He tells us how to setup our own tiki bar
Another long day is finally coming to an end. It’s been a good day overall, you’re feeling as if you deserve a reward, perhaps a rum cocktail. Your attention on your day job wanes as you begin running through the multitude of cool rum concoctions that you know. The problem is you’re getting bored of the same old go-to drinks. Today was a good day, you want something fresh, you want a tiki drink that not only tastes great but looks like a real work of art. You feel like making yourself a rum trophy. What you need is a copy of Kahuna Kevin’s book of 40 Tiki-Licious Rum Cocktails.
I first heard about Kevin’s book a few months back. It would have been easy to order the book online (http://www.kahunakevin.com) for $25 plus shipping, and make a few of his drinks. Instead I called him up for an interview, which I’m glad I did because I learned so much more.
Kahuna Kevin used to be a confirmed Vodka lover. Reminds me of our friend Lyndsey from Team Cocktail and our attempt to convert her during our Key West bar crawl. Then one day, with the help of some rummy friends (aren’t they the best type of friends to have?) he was smitten. After his first taste of of quality barrel aged rum he never looked back. Instead he transformed himself into a Kahuna Kevin a rum mixologist extraordinaire.
When I spoke with Kevin the first thing I wanted to know was what bar tools one needed to re-create his drinks. He told me a cheap juicer and a muddler were musts as he always works with fresh ingredients. Good measuring cups are very important. He even encourages that you be able to measure to the quarter ounce. A good shaker is important. Find one that doesn’t leak, he says most do. He also admits he keeps doubles and triples of his equipment because he’s clumsy at the bar and breaks stuff all the time. Good job there Kevin.
As for ingredients. Lemons, limes and oranges are staples. No scurvy here. Admiral Vernon would be proud. He prefers lemon over lime for the acidity. He also keeps plenty of pineapple around. He’s a fan of Depaz Martinique cane syrup and he makes some of his own syrups which you can find at his Facebook page. He warns us to stay away from clear or light yellow cane syrup or honey, as a Depaz substitute, as they will change the flavor of his recipes. He’s also not a big fan of simple syrup as he believes it doesn’t do much for a drink other than sweetness that can be provided using alternate, higher quality ingredients. As for bitters, Kevin turns to Fee Brothers as well as Angostura and Peychaud’s. He also likes Underberg Bitters from Germany and Regans Orange Bitters #6.
How does Kevin actually come up with his drinks? Trial and error, a continuing base of experience, a keen appreciation of rum and over $1,000 worth of great rum poured down the sink he tells me. More importantly, he keeps great notes. Kevin’s recipe’s can be involved. Many of his inspired drinks include 16-18 ingredients. For a amateur mixologist these can be daunting. To be fair there are a selection of more simple drinks, a good way to build up to the grand daddy libations that Kevin’s tiki infused mind has come up with.
The book itself is wonderfully done. It is spiral bound, making it easy to open to a page and lay on your bar. A nice touch. Printed on 100lb paper, the book also will stand up to rigorous use. Kevin’s newest print run includes laminated pages so you can even spill on the book. I’m not sure if the spilling comes during the mixing or after the drinking.
There are a good many tiki drink books available. Choosing one can be as daunting as which tiki god glass to serve your drink in. Though not yet a classic, you won’t go wrong with Kahuna Kevin’s collection of 40 Tiki-Licious Rum Cocktails. I recommend you order a copy, run out and gather the tiki bar basics and start mixing. Who knows, you might be inspired to create your own tiki classic.