In 2010, the Jungle Bird rose again. This new Millennial Tiki was meta-Tiki. The uncomplicated joy of sweet drinks and pupu was tempered by world-weary cynicism. Cocktail historian Jeff “Beachbum” Berry included the Jungle Bird in his book Intoxica!, where he amped up the molasses by replacing the Jamaican rum with blackstrap rum. The Jungle Bird is now a staple in innovative bars like Chicago’s Aviary, not to mention the subject of a doting profile in the New York Times. Various interpretations swap out Campari for amaro or other bitters, and the rum for everything from mezcal to coffee. The Jungle Bird has been aerated, spherified, and made into a pousse-café.
Let’s face it, the Jungle Bird is genius. Like Tiki bar culture itself, the Jungle Bird has hidden depths. It may be pinkish, but the Campari, which gives the drink its blush, is an acerbic, intellectual counterpoint to the syrupy booziness of the pineapple and rum. Picture the love child of a piña colada and a Negroni. Or Jason Momoa and Naomi Campbell reading Umberto Eco underneath a palm tree.
Our take is a retro, wink-wink fruit cocktail snack. Remember in college when you poked a hole into a watermelon, poured in Everclear, and had yourself a 2 a.m. fruit salad? Likewise, we infuse chunks of pineapple with rum and Campari, and up the molasses notes by making the simple syrup with brown sugar. We load it all into a whipping siphon, charge it with nitrous oxide, and wait an hour. Then we spear our tipsy pineapple chunks on a cocktail stick with a maraschino, because it ain’t Tiki unless there’s a neon cherry. Finally, we sprinkle on a bit of lime sugar for sparkle. Voilà, a tasty and fun way to get your buzz on. Did we mention there were whippets?