How to Make the Scorpion, or a tiki cocktail with a helluva sting

How to Make the Scorpion Tiki CocktailOkay, I get it.  Normally strong cocktails have a bite, not a sting.  But this one is called the scorpion, so did you really expect me to pass that up?  The scorpion is a veteran heavyweight of the tiki world (with almost two standard drinks of alcohol!) and its history is legendary.  But before we get to the complicated discussion of origin stories, let’s learn how to make a simple version of the cocktail.

The Scorpion
  • 0.75 ounces Dark Rum
  • 0.75 ounces Light Rum
  • 0.75 ounces Brandy
  • 0.25 ounces Orange Liqueur (such as Triple Sec)
  • 1.5 ounces of orange juice
  • 0.5 ounces of lime juice
  • garnish with a citrus wedge

Start by adding ice to your shaker and squeezing in the juice of the lime and orange.  The fresh citrus really make this cocktail pop but if you don’t have any fresh citrus ready, bottled lime and orange juice will do the trick.  Once the citrus juices have been added, continue to add in the spirits.  Then shake shake shake.  Once you have the cocktail all mixed up, pour it into a highball glass filled with ice.  Garnish with a citrus wedge and it is as simple as that. You’ve got yourself a wonderful scorpion.

Now for the history.  There are more “authentic” versions of the scorpion than any other tiki cocktail – a feat that is impressive as many tiki cocktails have at least half a dozen variants.  What is known of the scorpion’s origins is that it was first created in the 1930s in Honolulu, Hawaii at a bar called The Hut.  An unknown bartender mixed rums, citrus juice, orgeat syrup and brandy over ice and after garnishing with an orange, presented it as the “Scorpion” to his almost certainly inebriated guests.  From there, tiki legend Victor “Trader Vic” Bergeron picked up the drink, dubbed it the “Scorpion Bowl” and elevated to the status of a great tiki cocktail along with the likes of the Mai Tai and Fog Cutter.  Trader Vic himself published three different variants of the Scorpion Bowl, which was served to groups of eager drinkers in an ornate vessel with legs that looked like topless Tahitian women and a gardenia floating serenely on top.  The drink was then shared through the use of several straws.

The scorpion quickly grew popular and as it spread many bartenders put their own spin on the cocktail.  The variant in this post is the simplest and cheapest to make and although it lacks the orgeat syrup than many would say is required to make this cocktail “authentic” serves quite well to get the right flavor profile.  We will dabble in other variants of the scorpion later, once we have explored some of the other great tiki cocktails.  Until next time on Tiki Monday, sit back, relax, and enjoy the power of the scorpion and remember that the week is just getting started.

Total cost per drink? ~$1.12

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Posted in Brandy, Cheap Cocktails, Rum, Tiki Mondays

How to Make Ice Cream Shooters, or getting into the National Ice Cream Day spirit!

Bourbon Ice Cream ShooterHappy National Ice Cream Day!  National Ice Cream Day has been the third Sunday in July (National Ice Cream Month) since it was proposed in Joint Resolution 298, which was sponsored by Senator Walter Dee Huddleston of Kentucky on May 17, 1984.  It was signed into existence by President Reagan, in perhaps the least controversial decision he ever made.  Conservative or liberal, everyone loves ice cream!  To celebrate this day and honor the state of Kentucky which Senator Huddleston represented, here is a simple recipe to turn your favorite ice cream into a shooter, with a little help from our good friend bourbon.

Bourbon & Ice Cream Shooters
  • 1 ounce Bourbon
  • 2 ounces of your ice cream of choice
  • garnish with chocolate chips or sprinkles
  • Tools: a whisk & a generous portion of elbow grease

Place both the bourbon and ice cream in a bowl.  Now it is time to whisk them together.  To make this process a bit easier, you may want to mash the ice cream with a fork or even cut it into smaller pieces with a knife before whisking.  Once fully combined, you will have a very thick milky syrup.  Pour this into a shot glass and stick it back into the freezer to cool and solidify.  Due to the high alcohol content (~20%) the mixture will not completely freeze but rather reach a consistency somewhere between a milkshake and a slushie – this should take about one hour.  Once thick enough, remove the shooter from the freezer, garnish with chocolate chips or sprinkles and enjoy!

