This Malaysian charmer may be the only Tiki drink to use Campari
Ahh, Tiki drinks: The soul of sweet laid-backness. Nothing bitter about them.
So what is Campari doing in this cocktail? Just enjoying a tropical vacation with its new friends, Jamaican rum and pineapple juice. The result sings like a nightingale and ruffles no feathers.
Mix up a Jungle Bird next time you’re yearning to fly away to Kuala Lumpur. And make enough for your friends. They’ll flock to this one.
Recipe: The Jungle Bird Cocktail
The Jungle Bird Cocktail hatched at the Kuala Lumpur Hilton’s Aviary Bar during the 1970s. It served as a welcome drink for the hotel’s patrons. More history in the Notes.
As is the case with many Tiki drinks, the recipe for the Jungle Bird has probably evolved somewhat over time. We adapted our version from one we found in Jeff Berry’s Beachbum Berry Remixed.
This recipe takes about 5 minutes to prepare and serves 1.
- 1½ ounces dark Jamaican rum
- ¾ ounce Campari
- 2 ounces unsweetened pineapple juice
- ½ ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
- ½ ounce simple syrup (or to taste; we sometimes skip this)
- garnish of pineapple wedge, maraschino cherry, and/or pineapple leaves (optional)
- Place all ingredients (except garnish) in a cocktail shaker half filled with ice. Shake until the contents are well chilled.
- Strain into a rocks (Old-Fashioned) glass filled with ice. Garnish, if you wish, and serve.
- When served at a bar, the garnish for this drink can be pretty elaborate. It almost always includes a pineapple wedge (sometimes an orange wheel) and a maraschino cherry. Pineapple leaves often adorn the glass. Sometimes the garnish includes an orchid, too. Or a sprig of mint.
- At the Aviary Bar, the Jungle Bird was served in a bird-shaped ceramic mug, usually with a pineapple garnish.
- We tend to prefer minimal garnish. But we don’t mind overdoing it on this cocktail.
- The recipe for this drink calls for simple syrup. We sometimes skip that (or reduce the amount) because we find the drink sweet enough without added sugar.
- We generally use Myers’s dark rum in this cocktail. But feel free to experiment. Some drinkers like to use blackstrap rum. We’ve never tried that, but it sounds like fun.
- If you see this drink on the menu at a good cocktail bar, it’s probably worth ordering. This cocktail has enjoyed a revival over the past few years because many bartenders enjoy experimenting with amaro and rum. This drink is a playground for them, so you’ll find several good versions of the Jungle Bird flitting around.
- The Jungle Bird was created by Jeffrey Ong Swee Teik, the beverage manager at the Kuala Lumpur Hilton. Sadly, Ong died in 2019 at age 71.
- Ong worked at the original Kuala Lumpur Hilton, which opened in the 1970s. The location later became the Crowne Plaza Mutiara (and the building was demolished in 2013). The current Hilton Kuala Lumpur, which opened in 2004, is a different hotel entirely.
Flights of Fancy
“Rockin’ robin!” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “This drink is graceful as a swan.”
“It’s a rare bird, especially with the Campari,” I said. “But great for cockatiel hour.”
“So emu-sing,” said Mrs K R. “Not.”
“Gee, I thought it was owlsome,” I said.
“Better duck now,” said Mrs K R.
Think I’ll stop this before we both have egrets.
You may also enjoy reading about:
Blue Hawaii Cocktail
Bombay Presidency Punch
Doctor Funk Cocktail
Fog Cutter Cocktail
Missionary's Downfall Cocktail
Navy Grog Cocktail
Paradise Cooler Cocktail
Volcano Bowl Cocktail
Or check out the index for more
Stunning shot John! Ahhh jungle juice these go down far too fast as they taste so good. Beautiful tropical color too. This weekend cannot come soon enough! Cheers!
Hi Bobbi, this is a wonderful drink -- terrific flavor. :-) Thanks for the comment.
This drink really does look like a bird with the pineapple leaf sticking out! I wish there were flights to Kuala Lumpur now, but this drink will be the second best thing! I remember the song Rockin' Robin from the 1950s- 'Tweedly Tweedly Dee!'
This looks so impressive! I love the colour and tropical flavours.
Hi Fran, we can't fly anywhere at the moment, alas. Well, we probably can, but we don't want to. :-( And Rockin' Robin! Wow, forgot all about that song! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Angie, the flavor of this is really good -- a new favorite. Thanks for the comment.
