Bartenders like a jungle bird, because it is both a tiki drink and a craft cocktail. Leave it to Atlanta-based Tip Top Proper Cocktails to create a perfect version of this modern classic that fits in a pocket, so you can enjoy it wherever your wings might take you.
A simple mix of rum, pineapple, lime juice, Campari and sugar, and served in a bird-shaped vessel, the jungle bird was created in 1973 at the Aviary bar at the Kuala Lumpur Hilton as a welcoming drink. It first was included in print in John J. Poister’s 1989 “The New American Bartender’s Guide,” and later in Jeff “Beachbum” Berry’s 2002 volume, “Intoxica.”
The original recipe called for dark rum, while Berry’s book suggested Jamaican rum. Either way, the mixture is sweet, tart, bitter and boozy. The drink is a vibrant red, and the interplay of sweet and sour strikes a balance with the richness and depth of the rum. It has a backbone of bittersweet, herbal Campari. The recipe is fantastic with a rich, flavorful blackstrap rum, or with grassy agricole.
Tip Top’s 100-milliliter, 50-proof canned version, which debuted this week, originated as a concoction mixed by Miles Macquarrie, co-owner and beverage director of Kimball House in Decatur. “The jungle bird is one of those drinks that most bartenders love, because it rides the line between drinks in the tropical style and classic bitter aperitif,” Macquarrie said. “Those who know it, typically know it well.”
The ingredients of Tip Top’s version are listed simply as rum, lime, pineapple and red bitters. Shake and pour it over a large cube in a double old-fashioned glass, or tiki-style, over crushed ice. It has punch-like aromas, tropical flavors and bitter undertones, with notes of caramelized sugar. You can’t tell that it came from a can, or that a bartender didn’t mix it.
The jungle bird is the latest in Tip Top’s portfolio of shaken or stirred canned cocktails. The former includes a bee’s knees, a daiquiri, a margarita and an espresso martini. The stirred line features a Manhattan, a Negroni and an Old-Fashioned. Delta Air Lines includes Tip Top’s Old-Fashioned and espresso martini on its flights.
Tip Top was founded in 2018 by Neal Cohen and Yoni Reisman.
“I absolutely love a jungle bird and wanted to put one in a can to speak directly to the cocktail community,” CEO Reisman said in a release. “We’ve mostly done obvious classics so far, but this one shows that Tip Top is willing to go a little more obscure, not just the low-hanging fruit. We like to keep people excited and guessing.”
Tip Top’s jungle bird is available at tiptopcocktails.com for a limited time (they decided to keep the first batch small, in order to test the response); eight-packs sell for $39.99.
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