While it helps to have sand between your toes and sun on your shoulders (protected by SPF 50, duh!), tropical weather is not a prerequisite for sipping tropical drinks.
Tiki season is year-round; you’ll find me enjoying coconut cocktails in December and July, no shame and no questions asked.
That’s not to say it has to be the same tiki drink in your hand every single time, though. Isn’t it more fun to (literally) mix it up and match your drink’s mood to the outside vibe?
My whiskey drinking habits take a back seat in the summer months. But when temperatures drop below 70 degrees, a splash of that fiery warmth in my glass starts to sound way more appealing once again.
The Hotel Albatross in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood lured me in with its maritime mood.
Truthfully, the entire city has an alluringly maritime feel, though more of a woodsy one, what Jack Kerouac calls “the Seattle of ships—ramps—docks—totem poles—old locomotives switching on the waterfront—steam, smoke—” in Desolation Angels.
And appropriate for a Merchant Marine traveler, perhaps, among the rum-heavy concoctions on the Albatross’ “exotic libations” menu shone the Port Light, saucily described thus: “Whiskey gets the exotic massage it always wanted as passionfruit and secret elixirs get inappropriately close to its bikini line.”
You might scoff at the predilection for listing ingredients on cocktail menus, but when you’re married to a dude with a tree nut allergy, it’s not pretentious—it’s helpful to know if your tiki drink contains orgeat or falernum, two liqueurs made with almond extract.
The Port Light, we confirmed, did not, and even better, it was more or less a whiskey sour wearing a lei.
The Port Light gave us the right kind of vibe even though it was warm enough to be wearing my favorite boisterously floral-printed shorts in Seattle, and the idea of a tropical whiskey sour is feeling even more appropriate now that we’re sniffing that first hint of autumn in the air.
I never did ask what the “secret elixirs” were, so let’s make up our own secret: shhhh, don’t tell anyone how easy it is to make this tiki drink!
Pick your favorite whiskey for this cocktail—though I’m always inclined to reach for bourbon first, it doesn’t have to be too fancy, since you’ll be blending it with some other powerful flavors. Maker’s Mark is what I’m doing in this case.
And if you’re not nut-averse and you want to add a splash of orgeat to the drink, you’re more than welcome to do so. Just don’t use passionfruit juice in place of the puree or syrup; the flavor won’t come through as strongly.
- 2 cups passionfruit puree or passionfruit syrup
- 1/2 batch (1/2 cup) homemade sour mix
- 1/2 cup whiskey
- 1/2 cup dry Curacao—the orange stuff, not the blue stuff!
- Pour all ingredients into a pitcher and stir to blend.
- Fill 4 large (12-ounce) highball glasses or Collins glasses with cubed or coarsely crushed ice.
- Divide the drink between the glasses and serve.