Some cocktails are so good that their recipes go all over the world. Others are so good that they become the focus and direction of a whole cocktail bar.
And this was the case for Barney Toy’s 2105 Bacardi Legacy final cocktail, the Pan Am, which has inspired a new bar in Auckland called Clipper.
With its mix of Rum, Aperol, Lemon Juice, Orgeat and Egg White, Toy describes as having a flavour that is like a light, fruity, bittersweet sherbet. And with those light, tropical flavours, it is very much Toy’s homage to Tiki drinks.
“Tiki drinks are very much a guilty pleasure of mine,” Toy said. “A lot the cocktails that I like designing and creating riffs on kind of Tiki-esque style.
“Everyone thinks that Tiki drinks are kind of like kind of cheesy and over the top, but if you look at Tiki drinks, like the Mai-Tai, they’re perfectly balanced, and they’re some of the greatest cocktails around”
That tropical feel is not only present in the look and taste of the drink but also its inspiration. The Pan Am cocktail is named after the airline who would fly Americans on their clipper plane, between Florida and Havana, during Prohibition.
“If you were rich you could fly to Europe and drink in all these great bars in Paris and London and Milan and all this kind of stuff. If you are absolutely dirt poor, you drink moonshine in the woods or the swamplands.
And if you were working class, you could afford to fly to Cuba, and Pan American Airlines used to fly people from Key West to Cuba during prohibition to go drink Bacardi”.
Although now the drink is housed in a Nick & Nora glass, Toy had originally used a champagne flute. The flute was a nod to the luxury of the Pan Am flights back in the 1920s when, unlike today, a guest would automatically receive a glass of Champagne on boarding.
“Before I went to the global Bacardi Legacy finals, I changed the glass to a Nick and Nora, which changed the whole aroma of the drink. The Nick and Nora allowed the aroma of the Angostura Bitters to stay nice and forward. Also, the drink didn’t get caught inside the glass cause it was only half full.
There’s literally nothing complicated about that drink. I’d say the most complicated thing about this entire drink is if you can’t find orgeat in a store, and you have to make it just ripping ingredients offline. That’s really easy.
Although the drink was originally created for the Bacardi competition, Toy points out that he would have used the brand anyway.
“This drink was built around Bacardi Carta Blanca,” he said, “because it’s quite dry and quite tropical, like dry pineapple. All these kind of flavours really work around this drink and they all tie really well with the sweetness.”
While there is nothing complicated about the drink, Toy points out that making the Orgeat yourself allows you to control the sugar content.
“We use an Australia Orgeat from Crawley’s,” he said, “so it’s a bit of a shout-out to a fellow Sheffield bloke, Jason. We use it because the sugar content is quite low and it’s not too overbearingly sweet.
“But if you can’t get hold of that, making it yourself with a simple two cups -to-one almond milk and sugar, is really super easy.
Pan Am Cocktail
45mls (1.5oz) Bacardi Carta Blanca Rum
15mls (0.5oz) Aperol
15mls (0.5oz) Orgeat Syrup
30mls (1oz) Lemon Juice
15mls (0.5oz) Egg White.
Add all ingredients to a shaker tin, then dry shake (without ice). Add ice to the shaker then fine strain into a Nick and Nora glass.
Garnish with a spray of Angostura Bitters.