I recommend using either vanilla or dark chocolate ice cream, but feel free to be as creative as you want.  Vanilla brings out the vanilla notes already present from aging the bourbon in oak barrels, whereas the dark chocolate with its deep rich flavor will balance out some of the bourbon’s sweetness.  If you have caramel ice cream, that could also lead to a great combo if you use a bourbon with a high wheat mashbill such Makers Mark (the most famous), Weller (the best quality), or Rebel Yell (the cheapest).  Wheaters are known for their caramel forward taste and overall smoother “soft” flavors.  For a nice summery twist, try peach or mint ice cream.

Flaming Ice Cream ShooterNot a bourbon fan?  Well lucky you, your liquor cabinet is the limit when making this simple shooter.  Other great spirits to try would be spiced rums, brandy, flavored vodkas, fruity liqueurs, or even a nice strong scotch.  Want to increase the shock and awe factor?  Make it fire and ice cream by floating a little everclear or 151 on top, then light with a match! Have fun experimenting and feel free to comment with your favorite flavors!

If you want to get a bit fancier and take this shooter to the next level, check out this great recipe by Cheeky Kitchen – ice cream cone shot glasses?!  what’s not to love?


Total cost per drink?  ~$0.44

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Posted in Bourbon, Brandy, Dollar Drinks, Liqueur, Port, Rum, Scotch, Spirits, Tequila, Vodka

How to Make the Frozen Mudslide, or getting tipsy off a milkshake!

The Frozen MudslideIt has been a long week and now that the weekend is here with all the heat of summer, you deserve a cool refreshing treat.  While many cocktails may fit the bill for cool and refreshing, few reach the decadence of of a frozen mudslide.  It is basically an alcohol based milkshake!  And the best part is they aren’t hard to make at home, here’s how you do it.

The Frozen Mudslide
  • 1 oz Vodka
  • 1 oz Kahlua
  • 1 oz Irish Cream
  • 1 oz milk or cream or even ice cream (optional)
  • 1 cup Ice
  • garnish with chocolate syrup or even whipped cream

Like most frozen cocktails, the frozen mudslide requires the use of a blender.  Pour all ingredients into the blender and blend on high for about 30 seconds.  Some recipes for the frozen mudslide call for milk/cream, others don’t.  I personally like stronger drinks, so I usually leave it out, but if you want a smoother even more milkshake like cocktail, go ahead and add the dairy.  Once fully mixed, pour the contents of the blender into a hurricane glass or other tall glass such as a pilsner glass. Or if you want to look a bit classier as you drink your alcoholic milkshake, pour into a martini glass.  Garnish with chocolate syrup (you can either pour a bit around the glass before you add the cocktail or just pour some one top once it is in the glass).  You can also top the frozen mudslide off with some whipped cream if you want to take this cocktail to the next level.  No judgments, it’s the weekend – enjoy yourself!  Now get out your blender and start mixing!

Want a visual tutorial on how to make a variant of the frozen mudslide?  You are in luck!  Here is a great simple video on how to make the frozen mudslide:

Total cost per drink? ~$$1.23


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Posted in Cheap Cocktails, Liqueur, Vodka

How to Make the Painkiller, or tiki’s answer to the hangover.

How to Make the PainkillerHave you ever woken up after a night of drinking and felt like you never wanted to have another cocktail again?  Well this drink is one to quickly get you back on the horse.  Hailing from the land of tiki-dom, the Painkiller is a sweet and creamy concoction of fruit juice and potent rum, garnished with a pungent kick of nutmeg.  Perfect at any time of day, the Painkiller is a cocktail you need to add to your repertoire.

The Painkiller
  • 2 oz Navy or Dark Rum.
  • 4 oz Pineapple juice
  • 1 oz Orange juice
  • 1 oz Cream of coconut
  • Orange wedge or cherry, and nutmeg for garnish

This is one of those drinks that you get to build in the glass and as such, the type of glass you use really matters.  Like many tiki cocktails, the Painkiller is usually served in a hurricane glass.  If you don’t happen to have a hurricane glass handy or want to switch things up a bit, a snifter is also a great option.  Load the glass up with ice, and then carefully add all the ingredients.  If you want a stronger drink, only use 2 oz of pineapple juice as the cocktail is made both ways.  Once all the ingredients have been added, stir until the cocktail is chilled and mixed.  Then garnish with an orange wedge or a cherry, and some nutmeg.  Optimally the nutmeg should be freshly grated, but if you don’t have any, a dash or two of ground nutmeg easily takes its place.

