daiquiri

Dutch Holiday

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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.

.   .   .

Dutch Holiday
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.

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Snap Daiq

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Origin: Townsman, Downtown Boston
Take on: Daiquiri

“I never thought I’d want to drink English peas,” says Melissa Benson, a bartender at Townsman, chef Matt Jennings‘ new restaurant in downtown Boston. Melissa’s not talking about some green colored juice bar concoction—she’s talking about a green colored daiquiri.

The Snap Daiq is Townsman’s springtime interpretation of the classic daiquiri, which—contrary to the swim-up bars of the world—consists simply of light rum, lime and sugar. In Havana, Cuba around 1913, at the bar of the Hotel Plaza, the original daiquiri was served frigid and frost-colored, not frozen and pink. Townsman’s Snap Daiq is green—I mean, really green—but it’s also delicious. It can pull it off.

As Melissa was saying, when you drink the Snap Daiq, you’re drinking peas. But don’t think boba tea. The Snap Daiq is sweetened by English snap pea husks that have been reduced and made into a syrup, replacing the original daiquiri’s plain sugar. A little Green Chartreuse and touch of absinthe are used to tie in the botanical notes of the peas, and a dash of saline solution complements the sweetness. “It’s like adding salt to a cookie,” says Melissa.

If you don’t like the idea of putting snacks in your drinks, I get it. But isn’t a daiquiri just as refreshing as a crisp, cool pea on a sunny day? I think it’s time the two met.

“It’s a very aromatic, vegetal cocktail, and I love that it’s so refreshing,” Melissa says. “It’s so pretty, too.”

Townsman is quite a looker itself. It’s a bright, breezy and open space with huge windows and modern, steel dining chairs the color of fire engines. There’s a civilized, “let’s do lunch” downtown-ness to it, but the menu is anything but tame, boasting lamb crudo, a suckling pig ham and pâté Cuban sandwich, and deviled eggs with fried capers and crispy hen skin.

Townsman has only been open four months, but the bar program, run by Sean Frederick, formerly of Citizen Public House in Fenway, is already matching some of the best in the city, from its house blended bitters to its innovative, farm-to-cocktail recipes. Melissa says the Snap Daiq speaks to what the bar is all about.

“It’s really in keeping with the theme of Townsman, since we change the menu as often as we can to keep it in season,” she says. Unfortunately, that also means the Snap Daiq will be leaving the drink list soon. And so it goes—nothing green can stay.

. . .

Snap Daiq
adapted from Townsman

1 1/2 oz Privateer Silver rum
3/4 oz snap pea syrup
3/4 oz fresh lime juice
1/4 oz Green Chartreuse
2 dashes absinthe
2 dashes saline solution

Add all ingredients to mixing glass, add ice and shake vigorously (and I mean vigorously—it’s a daiquiri, so make it cold). Strain into chilled Irish coffee glass and garnish with mint leaf. Spring was in the air; now it’s in your drink.

Follow Melissa Benson on On the Bar! You won’t regret it. Just click here.