The Ghost of Birthdays Past

When we host a party, my wife often tells me she wants a cocktail(s) that will pair with food “X” for which she can coordinate a name, even the colors she wants.  This time she wanted a cocktail with tequila and pineapple.  While there are a few delicious, classic pineapple/tequila cocktails, most of these drinks are sweet and poorly balanced.  Now I’ll digress!The Ghost of Birthdays Past

You can download this spread sheet, Pineapple Simple Sour, follow the directions and skip the explanation below.  Then just jump down to the recipe here.

The problem you encounter when you substitute one juice for another in a cocktail, especially if you swap a citrus for a non-citrus juice, is loss of balance.  The drink easily becomes too sweet, (the most frequent result), too sour (acidic), too bitter, too strong or too weak.  The example for this cocktail is pineapple juice, but this discussion is equally true of orange, strawberry, apple or practically any juice.  When you substitute all or part of lime or lemon juice with pineapple juice, you are decreasing the primarily acidic and not very sweet lime/lemon juice and adding the sweet and not as acidic pineapple juice.  Lime juice is 6% acid and 1.5% sugar, while pineapple juice is 0.8% acid and 10% sugar.  Let’s say that you have a cocktail that is:

  • 2 parts Spirit (45%  ABV)
  • 2 parts Lime juice

The above drink will have an ABV of 22.5% and will be 3% acid and 0.75% sugar … and will not be very good.  If you were to add 2 parts pineapple juice, your drink will have an ABV of 15%, and will be 2% acid and about 4% sugar.  While adding pineapple juice to the above drink would probably be an improvement, it will still be a completely different cocktail.  Now, think about the above with 1 part simple syrup.  Figuring out how to maintain the cocktails sweet/sour balance quickly becomes mind numbing.

Dave Arnold extensively covers all of this in his book, Liquid Intelligence.   A book I highly recommend.  His suggestion for solving the above substitutions is to add acid to the juice to make it equal in acidity to lime juice.  Then you can sub away.  I heard Dave speak at this year’s San Antonio Cocktail Conference.  In addition to discussing the above, Dave covered creating fruit juice syrup with the same sugar content by weight as 1:1 simple syrup.  It is not uncommon for a cocktail to be 20% simple syrup.  That means a 20% dilution.  If you use a fruit simple syrup, you will still be diluting the ABV and acidity, but you’ll at least be enforcing the fruit flavor.  This is all a whole lot easier than it sounds.

Acidifying Fruit Juice

Lime juice has both citric and malic acids.  So, to acidify a juice, you need only know the percent acid in that juice and subtract that from 6% (the acid content of lime juice).  Since pineapple juice is 0.8% acid, 6%-0.8% = 5.2%.  To acidify a liter of pineapple juice, you will add 32 gm of citric acid and 20 gm of malic acid.  Pineapple juice has a highly variable quantity of pulp, even if you filter it.  This means that 1 liter of pineapple juice will actually weigh more than 1 Kg.  However, it usually makes little difference, so you can just measure out 1 liter of juice and add 32 gm of citric acid and 20 gm of malic acid.  The spread sheet above, actually asks you to weigh 1 cup of juice because it also calculates your pineapple simple syrup.

Making Pineapple Simple Syrup

Simple syrup is made by dissolving 1 part sugar in 1 part water.  This should be by weight, though it’s frequently made by volume.  The issue with making a syrup from fruit juice is that the juice already contains sugar.  Adding the full quantity of sugar by weight or by volume will result in a syrup that is too sweet, thus easily unbalancing your cocktail.  To avoid this, you need to know the weight of sugar in the juice and the weight of the liquid – which will equal the weight of the sugar to make 1:1.  If you’re using bottled juice, pineapple-juice-nutritionaljust look at the label to see the weight of sugar in a “serving” of the juice.   The weight of sugar per volume will vary by brand.  The nutritional chart shown here indicates that 240 ml of juice contains 30 grams of sugar.  If you’re using fresh juice, consult the Google!  So to use this juice:

  1. Weigh 240 ml of juice in grams
  2. Subtract 30 grams (the weight of sugar in that juice) to calculate the weight of liquid.
  3. The weight of the liquid will equal the weight of sugar needed.  But you already have 30 grams of sugar.  So subtract 30 from the calculated weight of liquid to equal the weight of additional sugar needed.

So by example:

  1. Lets say the 240 ml of juice weighed 250 grams
  2. The liquid weight will equal: 250-30 = 220 grams
  3. You need 220 grams of sugar.  But, you already have 30 grams.
  4. Therefore, the weight of additional sugar needed will equal 220-30 = 190 grams.

Or you can use the spread sheet: Pineapple Simple Sour

The Ghost of Birthdays Past

The only extra tool you will need for this is a digital kitchen or postal scale that will measure in grams.  You can purchase one from Amazon here.  You will also need to purchase citric and malic acid, also available from Amazon.