What a beauty. It looks and sounds very tempting.
Hi Pam, tempting is exactly what this is. :-) Thanks for the comment.
This is the kind of vacation I need... tropical. And I will have to have this drink while I relax in the hammock
Hi Dahn, tropical drinks are much needed both for the weather and the crazy times we live in. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Oh my! This looks fabulous and my mouth is watering.Flying over!
What a happy looking drink! And I love the garnishings!
Hi Abbe, waiting impatiently for you to arrive. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Laura, the garnish was fun to play with. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I have everything but the simple syrup but looks like I can make this without it! Love this color! SO enticing!!
Hi Ashley, you can always substitute sugar for simple syrup -- just shake longer to fully dissolve it. But as we said, we often (usually) don't add it in this drink. Thanks for the comment.
Well, "ca-caw" to you! What a great - and beautiful, drink! I need to start keeping pineapple juice in the house... it seems to come up here a lot and I am always caught unawares...
Hi David, we buy those little cans of pineapple juice just for cocktails. Not the best quality, but pretty decent. :-) Thanks for the comment.
John, I always love the history you share with your cocktails—there's often a great back story for the classic ones and you manage to find it. Cheers!
Hi Terry, we like cocktail history almost more than we like cocktails. Almost. :-) Thanks for the comment.
The name carries the cocktail perfectly. I also loved reading about the history behind. Love the tropical colors!
Hi Holly, the color is almost as good as the flavor. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Love that vibrant color!
Oh my goodness, I feel like I am on a jungle safari just looking at this stunning drink!
Hi Natalia, isn't it great? :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi GiGi, looks exotic for sure, with that garnish! Thanks for the comment.
Hr R, and tasty! :-) Thanks for the comment.
This drink looks so refreshing!
Hi Josiah, it is. :-) Thanks for the comment.
tiki drinks? what's that?:) this looks pretty. cockatiels and emus? very australian.
Hi Sherry, very Australian indeed! Our vacation must still be on our minds. :-) Thanks for the commen
Oh, the puns! I love it. And I want this to be served to me at any hotel I check into in the future, whenever that may be.
Hi Evelyne, yeah, it should be a rule that one of these is given to you with your room key. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Stunning. Such a beautiful drink with delicious flavors. Really makes me want to be on the sand somewhere tropical. With this cocktail in hand, of course. :-) ~Valentina
The drink is perfect to kick off summer right.
Hi Valentina, it's a great beach or pool drink. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Balvinder, definitely the right drink for this time of the year. :-) Thanks for the comment.
BO HOO HOO MR! :) ( AKA OWL SOUND ? )
GREAT RECIPE! GREAT BLOG AND EXCELENT MR. AND MRS. RIFFS!
KEEP GOING SO FOR MORE OUTSTANDING RIPES
GREETINGS FROM ROMANIA ,
Hi Daniela, that's a pretty impressive owl sound. :-) Thanks for the comment.
This makes me long for a beach in Hawaii! Sigh. Hopefully, one day we can all travel to our heart's content again. Until then, I'll drink to cocktails with faraway flavors that satisfy dreamily.
One of the most fun drinks ever. Love the garnishing!
Hi Carolyn, we really miss travel. :-( But in the meantime we can drink these! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Denise, this is a really fun drink to garnish. :-) Thanks for the comment.
You always have the most interesting cocktails, thank you! You’ve garnished it beautifully, a real treat.
Hi Eva, this was a lot of fun to garnish! :-) Thanks for that very kind comment.
I love anything that has Campari in it. Prost to your health.
Hi Gerlinde, Campari has such a wonderful flavor, doesn't it? A great cocktail ingredient! :-) Thanks for the ocmment.
You're on a tiki roll! Love the color of this drink. And I'm intrigued by the combination of flavors, sounds like something I have to try... !
Hi Frank, it's a weird combo of ingredients, or at least it sounds like it, but it works. In fact, it's a really good drink! :-) Thanks for the comment.
With pine apple and lime this sounds so refreshing, perfect for Kuala Lumpur weather
Hi Raymund, really refreshing, isn't it? :-) Thanks for the comment.
I am not a big fan of Campari, but would love this cocktail...so pretty and loaded with tropical flavor...beautiful pictures John...as always!
Hi Juliana, I think you'd like the way the Campari blends with the other ingredients in this cocktail. It's a neat mix of flavors. Thanks for the comment.
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