Last week's dip into near-freezing temperatures got us thinking that winter is on its way, but relax -- we're looking at a few more weeks of warm weather here in Denver. It may even hit 90 degrees on Thursday, so what better way to hang on to the last few sips of summer than downing a tiki cocktail?
At Acorn, the Nationalized Tiki is your ticket to island flavors -- with a few unique twists to keep things interesting. The Nationalized Tiki mixes two kinds of rum, Madeira, lime juice, bitters, and Acorn's house-made almond syrup.
Almond syrup is no stranger to tiki drinks; it's one of the ingredients in a Mai Tai, for example. Almond syrup is often referred to by the name orgeat, which is simply almonds, sugar and rose water. Acorn's orgeat is made by steeping almonds in water, then straining the liquid a day or two later.
"We did an experiment where we milked almonds for about 36 hours," says Acorn bartender Alexandra Parks, who created this cocktail with Acorn owner and bartender Bryan Dayton. Her experiment started with heating the almond milk, as opposed to using fresh milk. "We liked the fresh better, so that's what we've been using," she says. She adds sugar syrup to the milk, then bottles it for later use.
The Nationalized Tiki contains two rums: Bacardi Heritage, and St. George California Agricole Rum. Agricoles are rums made from fresh-pressed sugar cane juice, which distinguishes them from standard rum made from fermented molasses. Agricoles are lighter, colorless rums with fresh, grassy flavors. "The St. George Agricole has a briny, green-olive flavor coming through," Parks says. "This distiller always does really off-the-wall projects, and this is definitely an interesting one."
One of the unique twists in her recipe is Madeira, a fortified red wine from Portugal -- this one aged five years in oak and made from Bual and Malmsey grapes, which add flavors of nuts and molasses.
"It's one of the more geeked-out cocktails on our list," Parks says of the Nationalized Tiki. "It's totally different."
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Some advice for drinking this cocktail: don't use a straw. Sip it from the glass, so your experience starts with the float of ruby-red bitters, followed by the fruitiness of the wine and sweetness of the almond syrup.