Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Fog Cutter Cocktail

Fog Cutter Cocktail with Orange and Maraschino Cherry Garnish, and Umbrella

A Tiki Charmer from Trader Vic

Trader Vic didn’t invent Tiki.  Credit (or blame) for that goes to Donn Beach (founder of the Don the Beachcomber restaurants), as discussed in our posts on The Zombie and Planter's Punch. But these days, Trader Vic (a/k/a Victor Jules Bergeron, Jr.) is probably better known than Beach.

Don the Beachcomber restaurants have mostly died out (the 3 that currently bear the name were revived in 2001), but Trader Vic’s moniker is still on restaurants in the US and throughout the world. And he invented perhaps the most famous Tiki drink of all time — the Mai Tai.

Trader Vic also concocted other popular (and flavorful) Tiki drinks, including today’s special: The Fog Cutter. It’s a smooth potion with delightful citrus flavor. The Fog Cutter lost some luster in the 80s (when mixed drinks in general, and Tiki specifically, fell out of favor). But its tremendous taste has been rediscovered in the past decade or so.

Take a sip of this beauty, and you’ll wonder how anyone could ever stop drinking it.


Fog Cutter Cocktails in Tiki Mug and Glass, Orange Garnish and Umbrella

Recipe:  The Fog Cutter Cocktail

Technically, it’s not correct to call this drink a “cocktail” — it’s actually a tall Tiki-class “drink.”  But we’ve grown so used to calling any mixed drink a cocktail that it seems silly not to. 

The Fog Cutter features light rum, along with brandy and gin — a departure from the usual Tiki rum medley.  The Fog Cutter isn’t nearly as potent as the original Zombie, but it’s still a pretty hefty drink.  Trader Vic himself once said of it, “Fog Cutter, hell.  After two of these, you won’t even see the stuff.”

This is an original Trader Vic recipe, as described in Jeff Berry’s Beachbum Berry Remixed. Trader Vic actually created other versions of the drink over the years, but this is my favorite. It takes about 5 minutes to mix, and serves one. Serve this drink in a tall (10 ounces or so) glass or a Tiki mug.

Ingredients
  • 2 ounces light rum (plain old Bacardi, although not exciting, works OK in this drink)
  • 1 ounce cognac or brandy (nothing too expensive — a moderately priced VSOP or even VO like St. Remy or Raynal works well)
  • ½ ounce gin (any name brand will do)
  • 2 ounces lemon juice
  • 1 ounce orange juice
  • ½ ounce orgeat syrup (see Notes)
  • ½ ounce cream sherry or Amontillado sherry  (nothing fancy; spend $10 or so for a bottle)
  • orange wheel, maraschino cherry, and/or pineapple wedge garnish (optional)
Procedure
  1. Add all ingredients (except the sherry and garnish) to a cocktail shaker half-filled with ice.  
  2. Shake well for 20 seconds or more until the shaker is frosty cold.
  3. Strain into a Tiki mug or a tall (10 ounce or so) glass filled with ice cubes or crushed ice.
  4. Carefully pour the sherry into the glass so that it remains on the surface (this is called a “float” — see Notes for more details)
  5. Garnish with pineapple wedge and maraschino cherry (or any garnish you like), and serve with long straws.
Fog Cutter Cocktail with Orange and Maraschino Cherry Garnish, and Umbrella

Notes
  • Whenever a drink is served with a float, you should always drink it with a straw.  Otherwise your first sip will be overpowered by the flavor of the float – not what you want at all.  (I didn’t include straws in the pictures just to show the garnish more clearly.)
  • Pouring the float over the back of a tea spoon can help the float remain on the surface of the drink.
  • Why float alcohol on top rather than mix it in?  Well, as you sip the drink through a straw, the top float layer will gradually make its way to the bottom of the glass.  By the time you get to the end of the drink, the ice will have melted (at least partially), diluting the drink.  The float helps boost the flavor of the last few sips.
  • Some versions of this drink call for twice as much OJ as I use.  Try that if you like (but I don’t recommend it). 
  • This drink requires Orgeat, a sweet syrup flavored with almonds and orange or rose water. The most common brand you’re likely to find is Torani. Although many liquor stores carry Torani (or another brand) orgeat, not all do. You can also buy it through Amazon. Refrigerate once you open the bottle. 
  • I prefer to use crushed ice when I serve this drink (I used ice cubes in the pictures because they photograph better). Crushed ice melts quicker, which dilutes a drink. That’s a good thing, IMO, given the amount of booze in this one — a more dilute drink has a smoother flavor. 
  • Most any garnish you like will work fine with this drink. A little cocktail umbrella is always a cheerful addition.
Fog Cutter Cocktails with Orange Garnish and Umbrellas

