Trader Joe's Rum of the Gods has a great name…
Tiki drinks are always an excellent choice on a hot summer day, but there aren’t all that many tiki drinks that are made especially for summer, such as fresh strawberries or other berries that you might run into at the farmers’ market. This is a shame because ingredients like strawberries and melon – and we’re talking about fresh melon, not just Midori (though Midori is delicious) – go extremely well with rum, citrus and other tiki drink-staples. This Strawberry Shrunken Skull is a play on a 1950s drink known as the Shrunken Skull. The original drink, as documented by Beachbum Berry, is said to use equal parts lime juice, grenadine, gold Puerto Rican rum and demerara rum. That’s a relatively short ingredient list for a tiki drink, but that is also a heck of a lot of grenadine for one cocktail. We decided that we could maintain the color of the drink and give the drink an infusion of summer by replacing the grenadine with homemade strawberry syrup.
The syrup is essentially a simple syrup that is infused with fresh strawberries. The berries give up their flavor very easily in the syrup, giving it a bold flavor and a vibrant red color. The berries need to be strained out before you use the syrup, however, as they look less-than-appetizing after they have been poached.
We’ve seen the original Shrunken Skull done with dark rum on many occasions, however we wanted this to be lighter overall. We used an aged white demerara rum (El Dorado 3) and combined that with Scarlet Ibis, a funky gold rum from Trinidad that has some wonderful honey and dried fruit notes that really compliment the fresh strawberry syrup. We did add a splash of grenadine to boost the color of the cocktail, but the resulting drink is similar to a strawberry limeade that has been generously spiked with rum – and that is perfect for summer in our book.
Strawberry Shrunken Skull
1 oz aged white rum
1 oz Scarlet Ibis
1 oz strawberry syrup*
1 oz lime juice
1 tsp grenadine
Combine all ingredients in a shaker and fill with ice. Shake vigorously to chill, then strain into a coupe and garnish with a strawberry and a citrus twist (or a citrus skull, if you’re feeling handy with a knife).
Strawberry Syrup: Combine 5-oz/1 cup fresh, hulled strawberries with 3/4 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer, and stir until sugar dissolves and strawberries are tender. Remove from heat and allow berries to sit for 10 minutes. Strain liquid to remove strawberries and allow mixture to cool. You’ll have about 1 cup of syrup – plenty for more than one round of cocktails.