Give it a Name

May 10th, 2016

Trump Needs a Visit from Mr. Shhh

Yesterday I wrote about Trader Vic’s, the famous tiki bar and Polynesian restaurant. When I was in college at Columbia University, my friends and I used to go there and get obliterated on sweet drinks with fruit in them.

I do not miss getting obliterated, but for some reason, yesterday I felt like I needed a tiki bar drink. The stress of instantly taking over my dad’s taxes and real estate was getting to me, and the weather here was heating up after a wonderful, relatively cool April, so I felt sorry for myself.

It was hard to decide what to do. I didn’t actually know how to make tiki drinks, or as Jimmy the Saint used to call them, “boat drinks.”

I found some help on the web. It turns out Trader Vic was a real person. His name was Vic Bergeron, and he wrote a few books. Some are useless, because the drink recipes say things like “2 parts Trader Vic’s Prefab Zombie Mixer” instead of the real ingredients. Others have information that can actually be helpful. There is also a forum dedicated to tiki bars, and when you Google, some good information comes up.

My repertoire was not completely empty. A friend of mine came up with a surprisingly good drink which he called a Chupacabra. Very simple.


Flor de Cana light rum
Mountain Dew
Juice of half a lime

That’s about it. You pour it over ice. The proportions are up to you. Flor de Cana is very smooth, unlike the ammonia-like products of Bacardi.

You can dress it up with things like Grenadine or creme de cassis. You can add a splash of coconut rum or Grand Marnier. It’s much better than it sounds.

Yesterday I made something sort of similar, using ginger ale and pineapple juice, along with a small amount of Grand Marnier. It was okay, but not ideal.

I decided to try my hand at a Singapore sling. Today I went out and bankrupted myself buying ingredients. It requires gin, sloe gin, grenadine syrup, Heering cherry liqueur, and creme de cassis. You mix it with lime juice, shake it, and top it off with club soda. I’ll be trying that later.

Vic called his version the Trader Vic’s sling. I think he served it with a rock candy swizzle stick, but that may have been the sloe gin fizz. It’s amazing that I remember any of the drink names, given the condition in which I usually oozed out of the building.

I found the recipe online. Is it authentic? I do not know. But here it is.

Singapore Sling

1 1/2 oz. gin
1/2 oz. cherry brandy
1/2 oz. creme de cassis
1/4 oz. sloe gin
1/2 lime
1/2 oz. lemon juice
1 tbsp. grenadine
club soda to top

Lovingly pour each ingredient except the club soda into your cocktail shaker with some ice. When shaking is over, pour into a collins glass and top off with club soda.

I could not find any high-end brands of sloe gin or creme de cassis around here. I don’t think that matters, because I very much doubt Trader Vic went out of his way to get the best.

I brought home my red ingredients and tried them, and they all tasted pretty much the same. The cherry Heering is fierier than the others, and either the creme de cassis or the sloe gin has a scary aftertaste, but they all taste more or less like a mixture of black cherries and pie cherries. I think you could eliminate two of them without changing the drink at all. I would keep the Heering and grenadine.

Later on I’m going to mix up a sling and see if it’s any good.

I barely drink these days, so if I manage to finish one of these things, it will be remarkable.

It would be neat if they had a Trader Vic’s down here. Once a year I’d like to go and enjoy the tacky decor and the weird appetizers.

I learned something interesting. The bartender my friends and I knew as Buck was actually named Shek Gong. I guess he didn’t actually invent the Buck’s Fizz. Or maybe he did, and it’s really the Shek’s Fizz. I read about him in the article I found which detailed the disgraceful way Donald Trump (the real-life Man With the Plan) ejected Vic from the Plaza’s basement.

walken buckwheats trump trader vics

Maybe tomorrow I’ll get Quickbooks working, and in a couple of weeks I’ll be able to face the day without even thinking about Tiki Puka Pukas and Kama’ainas.

Buckwheats for Trump, though. Definitely buckwheats.


I just completed my experiment, and I concluded a few things.

First of all, it’s a real trip back to the past. The flavor is right on. Wonderful. But there are a few things to fix.

The recipe I quoted says “1 T grenadine.” I assumed “T” meant “teaspoon,” but after I tried the drink, I realized that was wrong.

The purpose of the grenadine is to cover up the dubious flavors of the other ingredients. It smooths them out. Cherry Heering is not exactly Hennessy XO, and Hiram Walker creme de cassis is not that great, either. So I concluded “T” means “tablespoon.” When you increase the amount from one teaspoon to one tablespoon, it tastes like the drink Trader Vic’s used to serve.

Also, you need to stir the soda into the drink, or else you get a drink that’s pure soda on top and cough syrup on the bottom. Stir it gently once or twice. It doesn’t have to be thoroughly mixed. Just make an effort to blend it slightly.

What else? I used lime juice instead of lemon. Lime juice is fragrant and complex, and it brings out the complexity of other ingredients. Lemon juice is kind of dull. I used a fresh lime, not a bottle.

Final thing: I think it would be best to add some fruit to this. I used a lime wedge, because that’s what I had. In the future, I would spear one or two chunks of fresh pineapple with a lime wedge or slice between them, and I would put a cherry on top just for laughs. That would be great. The rock candy swizzle stick I dimly recall from Trader Vic’s would work great, but you would need to work fruit into it somehow.

I may have imagined the rock candy swizzle stick. Fair warning.

It was very nice. I think tomorrow I’ll have another.

3 Responses to “Give it a Name”

  1. Nick Says:

    Yes! I fondly remember the infamous recipes and drink concotions you would post. I still have a copy of the pizza recipes. I’ll be adding these tiki drinks to the same book.

  2. Ruth H Says:

    Bartending – the next frontier.

  3. Mumblix_Grumph Says:

    I saw a werewolf drinking a pina colada at Trader Vic’s, and his hair was PERFECT.