The name of this cocktail is derived from Ghost Tequila and the fact that I made the drink for my birthday!  The flavors are pineapple and the tequila with the Ghost Tequila bringing just a touch of heat.  You can alter the amount of Ghost Tequila to adjust the spiciness to fit your taste.


  • 1/2 oz. Ghost Tequila
  • 1 1/2 oz. Silver tequila such as Milagro
  • 2 1/2 oz. Acid adjusted pineapple juice
  • 1 1/2 oz Pineapple Simple Syrup
  • 1/4 oz. Cointreau or triple sec
  1.  To make the Acidified Pineapple juice and the pineapple simple syrup, refer to the spread sheet: Pineapple Simple Sour
  2. Chill a large, stemmed glass with ice and water
  3. Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice
  4. Shake to chill
  5. Double strain into chilled glass




Tepache is pineapple, top removed, chunked, unpeeled, juiced, then mixed with a few spices and sugar and allowed to ferment, uncovered, first at room temperature and then in the refrigerator, with whatever is in the air, for one week.  If pineapple juice and hard cider had a baby – it would be tepache.  This favorite street drink of Mexico is tropical and slightly pungent with a little funk.  Traditionally served alone or with Mexican beer, tepache is making its way onto cocktail menus all over the US.

It first came to my attention when I read a Bon Appétit post last Summer.  Then this past July, I spotted an article about a DIY tepache in Imbibe .  When I noticed that the recipe was from our friends at Victor Tangos, my curiosity was truly peaked.  Victor Tangos is one of the restaurants I try to visit when we’re in Dallas.  So, I absolutely had to head over there at my first opportunity.

victor-tangosWhen I had a chance to discuss Victor Tangos’ version with Manager Matt Ragan, he said their tepache is basically just the way Bartender Alejandro Galindo’s mother used to make hers.  According to Matt, they make their tepache in the restaurant and there is little, if any, variation between batches.  They have used it in several cocktails, mainly Tiki drinks, substituting tepache for pineapple juice.  During my visit a few weeks ago, they were offering the Tomar de los Muertes, which eschews the rum and combines mezcal and tequila.  Matt says that the tepache cocktails have been well received and will continue on the menu for awhile.

I used Alejandro’s recipe, which is simple and came out very similar to what I had at Victor Tangos.  It was good at the end of the seven days proscribed in the recipe, but got better when allowed to ferment another ten days.  You don’t have to make your own – just ask at your favorite liquor store. We tried it alone, with beer and in a few different cocktails.  I found that the cocktails are best if the amount of tepache is equal to, or less than, the volume of hard spirit.  Otherwise, it overwhelms the drink.  We settled on 3 favorites: a Tiki variation, a tequila/amaro combination and a gin cocktail.

The Potted Tepache Parrot

This is a riff on Trader Vic’s Potted Parrot using tepache rather than orange juice.  I also increased the orgeat.  The flavors of the ingredients all come through: the rum, the tart/funky tepache, the orgeat and a hint of lemon.  Here’s the recipe:Potted Tepache Parrot

  • 2 oz. Cruzan white rum
  • 2 oz. tepache
  • 1 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. curacao
  • 1/4 oz. simple syrup
  • 1/2 oz. orgeat
  • 12 oz. crushed ice
  1. Chill a Double Old Fashioned glass with ice and water
  2. Shake all ingredients with crushed ice
  3. Pour unstrained into chilled  glass

Next up is:

The Tepache Tease

The bright flavor of the tequila adds to the tropical pineapple while the plum/cherry notes in the Bonal plays with the pungency of the tepache.

Tepache Tease

  • 2 oz. Tepache
  • 2 oz. Plata Tequila such as Milagro
  • 1/4 oz. Bonal
  • 1 dash 2:1 simple syrup
  1. Chill a Double Old Fashioned with ice and water
  2. Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake to chill
  3. Strain over fresh ice in chilled glass



And finally:

The Tepache Cocktail

This proves you can have an elegant cocktail that uses pineapple!  Tepache Cocktail

  • 1 oz. Plymouth Gin
  • 3/4 oz. Tepache
  • 1/4 oz. Lemon Juice
  • 1 dash (1/8 tsp) 2:1 simple syrup
  1. Chill a cocktail glass with ice and water
  2. Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake to chill
  3. Strain into chilled glass and serve



Paradise Remembered

Mixology Monday

Mixology Monday

It is Mixology Monday!  The theme, “Drink of Shame,”  is the invention of our host Tipicular Fixins.  We have all quaffed a few sweet, strange libations and I have imbibed my share of questionable drinks. This Month’s challenge, (now that we are real mixologists), is to create a cocktail  that elevates a drink from our misadventurous youth onto a higher plain.    I thought of resurrecting Trash Can Punch like some Frankenstein concoction, but instead I have chosen the Pina Colada.

Paradise Remembered CloseupWhen I was young, I spent a lot of time diving.  I would travel to islands and points south of Mexico known primarily for beautiful beaches, clear waters and unreliable postal service.  I would order a Pina Colada at practically every bar I entered.  These were occasionally amazing, but primarily consisted of some white liquid along with an unknown rum – all whirred with ice and usually sticky sweet.  I don’t remember ever ordering one in the US.

