We recently joined Theo Lieberman of NYC's Milk & Honey to try out his latest creation; a fruity and bitter cocktail ideal for tropical living. Crafted in tandem with Lauren Schell of Little Branch, the drink is a variation of the Jungle Bird—specifically, a 1978 recipe from the Hilton Hotel's Aviary Bar in Kuala Lampur—which balances out sweet pineapple juice with the bitterness of Campari and the smokiness of black strap rum. Lieberman and Schell finish off their take on the classic drink with a heavy pinch of salt and a dehydrated, Campari-soaked pineapple garnish.
Lieberman compares the taste experience to a breakfast of pancakes and black coffee, but with an added salty quality. For the uninitiated, black strap rum is a molasses-based spirit that has a pronounced chocolatey taste. Much more sophisticated than saccharine poolside blends served up in hurricane glasses, the drink is nevertheless suited for hot weather.
For the garnish, Lieberman vacuum-sealed pineapple with Campari and later dehydrated the infused fruit for 24-36 hours. He recommends both the FoodSaver V2244 Advanced Design Vacuum Sealer and the Waring DHR30 Professional Dehydrator as options for the at-home experimenter.
A piquant cocktail perfect for outdoor affairs, mix up your own Salty Bird with the recipe below.
The Salty Bird
.75 oz. Campari
1.5 oz. Cruzan Black Strap Rum
1.5 oz. fresh pineapple juice
.5 oz. fresh lime juice
.5 oz. Simple Syrup
Pinch of salt
Combine all ingredients, shake and strain over fresh ice. Garnish with a pinch of salt and dehydrated pineapple.
Lead image by Alice Gao; other images by James Thorne