Trader Vic Trivia

Trader Vic’s first restaurant was in Oakland, California.  It was called Hinky Dink’s (supposedly the name was inspired by the World War I song “Mademoiselle from Armentières,” which has the refrain “Hinky, Dinky, Parlez-Vous”).  He changed to a Polynesian theme after he saw how much success Donn Beach was having with Tiki.

As Trader Vic expanded his restaurant operation (opening additional locations and selling franchises), he soon surpassed Beach. In fact, some credit Trader Vic with creating the first successful chain of themed restaurants. His US restaurants have since declined in popularity, though Trader Vic still has 7 locations in the US, along with 4 in Europe, 10 in the Middle East, and 6 in Asia.

Trader Vic’s nickname was coined by his first wife, Esther, who noted his habit of ”swapping meals and drinks for supplies and services.” He was also quite the showman. He had a wooden leg — he lost the limb at age 6 to tuberculosis of the knee, but claimed that it had been bitten off by a shark in the South Pacific. He also claimed to have been born on a remote South Pacific island. To entertain customers, he’d sometimes hand them an ice pick and let them stick it into his leg (the artificial one).

In addition to The Fog Cutter and the Mai Tai, Trader Vic also invented the Scorpion Bowl. This drink looks much like the Fog Cutter and has a somewhat similar flavor, but it was intended to be as much “centerpiece” as cocktail.

As originally served, the Scorpion Bowl was an oversized drink, meant to irrigate 3 or 4 customers. It appeared in a communal bowl — with a gardenia floating on top — and diners would drink it through long straws. The serving bowls were colorfully painted, and their styles varied over time.

At first, the Scorpion was served in a footed ceramic bowl (the feet were shaped like topless Tahitian girls). Later on, it sometimes showed up in a volcano bowl. This container held a quart or more, and featured a “volcanic mountain” that rose up from the center. A “crater” in the volcano would be filled with a 151-proof spirit that a waiter set alight. The idea was that you’d get to enjoy watching the flaming volcano as you sipped your drink (and hoped your hair didn’t catch on fire).

Entertaining, I’ll bet. But the Fog Cutter is a better drink than the Scorpion Bowl, IMO. It has a smoother flavor, and it’s much easier to mix in a single-serving portion. And you don’t need a fire extinguisher.

You may also enjoy reading about:
Cocktail Basics
The Zombie
Mai Tai
Planter's Punch
Margarita
Mojito Cocktail
Gimlet Cocktail
Gin and Tonic
Classic Daiquiri
Pimm's Cup
Tequila Sunrise

66 comments:

  1. In my opinion, you are the person that I would turn to when it comes to exotic and beautiful drink. Really beautiful drinks!

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    1. Hi Ray, thanks so much for your kind words, and of course your comment. I really appreciate both.

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  2. I agree with Ray! This drink (or cocktail ;) is so intriguing with the use of such different types booze. Looks so delish!

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    1. Hi Kristy, it's a good drink, although its smoothness does mask how much booze is in it. But it's a long-sipping drink, so one lasts quite awhile. Thanks for your comment.

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  3. John, are you for hire? :) You make such a wonderful drinks that you can make fortune bartending at high scale parties, and with all your knowledges you can charge even extra for that! :) Where are the publishers? Are they hunting for your manuscript already? (I am sure cocktail drink book offer is just around the corner). Fantastic! What a great job you do with each post. Thank you! :)

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    1. Hi Marina, :-) Thanks for your kind words, and for taking time to comment.

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  4. I love the different flavour combined in this exotic and beautiful cocktail my friend :D

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

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    1. Hi Choc Chip Uru, it's a nice one! Really good flavor, and looks nice too. Thanks for commenting.

