappple juice, vanilla extract and lemon juice, has a mildly spicy pineapple flavor.
Chili-Chocolate Spice – Dark cocolate chips, orange juice, cocoa beans, cane sugar and dried cloves. It has a mild chili bite and hints of cloves and chocolate.
Here are three cocktails I made with these amazing syrups!
Saffron Sour (Recipe by Victoria D’Amato-Moran)
1 oz Cent’Anni Lemon Spice Syrup
1.5 oz Old Raj 92 Gin
1.5 oz Fresh Orange Juice
0.5 oz Velvet Falernum
4-5 Spanish Saffron Threads
Egg White from 1 Organic Egg
Add ingredients in cocktail shaker. Shake hard 20 times. Add ice. Shake hard 20 more times. Strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish: Saffron threads
Well, I didn`t have saffron threads but I did have powdered saffron, it was still nice and added a lovely saffron flavor on the silky/creamy/foamy top of the drink…very rich and lush!
0.5 oz Cent´Anni Lemon Spice
0.5 oz Pineapple juice
0.5 oz Aperol
1 oz Fresh Lime Juice
2 oz Aged Rhum Agricole
Dash Zulu Orange Bitters
Garnish Cinnamon dust and dried Pineapple slice
Glass: Daniel Gallardo
My take on Victorias “Rumway” which was named for the airport runway near the beach in Half Moon Bay. Well, this drink is named for the rum it contains which may lead you into the way of rum….
Chili-Chocolate Banana Daiquiri
0.5 oz Cent’Anni Chocolate Chili Spice
0.5 oz Cent’Anni Pineapple Spice
1 oz Fresh Lime Juice
1/2 Banana, well mature and thinly sliced
2 oz Appleton Extra Jamaican Rum
4 oz Crushed Ice
Blend in blender at high speed for 30 sec and pour unstrained into a fancy glass with ice.
Garnish banana slice cut diagonally.
1 oz Cent’Anni Chocolate Chili Spice
1.5 oz Ron Abuelo 12
2 oz Coconut Milk
Squirt of fresh lime
Add ingredients, to cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until frothy. Pour into a glass with ice. Garnish with a tropical orchid.
This is a twist of Victorias Chili-Spice Cream Soda but i didn`t have half and half or cream soda (not available here) so instead I used coconut milk. The drink tastes creamy rummy and coconutty with a hint of spice.
Conclusion: These are well made organic syrups fit for everything from cocktails to tikidrinks to culinary adventures!
Here´s an old favorite again, the Penang Afrididi #1. It`s a “forgotten” tiki drink from 1937 and it was created by Don the Beachcomber. I like Donn`s drinks and I like this one! it was served at Don the Beachcomber’s Caberet Restaurant in the International Marketplace in Honolulu, circa 1958.
I`m curious about the name of this drink and wonder how it came to be and where it comes from…? if anyone knows please write in the comments.
There´s vibrant old dusty magic tasty tiki history here!
There´s also more versions of this drink, for example the #2 which simply cuts the same ingredients by half, blend and strain into a cocktail coupe or glass. Also Jason Alexander at Tacoma Cabana made his version of this drink and called it Penang Afrididi #3.
Penang Afrididi #3
2 dashes of Horror in Clay Tropical bitters, 1/2 oz each lime, orange, pineapple juices and 1/2 oz passionfruit syrup, 1/4 oz each falernum and fassionola, 1 oz ginger beer, 1 1/2 oz light rum, 1 1/2 oz Deep Ones Gold Blend (a house blend of three rums he makes), flash blend all ingredients.
Here´s the fassionola again, I need to try to make my own someday and I need to get the commercial version as well (the red one) I`d love to compare them, something I`ve had in mind for a while but that gonna be another post, and I also wanna try Jason`s version.
There´s also an interesting descendent of this drink that was dates back to the Mai Kai opening in 1956 and they had two versions of it, that drink is called the Zula and it`s flavor profile has only three ingredients, Herbsaint (or Pernod), pineapple, gold rum. You can read about the Zula over at the Atomic Grog.
From “Sippin’ Safari” page 95 by Jeff “Beachbum” Berry
1 1/2 oz. Light Puerto Rican Rum
1 1/2 oz. Amber Virgin Islands Rum
1/4 oz. Fresh Lime Juice
1/2 oz. Unsweetened Pineapple Juice
1/2 oz. Orange Juice
1/2 oz. Passion Fruit Syrup
1/8 tsp. Pernod or Herbsaint
Put everything into a blender and add six ounces of crushed ice. Blend it at high speed for five seconds.
And I couldn`t resist to add some of the liquid from my jar of Maraschino cherries..and that´s what gave the drink that wonderful shades of red.
