The Jungle Bird
The Tiki Craze, as it has been called,started back in 1934 when Don The Beachcomber opened in Hollywood. It was a Polynesian themed restaurant and featured exotic rum cocktails and cuisine, with over the top décor like torches, grass huts, flower leis, and of course girls in grass skirts. This continued with Victor Bergeron (aka Trader Vic) opening a similar concept 3 years later, which became a chain of Tiki themed bar restaurants.
Tiki cocktails tend to be sweet, with tropical fruit juices and syrups—and for me that can be a little much unless I am lying on a beach under a hot sun. The Jungle Bird, however, has the addition of Campari and dark, rich rum, which rounds out the sweetness and therefore is a favorite amongst bartenders.
The Jungle Bird, like most Tiki drinks, has history behind its creation. It was originally created in1978, at the Aviary bar at the Hilton Hotel in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It was served as a welcome drink in a bird shaped ceramic glass, with a beautiful pineapple leaf garnish.
It has been written about in a number of books, including Beachbum Berry Remixed and Smuggler's Cove.
What I love about this drink is its complexity. Blackstrap rum is so rich and flavorful on its own—then the bitter Campari is a welcome addition to the sweetness of pineapple juice and simple syrup. Finished with a little lime juice it is in my opinion the perfect cocktail. Sweet, tart, bitter and -of course- boozy.
The Jungle Bird
1.5 oz Black Strap Rum
.75 oz Campari
.5 oz Fresh Lime Juice
.5 oz Simple Syrup
1.5 oz Pineapple Juice
There are differing opinions on how to build this cocktail—they all work, and all produce a slightly different end result. One common way is to “swizzle” which is a fancy way to mix and stir with a swizzle stick.
Another way is to build all of this over ice and shake it, which will give you a nice froth from the pineapple juice (this is my favorite way). The 3rd variation is to put it into a blender and just do a quick flash blend.
And finally, many bartenders believe this cocktail should be served over crushed ice. This will quickly dilute the drink which I personally don’t like because I WANT to taste all of the ingredients.
Regardless of how you mix it, you will want to put it into an old fashioned style glass (unless you have an amazing tiki mug!) and garnish it with pineapple leaves, a chunk of pineapple, and a beautiful flower if available.
-Article written by Cris Dehlavi, The Muse of Mixology-
My name is Cris Dehlavi and I am a native of Arizona, but have lived in Columbus, Ohio for the past 13 years with my daughter, Desi. I have been running the bar program at “M”, of the Cameron Mitchell Restaurant group since 2005. I am currently the President of Columbus USBG as well as a consultant for bars and restaurants nationally. In 2013, I attended the rigorous B.A.R. 5 Day Spirits Certification and have been recognized as one of the top mixologists in the U.S.A. I am one of the senior managers of the prestigious apprentice program at Tales of the Cocktail and work as a mentor to many bar tenders around Ohio. My contribution to "Got Rum?" magazine will include everything from reviews of national cocktail events, articles on mixology, garnish trends, recipes and techniques, to interviews with some of the leading bartenders in the industry.