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.
Next, 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.