This is one of the typical old Don the Beachcomber drinks where he used his fantastic imagination to create types of drinks that at the time had never been seen before with multiple rums, juices, spices and “secrets” (like drops of Pernod)
His Rum Rhapsodies as he called them!
Next time I want to try the Atomic Grog`s Tribute to The Mai-Kai’s Zula…and i`d love to make a twist on it as well.
But until then i`ll make this – a twist on the Penang Afrididi using an aged rhum agricole sweetened with a mix of 50/50 passionfruit syrup and hibiscus grenadine.
Afrididi Martiniquaise (or Penang Afrididi #4)
2 oz. Rhum agricole vieux (I used St James 12)
1.5 oz. Fresh Lime Juice
1/2 oz. Unsweetened Pineapple Juice
1/2 oz. Orange Juice
0.25 oz. Passion Fruit Syrup (homemade)
0.25 oz Hibiscus Grenadine (homemade)
1/8 tsp. Pernod or Herbsaint
Put everything into a blender and add six ounces of crushed ice. Blend it at high speed for five seconds. Pour into a snifter and add more crushed ice to fill. Garnish with a palm leaf and sugarcane stick.
It turned out to be a fruity and distincly rhum agricole forward drink….not strong, just fresh! the day I have my own fassionola made i`m gonna try that in this drink!
Here`s a quite subtle syrup as far as sweet banana flavor goes but flavor wise it´s rich and there´s a pronounced “green” banana flavor in it. It`s made to mostly be used in tiki and tropical drinks to add a little extra exotic touch of something “green and jungly” yet rich, dark and mysterious…
It`s made with one unripe apple banana, dark muscovado sugar and water.
Muscovado sugar comes in two varieties here, light and dark. The light is not white, it´s light to medium brown and has a rich wonderful flavor. The flavor of the dark is a lot more towards the flavors of molasses and also has a hint of liquorice to it. The finished syrup is a very deep dark brown, almost black.
Apple bananas also called Manzano bananas are short, plump and fat in shape and their flesh’s texture is firm when young almost like plantains, but tender and creamy when ripe. Young Apple bananas are both tangy and sweet with hints of apple. As they ripens, they will develop a far more tropical flavor profile, with notes of pineapple and strawberry. The Apple banana has a complex scent marked by a strong tart-apple aroma.
Ripe Apple bananas should also make a nice syrup with a stronger banana flavor but i wanted a “greenish” type of flavor so i used a green unripe Apple banana which i got from a Thai shop.
Another idea could be to use half unripe and half ripe piece of Apple banana with the “light” type muscovado sugar to make a sweeter more bana-ish type of syrup as well.
So what you do is adding in a 2:1 ratio sugar to water in a small pan and make the syrup, let cool and pour into a vessel and set aside. Clean the pan and add slices of the banana which you mash with a fork then add the syrup and let it cook up and when it cooks, take immediately off the heat because you do not want the sugar to caramelize. Leave to cool for at least a couple hours or overnight for the flavors to settle, then strain and bottle in a clean bottle.
Before setting aside i turned the pieces with peel upside down to get as flavor much as possible out of the green peel.
It should last a couple weeks in the fridge. I made only a small batch since i don`t use banana syrup in all drinks, i took about 1 cup(2.5dl) sugar and half of that in water and then one Apple banana.
After sitting overnight the whole thing looks like this
The syrup turned out really nice with a deep semi-sweet green bananish and molasses like flavor.
I decided to make a variation of the “Lava flow” using the green banana syrup instead of a fresh banana to take away that sweet banana flavor and make it more “green” and unsweet if that`s the word when there´s Coco Real Cream of Coconut in the drink….but i wanted to avoid the over sweetness which the combination of Cream of Coconut AND a whole ripe banana could be. I also added a half ounce of fresh lime to add some freshness and zest to the mix.
Mix 1 – Blend rums and strawberries in blender, pour into a tall (or other) glass and set aside
Mix 2 -Rinse the blender and blend pineapple juice, green apple banana syrup and Coco Real with 1 cup crushed ice until smooth. Slowly pour the blended mix into the glass with the rum and strawberries mix which should start to creep up the sides of the glass creating a lava flow effect.
Garnish with what you have on hand, a pineapple wedge, tropical orchid etc and a flaming lime shell.
To make the flaming lime shell: Take a half spent lime shell to use as “bowl” and place 2-3 croutons in it that are drenched in lemon extract (burns longer and brighter) or 151 overproof rum, make sure there´s nothing close to the drink above it and set it alight.
Now that`s a drink! best suitable for the pool in hot tropical weather actually but one can dream right?
Green Banana Daiquiri
Just a daiquiri with this green apple banana syrup! rum, lime and green banana syrup! But this one is even more potent than the Fiery Lava Flow…
Shake together with ice cubes and strain into a chilled cocktail coupe or glass and garnish with two slices of green apple banana. Be careful with this one! if you want a milder daiquiri use another good white or aged rum!
