Twelve months, three cities, three new Top 3 cocktails.
Two have been indefinitely removed from their menus; one is 5500 miles away.
What was I to do? I had to turn this Last-Night-Took-an-L situation into a Tonight-I-Bounce-Back in a hurry. Portland, Porto, and Los Angeles had rewritten my mixology map and just as suddenly turned off my GPS. I could lose all hope, sure. Stay on my wine tip and relinquish cocktails for good. Or I could try to recreate each of them at home. I mean, between menu descriptions and my cocktail shaker I surely had “enough to be dangerous.”
But fam, those three got to be my Top 3 for a reason. You don’t just whip up replacements in your Playa Vista kitchen. You give them the respect they deserve, miss them, and mourn them bitterly.
But you ALSO create something entirely new. Something drawing inspiration from all three.
The Split Personality, Bit House Saloon
Rhum-based liqueur, apricot juice, jasmine, lemon juice, with a coconut ice cube
After all my Thrillisting, Eatering, and Yelping, it was my brother and (up until today) Portland local that introduced me to Bit House. A “bartender’s bar,” as he put it, since it had come recommended by a bartender at another establishment, the Jesse Card masterpiece had my mind racing after this “two-drinks-in-one cocktail [that] starts out as a daiquiri and dissolves into a batida” courtesy of a coconut ice cube that melts as you drink it. Desperate as I became to conceive of a reason and means to recreate it at home, I knew better than to rush it.
The Foxtrot, Cantinho do Avillez Porto
Captain Morgan rum, pineapple, coffee, coconut
The Foxtrot, as you may recall from among my Favorite Foods of Portugal, salvaged an otherwise spotty evening with arguably the Most Rum & Biscuits Cocktail Ever. All this despite being served in a martini glass.
The Piña Colada “Never Frozen,” Copa d’Oro
Dark rum, pineapple, Coco Lopez, angostura bitters
Finally, Santa Monica’s Copa d’Oro, where Vincenzo Marianella’s golden touch redefined the piña colada for me from a frozen, heavy, coconut milkshake to a crisp, light, sweet but balanced treat. The secret, as my amazing bartender indulged me, was the use of Coco Lopez vs. other coconut creams, milks, or liqueurs. Personally, I always loved the dark, glistening, and dripping cherries they garnished the bev with as well.
The way these three drinks fit together in my head was fairly straightforward, particularly since I misremembered the Split Personality and thought the base had pineapple juice: I’d keep the Bit House drink’s structure, somehow introduce coffee to honor Cantinho, and leverage Coco Lopez for the ice cube with a cocktail cherry garnish in deference to Copa. The result? Hard to eclipse the originals, but y’all, this is pretty damn good. Here’s how to replicate at home what I’m dubbing The Splitfox.
- 2 oz Rogue dark rum (hard to find in L.A., so I used Zaya)
- 4 oz pineapple juice
- Coconut-coffee cube (1 oz water, 1 oz well-stirred Coco Lopez, 1 oz Stumptown cold brew coffee)
- Squeeze of 1/2 lime
- 3 Woodford Reserve Bourbon Cherries, to garnish
1. In the shaker or a separate measuring cup, combine water and Coco Lopez. Mix well until milky consistency is reached.
2. Pour mix into ice mold. Add coffee directly on top.
3. Freeze for three hours or until solid.
1. Combine rum, pineapple juice, and lime in cocktail shaker and shake vigorously.
2. Place coconut-coffee ice cube into a rocks glass
3. Pour contents of shaker over cube
Optional: Skewer three Woodford Reserve Bourbon Cherries with martini pick and add as garnish
Now, a few key notes on the coconut cube:
What happens if you take the coffee out of it?
In my first attempt, I tried to stay truer to the Bit House original – coconut was the only frozen, slow-release component. But if you put the coffee right into the shaker, then what you have until the cube melts is just mad sour coffee, courtesy of the pineapple and citrus. And we don’t want that – the fun is having one great drink transform into another, not stirring and clock-watching just to get something you can enjoy.
What happens if you take the water out of it?
DON’T DO IT. You will get a coconut smoothie dripping out of your ice mold. This was my first mistake: you need the water because the fat content of the cream will not solidify entirely. The water won’t dilute the flavor because Coco Lopez is extremely rich and sweet, and since we’re talking about less water volume than your typical ice cube, it won’t weaken the overall drink either.
What if I don’t like coconut?
Hey, if you violently hate coconut, nothing with coconut is for you. If you’re meh, or on the fence, or a situational consumer, take comfort in the fact that this drink is not especially coco-forward. Thanks to Stumptown, the cube really just gives the drink the flavor of Vietnamese (super sweet + creamy) coffee.
Crisis averted, y’all. Life gave us our Top 3 Lemonades, then took them away and gave us lemons, then we made our own lemonade. Life is like that sometimes – giving here, taking there, but inspiring deliciousness everywhere.
Nothing left to do now but enjoy…and then enjoy again!