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Coffee Grog

Before Trader Vic, there was Ernest Raymond Beaumont Gantt, aka Don the Beachcomber. A lover of exotic lands, with a pencil mustache and a way of making movie stars feel at home, the legendary Hollywood bar owner single-handedly sparked the tiki craze of the 1930s. His bars, decked out by professional set designers, were copied around the world, as were his drinks—layered celebrations of juice, rum and spices. This spiced, flaming coffee grog was dug up by tiki historian Jeff Berry and first published in his book, Sippin’ Safari. In Don’s characteristic obsessive style, the recipe calls for not one, but two kinds of rum. “The 151-proof Lemon Hart Demerara has a charred wood gunpowder piratey taste,” says Berry. “But he also used the gold Jamaican rum to bring a sweet, floral molasses taste to it.”


  • 1 sugar cube
  • 1 tsp. Don’s Coffee Grog Batter
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg
  • Pinch of ground clove
  • Pinch of ground cinnamon
  • 3 strips orange peel
  • 1 strip grapefruit peel
  • 6 oz. freshly brewed hot coffee (Kona is traditional)
  • ½ oz. aged Jamaican rum
  • ½ oz. 151-proof Demerara rum
  • Tools:barspoon, matches or lighter
  • Glass:coffee or tiki mug, preheated
  • Garnish:cinnamon stick


Place the sugar, batter, spices and citrus peels in a preheated, heat-proof glass, then add the coffee, stirring until the batter dissolves. Place the rums in a fireproof ladle, carefully ignite with a match, and pour the flaming rum into the glass (pyrophobes may want to skip this step and just stir in the unlit rum). Garnish.

Don’s Coffee Grog Batter: Combine 1 oz. of softened sweet unsalted butter and 1 ounce of honey with a teaspoon of your favorite vanilla syrup, ½ a teaspoon of allspice dram and 1 teaspoon of your favorite cinnamon syrup. Makes 18 servings.

Adapted from Jeff “Beachbum” Berry’s Sippin’ Safari

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