Wednesday, October 10, 2012


Or, "A Crazy, Criminally-Fun Shift"

On the last Sunday of September, the bar was overrun by pirates. And not just any pirates, but a quality crew of sarong'd scalawags, comprised of such inestimable personages as Julie Reiner, Brian Miller, Ryan Liloia and Garret Richard. To be fair, we invited them aboard our boat, enticing them further with a whole roasted Pig and the fabulous distilled nectars of Martinique's Rhum JM.
The theme of this epic gathering was a bold inland incursion (to the wilds of New Jersey) of the weekly event known as Tiki Mondays with Miller, formerly hosted at the island stronghold of Lani Kai in NYC. As with past examples of Tiki Monday, a menu of tropical libations selected by Captain Miller was on-offer. Accompanying these delicious beverages was a complimentary tasting of Rhum JM's complete portfolio of Rhum Agricole, which were also the principle spirits used in the evening's potions.
While I love drinks of all sorts, readers here may note that I have always had a soft spot for all things R(h)um and it's most tricked-out champion: Tiki. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that I was stoked to be involved with this event. 
Three minutes into the Lime Massacre
As I prepared for the arrival of our guest crew, the spent shells of Limes, Grapefruit and Pineapples piled up around me - too numerous to count. [Not true, actually. I hewed through 268 of the former, 70 of the next and 8 of the latter, but the theatrical version sounds better. Besides, it's my job to keep track of these things.] A profusion of new housemade ingredients filled my refrigerators (vying for space with our sizable collection of such things) and an abundance of Rhum was arrayed on the backbar and speed rails.

Bar prep, now with 400% more Pirate!
As Julie, Brian, Ryan and Garret stepped behind the bar, they hefted insulated chests smuggled across the Hudson, brimming with ingredients rare and forbidden: fragrant syrups, spices and orchids. Together we festooned the Catherine Lombardi bar with pirate colors, mixed up batches of a few final ingredients (Don's Mix, Spices #2, &c) and cut a not-so-miniature mountain of various garnishes before donning sarongs and war paint for a festive rumbullion with no quarter offered...
And what a shift it was! Julie and Brian manned the forward bar station (the helm), while I got down and dirty in the service bar (the poop deck). Ryan and Garrett, along with my faithful barback Allison, moved tirelessly back and forth down the line of cannon, putting out (and occasionally starting) fires wherever necessary.
As they arrived, our guests were treated to a potent glass of punch in the form of a classic Scorpion Bowl, prepared with (in a slight twist on Trader Vic's 1946 recipe) JM's Blanc and Elevé Sous Bois Rhum Agricole. To accommodate both the sheer size of the bowl (three recipes worth!) as well as the time it would spend over ice, we served it over cracked cubes derived from the 3"x3" molds we ordinarily use for ice balls.
With their initial tipple finished, our guests were able to select from five classic Tiki cocktails as well as an original one developed by Julie in honor of Lani Kai and the great times it inspired while open. Captain Miller's menu read as follows:
(Trader Vic, c. 1944)
This drink truly is outta this world…mai tai roa ae!!
Rhum JM Blanc, 12yr Demerara & Dark Jamaican Rums,
Lime Juice, Orgeat, Orange Curacao
(Don The Beachcomber, ci. 1965)
Peace of mind is what you will achieve after just one sip of this.
Rhum JM Eleve Sous Bois & Guatemalan Rums, Lime & Orange Juices,
Acacia Honey Syrup, Velvet Falernum, Don’s Spices #2, Angostura Bitters
(Don the Beachcomber, c. 1937)
“A gully in a field” is where you might wind up after a few of these.
Rhum JM Eleve Sous Bois, Lime Juice,
Don’s Mix, Dale DeGroff’s Pimento Bitters
(Julie Reiner)
A tasty tiki tipple in honor of our old ship & all those that sailed on her.
Rhum JM Blanc & 3yr Demerara Rums, Lime & Pineapple Juices,
Grenadine, Cherry Heering, Cointreau, Benedictine, Angostura Bitters, Club
(Don The Beachcomber, c. 1937)
Too many of these is what did in tonight’s guest of honor.
Rhum JM Eleve Sous Bois & Dark Jamaican Rums, Cognac,
Lime & Pineapple Juices, Passion Fruit Syrup, Angostura Bitters, Absinthe
(Mannie “Blackie” Andal, Hawaii Kai Restaurant, NYC, c. 1960’s)
You know how pirates love their buried treasure!
Rhum JM Blanc, Lime & Grapefruit Juices,
Coco Lopez, Acacia Honey Syrup, Orgeat, Blue Curacao

The turnout was mai tai roa ae; full of friends from New Jersey, New York and other ports of call. Our house regulars were out in force, complimented by a delightful contingent representing the Tiki Mafiaaarrrgh and a few special guests turned up quite unexpectedly. Imagine my delight when, looking up from a particularly long and complicated order ticket, I saw none other than Jeff "Beachbum" Berry and his lovely lady standing at my bar. Many thanks to the Bum for dropping anchor in 'Jersey; likewise to the merry motley of guests who dropped in for a drink or six.
Finally, much love and a major mahalo to Julie, Brian, Ryan and Garret, without whom none of this would have been possible. It was an honor and a pleasure to pull a shift on your ship; may its colors never be struck.
Cheers & Mahalo!