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Fluffy JUNGLE BIRD Cocktail | Sprinkled with Campari Dust!

The Jungle Bird is an interesting cocktail, combining tiki and aperitivo vibes into one drink. I made the classic version first, then I’ll show you my version, made in a blender, with a dusting of Campari (yep, you read that right).

As mentioned, the curious thing tropical in this drink is the red, bitter Italian liqueur, Campari. You’ll also need a dark or blackstrap rum, I’m using Plantation Original Dark double aged rum. The sweet and sour balance will come from equal amounts of lime juice and a 1:1 demerara syrup. And another key ingredient is a tiki staple, Pineapple juice. And the Cocktail Time standard, a few drops of saline solution, to enhance all of the flavors.

Jungle Bird:

● 45 mL (1.5 oz) Dark rum

● 22.5 mL (0.75 oz) Campari

● 45 mL (1.5 oz) pineapple juice

● 15 mL (0.5 oz) lime juice

● 15 mL (0.5 oz) 1:1 demerara syrup

● 2 drops saline solution

Add all ingredients in a shaker, shake hard with ice, strain over fresh ice. Garnish with pineapple leaves, a cocktail cherry, and add a straw.

This cocktail dates back to the 1970s, when it was served as a welcome drink to visitors of the former Hilton Kuala Lumpur. It was created by Jeffrey Ong at the hotel’s Aviary Bar, which explains the Jungle Bird name.

The first written recipe called for generic dark rum. This was later updated to feature Jamaican rum, while many bartenders choose to use blackstrap rum for its richness and to stand-up to the bitterness of the Campari. I think a good dark rum can still shine through, if you don’t overpower it with other ingredients.

That’s why modern updates include scaling down the pineapple juice from its original four ounces, changing the cocktail from a tall, resort-like drink, to a complex sipper that spotlights Campari’s bitterness, appealing to the palate of the amaro-happy bartenders.

Eventually, the drink found its way over to the influential speakeasy Milk & Honey, and from there it has become an industry standard.

Now, let’s instead make my version, a Fluffy Jungle Bird.

For some extra tropical flavors I’ll use Plantation Stiggins Fancy. We’ll still need pineapple and lime juice, but for sweetness I’ll use honey syrup. Instead of Campari we’ll add peychaud’s bitters, and for a dry, fresh note, fino sherry. Saline will be added again as well, but here I’m also adding xanthan gum, to keep the frothy blended cocktail stable for longer. We’ll also add ice and infuse the whole cocktail with apple smoke before blending.

And for a bitter finish, today’s magic ingredient, Campari powder.

Here’s how to make Campari powder.

Essentially, we need to get rid of the liquid on low temperature and pulverize, or grind, what we’re left with, into fine powder.

So I’m adding 10 ml of Campari into each of my small molds. For reference my molds are 4 cm in diameter (about 1.5”). But you can of course use different molds. And this can be done with other liqueurs as well, as long as their sugar content is high enough. As for the temperature and the time, low and slow is the key, because you don’t want the sugar to caramelize and turn brown, which would ruin the appearance of the powder and impart too much of the caramel-like flavors. It worked for me at 70 °C, or 160 °F, for 6 hours. But it might be different for you, so be patient. You want to open the oven a few times, to let out the evaporated moisture.

Once I saw bubbles that kept their shape, I knew it was dehydrated enough. Leave it to cool completely and once solidified, you can take it out of the molds and grind it with a mortar and pestle. If it’s still a soft gel to the touch, place it back in the oven for a few more hours. Once you have your fine, even powder, place it in a sprinkler container which will allow you to apply it on top of the cocktail.

If the powder clumps together after a while, due to the sugar content and the moisture in the air, just shake the container and you’ll be able to sprinkle out the finer powder again.

Great thing about Campari powder is that you can use it for non-alcohol cocktails too, since we cooked off the alcohol in the process.

As for pineapple, if you’ll be juicing it yourself, get one that’s nice and ripe, because it has more sugar and juice. And if you want to take a zero-waste approach, you can use the leftover pulp to make fruit leather, like we did with the Horchata Piña Colada from the pineapple skins you can make pineapple oleo saccharum, like we did for the pineapple cordial, or use it a punch and you can freeze the nice looking pineapple leaves to use them as garnish for tropical cocktails.

But for this cocktail, the Campari powder garnish will be enough. Let’s make the Fluffy Jungle Bird.

Fluffy Jungle Bird:

● 45 mL (1.5 oz) Plantation Stiggins Fancy Pineapple

● 7,5 mL (0.25 oz) Peychaud Bitters

● 7,5 mL (0.25 oz) Fino Sherry

● 45 mL (1.5 oz) pineapple juice

● 15 mL (0.5 oz) lime juice

● 15 mL (0.5 oz) honey syrup

● 2 drops saline solution

● 0,4 g Xanthan gum

● 30-40 g ice

● smoke

● Sprinkle of Campari Powder

Add all ingredients, except Campari, into the blender, starting with 45 ml or 1.5 oz of Plantation Stiggins Fancy Pineapple Rum.

Follow that with an equal amount of pineapple juice, 45 ml or 1.5 oz. Blending freshly squeezed pineapple juice will give the cocktail a nice frothy mouthfeel, and if we want to keep that texture throughout the cocktail for longer we need to add xanthan gum. 0.4 g will be enough. For the balance of sweet & sour I’ll add equal amounts of honey syrup and lime juice, 15 ml, or 0.5 oz, of each.

Add bitters, so the cocktail still keeps its bitter backbone - this time not in dashes, but 7,5 ml or 0.25 oz of Peychaud’s bitters.

Next, equal amount, 7,5 or 0.25 oz of Fino Sherry. As the driest and palest of the traditional varieties of Sherry it will give us subtle dry and fresh notes. To enhance the flavors, 2 drops of saline solution

and to chill and dilute, somewhere between 30 and 40 grams of ice.

Last ingredient, smoke. I’ll place a Smokufo smoker on top, and torch a small amount of apple chips to add some smoke into our blender jug.

Once you’ve got enough smoke, close the lid and start blending, to mix everything and crush the ice. Once all the ice is crushed, your cocktail is ready. Pour it in the glass and allow the foam to settle just a bit, before you dust it with Campari powder.

As you drink, the foam will still want to separate a bit, but you take a straw and just mix it up, to keep the creaminess throughout the drink. This will also mix in the Campari, evolving the flavor and color of the Fluffy Jungle Bird.

If you like tropical, aperitif, or creamy cocktails (actually, if you like cocktails in general) I think you’ll love this one.

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To make it easier for you to try these recipes you can grab the bottles from my collection at CURIADA

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