Rum Barrels and Rumination

February 5th, 2008 by Colonel Tiki

I have a particular personal philosophy concerning functional art. In this specific case, the collecting of Tiki Mugs. I deeply feel that when functional art ceases being used, it ceases having relevance. It becomes less powerful; it becomes a memory. The idea of keeping a mug (no matter how ‘priceless’) that was made to be drunk from behind glass and unused is anathema to me. To me It’s perverting the item for one’s own personal fears (of it breaking, of it losing value) in favor of its spirit.

This is not a judgement against others who may differ: It’s your mug, do with it what you will. It’s my philosophy and there is no concrete aesthetic. My mugs, however, will be used. If it becomes damaged? If it breaks? Good. The Mug is already broken. All things are impermanent and eventually end: Such is the beauty of existence. I would rather celebrate these tokens full of the drinks they were made to hold than look at it with worry on the shelf, supposedly out of harm’s way.

I bring this up because when I make Rum Barrels, I use our two Rum Barrel mugs. One of which happens to be the Aku Aku Rum Barrel. It was made by Otagiri for the Aku Aku at the Stardust in Las Vegas. Heather found it at the Goodwill for 85¢. Ooga-Mooga has the value at $90. Ebay’s average is around $125. Do I care? Not a whit. I use it because it is a rum barrel, meant to hold the liquid art of the Rum Barrel cocktail.

Rum Barrel Ingredients
Don’s Rum Barrel

1 oz fresh squeezed lime juice
1 oz fresh squeezed grapefruit juice
1 oz fresh squeezed orange juice
1 oz unsweetened pineapple juice
1 oz honey mix
1 oz Puerto Rican light Rum
1 oz Jamaican gold Rum
2 oz Demerara Rum
tsp falernum
tsp pimento dram
6 drops Pernod
6 drops grenadine
dash Angostura bitters
6 oz Ice

That’s the version in Sippin’ Safari. It’s a great recipe. However, to my taste, it turns out a bit subtle. So here’s my personal variation on the recipe. I’ve replaced the Pernod with Herbsaint, as I feel it more closely better supports the other flavors with a woody, earthy tone (I’ll use Absinthe when next I have some on hand). Pernod is too “pointy” and singular for my tastes in these recipes. I increase the falernum & pimento dram from 1/6 oz to 1/4 oz to better balance their role in the flavor. I use Fee’s brother’s old fashioned bitters for a hint of more spice. I don’t have any decent Puerto Rican rums, so I substitute Cruzan (a Virgin Islands rum).

Rum Barrel Still life

The Monkey Hut Rum Barrel (based on Donn Beach’s recipe)

1 oz fresh squeezed lime juice
1 oz fresh squeezed grapefruit juice
1 oz fresh squeezed orange juice
1 oz unsweetened pineapple juice
1 oz honey mix
1 oz Cruzan light Rum
1 oz Appleton Special gold Rum
2 oz Lemon Hart Demerara Rum
¼ oz house falernum
¼ oz house pimento dram
6 drops Herbsaint
6 drops grenadine
dash Fee Brothers Old Fashioned bitters
6 oz Crushed Ice

You can also see my other Rum Barrel, the Mai-Kai reproduction from Tiki Farm. I picked that one up at the Mai-Kai gift shop during Hukilau 2006. They sit next to each other in the Monkey Hut. They come down when it’s time to drink from them.

Here are some more shots of this gorgeous functioning art in action:
Rum Barrel Still Life
Aku Aku Rum Barrel
Aku Aku Rum Barrel



6 Responses to “Rum Barrels and Rumination”

  1. Heather says:

    That barrel might be my greatest thrift score ever – I found it in the bathroom (?!) section lost amongst plastic soap trays and soap dispensers. It was without a price tag, so the sales lady made up a price. I like to think of it as a reward for rescuing it from its ignominious fate.

    I probably shouldn’t gloat about the Munktiki mugs I’ve picked up at that same thrift store for under $1, right?

    Also, that drink was delicious.

  2. Brian says:

    re: Absinthe

    I *may* have somehow come into possession of an authentic first-run bottle of St. George’s Absinthe… it is quite tasty. 🙂

    re: Bar

    Our new bar is coming along – the back bar is (mostly) built out – ten feet long in our basement!

  3. Dr. Bamboo says:

    Beautiful photos! Also, after I read the line “the mug is already broken”, an imaginary gong sounded in my head.

    I’m envious of your mugs for sure…vintage tiki objects are almost impossible to find “in the wild” around here. The local thrift stores seem to be more oriented toward 8-track tapes and used baseball caps 🙁

  4. Craig Hermann says:

    Brian: I’d love to try some of that. However, some mean old Title & house loan place just took all my money and only gave me a new house in exchange so I’m Portland-grounded for a few months. 😉

    Dr. Bamboo: Portland (and the NW) is a dream for thrift-store finds. It also helps having Heather doing your searching. She seems to have a preternatural Goodwill karma.

  5. […] decide, I wandered over to Tiki Drinks and Indigo Firmaments and decided to try out Craig’s Rum Barrel recipe.  Because, you know, a massive consumption of alcohol will help you understand Lost. […]

  6. Sylvan says:

    Yum, finally got around to making one at home tonight. Thanks for the tip on the recipe – I don’t know if it looked as nice in a tall tiki mug, but it sure tasted fine!

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