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  5. This is so pretty. I love the colour.

    My glass shots never look as good as yours.

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    1. Hi Kim, glass shots are hard - all sorts of reflections to think about, so they take some time. But it's worth the trouble with a cocktail this pretty! Thanks for your comment.

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  6. I've never heard of the Fog Cutter but I sure know the Mai Tai. But I see this has the rum ingredient so it passes my inspection.

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    1. Hi Suzanne, the Fog Cutter is definitely worth trying if you have all the ingredients on hand. Between it and the Mai Tai, though, the Mai Tai is the better drink. But the Fog Cutter is a nice change. Thanks for your comment.

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  7. Hmm.. some days I feel like I'm in a fog so I wonder if this cocktail would help thet? Looks great!

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    1. Hi Maureen, it's worth a try, don't you think? ;-) Thanks for your comment.

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  8. I would love to see your bar! This is a great drink and I enjoyed the history lesson. That Trader Vic. Whatta guy!

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    1. Hi ChgoJohn, it's actually not that big, believe it or not. A lot of my cocktails require the same 3 to 5 spirits. Although for all the Tiki drinks this summer I did stock up on some extra rum, and a few other goodies. Thanks for the comment.

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  9. Interesting read and a beautiful drink! That Trader Vic sounds like quite a character ;)

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    1. Hi Biren, Trader Vic was indeed a character. It was fun learning about him. Thanks for the comment.

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  10. Replies
    1. Hi Yudith, thanks for your kind words, and for taking time to comment.

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  11. I think we have everything except that orgeat syrup. I have to look into that. I would much rather drink this too instead of volcano!
    I had no idea about the purpose of the float. No wonder "a float" drink two weeks ago at the beach hit me pretty hard and had me giggling before I could even eat my first taco. I did not use the straw. :)

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    1. Hi Ilke, yeah, drink one of those without a straw and you're pretty quickly ingesting more alcohol than you might realize. Orgeat has a lovely flavor - worth getting (some people use it to flavor coffee). Thanks for your comment.

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  12. I have never heard of a fog cutter before. Sounds good, I like the lemon and orange juice in this drink.

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    1. Hi Words of Deliciousness, it's not one of the better known cocktails, although it's become more popular in recent years. A really good drink, and worth trying. Thanks for the comment.

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  13. Wow, this drink looks awesome...great combination of flavors...beautifully done :)
    I wish I could have one of this drink now...
    Thanks for this interesting post, recipe and hope you are enjoying your week!

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    1. Hi Juliana, I wish you could have one right now, too! Thanks for commenting, and I hope you also are enjoying your week.

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  14. I love the color of this drink. Looks so happy and I am sure once I taste it , will feel happier!

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    1. Hi Asmita, isn't this a pretty drink? I love its looks. And yes, you will definitely be happier once you taste it! Thanks for your comment.

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  15. Congrats my friend, I have awarded you and your awesome blog the Versatile Blogger Award :D
    Check it out here: http://gobakeyourself.wordpress.com/2012/08/09/wishing-for-spring/

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

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    1. Hi Choc Chip Uru, gosh, thanks so much for the award! I'll certainly go check out your post where you award it. Thank you.

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  16. You are soon becoming my go blog for cocktails! This looks amazing! :)

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    1. Hi Baker Street, thanks so much for your kind words, and for taking time to comment.

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  17. No you just HAVE to post a non-alcoholic drink recipe for me next time. Your shots are so amazing they are making me thirsty. Non -alcoholic drink coming up, right? :) peeeeech! :D

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    1. Hi leemz, I really should do a series on nonalcoholic drinks. Alas, I already have the drinks lined up through Labor Day, after which I'll be back to doing only one drink per month (I decided to do a drink a week this summer because, well, it was summer). Check out my grenadine post - I have a Shirley Temple recipe there (no picture, alas). And in my Tom Collins and Gimlet posts I do offer nonalcoholic versions. Thanks for your comment.

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  18. What a pretty and potent drink. Love your photos and the interesting story behind the drink.

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    1. Hi Karen, it is a lovely drink. There's so much cocktail lore, it always interesting reading about it. Thanks for your comment.