Navy rum is quite popular in tiki cocktails, but it unfortunately no longer is available for as cheap as it was in the 1700s.  This type of rum was developed when the British Royal Navy patrolled the Caribbean Islands and each sailor was allowed a daily ration of rum.  As the ships sailed between islands, they picked up the different local rums and blended them into the rum on board the ship – hence the origin of navy rum.  Today the most popular navy rum in the US is Prussers, but at $20 per fifth, this isn’t going to be an everyday option.  Luckily you can sub in a dark rum if you don’t have any navy rum and although you might lose a bit of complexity from the palate, the Painkiller is still a great cocktail that is infinitely drinkable no matter what type of day you are having.

Total cost per drink? ~$1.34

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Posted in Cheap Cocktails, Rum, Tiki Mondays

The Art of the Tiki Cocktail, or the best tropical drink for warm weather!

Tiki Cocktails

The tiki cocktail became popular in the 30s and reached its peak in the 40s and 50s thanks to the efforts Ernest Raymond Beaumont Gannt who you might know as Donn Beach.  Gannt founded his famous bar Don the Beachcomber on Hollywood Boulevard in LA during the depression in the early 30s.  The bar had a bright, south pacific vibe and the entire atmosphere was focused on relaxing and sitting back with a great tasting cocktail.  As Gannt so eloquently put it, “If you can’t get to paradise, I’ll bring it to you.”  At the time rum was the least expensive spirit and the extravagant fruity tiki cocktails which Gnatt created showcased the spirit in a new light.  Rum became fun, sweet, and delicious.  These tiki cocktails were something that everyone needed to have!

So what is a tiki cocktail?

To understand what makes a tiki cocktail so special, it is easiest to break it down into five key elements.

  1. Rum.  Almost all tiki cocktails use rum as the base spirit, and many combine different styles of rum together to create a whole new taste.  The basic styles of rum are white, dark, spiced, navy, and overproof and when you also consider the differences between distilleries and the regions in which rum is produced, there are almost no end to the combinations that can be achieved.
  2. Fruit.  As one would expect from any tropical drink, fruit is crucial to taste and appearance of tiki cocktails.  While some tiki cocktails feature only a single fruit, many combine them to make the flavors even more complex and interesting.  Common fruits used in tiki cocktails are pineapple, guava, passion fruit, orange, lime, lemon, and coconut.  Fruits are used in juice form to add flavor to the cocktail as well as sliced or whole as garnishes to make the drink appear that much more tropical.  Since fruits play a crucial role in lending flavor to the drink, they can also cover-up some of the strong taste of the alcohols used in the drink, making them excellent sippers.
  3. Spice.  Though not present in every tiki cocktail, most will add a touch of spice to the mix.  Spices like nutmeg, vanilla, and allspice are all common in tiki cocktails and help elevate the flavor to another level.  Spice can also be present in the form of spiced rums which are also often featured in tiki cocktails.
  4. Layers of Flavor.  This may seem obvious from the first three key elements, but tiki cocktails are never short on flavor.  Or ingredients.  Tiki cocktails will often include four or more ingredients which combine to create a wave effect, washing your mouth in layer after layer of flavor as you sip the cocktail.  This depth makes tiki cocktails an amazing experience and will lead you to keep trying new cocktails and combinations to see what other flavors you can uncover.
  5. Variation.  Much like the martini family of drinks, at the heart of the tiki cocktails is variation.  Tiki cocktails are a great example of trial and error, and just cause a drink has the same name doesn’t mean it actually contains the the same ingredients.  For any given tiki cocktail there are bound to be half a dozen or more recipes that each lend a slightly different flavor to the name.  Instead of getting worried that you aren’t making the right one, or that some of them are wrong, just remember the whole tiki vibe.  Make the cocktail, sit back, and relax.  The other variations can wait.  Sip on the cocktail and enjoy the waves of flavor that wash over you.

More tiki cocktails will be coming soon and will be linked here as they are written.  Look forward to new classics of tiki-dom every week on Monday!


How to Make the PainkillerThe Painkiller

A refreshing and restorative blend of navy rum, cream of coconut and the juices of pineapple and orange garnished with a punch of nutmeg.  Perfect for any time, any weather, any where.

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Posted in Cheap Cocktails, Culture, Dollar Drinks, Rum, Tiki Monday

How to Make the Belmont Jewel, or the official cocktail to celebrate the Belmont Stakes

How to Make the Belmont JewelFinding the right cocktail to pair with an event can be a difficult task, especially when it has as much potential significance to a community as the Belmont Stakes with possibility every year to crown a triple crown winner.  Luckily for us, some events have the good sense to have great bartenders come up with official cocktails, and the Belmont Stakes is such an event.  So without further ado, let’s learn how to make the Belmont Jewel!

