Cinnamon: a fundamental raw material for Tiki drinks | Giovanni Ceccarelli

Cinnamon: a fundamental raw material for Tiki drinks

cannella giovanni ceccarelli cocktail engineering cinnamon don's mix

Cinnamon is one of the most famous spices in the world and even in the world of mixing it is used quite a bit.

A few months ago I wrote an article for BarTales on cinnamon. If you’re interested in learning more, click here and read the article on page 72 (in Italian). If however, you’re interested in knowing how to use this spice when mixing, continue reading this article.

First of all, some general information.


Cinnamon is originally from Sri Lanka and is obtained by processing the inner bark of the Cinnamonum verum (or Cinnamonum zeylanicum) plant. It should not be confused with Cassia, a spice that is obtained from the Cinnamonum cassia plant.

Cinnamon is much more delicate and has a more complex aroma while cassia has a more intense but less complex aroma. The main aromatic component is called cinnamic aldehyde and accounts for roughly 70% of the aromatic components of these plants. The latter is slightly soluble in water. This means that homemade non-alcoholic preparations can be made but will have a short life.

Now let’s see what these preparations are.

Cinnamon can be used to make syrups, sodas, to aromatize spirits (homemade Pimento Dram) or to make a tincture (and, if distilled, a spirit). It’s great as a spicy part in a punch.

An explosive Jonathan!*

Really important preparations, however, belong to the Tiki drinks world where it is not only used as fuel for drinks!

A Donn’s Mix, in fact, is the combination of cinnamon syrup and yellow grapefruit juice, while a Gardenia Mix is a combination of butter, cinnamon syrup, vanilla syrup and pimento liquor (Pimenta dioica).

In a future article, I promise to explain how to prepare a Gardenia Mix. Now let’s see how to prepare a Donn’s Mix.

Break the cinnamon into small pieces in a mortar and make a quick decoction in water. Let it simmer for no more than 5 minutes and remember to use a lid. Then allow it to cool off, filter it, and add about 167gr of white sugar for every 100gr of cinnamon decoction. It doesn’t matter if you use white cane sugar or beet sugar, they’re the same thing. Once the sugar has melted, add fresh grapefruit juice. Gianni Zottola, the greatest Italian Tiki drink expert, recommends two parts grapefruit and one part cinnamon syrup. (Visit his blog, by clicking here)

Recipe for 300ml of a Donn’s Mix:
– 100ml homemade cinnamon syrup;
– 200ml yellow grapefruit juice.

This preparation must be consumed by the evening so as to ensure the highest possible quality. In fact, citrus juice oxidizes quickly. The syrup can be preserved for a maximum of 3 days, after which it will considerably lose its flavour.

To conclude, here’s a recipe with a Donn’s Mix.

Donga Punch (Don Beach, 1937)
– 5cl aged Martinique rum;
– 5cl Donn’s Mix;
– 2cl Fresh lime juice.

Pour the ingredients into a shaker, shake and filter into a cup. In the past it was shaken with crushed ice, probably to water down the rum. Personally, I prefer to shake it with ice cubes and serve it in a cup.

Happy mixing!

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