Behind Bars: Tiki Classics

With "Tikitober" just around the bend, we figured it was perfect timing to kick of a new guest blog series we call "Behind Bars," where we spend a little time with some of our favorite local bartenders. 

For this first installment of Behind Bars, we were lucky enough to hang out with Ben Clemons from No. 308, who's been kicking ass with his Tiki Tuesday events all summer long. We asked him to share his thoughts on classic Tiki drinks and five of his favorite recipes. 

I don't even know where to begin discussing my adoration for tiki drinks. The taste? Yep. The history? Yep. The beautiful colors, glassware and garnish? Yep. Yep. Yep. I think what first really attracted me to it all was, honestly, how unabashedly kitschy the whole culture around it is. See, in a world where everyone is rapidly taking more and more aspects of life so seriously (almost to an unheard of level of pretension and scrutiny), Tiki is just happy. It's relaxed. It's anything but serious. In that, I somehow find solace. It may always be 5 o'clock somewhere, but it's always sunny in a scorpion bowl.

I started Tiki Tuesday at the beginning of the summer for a few reasons. Tuesdays at the bar seemed, well, boring. I realized there weren't any weekly parties to compete with, no crazy happy hour specials at neighboring bars promising 3 free drinks and a sandwich with every purchase of a draft beer. Couple that with my growing desire to see Nashville drinking more rum and the decision was simple, Tiki Tuesday.

I dove head first straight down the rum rabbit hole. I sifted through blogs, books, articles and anything else I could find in print pertaining to the brighter side of cocktail culture. Unearthing original recipes became an adventure. Learning the various cultural ties they had with specific rums, bars and people reminded me just how remarkable and unique of a spirit rum is. Trader Vic, Beach Bum Berry, Mai Kai, The Soggy Dollar Bar, just some of the legendary pioneers in the great Tiki crusades.

Ben Clemons of No. 308

Ben Clemons of No. 308

One Tuesday, a few weeks into our tiki party, I noticed something fascinating. The night itself was almost a sociology experiment. See, normally a bar sees a wide range of spirits being consumed. Tequila drinkers talking with whiskey drinkers. You get the picture. This dichotomy can sometimes lend itself to awkward "vibes" in a controlled environment. Not at a tiki bar though. As I looked around the room and out in the patio I saw smiling faces, jovial conversations. People. Having. A. Good. Time. And THATS why I love tiki drinks.

Enough talking though, here's a few well known classics in their non bastardized by American culture form...

Best of the Barrel, Indeed!

What happens when you get 500+ people together with 25 tables of almost 60 types of top-shelf booze? A hell of a good time, that's what. 

That's what happened when we gathered at Marathon Music Works on Thursday, September 3rd when Music City Food + Wine Festival joined us to raise funds for Songs for Sound. Songs for Sound is a Nashville-based charity whose core mission is to improve the quality of life for profoundly deaf children worldwide by providing resources to give them the chance at a mainstream life.

The event brought out a record crowd and record number of booze brands. A total of 25 tables were packed with more than 60 products; sampled, stirred and strained - or shaken - into cocktails. 

And our friends at Music City Food + Wine Festival helped with bringing in three of Nashville's favorite spots to provide nibbles for the night. Sinema, Hattie B's and Biscuit Love all brought their a-game and the crowd devoured every single bite. You can sample again from these folks (and so many more!) at the Music City Food + Wine Festival on September 19-20. It's a must-see event - kinda like 3st, but all day long and with much more food! Get your tickets here.

But let's talk about the booze. Because there was a TON of it! Of course, with the them of "Best of the Barrel," most were expecting bourbon and whiskey - and we had that in spades. But we also brought in a few surprises including barrel-aged tequila, gins and cachaça. Local bartenders stirred, shook and strained themselves into a frenzy with some of the most creative (and tasty) cocktails we've ever had. 

View the photo booth pictures on facebook.

What We Drank

As you know, we could not do this event without our incredible sponsors. From the venue to the posters, our sponsors help reduce the costs of hosting 3st of the Month so we're able to give even more to our charity partners. 

