MxMo: Fugu for Two

Posted by Anita on 03.17.08 8:29 PM

(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**In his introduction to this month’s Mixology Monday festivities, our genial host Rick describes how he came up with the idea for his theme of “Limit One“:

“Exotic cocktail spots would often advertise their potent potions by limiting a customer to one per evening. It wasn’t all gimmick, however; some recipes like the Zombie contained up to 5oz of 80-proof spirit! This phenomenon isn’t limited to just tiki drinks; in fact, many locales even have laws that forbid a bartender to create a drink with more than a specified quantity of liquor.”

Well, these sorts of potent potations may not necessarily be limited to tropical concoctions, but it’s hard to avoid the correlation: If the bar name includes an island locale and/or the word “Trader” in its name, the chances are pretty good that you’ll find some pretty strong stuff at the bottom of the menu.

Mixology Monday = Limit OneMercifully, many of these voluminous drinks come equipped with two or more straws, and most are expressly designed to be shared by gregarious group of cocktail hounds. Among this genre, the best known — and possibly the most confusingly varied — is the Scorpion Bowl. Back in the tiki heyday of the 1950s, it seemed like every bartender had his own scorpion style; some stuck with the arguably original rum and brandy; others went straight for the jugular with gin and/or vodka, and still others just threw together any random combination of high-proof booze in a bowl with sweet syrups, colorful liqueurs, and a tropical fruit garnish. With bartenders like these, it’s a miracle that anyone survived to tell the tale, much less that the Scorpion Bowl is remembered — and reinvented — so fondly in the modern mixology world.

At Alameda’s Forbidden Island, there’s no shortage of high-octane cocktails. Yes, you’ll even find a Scorpion Bowl: Show up on Sundays, and you can share one with your friends for a mere $15. Theirs is a potent elixir, and quite the show to boot: A flaming crouton simulates lava spewing forth from the crater of the bowl’s volcano centerpiece. True to its origins, this scorpion’s sting will surely make you — and, hopefully, three of your closest friends — forget all of your cares… and maybe your name.

But for my money, the tastier option is a Forbidden Island exclusive known as the Fugu for Two. Even though it’s served in an adorable Munktiki fish-bowl, it’s hard to imagine how anyone other than a tiki fanatic would think that a couples’ cocktail served from the belly of a ceramic pufferfish is romantic. (‘Til death do us part, anyone?) But the drink itself is as delicious as it is strong: Fruity and tropical, but not sickly sweet. It’s as potent as its Scorpion sibiling, yes, but it’s more than a little civilized.

For those of you who can’t make it to Alameda, the Fugu tastes just as nice when served in a regular bowl — or even a pair of double Old Fashioned glasses, in a pinch — as it does when it’s poured into a jumbo collectible mug. And unlike its aquatic namesake, you don’t even need a special license to prepare this Fugu.

(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**

Fugu for Two
3 oz amber rum
1 oz vodka
1 oz apricot brandy
2 oz pineapple juice
1-1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
1 oz passion fruit syrup (preferably Monin)
1 oz orgeat
sparkling wine

Combine all ingredients in a blender with two cups of cracked ice and pulse twice, very quickly. Pour into a tall bowl. and add more cracked ice to fill. Top with a float of sparkling wine, and serve with two straws.

bar culture, drinks, East Bay, Mixology Monday, recipes



Comment by Lauren

My favorite of these cocktails was the Warp Core Breach we had at Quark’s Bar in Las Vegas. Cracked me up!

Posted on 03.18.08 at 10:47AM

Comment by Anita

OMG, Lauren — the photo of that drink in the article’s image gallery is PRICELESS!

Posted on 03.18.08 at 11:06AM

Comment by keith waldbauer

yowza!!! that looks/sounds great. i gotta get down to forbidden island….. sounds like they’re doing great stuff down there…

Posted on 03.18.08 at 2:54PM

Comment by murray stenson

Forbidden Island is blessed with Class ( with a capital “C” ): Martin the owner and Jessica the bartender goddess!Kudos!!

Posted on 03.18.08 at 3:55PM

Comment by Anita

Keith: Come on down!

Murray: I just love that you’re a fan of some of my other favorite bartenders. We miss ya…

Posted on 03.19.08 at 9:43AM

Comment by Rocky

Yay tiki drink! This topic reminds me of the Pan-Galactic Gargle Blasters we used to mix up in college and drink out of those giant novelty martini and margarita glasses.

