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—late-night bourbon Skype sessions with Lauren notwithstanding—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, a newish bar 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.
Tiki Whiskey Sour
Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 5 minutes
Makes 1 drink
- 2 tablespoons (1 fluid ounce) whiskey
- 2 tablespoons (1 fluid ounce) homemade sour mix
- 2 tablespoons (1 fluid ounce) orange Curacao—not the blue stuff!—or another orange liqueur
- 1/2 cup (4 ounces) passionfruit puree or passionfruit syrup
Pour all ingredients into a large highball or rocks glass, then add coarsely crushed ice to fill and swizzle (that’s stir, in cocktail language, preferably with one of these super-cool corkscrew-necked bar spoons) to blend. Serve immediately.
(Psst! If all you have at home is cubed ice, just fill a quart-size freezer bag with ice, seal, and whack the ice with a meat tenderizer to crack it. Voila—you’ve made artisanal ice!)