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  19. Replies
    1. Hi Jen, mine too! Thanks for commenting.

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  20. A couple of those would certainly knock you out but I just love the colour of it and it does seem like it would be very refreshing. xx

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    1. Hi Hotly Spiced, this drink does have a bit more booze in it than most, that's for sure. And refreshing it is! A great lazy summer afternoon drink. Thanks for commenting.

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  21. This sounds great! I tried your tequila sunrise the other day with the homemade grenadine. Wow! And a great story and I, too, appreciated the bit about the straw and the float. I can cook, but thanks to you, I cn now mix drinks!

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    1. Hi Abbe, isn't homemade grenadine great? Making cocktails is really easy once you learn a few basics things. Thanks for your comment.

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  22. Replies
    1. Hi Marta, thanks so much for your kind words and comment.

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  23. I could have used many of these while growing up in forever fog-bound San Francisco. LOL

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    1. Hi Carolyn, San Francisco does get amazing fog. But this will do the trick. ;-) Thank for the comment.

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  24. This cocktail series has been great because I have learned SO much! I never understood the reason for the "float", but I now I know! I had never heard of Orgeat syrup, but now I know what that is! Thanks! The Cream Sherry was a surprise after all that hard stuff. Makes me quite curious as to what it offers this drink. Guess I need to try it and find out!

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    1. Hi MJ, the sherry is kinda nice. I haven't tried this drink without it - I wonder what it'd be like? Have to experiment sometime. Glad you're enjoying the Summer Sippin' Series - I'm having a ton of fun writing it. Thanks for your comment.

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  25. Mmmhh, wicked! I own a 1968 Trader Vic book that I've found at a thrift store here in Switzerland...

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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    1. Hi Rosa, I'll bet that Trader Vic book is a lot of fun! You can use its recipes to throw your own Tiki party! ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  26. I really like the sounds of this drink. I think my favourite types of drinks are anything with a lovely citrus flavour to them, thanks for sharing this one, lovely pictures as well, makes me want to take a vacation :)

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    1. Hi Alessandra, summer drinks + vacation = bliss! I really like citrus in my drinks, too. Thanks for taking time to comment.

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  27. Haha, I don't know the difference between a cocktail or any other drink, so it's fine. You call this whatever you want because it will be just as delicious, I want a sip so badly!

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  28. Hi Cathleen, a lot of drinks we now cocktails actually began life as a different class of drinks entirely: flips, cobblers, sours, fizzes, toddies, punches, swizzles - the list is quite long. So today we just call them cocktails. ;-) Thanks for your comment.

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  29. oh my gosh what a pretty cocktail! it sounds magnificently refreshing!

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    1. Hi glutengreehappytummy, isn't it nice looking? And it's totally refreshing - a nice, long drink that takes awhile to finish. Thanks for your comment.

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  30. Replies
    1. Hi Raymund, I'd be happy to! ;-) Thanks for your comment.

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  31. Thanks for introducing me to this great sounding cocktail! I love tiki drinks, and really enjoyed reading more about their history here. Thanks!

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    1. Hi Katherine, this is a fun drink with a nice, bright flavor - excellent for warm weather. Or to cheer you up when it cold and cloudy outside! Thanks for your comment.

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  32. After seeing so many cocktail recipes, I think I'm ready to be a bartender when we host a big party. ;) I love this one - looks fruity enough for me to enjoy the drink!

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    1. Hi Nami, ;-) I have done a lot of cocktails! But the Summer Sippin' Series will be over right after Labor Day, so it will be back to one cocktail a month rather than one a week. This is a fun drink with lots of flavor - I think you would enjoy it. Thanks for your comment.

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  33. You always come up with the coolest drinks to post about, I've never heard of this cocktail before but it certainly looks very enticing. Love the colours and the photos as usual. :)

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    1. Hi Jenny, this is one of those drinks that cocktail buffs know about, but most people don't. It's a great drink, though - work trying. Thanks for your kind words, and the comment.

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  34. I like the name alone, and it does look like a drink you could drink VERY quickly:-) I loved learning about the drink, thank you for sharing! Take care, Terra

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    1. Hi Terra, isn't the name great?! And it's a pretty smooth drink, so it certainly goes down easily. Thanks for the comment.

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