How big a punch can Tiki Month take?

Every February, Tiki cocktail bloggers gather for Tiki Month at The Pegu Blog to share cocktail recipes, tips, tricks and musings about the state of tropical mixology. Why February? It has something to do with an escape from Mother Nature’s frigid wrath, but I don’t really grasp that concept having been marooned in Fort Liquordale for more years than I can remember.

Martin Cate (right) supervises Rum Rat Pack members Wayne Curtis (left) and Stephen Remsberg as the punch begins to take shape at The 2011 Hukilau at The Mai-Kai

In go the mixers: Martin Cate (right) supervises Rum Rat Pack members Wayne Curtis (left) and Stephen Remsberg as the punch begins to take shape at The 2011 Hukilau at The Mai-Kai. (Photo by Go11Media.com)

Not a bad place to be marooned, however, especially when The Hukilau rolls into town every year. There’s also a little restaurant called The Mai-Kai. Both serve as a beacon, summoning the greatest minds in the Tiki world to an annual bacchanalia of rum and revelry.

The single event that perhaps reached the pinnacle of rum and revelry was the appearance of Jeff “Beachbum” Berry’s “Rum Rat Pack” at The Mai-Kai during The Hukilau in June 2011, which brings us back to Tiki Month. This year’s blog contributions have been entertaining and informative, covering such esoteric topics as homemade ginger syrup, garnishes made from ground coconut and orange peel, and more drink recipes than you can shake a shaker at. There was also something about geeks who re-create recipes they’ve never actually tasted, if you can imagine that.

Lost in all these intricate tropical concoctions is a common conundrum: How do you handle a thirsty mob who can’t wait for you to carefully fillet an orange or toast coconut? The Rum Rat Pack’s Rumposium demonstrated how to solve that problem with style and flair. In one fell swoop, they whipped up a Tiki punch for 200, featuring 240 ounces of six different rums, a jaw-dropping bowl filled with 630 ounces of deliciousness.

Ian Burrell pours the Smith & Cross while Jeff "Beachbum" Berry keeps an eye on the proceedings during the Rumposium in June 2011

The rum begins to flow: Ian Burrell pours the Smith & Cross while Jeff “Beachbum” Berry keeps an eye on the proceedings during the Rumposium in June 2011. (Photo by Go11Media.com)

I had the pleasure of not only covering that event from the front row (see the full report here), but I was also the poor bastard tasked with purchasing all the ingredients that went into that day’s concoctions. Before I go any further, however, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Berry, author of the definitive books on rum and Tiki drinks, assembled a star-studded crew of Rat Packers: UK Rumfest organizer Ian Burrell, Smuggler’s Cove owner Martin Cate, journalist and author Wayne Curtis, and New Orleans rum historian Stephen Remsberg.

The punch served that afternoon at The Mai-Kai was a Martin Cate creation, most likely similar to the one he wowed Tiki Oasis with a year earlier. A recipe for an individual serving is available on that previous link (and replicated below), but I haven’t seen the ingredients in the full-blown 630-ounce version published anywhere. Not that many of us regularly have a use for such a monster punch, but you never know. So in the interest of quelling a riot the next time you have 200 thirsty tikiphiles simultaneously clamoring for a drink at your bar, The Atomic Grog presents …

Martin Cate conjures up some Tiki magic (actally, it's croutons and lemon extract) before serving the punch

The finishing touch: Martin Cate conjures up some Tiki magic (actally, it’s croutons and lemon extract) before serving the punch. (Photo by Go11Media.com)

MARTIN CATE’S RUM RAT PACK PUNCH
(As served at The Mai-Kai during The Hukilau, June 2011
)

* 120 ounces fresh lemon juice
* 120 ounces strong-brewed Darjeeling tea
* 75 ounces cinnamon syrup (B.G. Reynolds’ brand recommended)
* 75 ounces vanilla syrup (B.G. Reynolds’ brand recommended)
* 240 ounces of rum:
– 3 liter bottles of Chairman’s Reserve (99 ounces)
– 1 liter bottle of La Favorite Rhum Agricole Vieux (33 ounces)
– 2 fifth bottles of Rhum Clément V.S.O.P. (50 ounces)
– 1 fifth bottle of Smith & Cross (25 ounces)
– 1 fifth bottle of Dos Maderas 5+3 (25 ounces)
– Lemon Hart 151 to fill (4 to 8 ounces)

Combine with ice (preferably in block form) in a 5-gallon bowl. Makes 200 3.3-ounce servings.

If memory serves me, this punch tasted incredibly balanced, smooth and flavorful for such an enormous concoction. The thirsty masses were satiated and the Rat Pack’s rum revolution was a rousing success.

Luckily, a single-serving recipe exists for those of us with more modest ambitions.

Martin Cate's Punch by The Atomic Grog

Martin Cate’s Punch by The Atomic Grog. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward, February 2013)

MARTIN CATE’S PUNCH, INDIVIDUAL
(aka Tiki Oasis 10th Anniversary Punch
)

* 1 ounce fresh lemon or lime juice (or combination of both)
* 1 ounce strong-brewed Darjeeling tea
* 1/2 ounce cinnamon syrup (B.G. Reynolds’ brand recommended)
* 1/2 ounce vanilla syrup (B.G. Reynolds’ brand recommended)
* 1/4 ounce demerara simple sugar syrup (1:1 demerara sugar to water, heated and cooled)
* 1 ounce Rhum JM V.S.O.P.
* 1 ounce Zaya Gran Reserva

Mix with ice. Multiply ingredients for larger crowds and serve in a punch bowl over ice.

A drink that truly packs a punch. It’s both sweet and savory in classic Tiki fashion, with multiple layers of sweetness playing off the strong rums perfectly. I bought a bottle of Zaya specifically to make this drink and have not been disappointed in this estate rum bottled in Trinidad (note half-empty bottle). Lacking Rhum JM, I substituted Rhum Clément V.S.O.P. from the batch recipe. If you can’t get your hands on Zaya, you could substitute 23-year-old Ron Zacapa Centenario or Mount Gay Extra Old Barbados Rum (yes, it’s that good).

There you have it, Tiki Month readers. The perfect punch for any size group, from 1 to 200. Let it warm your cockles in the waning days of February.

Related coverage
* More Rumposium photos from Go11Media
* ‘Rum Rat Pack’ starts a revolution at Hukilau 2011
* The Hukilau crowns a Rum Barrel Master Mixologist

About Hurricane Hayward

A professional journalist and Florida resident for more than 30 years, Jim "Hurricane" Hayward shares his obsession with Polynesian Pop and other retro styles on his blog, The Atomic Grog. Jim's roots in mid-century and reto culture go back to his childhood in the 1960s, when he tagged along with his parents to Tiki restaurants and his father's custom car shows. His experience in journalism, mixology, and more than 20 years as an independent concert promoter make him a jack-of-all-trades in the South Florida scene. A graduate of the University of Florida's College of Journalism and Communications, Jim is a longtime web producer for The Palm Beach Post. In his spare time, he has promoted hundreds of rock, punk, and indie concerts under the Slammie Productions name since the early 1990s. In 2011, he launched The Atomic Grog to extensively cover events, music, art, cocktails, and culture with a retro slant. Jim earned his nickname by virtue of both his dangerous exotic drinks and his longtime position producing The Post's tropical weather website.
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