“It’s a badass fucking drink,” says Scotty Schuder of the Missionary’s Downfall, a Don the Beachcomber original dating back to 1937.
Unearthed and de-coded by Jeff “Beachbum” Berry in his 1998 Grog Log, the recipe reads like an amplified Daiquiri; to the requisite rum, lime and sweetener, the Beachcomber version added fresh pineapple, peach brandy and mint, all blended with crushed ice.
An early proponent of fresh cocktail ingredients, Don the Beachcomber’s recipes have won favor with today’s tiki bartenders, whose eschewal of canned and concentrated juices has been a central tenet of the modern revival. For Schuder, owner of the Paris tiki den, Dirty Dick, the Missionary’s Downfall was a standout for its apparent timelessness.
“When we do classic tiki cocktails, we stick as close as possible to the original recipe,” explains Schuder, who spent more than a month workshopping historic tiki drinks for his opening menu at Dirty Dick. “A lot of these older recipes they need a little bit of tweaking because they’re not balanced for today’s palate,” he says. “I think this one, almost like a Daiquiri, just works.”
For the base, Schuder opts for Plantation 3 Stars, a light-bodied blend of Caribbean rums that is content to take a backseat in a mixed drink. Unlike so many of Don the Beachcomber’s signature drinks, like the Zombie and the Pearl Diver, which are characterized by bold layering of different styles of rum, the Missionary’s Downfall casts rum in a minor role. “The rum doesn’t shine in this drink at all,” explains Shuder. “There is so much other stuff in here besides the rum,” he says, “it’s not a very dominant part of that cocktail.”
Among these more prominent flavors is peach. Where the original recipe calls for half an ounce of peach brandy—an ingredient widely unavailable in France and only beginning to make a comeback stateside after half a century of obscurity—Schuder opts instead for crème de pêche. “We didn’t even try it with peach brandy because you can’t buy it here,” says Schuder. While lower in alcohol than peach brandy, crème de pêche also has a more concentrated sweetness, resulting in the need to lower the drink’s other sweetener, a one-to-one honey syrup, by half an ounce.
The biggest change Schuder makes, however, is to the citrus component. While maintaining the pineapple and mint, he calls on lemon instead of lime—an unusual pairing for rum. “We were playing around a lot with trying all these different ways,” recalls Schuder. “Normally with a rum-based cocktail you’d use lime instead of lemon, but for us, for this version, it just tastes better,” he says, “more balanced.”
A fixture of the Dirty Dick menu since opening over five years ago, Schuder stands by its timeless appeal. “I’ve never had one person say they didn’t like it”
Mastering the Missionary's Downfall