How the Les Claypool Drink Got Its Name
Want a fun drink recipe for summer entertaining?
Oh, you do?
Well how about a vision-filled fishing tale first?
The setting is in and around San Pablo Bay, that body of water just north of San Francisco Bay where the waters from California’s central and northern inland valleys come together and then head toward the salty sea.
In late summer 2017, Tamir Ben-Shalom, bar manager at Bull Valley Roadhouse, was in his dram shop at Port Costa conjuring up a new tiki drink. He was inspired by the Amaro Aplomado from nearby Falcon Spirits, a craft distiller, where he also gigs as in-house mixologist.
A month later when Tamir was guest bartending at Miranda Bar in Oakland, the drink was reaching perfection, and Tamir was angling to give it a catchy name. While pouring some Hamilton 86 Demerara Rum—a classic rhum agricole of the French West Indies—into the shaker, he envisioned himself with Ed “the Minister of Rum” Hamilton smuggling rum in Hamilton’s 38-foot sloop between Saint Thomas and Puerto Rico. The fantasy voyage continued on through the Panama Canal to California. As Tamir reached for the Tempus Fugit Spirits Crème de Noyaux, he visualized the ship stopping off at that producer’s headquarters in Petaluma, then continuing on through the Golden Gate.
“I was imagining this libation traveling through the bay and on to Port Costa,” says Tamir. And that’s when rock musician Les Claypool, who is from Richmond and often sings about fishing in San Pablo Bay, came to mind. Still seeking a name for this new cocktail made from some less-familiar ingredients, Tamir thought “Why not name it after Les Claypool?”
Tamir then fell into a ratiocination only a fevered bartender could truly appreciate as he ran
through names from the glory days of the cocktail at the turn of the 20th century …
“Mamie Taylor, Jack Rose, and Bobby Burns … drinks named after iconic people in a time when mostly American whiskey, gin, and brandy were poured …. Two of these are made with scotch and one with applejack …. Naming a cocktail after an iconic person might inspire a guest to order something that reads very unfamiliar.”
Tamir Ben-Shalom’s Les Claypool Tiki Drink
¾ ounce Falcon Spirits Amaro Aplomado
¾ ounce Hamilton 86 Demerara Rum
¾ ounce Tempus Fugit Spirits Crème de Noyaux
¾ ounce lime juice
¾ ounce orange juice
¼ ounce John D. Taylor Velvet Falernum*
1 orange twist
Measure all ingredients separately and place in a cocktail shaker filled ⅔ with ice. Shake vigorously for 5 seconds. Strain into a cocktail glass full of freshly crushed ice.
Use a vegetable peeler to make a wide twist or orange peel. Twist the peel to spray the oil over the center of the cocktail. An edible flower is an optional garnish, but it gives the drink a tiki flair.
*Falernum is a syrup liqueur from the Caribbean best known for its use in tropical drinks. Tamir says that John D. Taylor’s is the most commonly sold, “but we finally started making our own. It uses four separate rum infusions of lime peel, cinnamon/clove, sassafras, and ginger. We add Martinique cane sugar in a 1:1 infused rums: sugar ratio. The recipe is set up so anyone can make it.”
Illustration by Margo Rivera-Weiss