Meet the Boo Loo. As far as tiki cocktails go, this drink seems to have slipped under popular culture’s radar, taking a backseat to its better-known brethren, the mai tai and the zombie. Almost everyone who’s had a drink has heard of those two cocktails, whether or not they’ve actually had one before (to say nothing of having a good one). But the Boo Loo? The Boo Loo who? It appears to not have even made it into the backseat; it got left behind in the driveway while the mai tai and the zombie laughed, fist-bumped, and drove off into a wild night of parties and debauchery. Boo hoo, Boo Loo.
The Boo Loo is believed to have been created around 1965, making it a mid-century tiki creation. If the 1950s and early 1960s are to be considered tiki culture’s heyday, that puts this classic cocktail in an interesting–some might say ‘precarious’–position. It’s during the mid-’60s that the culture starts to experience a decline in popularity, one that leads to almost complete and total obscurity by the ’80s (save for some horrifically butchered versions of tiki’s most famous cocktails). In other words, the Boo Loo didn’t have quite as much time in the sun as the mai tai, which was created in the early 1930s. Perhaps this is the reason it’s not a household name in quite the same way.
Nevertheless, I find the Boo Loo’s lack of relative lack of popularity a little surprising, given that it’s got all the right moves. You have your sweetness, in the form of a honey syrup (a 1:1 ratio of water and honey, boiled and simmered until the honey is dissolved). You’ve got your citrus, first in the form of lime, and then pineapple, the fruit that people obviously love and associate with tiki drinks, because it mistakenly ends up in mai tais all of the time. Heck, this cocktail is even traditionally served in a pineapple, which I’d argue is the mental image that most people conjure when asked to envision a tiki drink. Finally, you’ve got your rum. And you’ve got your rum. And you’ve got your rum again.
Come on, what’s not to love?
It’s time to give the Boo Loo its due, and here to help me do that are Michael Thanos, the owner, and Becca Morris, the Head Bartender, of celebrated tiki bar Forbidden Island. Forbidden Island has the distinction of being Alameda, California’s first and only tiki bar.
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Starting off with some #rum :) and then Thursday March 24th 2016: The Mitch Polzak Show #Americana, #Rockabilly .. With his #JoeMaphis fingers on fire, good looks, charm, jokes and showmanship… add delicious #tiki drinks, #cocktails, decor and wonderful weather, don't miss out!! 8-10pm, No Cover Forbidden Island Tiki Lounge, #Alameda #Livemusic #forbiddenisland #50s #60s
It’s garnered a massive following of devoted tiki acolytes, and is constantly converting more, and for good reason. With its thatched-roof bar, Japanese glass float lanterns, tiki idols, live music, and five-part cocktail menu, it’s a true tropical oasis. Did I mention that they also boast a massive premium rum list?
Forbidden Island proudly serves the Boo Loo on their Traditional Tiki Drink menu, where its name is followed by four skull-and-crossbones. What does that mean, exactly? I’ll let Michael and Becca explain…
What should tiki neophytes know about the Boo Loo?
The Boo Loo is deceptively strong. The Pineapple and honey mask the alcohol to the point that it almost tastes light. At Forbidden Island, it is served in a 20 oz goblet and we have literally seen folks stumbling after just one of the these. Much like the Ethiopian specialty honey wine, the combination of the rum (three kinds, no less) with the honey creates a very unique inebriation and I might add, a very pleasurable one!
What makes for a really excellent Boo Loo?
A really good version of a Boo Loo should be rummy, not too sweet, and almost silky in texture with about a half-inch of foam on top. The trick to getting the texture right is all in the amount of pineapple, soda water, and ice chunks you put into the blender, and how long you blend it for. If done correctly, all the contents in your blender will pour over ice without any room to spare.
Alright, we’re ready to bartend! How do we make a Boo Loo at home?
- 3 chunks fresh pineapple
- 2.5 oz pineapple juice
- 1.5 oz lime juice
- 1 oz honey syrup
- 1.5 oz club soda
- 1.5 oz Gold rum
- .75 oz Dark rum
- .75 oz 80-proof rum
Put 3-4 chunks of pineapple into the blender, fill with all your liquid ingredients, then just before putting the lid on and blending, add about 2 oz of soda water (In Beachbum Berry’s Grog Log, he specifically mentions not to add soda before blending. Big mistake! This is where it gets its texture from!!), and 4-5 small ice cubes, no more, no less. When you hit the blender switch, turn it off, almost as quickly as you turned it on. Do that 2 or 3 times, then let it rest for about a minute. Once you see the liquid separate from the foam, you know you’re good to pour it over ice, and enjoy. Cheers!