Remember that time you went to a classic joint that served up delicious tiki drinks, served in vintage glassware, garnished with fresh flowers and fruit? And then you tried recreating the same drink at home and the recipe included a complex list of spirits, syrups and juices? Hard to find things like orgeat, cinnamon syrup, Falernum; not to mention light rum, dark rum, overproof rum, bitters, fresh citrus and more. Tiki at home is anything but easy.
Blair Reynolds, owner of tiki bar Hale Pele in Portland heard this lament from bartenders and home cocktail enthusiasts alike. Back in 2009, Reynolds was interested in making tropical cocktails and started a blog called Trader Tiki. “I wrote about different tiki drinks, what rums to use, variations and my take on them,” Reynolds says. “A friend said he loved my cocktail recipes, but that they were hard to make at home because there wasn’t good quality, ready-made products available. So, I started BG Reynolds with a line of tiki cocktail syrups.”
Reynolds now offers about a dozen syrups ranging from rich demerara to falernum. There is grenadine and lime cordial, and cinnamon syrup and passion fruit. “A lot of these flavors are made to play with others,” Reynolds explains. “We make our syrups different. We’re not taking a sugar syrup base and adding flavorings to it. These are like the syrups bartenders and home cocktail enthusiasts would make in small batches behind their bar. It’s all dry spices or oil extracts, things that are real flavors.”
Orgeat, which is probably Reynolds’ best-selling syrup, is essential for a mai tai or Japanese cocktail. It is made with real almonds, which falls in line with the remainder of the products that are made with the actual fruit, nut, sugar, and so on, that the label states. “The passion fruit is made with real Maracuya passion fruit from Ecuador,” Reynolds says. “It’s this nice, ripe, rich fruit, with the sweet-tart flavor you get from good passion fruit. And our rich demerara syrup is made with two-to-one ratio of demerara sugar to water. It has a really nice flavor that complements a lot of spirits more so than regular simple syrup.”
Reynold’s makes his grenadine with pomegranate along with a hint of hibiscus. And his lime cordial is something fellow bartenders around the world have asked for—a bartender-made lime cordial to replace the ubiquitous Rose’s, sans high fructose corn syrup or artificial dyes.
BG Reynolds syrups aren’t just for cocktails. In the kitchen at Hale Pele, they use the falernum in the Puaa sauce for the Kalua pork on the menu, which adds sweetness, a kick of ginger and lime, and helps bring out a lot of the flavor in the dish. Reynolds proclaims it is “insanely delicious” to use the cinnamon syrup in a French toast mixture, then suggests topping with some of the vanilla syrup to finished dish.
What’s next for BG Reynolds? “Our market has been these dedicated home mixologists that are fascinated with cocktail research, finding recipes and tweaking them,” Reynolds says. “They buy my syrups when they’re not making their syrup. That is really who we’re aiming for. Or for bars that might want a convenient, cost effective product.”
Look for more on the BG Reynolds here soon, and on store shelves later this year.
Zombie Punch, as served at Hale Pele
½ ounce B.G. Reynolds’ Paradise Blend
½ ounce B.G. Reynolds’ Falernum
¼ ounce B.G. Reynolds’ Lush Grenadine
½ ounce 151-proof rum
1½ ounce dark rum
1½ ounce gold rum
6 drops absinthe
¾ ounce fresh lime juice
1 dash aromatic bitters
Mix all ingredients with crushed ice. Pour all contents into zombie glass. Top with crushed ice. Garnish with mint sprig, cherry, Hale Pele swizzle.