Some of my cocktailian brethren and I were recently bemoaning the lack of authenticity in some cocktails. Take the Manhattan, for example. Long ago, it was a 50/50 mix of rye whiskey and sweet vermouth, with a couple of dashes of orange bitters. Over time, the cocktail has evolved (or in this case, arguably devolved) into rye whiskey with barely any vermouth, bitters only if you're lucky, and a dose of maraschino cherry syrup. I'll pass on the latter version, thank you very much.
See Also: How to Make the Best Manhattan Cocktail
The situation gets even worse when you get into my specialty, tropical drinks. It seems the modus operandi of many tiki bar menus is to come up with a drink that involves lots of rum and fruit juice, then slap a name from an old tiki bar menu on it. Given the fiercely secretive nature of old-time tiki bartenders, it's not surprising that this is the rule rather than the exception.
If you're going that route when creating a menu, at least pay some homage to the original creation. Case in point: There's an old Tiki drink called Doctor Funk. A fun name like that draws people in very quickly. They also love the kitschy Fu Manchu mug that is commonly used to serve the drink.
Most modern versions of a Doctor Funk are at least kissing cousins to the original recipe. Then there's a very popular local watering hole that has a Doctor Funk on their menu. They claim to be inspired by the original recipe, but end up serving something that isn't even close to the original. It's a pity, because a well-made Doctor Funk is a darned fine drink. I adore the authentic Doctor Funk because it's named after an actual person. Yes, Virginia, there is a real Doctor Funk. Or, at least, there was; he's been dead for some time. Dr. Bernard Funk practiced in Samoa, and was friends with famed author Robert Louis Stevenson. One of Funk's preferred "prescriptions" was lemonade with a stiff belt of absinthe added.
Both titans of tiki, Don the Beachcomber and Trader Vic, had very similar Doctor Funk recipes. It was a simple rum punch, with grenadine for color, a splash of soda water for lightness, and of course some absinthe because the good doctor would approve. There's really no reason to mess with a good thing.
As much as I love absinthe, I do have to warn that you're best with a light hand on the absinthe bottle. If you get much more than a teaspoon in the drink, the only thing you'll taste is the absinthe. Not that I'd mind very much, but it's good to let the lime and rum play a little too.
I do like to make one little variation when I make a Doctor Funk. I float the absinthe on top of the finished drink. This lets absinthe's aromatic compounds come into play, adding complexity to the drink by aroma alone. Further, the absinthe louche (where the clear green liquid turns opalescent) turns a lovely shade of yellow thanks to the grenadine in the drink. It's quite the spectacular presentation.
Doctor Funk 1 ounce lime juice 3/4 ounce grenadine 1-1/2 ounces light rum 1-1/2 ounces club soda 1/4 ounce absinthe
Shake lime juice, grenadine, and rum with ice cubes. Add soda water, and pour unstrained into a tall pilsner glass, adding more ice if necessary to almost fill glass. Float absinthe on top of drink. Garnish with a sprig of mint, if desired.
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