Green Jet Pilot (Twist of Hale Pèles Jet Pilot with a twist of green banana)
Mix everything with crushed ice and dump into an goblet and top with more crushed ice and garnish with a piece of green apple banana on the side of the glass and a speared green banana slice and tropical orchid.
So now i have got to try out two very nice rhum arrangèes made by Cèdric Brement and Benoit Bail, and since i wrote my reviews of Benoit´s exotic Zwazo ananas-vanille rhum arrangè and Cèd`s award winning Banane-Cacao, i feel i want to make more drinks with them and see what`s good – starting with the tropical Zwazo.
Even though the traditional way is mostly to drink these rhums neat since they contain so much flavor of their own, they are also used to make tropical punch style cocktails.
I don`t think they have been used very much in tiki style drinks….or have they? in any case it doesn`t hurt if i try right? i`m curious to see how they mix with other rums.
Don the Beachcomber was a master of creating balance with many exotic ingredients – and he was especially skillful when it came to the art of blending rums and so was the original Mai-Kai mixologist Mariano Licudine. One person today that i come to think about getting close in that direction is Martin Cate. (Smuggler´s Cove)
Starting with Zwazo ananas-vanille i needed to find drinks that had ingredients that would harmonize with the pineapple and agricole flavors of the rhum and then switch out the rums used in those drinks for the Zwazo and some other rums that i figured would go well with it.
So i dived into the Bum`s new book the Potions…of the Caribbean for inspiration…and i sure found a lot.The book is filled with the one mouth watering drink after another (apart from all the interesting things there is to read in it) and the first drink that i decided to experiment with was the Siboney, which is a drink by Trader Vic circa 1950`s.
It`s basically a twist on the daiquiri with pineapple juice added and lemon instead of lime plus passionfruit syrup, mixed with Jamaican dark rum (but only 1 oz) I decided to simply just add 1 oz of Zwazo to give the drink more tropical depth.
The result was absolutely delicious! since the recipe called for dark Jamaican rum i took my Denizen Merchant`s Reserve which is a blend of plummer style pot still Jamaican rum and Rhum Grande Arome de la Martinique.
Now Rhum Grande Arome de la Martinique is not rhum agricole even if the name sounds like it – instead it´s molasses based rum.
The reason why it´s in the blend of the Denizen Merchant`s Reserve is that when they checked in with rum cocktail historians during the development process – they were told that Trader Vic likely blended this type of rum from Martinique with the 17 year Wray and Nephew in his original Mai Tai formula because it was cheapest rum available from Martinique at the time.
Note, that it says “likely” so there´s no proof whether Vic used molasses based Martinique rum or rhum agricole in his blend with Jamaican rum in his Mai Tai`s when the 17 year Wray and Nephew rum was finished.
So here we got a rum that contains pot still Jamaican rum and a molasses based Martinique rhum, and then Zwazo – a rhum arrangè with pineapple and vanilla macerated in a rum base of 3 different rums from Martinique Trinidad and Guyana.
And don`t forget the overproof Polynesian Inspired float…
It`s a lot of rums going on here…but to my joy the drink tasted fantastic, cool and refreshing yet with a strong rum bite. Deep flavor of mature tropical fruits, and then something “earthy”, maybe from the float of the Polynesian Inspired rum…I like the different layers in a tropical cocktail.
Siboney – Swazo Style
1 oz dark Jamaican Rum
1 oz Zwazo
0.5 oz fresh lemon juice
0.5 oz unsweetened pineapple juice
0.5 oz passionfruit syrup
Float of Jamaican style overproof dark rum
Shake well with ice cubes and strain into a chilled cocktail glass rimmed with sugar. (if you like)
Now unfortunately, for the time being, Zwazo is only sold in Europe, locally in Luxembourg and then in Paris at Christian de Montaguère and it´s a small batch seasonal product – so if you cannot find it, my best advice would be to either try to find a pineapple-vanilla rhum arrangè from one of the French islands, such as Martinique (or a pineapple rhum arrangè paired with vanilla syrup) or make your own. (google how to make rhum arrangè, and there´s a great french site with a forum containing tons of recipes here)
Likewise when it comes to the Lost Spirits rums, they are only sold in the US but not Europe or elsewhere…so i would sub them with Smith and Cross mixed with Lemon Hart 151, to get that strong punchy flavor – even though the flavor will not be the same, but since Smith and Cross mixed with LH 151 is a great combo i believe it will still taste fantastic!
Next cocktail to play with was the Island of Martinique Cocktail, which is a Don Beach drink circa 1948. This drink is actually a tikified ti-punch…
It was described in Beachcomber´s 1948 menu as a drink with “Lusty Martinique rums aged in casks for 120 moons. Subtly combined with falernum, wild honey, Angostura bitters and Maui mountain limes”
How does that sound?? mouthwatering to me…
The original recipe which is found in the book Potions of the Caribbean was handed to the Bum by ex-Beachcomber bartender Tony Ramos.
