Virtual Happy Hour is a thing. You should try it. We have always said that the best drinks are often the ones you make at home, but you do miss out on companionship unless you are hosting a party—not a responsible thing to do these days. You also have to do all the work, but for a good cocktail it can be worth it.
Whether you are drinking alone, with a family member, or sharing the experience with others online in these strange times, we recommend adding a little Polynesian flair to your repertoire. Mixing up a good tiki cocktail may take some extra work, but it does make a great interactive video chat.
Today, we decided to mix up a cocktail for two. The Scorpion Bowl can be reduced to a single proportion, but it is often served in a shared format using a purpose-built ceramic vessel—in our case this vintage piece from Orchids of Hawaii. Yet, even without a fancy tiki bowl, this drink can work for anyone. Either you have someone else sharing your isolation or you don’t. If you’re alone, go ahead and make this anyway and call it a double. It’s not like you are going anywhere, right? If you have a companion, grab a soup bowl and two straws.
2 oz gold Puerto Rican rum
2 oz London dry gin
1 oz brandy
2 oz orange juice
1 oz lime juice
1 oz simple syrup
.75 oz oz orgeat syrup
8 oz (1 cup) crushed ice
Pulse in a blender for 5 seconds, then pour untrained into a Tiki bowl and add additional ice cubes to fill. Garnish with a gardenia, because everyone has them around their kitchen.
There are several historical mid-century Scorpion recipes and a handful of modern takes on this theme. Many Polynesian restaurants of the 1950’s made a version of this drink. Ours follows a 1958 rendition from the Luau restaurant in Beverly Hills, California, according to Jeff “Beachbum” Berry who describes this one is a riff on Trader Vic’s original. Most of the alternative versions call for lemon, not lime, but they all feature the brandy-rum base with orange juice and orgeat. This one is also unique in that it calls for gin.
You might wonder how the gin works in a triple-base recipe. Very nicely, we must say. Spirit brands will always have an effect on the outcome, but there are enough elements here to allow almost any gin to work its magic bringing out the other flavors, whether it is the floral and almond aspects of the orgeat, or the fruit character of the citrus. The balance is just right, giving you a tour of aromatics, orange and a bit of lime tartness to balance the sweet without distracting you from the flavors of the base spirits. The brandy and rum combo is common to all Scorpions, and you can either think of the brandy as adding depth and luxury to the rum, or the rum adding a sugary molasses notes to the brandy. Either way, more is more.
As for the garnish, we don’t know anyone who has gardenia flowers at the ready for homemade tiki drinks, so we faked it by floating an inverted lime shell and a slice of orange. It looks nothing like a gardenia, and we could have been more elaborate, but this improvisation felt perfectly acceptable given the circumstances. We would not have used an actual flower on a normal day anyway, so an alternative was inevitable. Using the fruit you already cut for the drink itself is convenient and appropriate, but if you do this be sure to set a thin slice aside before you squeeze the rest. It also adds a punch of color contrast against the lighter drink backdrop which shows up nicely on an internet chat!