Sting in the Tail

Today's drink, another funny choice for a winter drink, is the Scorpion, a Mai Tai-type drink made popular in the middle of the last century when Americans went in for all things Polynesian and sipped them out of big communal bowls with flowers floating on top. Obviously your local health boards wouldn't go for that kind of thing today, nor would most germ-o-phobes like some people I know. Germs build up your body's resistance to disease. Embrace them.

I ate at a Kon-Tiki, in Kansas City, of all places, back in my college days. I don't remember much about it (not because of the quantity of alcohol consumed), except for the tropical decor and some vague memories of food on a stick. I may have been in the one in the Palmer House (I think) in Chicago one time, but I have even fewer memories of it. Give me good solid German braised pork anyday.

I wonder why Polynesian themed restaurants are on the outs these days. Is it because Hawaii is only a plane ride away from LA, so you can eat at the real thing? Or were those restaurants yet more mid-century kitsch? Kitsch never seems to go out of style, though; it always comes back to scare you sometime.

Anyway, this recipe calls for both rum and brandy (interesting how those go together in so many recipes), orange juice, lemon juice, and orgeat syrup. With my aversion to living things in my drinks, I skipped the pineapple spear and maraschino cherry, not to mention the edible flower. It's awfully lemony to my taste; I wonder if lime would go better in it. But I also used the cheap Bacardi stuff, so a gin with more kick (flavor, not alcohol content) might help balance out the lemon better.

I didn't have a clue what orgeat syrup is, and didn't want to run out and buy a bottle just for this, if I could even find it locally, since I'm still hunting for the elusive Parfait Amour. In more ways than one. According to wikipedia, it's a syrup made from almonds usually used in these Polynesian drinks. I found a recipe for it, but I didn't want to spend the evening soaking almonds and straining out all the oils.

Somewhere online I found a drink recipe that says you can replace orgeat syrup with 2 teaspoons of simple syrup and 1/4 teaspoon of almond extract, so that's what I did. (Not that I could taste the almond through all the citrus.) The long and involved orgeat recipe called for orange flower water too. For some strange reason I have a small bottle in the fridge (it smells really good), so I put in a little of that too. The citrus also knocks out that flavor.

If I stumble across orgeat somewhere, I may pick some up along with a bottle of better rum and try this again. Not a bad drink, though certainly not ideal on an icy February afternoon if you're not chowing down on meat on a stick. And I don't mean corn dogs.