The Virgin Island Kula

Like most of the tropicals I make, this drink was brought to my attention by Jeff “Beachbum” Berry, and can be found in his indispensable Potions of the Caribbean. It was created by Ray Buhen, one of the great bartenders of the classic Tiki era. Buhen worked at the original Don the Beachcomber’s when it opened in 1934, and did a stint at virtually every other L.A.-area Tiki bar before opening his own, Hollywood’s venerable Tiki-Ti, in 1961. The Tiki-Ti is still in business, run by Buhen’s son and grandson.

The Recipe:

1 ounce apricot brandy

1 ounce gin

1ounce gold Virgin Islands rum (Cruzan is a good choice here)

1 ounce orange juice

1 ounce lime juice

1/2 ounce simple syrup

1/2 ounce orgeat syrup

1/2 ounce soda water

Shake with ice and pour unstrained into a tall glass or Tiki mug. Garnish with an orange slice and a cherry.

Virgin Island KulaAlthough well-balanced, with no particular flavor dominating and the alcohol subsumed within the juices and syrups so as to have zero burn, it is a bit on the sweet side, even for a Tiki drink. But it’s certainly not too sweet. You really don’t taste much of the alcohol at all, with the exception of a bit of the apricot flavor, and the citrus and the orgeat are noticeably at the fore. Nevertheless, it packs a pretty good kick, as a solid Tiki drink should. If you’ve got the ingredients on hand, it’s definitely worth a try, although by no means is it a standout in the Tiki world. Still, four livers.



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