Minimalist Tiki
Minimalist Tiki / Justin Alford

Matt Pietrek is a drinks writer, educator, and historian who dives deep into the fascinating world of rum. He’s also a regular contributor to Bevvy, penning the rum-soaked Ruminations column, where he makes complex subjects more digestible for home bartenders and curious cocktail enthusiasts.

He still doing that, except now he’s also got a book. Minimalist Tiki is a handsome, hardbound tome that clocks in at three pounds and 300 pages. Inside, you’ll find an incredibly in-depth overview of rum, a helpful ingredient index, great bars and the people behind them, and 100 modern Tiki recipes.

So, if you love Tiki drinks but are intimidated to make them—or if you’re an accomplished barkeep looking for some new inspiration—Minimalist Tiki is here for you. It will even hold your hand along the way.

To learn more about the book and the inspiration behind it, we talked to the author.

Angostura Colada

Angostura Colada. Photo: Justin Alford.

How does Minimalist Tiki differ from other rum and cocktail books?

For starters, it’s three books in one: An approachable but geeky overview of what’s truly essential for making great Tiki drinks at home; the deepest dive into rum and how it’s made found in any cocktail book; and 100 recipes from two dozen of the best Tiki bartenders and bars, tailored for the home enthusiast.

I’m particularly proud of the last section. It shines a bright light on the work of many people who are also deserving of the spotlight alongside the “usual suspects” quoted all the time in Tiki articles.

It’s also relentlessly pragmatic and geeky, but very approachable. People have been blown away by how many recipes they can make already, without requiring crazy ingredients like barrel-aged banana foam.

Minimalist Tiki Fire

Photo: Candice Connor

Who’s this book for?

It’s a book for home enthusiasts (and aspiring Tiki bartenders) written by somebody who’s lived the lifestyle for over a decade. The book is also gorgeously photographed and laid out, with lots of small, but important touches, like the indexing of every recipe ingredient.

What does “Minimalist Tiki” mean to you?

Tiki drinks can be overwhelming to the casual consumer, with the myriad of exotic ingredients and elaborate garnishes.

Minimalist Tiki is a methodical, yet simple deconstruction of classic Tiki recipes. It exposes the bedrock and scaffolding of all Tiki recipes to create a deeper understanding, leading to more confidence and the ability to freely improvise. It also means focusing on the universe of readily available ingredients that any corner bar has or could easily make in 30 minutes or less.

A small number of people don’t “get” how a book could be called Minimalist Tiki, but if they read the book’s first sentence, all becomes clear.

Minimalist Tiki Book

How does this minimalist ethos impact the aspiring home bartender?

Once they understand the core pattern of Tiki recipes (juices, syrups, liqueurs, bitters, rums, etc), bartenders will understand what ingredients and equipment should always be on hand. Also, it makes for fearless substitutions and recipe improvisation. Readers will also come away with a far deeper understanding of the different types of rum, and how they create the “rum rhapsodies” that Tiki is famous for.

Also, with the 100 recipes from the Modern Tiki Vanguard section, readers have fresh, innovative recipes to get their hands dirty. The book is both theory and practice. All without requiring them to make crazy ingredients like butternut pea flower-infused pine nut orgeat.

[Ed note: we’d like to try that orgeat.]

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