Sloppy Joe’s Special

This is an odd little tropical that, while it doesn’t technically predate Tiki (if you date the start of Tiki to Don the Beachcomber’s 1934 opening), really owes nothing to that movement. It is instead one of many Caribbean concoctions that came out of a tradition of cocktail-making that served as the template of Tiki. Although looking at the ingredients, you wouldn’t think so – you might think, in fact, that it was from Tiki’s heyday, when bartenders were trying just about any combination of ingredients dressed up in tropical regalia.

It dates from 1935, and was a free welcome drink at Sloppy Joe’s in Havana, a bar run by a Spaniard named Jose Abeal y Otero. So says Jeff Berry in Potions of the Caribbean, and I am fully prepared to take his word on the matter. There’s no rum here, not even any gin or whiskey. Otherwise, it follows the Tiki template pretty closely. Let’s take a look.

The Recipe:

1 ounce cognac

1 ounce port wine

2 ounces unsweetened pineapple juice

1/8 tsp curacao

1/8 tsp. grenadine

Shake with ice and pour unstrained into a tall glass.

Sloppy Joe's Special

I had no idea, really, what to expect here, but the pineapple juice, curaçao, and grenadine put this within a fairly familiar flavor family. BOOM! Alliteration! It’s the port and cognac that are the oddballs here, but not so odd as to ruin the drink. Far from it; in fact, they lend an exoticness that would be missing were this simply another rum concoction. Very drinkable, and quite tasty, with what tasted to me like some of the overtones of a really good beer hidden in there. Four livers.


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