Emma Email Marketing
Food Sheriff Consumable Branding
Generation Domination
Liberty Party Rental
Mountain Agency
Moxie Print Market
Music City Food + Wine Festival
Nashville Audio Visual
SPEAKeasy Marketing
UBER Nashville

Rum for Days

Today, Sunday August 16, is National Rum Day.

Seriously, only one day? Rum should at least have a whole month! You see, we kinda love rum. Regardless of whether it's white, brown or yellow, rum is one of those spirits that just doesn't get the love it deserves.

After all, it was RUM that helped us get through Prohibition. Just because the laws shut down (legal) production of booze here in the states, that did not mean other countries had to stop. And folks ("rum runners") would bring this sugarcane spirit up from the tropics where we discovered the joys of a good rum buzz. 

Through the months, we've been lucky to have some seriously amazing rums participate in 3st of the Month. And through that time, we've whipped up a ton of rum-based cocktails. So, it seems only fitting to share some (30!) of those with you on this most sacred of days. Drink up!

Shit we love: Ancho Reyes

You might have noticed Ancho Reyes just keeps on finding its way into our recipes (or tasted it for yourself at our August "Anni3stary" event). 

That's because it's shit we love. It's a crazy-versatile ancho chile liqueur inspired by a 1920's recipe found in the town of Puebla Zaragoza, Mexico. The ancho chiles used to flavor the liqueur are hand-selected, dried, scissor sliced, and then soaked in a neutral cane spirit for six months in iron vats. But it does not stop there. After straining, they blend it and age it to allow the flavors to combine even further. Their careful process results in a robust flavor that's both sweet and smokey while also carrying a warm heat thats not overpowering. 

This liqueur makes our favorites list not just because of its delicious taste, but also because of the complexity and depth of flavor it easily adds to so many cocktails. This shit plays great with others too. Whether it be tequila, mezcal, dark rum, and even whiskey and gin, you can add a little or a lot for entirely different results. If you don't already have a bottle yourself, go get one. You can bet it won't be an addition to your bar you regret. A bottle doesn't last very long on ours...

Here's a few of our favorite Ancho Reyes cocktails.

A very happy Anni-3st-ary indeed!

3st turned 1! For those of you who attended our anni-3st-ary "Booze 2.0" where we returned back the the site of our inaugural 3st at ACME Feed and Seed on Monday night, you know it was a booze-filled blast! Guests arrived on lower Broadway and headed up to the party on the jam-packed third floor, and while ACME is used to drawling lines for its upbeat bar scene on Friday and Saturday nights, Monday's line was different. This time the line was to get to the 17 different tables with excited volunteer bartenders waiting to serve you and 400 of your fellow 3st of the Month members an array of brands both new to the 3st and a few returning for another go around. The party tone was set with patio lights strung across the ceiling, a bumpin' playlist (as usual) and a crowd abound with the familiar faces of loyal 3st-goers there to celebrate with us.  

As guests ventured around the room trying to decide which yummy booze-filled concoction was their favorite, we sold 3st of the Month t-shirts for the first time. Another first at our Booze 2.0 event was the 3st Stocked Bar. Everyone received a 'raffle' ticket at the door, and more tickets were available with an optional (but encouraged!) donation to this month's charity, The Shalom Foundation, which works directly with professionals from the medical community, educators, and nutrition specialists to meet the needs of children and families living in poverty. The ridiculously lucky dude with the winning number got his own bottle of everything served that night, and he needs to go buy a PowerBall ticket NOW before his luck runs out. With all the booze and good parties it can be easy to forget that all of 3st's profits go to a local charity selected by that month's venue, and hats off to y'all because as we crossed the one year mark 3st has raised more than $20,000. 

No tummies were grumbling on Monday night either thanks to ACME hooking the 3st crowd up with their very own dressed-up southern favorites including sweet potato grit cakes, southern corn cakes, oil-poached shrimp, and classic Nashville mini hot chicken biscuits.