Denver may not have the ocean, but it does have Adrift Tiki Bar. Specializing in flower-rimmed rum punch bowls and Hawaiian-inspired platters of jerk chicken and pork belly, Adrift has carved out a little slice of paradise on South Broadway, where you’re always on vacation.
Any good tiki bar has a solid selection of rums to back it—Adrift has 75. The bar is stocked with white, dark, spiced, and aged rums as well as rhum agricole. But one of the most exotic bottles in its lineup has to be Batavia Arrack. Though Batavia Arrack is often lumped into the rum family, it’s technically not a rum at all; it’s a very unusual spirit that comes from the Indonesian island of Java. Made from sugar cane (like rum) and fermented red rice (not like rum), it’s thought to be one of the oldest distilled spirits in history, popping up sometime in the 17th century, and allegedly popularizing the original “punch bowl.”
“I’ve always wanted to do something with this product, and it fits our [motif] here at Adrift perfectly,” says bar manager Joshua Duncan. So when it came time to debut a new punch bowl on Adrift’s summer menu, Batavia Arrack got the starring role. As if the seldom-used spirit isn’t exotic enough, Duncan decided to infuse his Batavia Arrack with a packet of pho spices, a blend that typically consists of star anise, cinnamon, fennel, coriander, clove, and cardamom.
“While experimenting, we discovered that pho spices were a beautiful companion to the complex and funky nature of Batavia Arrack,” he said. Add a little orange juice, grapefruit juice, allspice, and hibiscus liqueur, and you have Phoenician Punch.
The overall profile of the drink is refreshing, light, citrusy, and floral with hints of spice that remind you of vacation. It’s made in batches that serve two to four people. “Punch bowls are a fantastic revenue generator because you can charge more for them,” Duncan explains. “Our punch bowls go for $28 to $32 for a cocktail that serves two, which ends up averaging more than the cost of our individual cocktails on a per person basis.”
Add a comfortable 14 percent pour cost to that, and the punch bowl program at Adrift accounts for roughly 15 percent of its cocktail revenue.
“For some bars, that [may seem like] an easy win,” Duncan continues. “However, they are a labor of love at the same time. If there’s anything that 2020 showed us, it’s that people have a need for shared experiences, which we try to take to the next level.”
- Restaurant: Adrift Tiki Bar, 218 South Broadway, Denver
- Bartender: Joshua Duncan
- Cocktail: Phoenician Punch
- Pour Cost: 14 percent
- Price: $30 for two people; $56 for four people
- 1 ounce pho spice-infused Batavia Arrack van Oosten*
- 3 ounces hibiscus liqueur
- 2 ounces orange juice
- 2 ounces grapefruit juice
- ½ ounce allspice dram
*Infuse a full bottle of Batavia Arrack with one packet of pho soup base and let sit for one hour.
Combine all ingredients and shake with ice. Strain over fresh ice in a punch bowl. Garnish with fresh fruit and edible flowers.
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