My two most recent kicks have been tiki drinks and bitter liqueurs, so why not go for something that doesn’t really belong in either of those worlds, but lives next door? Tiki and bitter adjacent. This one combines a heavy dose of Angostura Bitters, which is not really a liqueur, but is definitely bitter and a Piña Colada, which isn’t really a tiki drink, it is a boat drink and those are different things. Weird I know, but that is where we find ourselves. Are these two great tastes that go great together or are we about to waste a ton of Ango? Let’s find out as you join me now while we stand and make the Angostura Colada.
Sometimes people get their chocolate in your peanut butter and it works out; other times folks get their strawberries in your oysters and it doesn’t. Whatever the case may be, you should probably reconsider your food security plans, cause you have got a lot of adulteration going on. Weird combos often work, though. I turned my nose up at pickleback shots after whiskey, till I tried one. That is straight up amazing. Whatever you think about it’s propriety, pineapple works on pizza, especially with jalapeños. Pink Floyd and the Wizard of Oz is an experience that does not eclipse the originals, but is still well worth your time. My wife and I are the weirdest, best working combination of all, if you don’t believe me, listen to the kid for 5 minutes. So a bitters piña colada, why not?
I love Angostura bitters, but they are harsh on their own. If you want a fun bartender handshake sometime, do a shot of Ango. That said, a couple of years ago a bartending buddy turned me on to the Trinidad Sour that uses a full ounce of the stuff along with orgeat and rye, and I loved that. If you want one, go way back into April, it was the first drink featured in this series. This drink goes even further with a full 1.5 ounces of Angostura, so yeah, it’s a thing.
Grab your tins and let’s get to the making. Pop in 1 1/2 ounces of Angostura bitters, it is easier if you pry out the dasher top; 1/2 an ounce of Jamaican Overproof rum, I went with my beloved Smith + Cross for that cool banana funkiness; 2 ounce of pineapple juice, 1 1/2 ounces of coconut cream and 1 ounce of freshly squeezed lime juice. Here is an Uncle Monkey pro-tip for you, measure out that coconut cream first, so each successive pour will help rinse it from your jigger. Add some ice and get to shaking to the beat of “Blue Veins” by the Raconteurs. This is more challenging than it sounds and it may not be a critical step, but it felt right to me. Getting a good shake with proper chill and minimal dilution is gonna rely on using the big, artisanal ice cubes and serious sense of rhythm. Get into it, feel the jazzy vibe, shake on backbeats that aren’t there, feel the silences, the spaces between the notes, chase that shimmering cymbal with your ice-laden maraca. Or just do some sort of pedestrian shake, I mean, it really is all on you. I can’t teach you to be passionate and put your soul into the drink. All I can do is give you the ingredients and some basic instructions, the rest is up to you. Find a suitable vessel, I went with a tulip thing on loan from Fremont Brewing, and pack it with pebble ice, I got mine from Sonic. Strain the drink into the vessel, repack with ice to build a dome and garnish with a pineapple wedge, a couple of fronds, dust it with some grated nutmeg and pop in a paper straw.
This is not quite what I expected, it is more and less. Obviously, the Ango is right up in your face, punching away with all it’s herbal bitter fury, but that sugar from the pineapple and the coconut hold it back, so the blows barely land. I wish I had gone with a less interesting rum here, because the Smith + Cross asserts itself in a way that it shouldn’t, like that one guy at the end of the bar who keeps trying to join your conversation. It’s there, it’s noticeable, but not in a good way, just try to ignore it and maybe it will leave. That said, this drink is good, really good and with another rum I think it would be even better. It has that same oddly refreshing quality as the Trinidad Sour. I knew this one was going to be interesting and it definitely is, I think I still would rather burn my Ango on the Sour, but this is a very good sipper and it changes as that pebble ice begins to dilute it, in a good way. This is one of those drinks that peaks after high school, but then falls off, but for those few golden moments, damn it is good.
There you go, two, well, five great things that go great together. This one is worth adding to the menu, if only for the shock value. Do your math first though, you may be surprised at how much it costs to take up drinking bitters. In this drink it is about double the per ounce cost as the rum. But price be damned we are talking about refreshment here, just bear in mind that your 6 dollar bottle of bitters will only make two of these with enough left over to make one Trinidad Sour, so stock up. I’d love to riff on weird combos and the balance of bitter and sweet in the drink and our lives. I wish I could go on for days on the origin of the drink, but beyond the fact that it was created by Zac Overman at Fort Defiance in Red Hook, I’ve got nothing. I assume he was drinking a Trinidad Sour and thought that this would work as a Piña Colada. He probably yelled, “Eureka!” or “Exclesior!” or “Excommunication!” or something. I don’t know, I wasn’t there, gentle reader and the tale has been lost to time. I mean the bar is still there, operating as a general store with take out cocktails during the pandemic. I guess you could reach out to them and find out, exactly with was said, when he had that moment of clarity, when inspiration struck and he created this lovely riff. You could do that. I can’t be bothered today. Some day I may walk right in and ask him myself, but not this day. On this day, I feel an excursion down a Jack White filled rabbit hole coming on, so I’ll sign off here, turn up the radio and leave the legwork to you post teenage sleuths. Stay safe, stay hydrated and stay sane, my friends.