The Belmont Jewel
  • 1.5 ounces Bourbon
  • 2 ounces lemonade
  • 1 ounce pomegranate juice (unsweetened)
  • (optional) garnish with lemon

Making this cocktail couldn’t be simpler.  Add all ingredients with a generous portion of ice to a shaker and shake until chilled and mixed.  Then strain the cocktail into a highball glass over ice and garnish with a lemon wheel or wedge.  If you don’t have any lemonade handy, I find it best to make your own.  All you need is some sugar, lemons, water, and a little patience.  Combine the ingredients in a mason jar, shake, and you have your own homemade lemonade.  A sweet lemonade works quite well in this case and joins with the bourbon to balance the sour of the pomegranate juice.  The best part of the Belmont Jewel is it is hardly only a cocktail that can be consumed during the Belmont Stakes, but anytime throughout the summer.  It is also a great cocktail to make in large batches, so make pitcher, and sit back with some friends and enjoy the warm weather!

Total cost per drink? ~$1.34

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Posted in Bourbon, Cheap Cocktails

How to Make the Ward Eight, or two versions of a perfect summer afternoon cocktail.

How to Make the Ward Eight CocktailThis cocktail is rumored to have been created in 1898 to celebrate  the imminent election of Martin M. Lomasney, “the czar of ward eight”, to the General Court of Massachusetts.  Mr. Lomasney’s friends were so confident of the his victory that they asked Tim Hussion, bartender of the Locke-Ober Café in Boston to concoct a cocktail to honor their friend and his strongest supporters: the 8th Ward.  There is also a bit of humor behind this cocktail as not only were they celebrating Mr. Lomasney’s victory the night before the election was actually held, but Mr. Lomasney himself was a staunch prohibitionist.  After tasting this cocktail for the first time, I don’t know how it could make anyone anything but a strong supporter of spirits.

The Ward Eight (Modern Version)
  • 2 oz Rye Whiskey
  • 0.5 oz orange juice
  • 0.5 oz lemon juice
  • 0.5 oz grenadine*

Pour all ingredients over ice in a shaker.  Shake until the cocktail has chilled, and strain into a coupe glass.  Serve chilled and enjoy.  This modern take on the Ward Eight follows a 4:1:1:1 ratio of rye to the rest of the ingredients.  It offers a beautifully balanced cocktail which is perfect for summer afternoons, with a great burst of citrus, some tangy notes from the rye and lemon, and sweetness from the orange and grenadine.  The cocktail also has a beautiful orange-pink hue that is somewhat reminiscent of grapefruit juice.  The historical version of this drink is more of a twist on a whiskey sour than the modern version and is composed as follows:

The Ward Eight (Historical Version)
  • 2 oz Rye Whiskey
  • 1 oz orange juice
  • 1 oz lemon juice
  • 1 barspoon of grenadine*

Pour all ingredients over ice in a shaker, shake, pour and serve.  This recipe follows a 2:1:1 ratio of rye to juices and is finished with a barspoon of grenadine.  While the additional orange juice does add a touch of sweetness that would otherwise have been lacking due to less grenadine, this cocktail definitely tastes more like an interesting twist on a whiskey sour than it’s own unique drink.  The color of this cocktail is also much lighter, more yellow in hue when compared with the brighter orange-pink notes of the modern version. Both versions of the Ward Eight deserve a taste, but I personally favor the modern adaptation to the more historically accurate recipe.

*A Note on Grenadine:  I highly recommend that you make your own grenadine for this cocktail (and all cocktails for that matter) as the flavor is key to the ultimate profile of the drink.  Red dye, artificial flavoring and corn syrup just won’t cut it in this case.  A simple homemade grenadine can be made by mixing one part unsweetened pomegranete juice with one part cane sugar, and shaking in a mason jar until combined.  Your cocktails will thank you.

Total cost per drink? ~$1.16

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Posted in Cheap Cocktails, Rye

How to Make the Between the Sheets Cocktail, or a kinky name for a simply wonderful drink.

How to Make the Between the Sheets CocktailWith a name like “Between the Sheets” one might think that this cheeky cocktail is a recent creation…but you would be wrong. While the exact origin of the cocktail is uncertain, it was either created in the 1920s in London by Mr. Polly (Manager of the Berkeley Hotel) or in the 1930s in Paris by Harry MacElhone of Harry’s New York Bar . Though most sources credit MacElhone with the BTS’s creation, the first published source is by Harry Craddock in the Savoy Cocktail Book in 1930. No matter what the actual origin, this delicious cocktail is well worth at least one taste…and once you’ve had it once, you are bound to go back time and time again.

