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  • Brian Maxwell

Day 52: Café de Calabeza

Updated: May 11


This morning, I decided to take a walk through the woods. The brisk western Pennsylvania air was a cold 40 degrees Fahrenheit, a stark contrast from the tropical New Orleans climate to which I'd grown accustomed. For me, it felt like a fall day, despite it being mid-May. So many memories flooded back. I thought about the feeling I'd get each year when going back to school, road trips with friends, and my college days most of all. It's funny how certain scents are so strongly connected to memory. Even though there was nothing around, and it was totally psychosomatic, I could suddenly smell pumpkin spice.


Welcome back, thirsty readers, and thank you again for joining me. If you've read this far, you can probably assume, I'm about to get "basic." I think today, with it's cool breezes and forest-filled strolls, would be a good time to take the stigma away from, what I'm not ashamed to admit, one of my most favorite flavors! After all, there's no reason to deny my own genetic predisposition towards everything fall-flavored.


Though people have been using a blend of baking spices to flavor beverages for hundreds of years, (sounds like punch to me) the term "pumpkin spice" wasn't really seen until the 1950s. It was then, companies began selling spice blends specifically for pumpkin pie. Spice company McCormick shortened the "pumpkin pie spice" blend to simply "pumpkin spice," and the monster was officially created.


Fast forward to the year 2003. Many coffee companies had been making fall-blend coffee drinks, using baking spices, but it was Starbucks, who first introduced the world to the Pumpkin Spice Latte by name. Donning their favorite fleece jacket and UGG boots, people around the world flock to the coffee chain every fall. They come to feed their primal urges, which only a PSL can satisfy. This all seems a bit silly to me, since these baking spices are so prominent in the tiki drinks we know and love. Cinnamon, allspice, ginger, clove, vanilla, and nutmeg as some of the most important items in any tikifile's spice cabinet. With no actual "pumpkin" involved, I've always wondered why there's so much shame associated with drinking these wonderful beverages. Perhaps, it's not the drink itself, but instead the demographic in which it's associated.


Café de Calabeza

1.5oz Espadin Mezcal

.75oz Coffee Liqueur

.25oz Falernum

.25oz Allspice Dram

.25oz Cinnamon Syrup

1oz Orange Juice

2oz Pineapple Juice

1oz Coconut Cream


Tiki Mug

Whip shake and pour unstrained.

Top with crushed ice.

Garnish with pineapple fronds, orange peel rosette, parasol, and freshly grated nutmeg.


*Though this cocktail works great on crushed ice, I originally made it as a frozen drink, given the higher sugar content, it works great in the blender as well.*

Yeah, maybe I'm poking fun at those with my same "pigment of privilege." There are a lot of reasons to make fun of us and be angry lately. It's absolutely shameful, to be honest. If you've been following the national news over the past few days, I don't think I need to spell it out. I'm not here to get on a soap box. I'm here to make drinks, but it gets to a point where it's hard to keep your mouth shut. Sometimes you need to just accept that it's not your party, and you need to let people feel what they feel.


I swear I was planning on keeping things fun and just talk about pumpkins. I guess I didn't keep things as light-hearted today as promised. Whoops! Sorry, not sorry? If you want to show your support to those who are marginalized, and deal with things you couldn't possible imagine, then get out there and find a way to make a difference. Otherwise, shut up and drink your pumpkin spice Karen! But what do I know, I'm just a tiki bartender. Stay safe everyone. Keep Shaking.

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