Monday, February 28, 2011


The DJ makes a last-minute slide toward home and issues one last tiki post before the end of Tiki Month!

Mixology Monday set this one up so I could spike it. (Two sports references in two sentences!) This month's theme is hot drinks, and our host is Nancy over at the Backyard Bartender.

Most hot drinks with alcohol just don't do it for me. I think it has to do with how alcohol's low boiling point makes it so much more noticeable in a drink that's warmed. For me, sips of such warm drinks have alcohol vapors that waft toward my nose and the roof of my mouth, and the result is that I'm forced to pay attention to the alcohol as much as the the flavor of the drink, which is far from ideal.

There are a few exceptions, though, and one of them is a tiki drink found in Beachbum Berry's Grog Log. Despite that tiki drinks are meant to "cool" you from imagination-produced tropical surroundings, there are quite a few hot tiki drinks, and they're worth exploring for the most part.

Flipping through the Grog Log, it's easy to do a double take when you pass the Flaming Coffee Grog. There are several things about the drink of note:

1) the drink uses hot coffee
2) the drink interestingly combines orange and lemon with said coffee
3) the drink has a unique method of preparation
4) you get to set it on fire

To make the Flaming Coffee Grog, one heats orange and lemon peels, cloves, Grand Marnier, and overproof rum in a small pan, and then one ignites it. Much like how the heated whiskey in a Hot Toddy would waft alcohol fumes vigorously and unpleasantly to the roof of my mouth, overproof rum wafts vapors into the air when heated in a pan. These free vapors easily ignite the rum when a flame is present, and the burning cuts down on the overall proof of the mixture, but also aromatizes the flavors in the peels and cloves. After ignition, one is supposed to spoon the mixture delicately onto the coffee, where presumably the flames will soon extinguish. Then, happily stir the drink and enjoy.

The overproof rum that this recipe essentially calls for is Lemon Hart 151. As of now(February 28, 2011), the stuff is discontinued (though there are rumblings that it will soon be produced again). Which sucks, because not only is it called for in countless tiki drinks, but worse, there is no other product like it. It is a dark demerara rum which is smokey, sweet, and damn powerful. Tiki Month matron Doug of the Pegu Blog just recently pondered about substitutes for Lemon Hart 151, as I've done as well. I'm lucky this day, because I still have a bottle of the stuff. But if you don't, you have several options. You can either choose to mimic the flavor by using another (lower proof) demerara rum, or you can choose to mimic the proof by using another 151 rum. One of my favorite solutions is to do both, by using a dark/black rum such as El Dorado Dark or Cruzan Black Strap, and then adding a few heavy dashes of grain alcohol to up the proof. Keep in mind that for tiki drinks that call for overproof rums, there's usually a culinary reason for it-- they're not just trying to get you drunk. Clearly, for the Flaming Coffee Grog, we need to imitate proof more than flavor.

I don't drink my coffee black. Usually because of coffee's acidity, I tend to need a bit of cream in my daily brew. This recipe has you mix coconut cream* with the coffee, which, in terms of fat content doesn't really approach the acid-cutting power that I usually need. But strangely, the Flaming Coffee Grog goes down smooth, even though its color is almost identical to black coffee. I guess the creators of this drink knew what they were doing.

I wouldn't feel too bad about substituting another orange liqueur for the Grand Marnier, if you felt like it; at .25 ounces, the difference will not be very noticeable. Today I'm using Patron's Citronge liqueur, and the result is delicious. In fact, I think a great variation of this drink would be to swap the rum with a good reposado or anejo tequila; you could call it the Grog Cafe Flameante.

Flaming Coffee Grog

.25 oz Grand Marnier (or orange liqueur)
.75 oz Lemon Hart 151
1 lemon twist
1 orange twist
2 cloves

1 tbs cream of coconut

cinnamon stick

Fill mug 3/4 full with hot coffee. Stir in cream of coconut. Combine rum, liqueur, citrus peels, and cloves into a small pan or pot. Heat lightly, then ignite. Spoon the rum mixture onto the coffee and stir with cinnamon stick.

*Talking about canned coconut products is treacherous terrain. This recipe calls for Coco Lopez coconut cream, but what was probably intended, as with so many tiki drinks, was Coco Lopez cream of coconut. For an explanation on what the hell that means, I'll defer to Giuseppe and Richard of the tiki bar Painkiller in New York City:

"Coconut water, coconut milk, coconut cream, and cream of coconut are all vastly different from each other. Coconut water is obtained by boring a hole into a raw coconut and extracting the liquid therein. It is light, clear, and refreshing. It requires no labor aside from opening the coconut. Coconut milk and coconut cream require a more intensive method of preparation.

Coconut milk is made by simmering shredded coconut with water or milk until it develops a frothy texture. This liquid is then strained through a cheesecloth. When the milk is cooled off and allowed to set, coconut cream (a much richer and mildly sweeter product with a more syrup-like consistency) rises to the top and must be skimmed off in order to extract it. Cream of coconut is simply coconut cream that has been subsequently sweetened. The difference in these coconut products with respect to preparation, viscosity, sweetness, and flavor are quite apparent. A sampling of each will clearly illustrate their differences."


  1. Dude, it’s awesome that you made this. (Says he who has been avoiding it out of sheer laziness.)

  2. Don't feel bad. It took me a long time to get around to making it. It's worth it... at least once.

  3. I love seeing the Juan Valdez coffee in your photo! I first started drinking the stuff when I was living in Buenos Aires and learned just how crummy tasting Argentine coffee was - so of course I had my Colombian teacher introduce me to the good stuff! :)

    Salud! - Stephanie

  4. Thanks Stephanie!

    I have to go into downtown DC to get my Juan Valdez, so it can be a pain for me, but it's worth it!

    To me, their coffee is really grassy and pungent. I love the stuff!

  5. I finally made this! Delicious