Posted on 03.20.08 at 10:33PM

Comment by Kathy Ramsey

You knew I’d enjoy this entry, Anita!

Traveling to Alameda in the evening, in our current situation, is almost impossible, so I sadly have not had the opportunity to get to Forbidden Island yet. I just had to point out to you, though, that this is the first tiki drink/lounge article I’ve read in several years written with a loving tone rather than being sniggering and condescending. You avoided the usual adjectives, which usually include things like “kitsch” and “cheesy” — thank you! :)

Posted on 03.21.08 at 8:01AM

Comment by Anita

Rocky: Oh, I can just see you. :)

Kathy: Thanks! There’s definitely something more ‘cocktailian’ about FI that invites a more-loving aspect from me as a lover of well-made drinks and well-run bars. I will defend my use of “kitsch” in the Tiki-Ti post… because it’s true! Mike & Mike Jr are talented and wonderful, but the Ti is about as kitschy as it gets. (Exhibit A: “ooga-booga! toro-toro!” Exhibit B: the wheel) They’re both fabulous bars of which I am inordinately fond… which I hope came through in the posts.

Oh, and Forbidden Island opens at 3 on Sundays, if that helps work it into your non-nighttime social calendar.

Posted on 03.21.08 at 9:15AM

Comment by Martin

Anita- thanks for including our favorite fish in your MxMo entry! When I came up with the Fugu, the vodka was originally this japanese spirit that was a kind of vodka but didn’t survive in the market very long. The vodka in it today is a kind of vestigal ingredient- an evolutionary leftover like an appendix or wisdom tooth. I never create with vodka, but people seem to enjoy the Fugu just as it is, so why mess with success. And by the way, since both Trader Vic’s and Monin stopped using real passion fruit in their syrup, we’ve switched to Funkin Passion Fruit puree mixed with simple syrup. Much more lively and natural.

I remember when you guys were there- sorry if I pounced on your empty fugu mug- even holding credit cards, theft is a big problem with the fugus. Not that you seemed like trouble makers!

Thanks for the kind words, Murray! You’ve got Jessica blushing. Hope to see you again soon! Please email me if you’re ever heading down.

Everyone else- please check out the directions page on our website for some public transport options, including the mighty A/C Transit “O” bus which leaves from SF Transbay Terminal and drops off within one block of Forbidden Island. 15 min with no traffic!

Mahalo to you all!

Posted on 03.22.08 at 1:06PM

Comment by Anita

Hi Martin — thanks for stopping by!

We actually used passion fruit syrup that we made by buying a bottle of Looza nectar and letting it separate. When the fruit sunk to the bottom, we poured off the sugar-water at the top, and what’s left was a pretty decent, less-sweet option. We’ve got little portions of it frozen for when the fugu urge strikes! :)

I’ve heard that some Latino markets sell passion fruit puree frozen, and I know that Perfect Puree of Napa Valley sells an unsweetened 100%-fruit concentrate direct to restaurants and in some Dean & DeLuca shops. But for our occasional passion-fruit needs, the de-diluted Looza isn’t bad.

And no worries about being over-protective of your fugus — they’re adorable and I can imagine that some of them would swim away if left unattended.

Posted on 03.23.08 at 2:40PM

Comment by maura

I love that you featured Forbidden Island! Sometimes great places like that are underestimated since Alameda is often overlooked. I’ve had the Scorpion Bowl a few times, and always enjoyed it, along with the Suffering Bastard. Now I’ll have to try the Fugu For Two!

Posted on 03.25.08 at 1:16PM

Comment by Louise


If there is room in your garden, passiflora edulis grows quite well in the Bay Area. No matter how drastically I cut mine back, each year it becomes the vine that ate the side yard, and it fruits! A lot!

Posted on 04.14.08 at 10:47AM

Comment by Anita

Louise: We actually used to have passion fruit growing in our yard. Keeping the vines from devouring the dogs (and everything else) became a full-time job, and we only rarely got fruit.

Posted on 04.14.08 at 10:55AM

Comment by Lauren

When the recipe listed says Sparkling wine at the end, is it only as a float or should I add some to everything else I’m puting in the blender? Thanks!

Posted on 03.05.11 at 3:04PM

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.