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(Fear is the) Mindkiller: A Dystopian Drink

Our cocktail (Fear is the) Mindkiller evolved from the ever-popular Pina Colada.

Ah, the Pina Colada. Simple. Sweet. Rum, pineapple, and coconut cream. Its cool, frothy flavors evoke relaxation. Pleasure. Fantasy. Escape. As you read this, you're probably picturing a beach somewhere, jewel-toned waters, without another soul in sight.

A Pina Colada can't exist without pineapple and coconut. We wanted to build off this foundation, but we weren't sure where to start. After all, pineapple and coconut have a full dance card; orange, banana, mango, and strawberry are all skilled, reliable partners.

It's time to let you in on a little secret.

It's called The Flavor Bible.

The Flavor Bible takes almost any food or flavor profile, and lists others that pair with it. It's not a recipe book; rather, it provides inspiration using the ingredients you have on hand. It's essential for anyone who enjoys the fluidity and freedom of creating in the kitchen.

A few months ago, John purchased apricot brandy from K&L (which also happens to be my favorite wine store in LA). It's an old-school ingredient from the first wave of cocktails around the turn-of-the-century, traditionally served with gin or whiskey, lemon or vermouth. It largely disappeared during Prohibition, then popped up again during the first wave of the tiki cocktail craze in the 1930s. It doesn't frequent many contemporary cocktails, so of course John's been searching for any excuse to use it.

When we cracked open The Flavor Bible and looked up 'pineapple', low and behold, apricot was listed as a flavor pairing. We looked up coconut and wouldn't you know it; apricot. Apricot is a less-heralded summer stone fruit than plum or peach, but it's glorious fresh or dried. We knew it would work, but still felt the drink was missing something.

Then we discovered ginger, one of my favorite ingredients, paired well with all three. We immediately decided on ginger syrup. John made a spicy, zing-y ginger peppercorn syrup and we were off to the races.

Once I tasted the tart apricot, frothy coconut, mellow pineapple, refreshing ginger, and spicy peppercorn together, I knew we had something special. The (Fear is the) Mindkiller takes a classic beach vacation drink to the next level.

The Pina Colada is broadly thought of, like most rum-based, fruit-forward drinks, as a tiki cocktail. They've enjoyed a comeback thanks to younger generations' love of 'kitsch' and throwbacks. They're fun, not fussy. They know how to set the mood, and a good one at that.

That scene I described above - a solitary beach, a warm breeze, a cold drink in your hand - makes Pina Coladas an easy sell, especially during a pandemic. Anywhere but here, right? If we can't leave, we can at least fantasize about it.

The Pina Colada, however, is not a tiki drink. Its origins are Puerto Rican, not Polynesian. (You can read more about the complicated history of tiki cocktails in our post, Dole Stole Hawai'i.) We can't engage in these beautiful, inspiring drinks without addressing the cultural appropriation rampant in tropical drink culture. Its origins are racist and colonialist, not least because it steals from another culture by romanticizing and exoticizing it for profit. So even as feelings of fantasy and escape arise, it's crucial to consider these factors.

'Fear is the mindkiller' comes from one of John's favorite sci-fi novels Dune, by Frank Herbert. When fear takes over, it clouds our judgement, leading to mistakes. Fear is fatal. Sci-fi provides escape, fantasy, and adventure. But unlike 'tiki', it acknowledges our mistakes. It addresses our worst fears about ourselves and the future. Sci-fi has the power to imagine worlds better than our own. This is a scary time, so it's tempting to drift off to a better place, even an imaginary one. Let's not. Instead, let's evolve. Let's examine our history and privilege. We can't build a better future without looking clearly at our past, no matter how ugly. We must turn back and confront the mindkiller. If we don't, we are lost.

Join the Club to get the recipe for Fear is the Mindkiller.

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