Jeff “Beachbum” Berry | 1990s

1/2 oz simple syrup
1/2 oz grapefruit juice
3/4 oz lime juice
1/4 oz pimento dram
1 oz El Dorado 12 rum
1 oz Smith & Cross rum

Garnish: lime wedge, mint sprig

Tropical drinks become high-style in the 1950s, flourishing with the ornate, over-the-top enthusiasm typical of the post-war era. But as the younger generation came to see the effects of the Vietnam War in real time via gutsy reporting on TV, they also began to understand the toxic side of this fantasy world in the context of the civil rights movement and the damage done to others (and ourselves) by American imperialism. The Mai Tais that Dad drank with his square friends were no longer cool. By the ’70s, what passed for tropical drinks were sugary crowd-pleasers devoid of nuance, like the Piña Colada (but delicious when made right). Unexpectedly, it took the SoCal punk scene of the ’80s and ’90s to resurrect the abandoned, uncool genre of what they started calling “tiki” — furthering its mishmash by adding rockabilly, hot rods, lounge style, and burlesque into the mix. Among those leading the revival was Jeff “Beachbum” Berry, who began appreciating, researching, and unearthing the lost recipes and ingredients of the original drinks by interviewing aging bartenders and their children... eventually striking gold by unraveling the mystery of Don the Beachcomber’s previously unknown 1934 Zombie recipe, among others. The 21st-century craft cocktail movement has come to acknowledge and start to move beyond tiki’s problematic past while embracing these astounding drinks for their compatible craft elements: quality spirits, fresh juices, and handmade syrups — but also as a fun antidote to the stiffness and orthodoxy that came with the cocktail renaissance. Beachbum Berry’s original Ancient Mariner, his superior riff on Trader Vic’s Navy Grog, counts as a “Basic” simply because I wouldn’t want to live in a world without this flavor!


© 2022 Wexler of California / Dave Stolte