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Tiki tiki

Shake your summer blues away with colorful cocktails from the rock stars at Orlando’s Aku Aku, an homage to an era when every hour of the day was tiki time

Tiki tiki

Shake your summer blues away with colorful cocktails from the rock stars at Orlando’s Aku Aku, an homage to an era when every hour of the day was tiki time

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hen Don the Beachcomber and a small group of others combined tropical fruit, booze and a “let it fly” ethos in the 1930s, they lit a [tiki] torch that’s burning brighter than ever today. Currently tending the flame is Todd Ulmer, founder/owner of Aku Aku in Orlando, Fla., a nod to the Polynesian Vegas institution that kept the party going in the 1960s. Ulmer—and his friend and chief mixologist, Eric Solomon (pictured)—celebrate the loud pineapple and its curative effects every day, dispensing modern classic libations perfect for the sunshine-minded. If you can’t make it to Orlando to try their award-winning drinks, fire up your blender at home and join a beautiful rum-soaked tradition of swaying palms, screaming shirts and raised glasses. Just don’t expect to see any drinks on fire—modern insurance companies aren’t enchanted by the volcanic possibilities...

Tiger F***er

The name has a relatively tame story behind it, but this jalapeño, blackberry and vodka concoction is all wild. Eric’s original (awarded) masterpiece has appeared on Brooklyn menus and beyond—the recipe thieved, perhaps, but then a drink this good was never going to be caged

  • 2oz 44 North Mountain Huckleberry Vodka
  • 1oz muddled Blackberry/Jalapeño mix (house ratio is a secret, but experiment and find your own joy)
  • 3/4 oz fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 oz passionfruit nectar


The real deal is a secretive affair, but this is a good approximation. Combine ingredients in a shaker and shake for 10–15 seconds, strain over pebble ice, then serve
with a mighty roar

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Mai Tai

The gold standard of tiki drinks. Get this right and you can be trusted (Aku Aku can be trusted). One of the keys is to use the best orgeat syrup, Eric says. He makes his own, but you can get by with quality pre-made stuff—just don’t skimp on it!

  • 1 oz Fresh Lime Juice
  • 1/2 oz Orange Curaçao
  • 1/4 oz Orgeat Syrup
  • 1/4 oz Sugar Syrup
  • 1 oz Dark Jamaican Rum
  • 1 oz Aged Martinique Rum 


Shake with crushed ice and pour (unstrained) into a double old fashioned glass, then garnish with a fresh mint sprig and whatever else sparks island joy

1934 Zombie

Eric and Todd prefer the original paralyzing recipe from Don the Beachcomber, who allowed only two per customer… 

  • 3/4 oz Fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 oz Don’s Mix
  • 1/2 oz Falernum 
  • 1 1/2 oz Gold Puerto Rico Rum
  • 1 1/2 oz Dark Jamaican Rum
  • 1 oz 151-proof demerara rum
  • 1 Dash Angostura bitters
  • 6 drops of Pernod or absinthe
  • 1 tsp Grenadine
  • 6 oz crushed ice


Put everything in a blender and blend for five seconds at high speed, then pour in an appropriately fearsome vessel, add ice cubes to fill and garnish ornately

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Dot Dot Dot Dash

Named for the Morse code for “victory” during WWII, this vibrant symphony is a winner every time

  • 1/2 oz Fresh Lime Juice
  • 1/2 oz Orange Juice
  • 1/2 oz Honey Syrup
  • 1 1/2oz Amber Martinique Rum
  • 1/2 oz Demerara Rum
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters
  • 1/4 oz Falernum
  • 1/4 oz Pimento liqueur
  • 6oz Crushed ice


Blend at high speed for 5 seconds max; pour into a victorious glass and garnish with three speared cocktail cherries (the three “dots” speared with the “dash”)


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