Horror In Clay Q&A: Jason Alexander

Posted by Jonathan Chaffin on

Jason Alexander is a craft bartender and rum fanatic in Tacoma, Washington, and a longtime fan of Horror In Clay.  He was recently selected to compete in the 2014 Iron TikiTender Competition at Tiki Kon in Portland, OR.  Jason won the competition, and his winning concoction happened to include Horror Infused: Fiendishly Tropical Bitters!  When he told me, I was floored!  Here is his winning recipe, and some info about the show!  I definitely hope to attend next year.

Tiki Kon Leviathan

(winning cocktail of the Iron TikiTender bartending competition at the 2014 Tiki Kon)

Swizzle, then add a float of Horror Infused: Fiendishly Tropical Bitters. (That's right y'all; Jason used our bitters in his winning recipe in the 2014 Iron TikiTender bartending challenge at Tiki Kon 2014!

What was your earliest exposure to heavily themed restaurants?  To Tiki?
My earliest exposure to tiki was September of 2011 when I stumbled into the Okolemaluna Tiki Lounge on the Big Island of Hawaii. It was there that I had my first real (no pineapple juice/grenadine/rum float) Mai Tai and Zombie. I was instantly hooked and obsessed with these drinks.
Down in Georgia, we're used to lots of rum variety since we're so near the Caribbean. What's the rum scene like in the Pacific Northwest?
The rum scene in the PNW is definitely present with place like Hale Pele, Rumba, Rum Club and myself all carrying hundreds of unique bottles of rum. Some stuff can be a challenge to get, but if there is a will, there is a way.
I enjoy rum styles more so than individual bottles. Jamaica, Guyana, Trinidad are some of my heavily used styles. 
Top 5 rums:
1. Appleton 21yr
2. Plantation 20th Anniversary
3. Panama Red Overproof
4. St. Lucia Distillers 1931
5. Anything from Plantation and Lost Spirits really.

Agricole rhums can be definitely overlooked. And I love anything Overproof.
Tell us a little bit about how you came to open the Tacoma Cabana & Rum Bar.
I came to open and operate the Tacoma Cabana because I was obsessed with these classic tiki drinks that I had at Okolemaluna Tiki Lounge. Nobody was doing it in the area (at least not that I knew of. Rumba, Hale Pele and myself all opened within a month of each other) and I thought it would be awesome to recreate some of these old drinks, make a few of my own and do it all in front of a giant wall of rum.
Tiki Kon has been around since 2007, and grew out of NW Tiki Crawls before that. How did you find yourself in the B.G Reynolds Iron TikiTender contest?
It was an open call for applications nationwide. You had to submit an original recipe using the sponsors' products and a bio. Three of us were picked from that. I was lucky enough to be chosen.
I found myself in the Iron Tikitender competition in a manner of trial and error. When I first heard about it, I was fixated on making a drink with these five ingredients: Jamaican rum, okolehao, lilikoi syrup, Campari and citrus (lime). I couldn't get the balance right and after weeks of giving it my best shot, I through in the towel. BG Reynolds announced he was extending the deadline by 48 hours. I knew I had one more shot at it. So I went down to the Cabana, added 8 other ingredients to it, messed around with the ratios just a little bit until we arrived at the Eldritch Zombie. The rest is history.
Can you give our fans a little taste of what Tiki Kon was like? Were you on any panels/classes? 
This was my first Tiki Kon. I was really excited to be there and to actually get to participate in it was the icing on the cake. Classes. Iron Tikitender Panel, more seminars and the big competition...Iron Tikitender!
The classes were awesome. Lot's of big names and great info. Lots of events and activities where sure to keep everyone entertained. The Tiki Kon marketplace was excellent as well. Munktiki and Vantiki were both on hand selling mugs and other wares. All in all, Tiki Kon was amazing and I can't wait to get back next year with more hands on involvement.
Can you give us instructions for building your winning recipe for Iron TikiTender, or is that forbidden lore?  What do you call it?  
On building a winning recipe: I didn't know what the mystery ingredient was gonna be so I was prepared to focus on balance and complimentary flavors. I didn't want to go to crazy, but I didn't want to play it totally safe. The mystery ingredient was Don Q Gran Anejo and that left the gates wide open for me to do what ever I wanted with what was available that day. I'm more than happy to share my recipe. It doesn't have a name as of yet, but I plan on tying it into to theme of Tiki Kon this year, Mysteries of the Deep.

That garnish looks intense!  Tell us about it.  (In general, I'd say you could teach a master-class on impressive garnishes) 

There was a "Most Garish Garnish" round. We were allowed to bring anything we wanted for garnishes. There was plenty of stuff on hand to use as well. I used a small little food hibachi that was ordered from amazon. Can't recall the name. Basically took out the important part and stuffed it in the pineapple. Sterno is the fuel for that.
I knew I wanted to light a pineapple on fire and that's just what I did. We ended up hollowing it out enough go fit a hibachi grill in it. Two south African baby pineapples hang from the sides like torches. The pineapple was garnished with flowers, fresh fruit skewers and rumaki to be grilled on top of the pineapple.

(Here's what Jason recommends for coring a pineapple). 

The mini Hibachi was also off Amazon and powered by sterno.




Horror and you. Are you a horror movie fan? What are some favs?

I'm definitely a horror fan. Most of it stems from brutally heavy metal. Bands like GWAR, Cannibal Corpse, Slayer and Deicide were staples in my childhood. I also grew up in the era of Nightmare on Elm Street,Friday the 13thReanimator, and all of the Puppet Master movies. I'm also a SciFi fan just as long as it is not Star Wars. Can't do the Star Wars. I used to play Xbox and the Gears of War story was a huge influence on me as well.


Do you have a favorite story by Lovecraft or Edgar Allen Poe?

I'm honestly not a huge fan of Poe. Nothing against him, just never felt the need to read one of his books. 
I'm new to the Lovecraft stories, so I'm still playing catch up. Obviously the Call of Cthulhu and the Shadow Over Innsmouth are standouts. I'm looking forward to the Dunwich Horror, Pickman's Model, and the Colour Out Of Space
Whargoul by Dave Brockie was an excellent read and one of my favorites. 
I also read a ton of scientific books by Neil DeGrasse Tyson, David Greene, Michio Kaku, Stephen Hawking, Richard Dawkins and Mary Roach. Ancient Egyptian history and the history of spirits and cocktails round out my library.


Thanks, Jason, for taking the time to share your experiences, and Congratulations!  Any Horror In Clay fans visiting Tacoma should definitely go visit the Tacoma Cabana & Rum Bar!

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  • As the co-creator of the PUPPET MASTER series, I am genuinely flattered to see it on your list of faves, along with so many other prestigious genre films. I, myself am a fan of all things Tiki and the cocktails rank high there, I hope someday to try one of your mixes.

    Kenneth J. Hall on
  • That was a fantastic looking cocktail and its great to hear that your bitters added that extra winning edge to the drink. Jason may be new to Lovecraft, but he sports that Deep One fez from Fez-o-Rama like a pro. Your Innsmouth fogcutter mug would have fit right in with this years Tiki Kon theme! And as a 25+ year fan of Lovecraft and a tikiphile, thank you for your efforts to blend the two with your fantastic mugs and bar accessories! Hope to perhaps see your wares on sale at the next NecronomiCon or Hukilau…or both!

    Corey Whitworth on

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