Tuesday, May 7, 2013

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Tiki Nights at Polite Provisions

Getting a strong drink in San Diego has always been as straightforward as walking into the nearest bar. In a town where many equate strong with good, however, finding well-balanced cocktails still takes some footwork. Fortunately, the odds of tracking down a good mixed drink has shifted in the last eight years since bars such as Lion's Share, El Dorado, Craft & Commerce, Prohibition, and the Grant Grill at the US Grant Hotel have stepped up the game. What we don't do particularly well (except for individual bartenders at certain bars on particular nights) are tiki drinks.

Schooners: good for bar fights and Prohibition hijinks 
Erick Castro hopes to raise our town's tiki profile a bit with a new tiki series at Polite Provisions, the Normal Heights bar he opened this year with the partners of Consortium Holdings. The second Tuesday of every month, Castro plans to host a Tiki Takedown. Or maybe it's a Tiki Tuesday. He seemed flexible on the name when I dropped by last week. The concept, though, is solid: on that second Tuesday, regular and guest bartenders will riff on classic polynesian-pop cocktails and serve contemporary drinks in the tropical style.

Helping to launch the series, Marcovaldo Dionysos is coming from San Francisco bar Smuggler's Cove next Tuesday, May 14th. Does that name ring a bell? I once asked Marco — to my mortification — for a Guatemalan Handshake. He was kind enough to give me what I wanted rather than what I requested.

Expect plenty of rums, fresh citrus, and lashings of spice. Named after a boat in George R. R. Martin's Games of Thrones series, Castro's Cinnamon Wind uses Jamaican rum and spike of Becherovka, a bitter Czech herbal liqueur with a cinnamon backbone that doesn't get the play it deserves.
Cinnamon Wind

2 oz Appleton Estate V/X
.75 oz fresh lime juice
.5 oz Becherovka
.5 oz cinnamon gomme*

Shake with ice ice cubes and pour — ice and all — into tiki mug. Garnish with freshly spanked mint (don't just fluff it; spank it!), then grate a cinnamon stick with a microplane over the whole thing.
*If your week's plans don't cover making cinnamon gomme, try BG Reynold's cinnamon syrup (see below for a link).

Tiki nights at Polite Provisions (4696 30th Avenue, San Diego, CA 92116) run from 7pm-2am on the second Tuesday of every month. The kickoff is next Tuesday, May 14th. If I get out from under a cascade of deadlines, you may see me there. If not, raise one for me. Either way, break out your finest Hawaiian shirts and dresses.

Goes well with:
  • Tiki mugs. If no tiki mugs are handy, a heavy glass schooner is fine. No schooners, either? Sheesh. Get off the pot. Do as I did: get some from Tiki Farm (maybe the new Onigaw mug styled after a Japanese gargoyle) or Munktiki (I'm a fan of both the Stinkfish and hideously adorable Mermaid mugs). 
  • This is not the first we've heard of Tiki Tuesdays.
  • BG Reynolds' cinnamon syrup runs about $5 at okolemaluna.com.

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