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Light the Torches! It’s Tiki Time at Bohanan’s

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It’s hot. You know it, but what are you going to do about it?

One solution would be to cool off at Bohanan’s Bar, 221 E. Houston St., from 5 to 10 p.m. Sunday where the folks are throwing a tiki party on the patio.

Fu Manchu at Bohanan’s

The torches will be lit for Tropical Classics in the Courtyard at Bohanan’s, where folks will able to sip the likes of a modern Mai Tai, a take on the fun Fu Manchu and such playful creations as Gee Punch, La Florida and Joe’s Volcano.

Tiki drinks, iced down in ceramic mugs with tropical cuttings, conjure an image of a simpler time, when the rec room was decorated in a Polynesian masks and prints, luau music played on the stereo, and dreams of island life floated over the pu pu platter on the snack table. Is it any wonder these kitschy cocktails are making a comeback?

Think of the paper umbrellas, the generous fresh fruit garnishes, orchids, ornate citrus peel twists and more than a little ice, all adding cooling splashes to the party. You’ll find them at all Sunday at Bohanan’s, where the party is the final event of Texas Tiki Week, sponsored by the Austin chapter of the United States Bartenders’ Guild.

Jake Corney, head bartender at Bohanan’s Bar, created the cocktail list after being introduced to the wonders of the rum-laced libations while on a urban tiki expedition in New York. It was led by Brian Miller, who hosts Tiki Mondays at Lani Kai there.

“The whole thing about tiki is that it should be fun,” Corney said, adding that while the drinks are certainly eye pleasing, the fresh flavors are what will captivate drinkers.

Jake Corney mixes a cocktail for a customer at Bohanan’s Bar.

There’s no reason you can’t throw your own tiki party at home, too. Corney has provided the recipes for his latest creations. He also offered a few tips on what to do to throw a memorable cocktail party. He’s a firm believer in using freshly squeezed juices to maximum effect. If you don’t have time to squeeze your own, try the fresh juices available at specialty stores like Central Market, he said. Top quality ingredients across the board, from the liquor you use to the ice, make a noticeable difference in your cocktails.

So do little touches, such as the grating of nutmeg over the top of the Mai Tai or the dash of bitters to finish off a drink.

While doing his research on tiki drinks, Corney also discovered the world of rums, which come in a variety of styles. An analogy could be made to tequilas in that white rum and silver tequila are great for blending because of their simpler profiles. Yet aged rums, as well as añejo tequila, add a welcome complexity to cocktails.

They’re great to play with during the summer, Corney said, and you should be able to pick up a couple or more to sample side by side. “Rum is one of the cheaper spirits on the market,” he said.

Corney learned about bartending from internationally renowned mixologist Sasha Petraske  and has worked behind the bar at Bohanan’s for the last two years.  He’s put the information he’s gathered in that time not just for his customers but also in the planning of the first San Antonio Cocktail Conference, which the Houston Street restaurant and bar spearheaded. Plans are afoot for a second conference, which will be held in January and which Corney promised will be greater than the first.

But for now, it’s tiki time at Bohanan’s. If you can’t make the party on Sunday, you can still sample the drinks the next time you visit the bar. For more information, call (210) 472-2600.


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