Year of the Rat

Alex Kirles, Sugar House | Detroit, MI

In January 2017, Sugar House unveiled its “Chinese Zodiac” cocktail menu, and, with it, Kirles’s Year of the Rat, a drink he sees as a cross between two tiki classics: the Pearl Diver and the Zombie. It makes use of Kirles’s take on Gardenia Mix, an obscure spiced syrup invented by tiki forefather Donn Beach that includes honey and butter. Here the mix helps contribute to a dynamic savory-sour interplay.


Serving: 1

  • 1 ounce overproof dark rum, preferably Plantation OFTD
  • 1 ounce aquavit, preferably Long Road Aquavit
  • 1/4 ounce raspberry liqueur, preferably St. George
  • 1/2 ounce Gardenia Mix (see Editor's Note)
  • 1/2 ounce velvet falernum, preferably John D. Taylor's
  • 1/2 ounce pineapple juice
  • 1/2 ounce grapefruit juice
  • 1 dash absinthe

Garnish: edible orchid and torched cinnamon

  1. Shake ingredients over pebble ice, lightly so to avoid chilling the Gardenia Mix back to a solid state.
  2. Frappe into a tiki mug, then top with more fresh pebble ice until full.
  3. Garnish with an edible orchid and torched cinnamon.
Editor's Note

Sugar House's Gardenia Mix:
8 Sticks (2 pounds) unsalted butter
8 ounces Half-and-half
8 grams Whole cloves
8 grams Cracked cinnamon
8 grams Whole black peppercorn
8 ounces Raw honey (by weight)
2 ounces Vanilla syrup
2 ounces Allspice dram
1 ounce Light corn syrup

Heat the first eight ingredients in a saucepan over low heat. Once the butter has completely melted, take the pan off the heat and add the corn syrup. Use an immersion blender to fully incorporate.