Origin: Tiger Mama, Fenway
Take On: Daiquiri
Some folks like to take their minds off winter with a big mug of cocoa nestled warmly between their palms. I prefer a drink served in a coconut, and the kinds of palms that grow on trees.
Tiger Mama, a new tiki-inspired Southeast Asian restaurant in Fenway, has both of these things. Walking through the place, you occasionally have to duck beneath the lush, green tropical leaves that fan out from their pots like plants in a Honolulu hotel lobby. The lamps on the walls throw a red-orange glow over everything—I believe they have the dimmers turned to “Postcard Sunset.” And at Tiger Mama’s decorative tiki bar, separate from the larger bar at the entrance, they serve a coconut drink on a silver platter. But actually.
Something you will notice immediately when visiting Tiger Mama is that, here, presentation is on a monsoon scale. Last Wednesday I watched bartender Jay Miranda, also of Russell House Tavern in Harvard Square, turn out cocktails that might have doubled for centerpieces, some garnished with blushing flower petals, others with giant, spear-shaped pineapple leaves. I ordered the Dutch Holiday, a daiquiri variation on the smaller bar’s exclusive “Tiger Tikis” menu, which features such beachside classics as the absinthe-tinted Jet Pilot. Jay came over and laid down a thin, papery green placemat on the bartop in front of me. I asked him what it was. “Oh, that’s a banana leaf,” he answered. And why not?
Next came a gleaming silver bowl filled with crushed ice, upon which sat a coconut with its top lobbed off and a metal spoon-straw poking out. There was ice in the coconut—shaved ice, made from real coconut water that the prep cooks at Tiger Mama extract themselves. Between sips, you can use the spoon end of the straw to scoop the coconut ice out of the shell, sort of like eating gelato in the Caribbean.
The leap from the stem-glassed daiquiri of the 1930s to the still life painting that is the Dutch Holiday is, mildly speaking, astronomical. In terms of ingredients, the daiquiri’s plain sugar is replaced by syrup infused with lemongrass, kaffir and lime leaf to add a little brightness and spice. In lieu of light rum, the Dutch Holiday features a Dutch spirit and modern gin’s predecessor, genever, which like gin is juniper flavored, but not quite as dry or light.
“It’s a great clear spirit for winter,” says Jay. “It has this breadiness and malt to it. You feel that warmth in your chest as it goes down. And it gives more body to the classic daiquiri.”
Jay made me a straight genever daiquiri just to taste the difference. Whether he wanted to teach me something new about cocktails or was simply tired of watching me scrape the walls of the coconut like a prison escapee, it made me feel a little warmer, too.
. . .
adapted from Tiger Mama
1 1/2 oz Bols Genever
3/4 oz kaffir, lime leaf and lemongrass-infused simple syrup
3/4 oz fresh lime juice
shaved coconut water ice
Prepare banana leaf and polished silver bowl, if you’re serious. Then add all ingredients to hollowed out coconut, and swizzle.
What the hell does swizzle mean, you ask? Learn about it here.
Follow Jay Miranda with On the Bar! Just click.