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How to Make an Amazing Scorpion Cocktail

Scorpion bowl for 4.

A while back one of my friends on Facebook, Elliot, asked how to make a good Scorpion, because the ones he makes don't turn out all that great.  We've all been there. I've poured some absolutely horrible cocktails.  So, I thought I would finally do some taste testing and provide some tips.

The Scorpion was invented by Trader Vic and is normally served in  in a scorpion bowl (above). A scorpion bowl usually serves more than one person. 

First, I tried the classic Trader Vic's Scorpion recipe.   It has silver rum, brandy, orange juice, lemon juice, and orgeat syrup. For my taste test I decided to try the single serving recipe that I found in the book Trader Vic's Tiki Party!: Cocktails and Food to Share with Friends.  This was a mighty strong concoction.  The rum and brandy comes through really strong.  There is a lot more brandy and alcohol in general in this version compared to the full scorpion bowl.   The orange and lemon gave a nice citrus flavor and the orgeat syrup helped cut down on the boozy taste. I realize it is a Scorpion and needs to have a sting, but the whole thing seemed a bit off balance.  I can't say I have a new favorite here.

The Luau ScorpionNext, up was the Luau Scorpion.  This recipe hails form the Luau of Beverly Hills, and dates back to 1958.  I found the recipe in Beach Bum Berry Remixed.  This version has gold rum, gin, brandy, orange juice, lime juice, orgeat syrup, and sugar syrup.  This scorpion is far superior to to the first.  The gin adds an interesting level of complexity to the drink.  It isn't overpowering, but blends well with the rum and citrus.  The lime juice seems to work better versus the lemon juice in the first recipe.  There is a little more syrup in this version, but it isn't too syrupy or sweet.  It really is the perfect balance, and it still give a fun little sting. The Luau Scorpion is going to be the standard scorpion served in my Tiki bar from now on.

Tips for an Amazing Scorpion

As always for Tiki cocktails, use fresh juice. 

Buy the fruit and juice them yourself. It's amazing what a difference that makes!

Use Quality Booze

Again, this can make a big difference.  I used Korbel Brandy, and Rehorst Gin. Rehorst is a Milwaukee Gin, but any quality Gin will do.  Different brands of Brandy can be very different. So be sure to stick with a good one.  You can't go wrong with Korbel.

Watch Your Measurements

With a lot of classic Tiki cocktails sloppy measuring can change the drink significantly. So if it isn't tasting good make sure you are measuring correctly.

It's not difficult to make great Tiki cocktails.  Give the Luau Scorpion a try.  Now, you are probably looking for the recipe. I don't think it's right for me to give all the recipes out of these books.  People worked hard to put them together.  So if you want the recipes buy the book and support Tiki culture.   I have links to them on Amazon over on the left side of the page.  If you really don't want to buy the book I'm sure Google will help you find the recipe.

I hope this helps Eliot!  If you have a Tiki cocktail question let me know. I'll do my best to answer it.





Caipirinha: The National Cocktail of Brazil

I recently paid a visit to Cubanita's in Milwaukee, WI.  Cubanita's is an excellent Cuban restaurant.  I highly recommend them. Their food is amazing and they make the best Mojito in Milwaukee.  However, I wanted to try something different the night I was there.  So, I ordered a Caipirinha.  I never had a Capirinha before, and was excited to try it.  This Brazilian cocktail has the perfect blend of lime and sugar.  It was an extremely smooth and tasted a lot like limeade.  I could have drank them all night long, but one Caipirinha hit me harder than several drinks typically would.

After having that strong mysterious drink I needed to do some research to figure out what was in that thirst quenching libation.  The Capirinha is very popular in Brazil, and from what I read it is beginning to gain popularity all over the world.  A Caipirinha is made with three ingredients, Cachaça, lime wedges, and sugar. Cachaça, which is the most popular distilled spirit in Brazil, is made just like rum.  The main difference is fresh sugar cane is used instead of molasses.  Also, unlike rum, Cachaça is not usually aged very long, if at all.