Island of Martinique Cocktail – with a Pineapple Twist
1 oz rhum agricole vieux
1 oz Zwazo
0.5 oz fresh lime juice
0.5 oz falernum
0.25 oz honey-mix (equal parts honey and water, gently heat it up so the honey dissolves in the water, then cool to room temp)
Dash Angostura bitters
A handful (3 oz) crushed ice
Float Lost Spirits Navy Style Rum on top (or Lemon Hart 151)
Blend at high speed in a blender for 5 seconds, then strain into
a hollowed out pineapple and float the Navy style rum on top.
The drink tasted fruity and spicy, the flavor of fully matured tropical fruit from Zwazo came through and this drink was not as fruity and earthy as the first one but more mellow and spicy, with a kick from the float.
Now let`s dive deeper into this amazing book…
On page 164 i found the Voodoo Grog, a concoction created by Trader Vic, circa mid 1950`s. A drink containing equal parts lime, grapefruit and pimento.
First time i made it i was a bit overwhelmed by the pimento/allspice flavor so i took the Pimento dram down from 0.75 oz to 0.5 and it was better for my palate, but if you like a strong allspice flavor the 0.75 will be good.
Also it matters what brand of pimento dram/allspice dram you are using, the best i think are either homemade or St Elisabeth`s or Bitter Truth. For the moment i have St Elisabeth.
1 oz Denizen Merchant`s Reserve Rum
1 oz Swazo
0.75 oz fresh lime juice
0.75 oz grapefruit juice (white)
0.75 oz honey
0.5 oz passion fruit syrup
1 egg white
1 cup (8 oz) Crushed ice
Dissolve honey in lime juice and place this mixture plus the rest of ingredients except for nutmeg in a blender and blend for 20 seconds. Pour unstrained into a large snifter or tiki mug.
Dust with freshly ground nutmeg and garnish with mint and pineapple. (I also wrapped a pandan leaf around the glass)
Last cocktail is the quintessential rhum agricole drink…a ti-punch but with aged rhum agricole and therefore it´s called a punch vieux.
Petit Punch Vieux
1 oz Zwazo
1 oz rhum agricole vieux
0.5 oz sirop de canne
One half of a fresh lime
Cut the lime half in two and squeeze both edges into an old fashioned glass. Drop in the first spent wedge in the glass, then rub the rim of the glass with the other and then discard the second wedge. Add sirop, rums and ice and stir to chill. I also did rim the glass with brown sugar and added a sugarcane stick and roughly cut lime peel as garnish.
Rimming the glass with sugar and adding a lime peel is not traditional punch vieux but this is all about experiments!
Sirop de Canne is a thick, dark syrup made from a slow reduction of fresh sugar cane juice. Exported by brands such as Clèment, Dubois, Depaz, Dillon and La Mauny.
You can make a similar syrup by making a rich syrup (2:1 ratio sugar to water) with dark raw sugar.
Punch Vieux is always a nice treat as is the regular Ti-Punch…
Zwazo definitely mixes well in this style of tropical drinks, it gives a deep pineapple/tropical fruit flavor into the drinks which for tiki drinks fits so well into the flavor profile of a lot of them.
The aim with this particular post is to show that you can do a lot with rhum arrangè that goes beyond the traditional use…
Stumbled upon an article about agave syrup while browsing around in the Dubai Bartender Club. The article is written by Dominik MJ Schachtsiek – bartender and writing a blog called “The Opinionated Alchemist”. I had no idea that it was that bad with agave syrup – and therefore i wanna share his article here.
Truth has to be told, I was always under the impression, that agave syrup is similar healthy as honey. It is natural, so it has to be good, duh…
Turns out, that it isn’t! Agave nectar is not a traditional product, it is not a “pre-stage” of pulque [the quite nasty agave brew, which are nowadays rarely consumed, however was the alcohol of choice for the indigenous civilisations of Latin America, before the conquestadors shared their distilling and beer brewing expertise].
Agave nectar is very similar produced like high fructose corn syrup. It is produced by breaking down the inulin [a complex carbohydrate] of the agave piña into mostly fructose.
Which stuns me is, that it is obviously even worse than HFCS. While latter contents 55% fructose, agave syrup contains 70%.
I had no idea…me too was thinking that it was as good as honey – which btw i just heard that nowadays the honey you buy in usual grocery stores is NOT good for you. It has been modified with chemicals. The only good honey is purchased at natural food stores.
Geez…what CAN we safely eat?
As for syrups…better stick to the old fashioned way…i make my syrups at home, it´s easy, it´s cheap and you know what you get. Unless you buy from someone you know does it right – like BG Reynolds – for example.