A while back, I asked a longtime cocktail-maker and bar owner to look into the future. "What's next in cocktails? What is there to get excited about next, after all of these years doing one new thing after another?"
He paused, then answered: "Fun."
I think we've arrived there now; made our way through the fancy vests and 20-ingredient bespoke cocktails into The Summer of F*ck It, Let's Drink Blender Drinks. The Summer of All-Day Frozémonade (rosé, lemonade, ice—you get the picture) and Frozen G&Ts, frosty Frozen Negronis, and even (gasp!) Scotch in the blender. (Don't knock it till you've tried it.)
So, since you've got your blender out anyway, add this tasty tiki drink to your list. The original Jungle Bird, from the Aviary Bar at the Kuala Lumpur Hilton circa 1978, was a slightly unusual exotic concoction, made with rum and pineapple cut with lime and bitter Campari. It was shaken and poured, frothy and rich from the pineapple, but I'd never seen it served frozen until recently. At Three Dots and a Dash in Chicago, they make a brain-freezing version that's fancied up with Cappelletti, a wine-based aperitivo that's orange-y and herbal. They also split the rum base, layering a bold, dark, molasses-y spirit (such as Cruzan Black Strap, Coruba, or Gosling's Black Seal) with funkier Navy-strength Jamaican rum (Smith & Cross is the go-to). The result is deep and spicy, sweet and intense, with a soft, mellow bitterness from the Cappelletti taming the drink's brown sugar flavor.
But you don't really need to buy the Cappelletti if you don't want another bottle in your home bar. To be honest, I like the bold punch of Campari better in this. And, while they make a thick 2:1 Demerara sugar syrup at Three Dots to sweeten the drink, there's an easier way: regular old Grade B maple syrup. New York bartender Theo Lieberman once told me that the flavors of the Jungle Bird reminded him of "eating pancakes covered in maple syrup and drinking a cup of coffee"—might as well make it literal and skip all that stirring of simple syrup on the stove. The rich maple flavor blends right in, boosting the rum and adding complexity to the drink with zero effort.
To keep the cocktail from getting too diluted, I recommend limiting the amount of ice you use to eight standard cubes. Chilling the mixture for several hours before you blend helps get the temperature down, so the ice stays frozen and the final drink is nice and frosty. Plus, the advance prep means you can have several blenders' worth stocked up before your guests arrive. Add ice and blitz each batch to order—no measuring needed when you're a Frozen Bird or two into what's guaranteed to be a fun afternoon.