Between the Sheets Cocktail
  • 0.75 oz Brandy
  • 0.75 oz White Rum
  • 0.75 oz Orange Liqueur
  • 2 barspoons lemon juice
  • garnish with a lemon twist

Add all ingredients with a  generous portion of ice to a shaker.  Shake until the cocktail has been thoroughly mixed and chilled, then strain the mixture into a martini or coupe glass.  Garnish with a lemon twist and the BTS is ready to serve and enjoy.  Despite having a bar well stocked with a multitude of brands and qualities of alcohol, I have a surprisingly minimal selection of brandies and cognacs.  I have found it difficult to find an inexpensive brandy that is palatable, but I have settled at the moment on Paul Masson VSOP Brandy (which costs roughly $13/fifth).  As for the white rum, I highly recommend Castillo Silver as an excellent choice that will outperform Bacardi by a mile.  The orange liqueur is a matter of taste and price point – triple sec will work fine – but for a bit of an interesting twist I like to use Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur (available for about $18/fifth).

Total cost per drink? ~$1.26

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Posted in Brandy, Cheap Cocktails, Liqueur, Rum

How to Make Cowboy Coffee, or the perfect boost to survive hump day.

How to Make the Cowboy Coffee CocktailIt’s hump day, the middle of the week is here, and none of us really feel like getting up in the morning.  We are all familiar with brunch cocktails and whether you are a fan of mimosas, bellinis or bloody marys,  they don’t do that much to help you wake up on your average morning.  There is however a beautifully simple cocktail that’ll balances great flavor with an extra burst of energy to get you up and ready to work and that is the Cowboy Coffee Cocktail!

Cowboy Coffee Cocktail
  • 2.5 oz Bourbon
  • 0.5 oz Demerara Simple Syrup
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 2 dark roast coffee beans
  • garnish with a flamed lemon peel and coffee bean

Begin by muddling the 2 dark roast coffee beans in the bottom of a shaker.  Once the beans have been crushed, add the bourbon, bitters, and syrup and top with ice.  Shake until chilled and then strain into a coupe glass or champagne flute.  Garnish with a flamed lemon peel and single coffee (whole) coffee bean.  I’s a simple cocktail with a great flavor and kick, and even better there are a lot of choices that allow you to customize it further.

The first choice is all about the sweetness.  Demerara simple syrup is exactly what you would expect – 1 part demerara sugar and 1 part water.  Demerara sugar, also called turbinado sugar,  is a less refined form of sugar and thus has a higher mineral content and slightly more nutritional value.  It’s a great choice for cocktails, becuase not only is the premium sugar on the market, but it is used in such small quantities that it won’t adversely affect overall cost of the drink.

The next two choices you will need to make are about presentation, but will also affect the overall flavor.  When choosing between the glasses, I usually go with the coupe glass for Cowboy Coffee.  I tend to enjoy higher proof bourbons, and the glasses design allows a bit more room for the cocktail to breathe, enhancing the experience.  Another issue that you will discover is that assuming you did a good job at muddling the coffee beans, your shaker’s strainer will not be fine enough to catch all the particles.  I personally like this drink a little bit rough around the edges and from drinking Arab and Turkish coffee have grown accustomed to consuming pieces of coffee beans, but that experience is not for everyone.  You may want to get a finer strainer to filter out these little chunks of coffee beans.

The last big choice is that of bourbon.  Bourbon is the backbone of this cocktail, but it’s simple nature leads to a lot of flexibility in the bourbon you choose.  I’ve made this cocktail, with cheap bourbons like Old Crow, industry standards like Evan Williams, Buffalo Trace and Jim Beam, and premium bourbons such as Blanton’s and Angel’s Envy.  Everytime the cocktail was delicious, and everytime it tasted like a new drink.  Use your favorite bourbon or the bourbon that suits your mood, you can’t go wrong with the Cowboy Coffee Cocktail!

Total cost per drink? ~$1.23

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Posted in Bourbon, Celebration Drinks, Cheap Cocktails, Dollar Drinks
Nick McAfee
Nick McAfee is a student of Princeton University and is passionate about mixology. As a student with a low monthly income, he has developed ways to create simple cocktails with complex flavors from inexpensive ingredients. Learn more about Nick and Broke & Thirsty.
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