The cocktail I created, the Paradise Remembered, keeps the flavors of rum, coconut and pineapple, but I made it as a sour.  I used Kalani Coconut Liqueur, Cruzan Dark Aged Rum, fresh pineapple juice and Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur.  The result is much lighter than a Pina Colada.  The flavors are coconut and rum with the pineapple completing the combination.  The egg yolk contributes that silky mouth feel along with the appealingly luxurious, thick foam floating on top.

 Paradise Remembered

  • 1 1/2 Oz. Kalani Coconut Liqueur
  • 3/4 Oz. Cruzan Dark Aged Rum
  • 1 oz. Fresh Pineapple Juice
  • 1/2 Oz. Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
  • 1 egg yolk
  1. Chill a cocktail glass with ice and water
  2. Combine all ingredients in a shaker and shake without ice for 30 seconds
  3. Add Ice and shake until chilled 10 – 15 seconds
  4. Double strain into chilled cocktail glass.


Key Lime “O”

This should be served flaming.  Either double the recipe and serve in a scorpion bowl, or float an inverted lime half with 151 rum soaked piece of bread.  You can sub the Key Lime Bitters with orange bitters.

Key Lime 'O'

Key Lime ‘O’

  1. Shake all ingredients with crushed ice
  2. Pour unstrained into tall glass

Blue Hawaii

The first “Blue Drink.”  Invented  in 1957 by Harry Yee of the Hilton Hawaiian Village.  It was an instant hit and, yes, the movie was named for the drink!

Blue Hawaii

Blue Hawaii

  • 1 ½ oz. vodka
  • 2 oz. pineapple juice
  • ¾ oz. lemon juice
  • ¾ oz. blue curacao
  • ¼ oz. simple syrup
  • ½ t. cream
  1. Shake with crushed ice
  2. Pour unstrained into tall glass
  3. Garnish with fruit stick

Jungle Bird

From the Kuala Lumpur Hilton.Jungle Bird

  • 1 ½ oz. dark Jamaican Rum (such as Appleton)
  • ¾ oz. Campari
  • 4 oz. pineapple juice
  • ½ oz. Lime juice
  • ½ oz. simple syrup
  1. Chill an old fashioned glass with ice and water
  2. While the glass chills, combine all of the ingredients in a shaker.
  3. Shake with ice until shaker is fully frosted: 10 – 15 seconds
  4. Pour unstrained into chilled glass
  5. Garnish with a cherry and lemon and orange wheels

Planter’s Punch

This is my version of rum punch which I would like to claim I invented somewhere in the islands, but it was actually at home in Texas!  I recently added the Orgeat and Key Lime Bitters.  You can sub Angostura Bitters but you do need something to offset the sweetness of the fruit juices.

  • 2 oz. Mount Gay Gold Rum
  • 1 oz. Orange juice
  • 1 oz. Pineapple juice
  • ½ oz. Grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 oz. Grenadine
  • ½ oz. Orgeat
  • 2 dashes key lime bitters
  • 6 oz. crushed ice
  1. Shake all ingredients with crushed ice
  2. Pour unstrained into tall glass
  3. Sit back, put up your feet and imagine you’re Jimmy Buffet

Shark’s Tooth

This is Trader Vic’s recipe except he used dark rum rather than gold rum.  I also usually use homemade grenadine rather than cherry juice.  Either way, there is good reason that this is one of the great Tiki drinks.Sharks Tooth

  • 2 oz. Mount Gay Gold Rum
  • ½ oz. lime juice
  • ½ oz. pineapple juice
  • ½ oz. simple syrup
  • 1 t. maraschino cherry juice
  • 3 oz. crushed ice
  1. Blend all ingredients for 5 sec.
  2. Pour unstrained into old fashioned glass

Lemon Drop

One thing we like less than cloyingly sweet drinks is making one for someone.  So this is our interpretation of this classic.

  • 1 ½ oz. citrus vodka
  • ½ oz. lemon juice
  • ½ oz. pineapple juice
  • ½ oz. St Germain Elderflower Liqueur
  • ½ oz. simple syrup
  1. Chill a cocktail glass with ice and water
  2. Add all ingredients to shaker
  3. Shake well with ice 10 – 15 sec.
  4. Strain into chilled glass
  5. Garnish with a lemon twist

Singapore Sling

Before Tiki was Tiki and before Donn Beach and Trader Vic were born, there was the Singapore Sling.  The original was created in 1905 at the Raffle’s Hotel in Singapore. This is a mid-century version.

    • 1 ½ oz. Gin
    • ½ oz. Cherry Heering
    • ¼ oz. Cointreau
    • ¼  oz. Benedictine
    • 4 oz. pineapple juice
    • ½ oz. lime juice
    • 1/3 oz. grenadine
    • dash Angostura Bitters
  1. Chill a Collins glass with ice and water
  2. Add all ingredients to a shaker and shake with ice
  3. Strain into a chilled Collins glass over fresh ice