In my post about touring Palm Springs’ tiki bars, I mentioned Jeff Cleveland of Tonga Hut. Jeff recently moved to Palm Springs from Milwaukee, where he was a bartender and active in the craft cocktail community.
I first met Jeff when he took my “Tiki: A Story for Bartenders” course at The Bar Institute in Portland last year. He already was a fan of tiki, and was eager to dive deeper into the history. I met him again at The Hukilau earlier this year. I was thrilled to hear he’d made the move to Palm Springs to live his tiki bartending dreams. This is a most perfect pairing of bartender and venue.
Jeff and his wife Kat invited a small group of us to have a cocktail at his place last Sunday night. I’ve long said my favorite tiki drink is the Black Magic at the Mai-Kai. The drink Jeff served me that night—it was even better. It was so new, it didn’t yet have a name. Jeff asked me to help name it, and together we came up with Ohana Joe: a nod to the coffee in the drink, and to the feeling of warm welcome Jeff’s had from the tiki ʻohana, and to the historic Palm Springs tiki bar Aloha Jhoe’s.
I asked Jeff if he’d be willing to share the recipe with you, and generous soul that he is, he passed it along. A note about these rums: these are rums with distinctive character and flavor. If you try to substitute with other rums, you’ll be making a different drink. Plantation’s distribution is growing, but it may take a little effort to track these down. They’re great rums, and the hunt is worth your time.
.75 oz. fresh lime juice
.75 oz. pineapple juice (fresh if possible)
.5 oz. Demerara syrup (2:1)
1 oz. Plantation Stiggins’ Fancy Pineapple Rum
1 oz. Plantation O.F.T.D. Rum (or Plantation Original Dark Overproof)
.33 oz. St. George Coffee liqueur
Glassware: Collins or Pilsner glass
Garnish: 3 Coffee beans
Add all ingredients to a Collins glass then add crushed ice to glass until it’s about three-quarters full. Use a lélé or barspoon to swizzle until the sides of the glass are frosted, adding additional crushed ice as necessary. Garnish and serve.
Because Plantation O.F.T.D. rum is so new and isn’t yet readily available, this drink is not on the menu at Tonga Hut (but I suppose you can try asking him for one if you see him working there, you may get lucky). If you have these Plantation rums (and I know many of you do), you can play along in your home tiki bar.
Mahalo nui loa for the drink and for the recipe, Jeff!