Sunday, April 8, 2012

Tiki Classics: the Luau Scorpion

The Scorpion is one of the drinks that made Trader Vic rightly famous. It was a potent and voluminous drink designed to serve a number of customers at once who would drink out of a communal bowl. This spawned a number of copycat drinks, each with similar but distinct recipes. This variant comes via the Luau restaurant in Beverly Hills, dating from 1958. Personally I find it to be the best variant, largely because of the inclusion of lime juice instead of lemon and the addition of gin. For a comparison of all the different types of Scorpion, check out Kaiser Penguin's epic post.

Luau Scorpion (Beachbum Berry Remixed)
2 oz gold Puerto Rican rum
2 oz gin
1 oz brandy or Cognac
2 oz orange juice
1 oz lime juice
1 oz simple syrup
3/4 oz orgeat syrup

Combine all ingredients, add a handful of cracked ice, blend for 5 seconds, then pour unstrained into a double rocks glass or tiki bowl with more ice cubes or cracked ice. Serves two.

As far as ingredients go, I like a fairly rich Puerto Rican-style rum, something like Ron Abuelo 7 Años, Bacardi 8 Años or Flor de Caña 7 Year. These will given the drink a solid rummy base and play well with the fruit juices. The best gin I've had in a Scorpion so far is Hendrick's. It's floral notes dance nicely around the drink and it's just bitter enough to give the drink some snap without dominating. Aviation is another good choice, though I find that it doesn't play as well. Plymouth also gets tossed around as a good choice, but I find that it's a little bit too assertive. For brandy, something on the younger and fruiter end of the spectrum is going to be a good choice. I usually go for Hardy VS, but Jacques Cadin VSOP is also tasty if you want something a bit woodier. Pisco might even work, but it's fruit flavors will stand out much more in comparison to an aged spirit.

The sip leads off with the fruity flavors of the cognac and orange juice, livened by the floral and herbal notes of the gin. There's a brief interlude while the flavors retreat slightly, followed by the rum poking its head out and a return of the gin leading into the finish. Throughout the sip, the lime and syrups balance each other out, keeping any one aspect of the drink from getting out of hand. A tasty, but decidedly potent, potable.


  1. That just sounds incredibly delicious, Jordan. I'm actually going to make this. But first I must shop for orgeat.Terrific writing - particularly the specific recommendations for the component spirits and discussion of their attributes. That's very useful information.

    1. Thanks Josh. If you want to put in a bit of time, you can also make your own orgeat, which is deliciously creamy:

  2. Wow this needs to be made and drank on a patio in Hawaii!