To make a Caipirinha you will need:

  • 1/2 of a lime cut into four wedges
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 oz Cachaça

To make the Caipirinha:

  1. Put the lime wedges and sugar into an old fashioned glass. Muddle the lime wedges to release the juice and oils from the limes.
  2. Fill the glass with crushed ice and add the Cachaça.
  3. Cover the glass with a cocktail shaker and shake well.
  4. Pour the cocktail back into the old fashioned glass and serve.

I'm going to have to pick up some Cachaça, and make some more of these.  They would be excellent on a hot summer day.  Thank you Brazil for this delicious cocktail!



Red Robin Mai Tai... Meh

Red Robin Mai TaiAs Let's Tiki, I feel it is my duty to sample the world's Mai Tais whenever I come across them.  Even, when better judgement says not to.  You just never know; a good Mai Tai could be found at a very unexpected location.  So, when I was at Red Robin this week the bartender put a drink menu in front of me and the first thing I saw was their Mai Tai.  So I ordered one so I could report back to all of you.  

The Red Robin Mai Tai was cute looking.  They poured a lot of Grenadine in the bottom of the glass to give it a cute smile and floated some dark rum at the top to give the little Mai Tai man a hat.  Unfortunately, the cute look was the best part of the Mai Tai.  It was very sweet, weak and just tasted a lot like pineapple juice and Grenadine.  So, as I suspected I don't need to ever have one of those again.  At least the Mai Tai was cute looking.  I realize they need to cater to a main stream audience.  Oh well.

I had the Burnin' Love Burger for dinner. That was pretty good.  It was a cayenne pepper seasoned beef patty with fried jalapeno rings, salsa, pepper jack cheese, and Chipotle Mayo. So if you are at Red Robin and you like a little spice give the Burnin' Love Burger a try.   Don't worry it isn't super spicy.


At Random: Classic Cocktails in a Retro Setting

At Random, Milwaukee, WIAt Random is a classic cocktail bar in Milwaukee, Wisconsin that has been in operation since 1965.  Noting has changed since the renovations that converted the corner tap into a romantic cocktail lounge.  

The decor is a fun snapshot of the late 1960s.  You have to check out the vintage electric fireplaces.  There are plenty of little booths for a romantic night out.  Just watch out for the clown pictures.  They can be a bit creepy.  Overall, the place is very warm and inviting.

At Random serves a long list of classic cocktails.  As usual, I started with a Mai Tai.  When I got the drink  I was surprised at how big it was.  It was deliciously sweet, and tropical.  

For my next drink I had a fog cutter. I really enjoyed the Fog Cutter.  The spices really stood out in this drink.  It was very unique and unlike anything I have had before.  

At Random's signature drink is the Tiki Love Bowl. The Tiki Love Bowl is a secret concoction of rums and fruit juices that is lit on fire.  The tradition is for the couple to hold hands while drinking the Tiki Love Bowl.  Your cocktail waitress will make sure that the tradition is upheld.  Our bartender Randy was kind enough to pour us a sample of the Tiki Love Bowl. 

Mai TaiBesides Tiki Cocktails they also serve a varity of blended and ice cream drinks.  When was the last time you had a Brandy Alexander?  The snickers bar drink tastes exactly like a snickers bar.  

I was there on a Wednesday night and there was a fair crowd considering the amount of snow that got dumped on Milwaukee a few days prior. I'm told that on Friday and Saturday nights the place is packed.  

After 45 years the owners are still very active.   You can find them tending bar and waiting tables.  I had a great time taking a step back into a bygone time, and having some classic cocktails.  I can't wait to get back and sample more of the menu.



How to Make a Passionate Kiss Cocktail

Looking to celebrate Valentine's Day with a tropical drink?  Woo your sweetheart with a Passionate Kiss.  As with many cocktails there are many variations on a recipe, but here is one common recipe that is pretty good.  To make a Passionate Kiss put the following in a cocktail shaker:


  • 1 cup Ice
  • 1 oz Southern Comfort
  • 1 oz Chambord
  • 1 oz Peach Schnapps
  • 4 oz Pineapple Juice


Shake the ingredients together really good.  This will make the drink foam up really nice when you pour it into the glass.  

Nothing says, "I love you." Like a tropical drink.  

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