Donn Beach, the inventor of Tiki Cocktails and bar owner in the mid-20th century, prominently used Fassionola. He incorporated it in some of his drinks on the menu at his famous Don the Beachcombers.
For instance, the Cobra's Fang is one prominent example that called for the red syrup. And some claim that also the Hurricane once relied on the fruity mix.
What is Fassionola?
Fassionola, in its original version, is a red-colored syrup used in Tiki Cocktails. It's flavored with different fruits, the dominant savor being passion fruit. There are also golden and green versions that taste slightly different.
Like Donn's Mix, it is a syrup closely associated with Donn Beach, the famous founding father of Tiki cocktail culture.
However, unlike Donn's Mix (a grapefruit and cinnamon flavored syrup), the ingredients of Fassionola were never revealed by Beach. It's certain it was red and that passion fruit was part of it, but the rest remained a secret.
So every Fassionola we have today is, to some degree, based on guesswork from a long time ago. But these newer takes on the red, fruity syrup can still perform some magic in tropical cocktails.
History of Fassionola
As mentioned earlier, Fassionola is closely connected to Donn Beach and the Tiki drinks he served in his bar and Polynesian restaurant Don the Beachcomber.
The first mention
Some think Beach invented the syrup himself. Others claim it had been a thing since the 1910s, long before Beach discovered his passion for tropical cocktails.
One of these claims seems to come straight from the back label of bottles from the Jonathan English Company in San Diego. The company was founded in 1952 and held the copyright for the name Fassionola until 1984.
The company does not produce their Fassionola anymore, although, apparently, you can get it on eBay. However, there are justified doubts about the authenticity of the product.
*Lately, some other brands also started selling their take on Fassionola, but they are often hard to get, too.
Donn Beach's Fassionola
Regardless if Donn Beach was the inventor or not, he's the one who made Fassionola known to a broader public in the 1930s. He used it in drinks like the Cobra's Fang, the Pi Yi, the Rum Barrel, and probably it once was part of the Hurricane cocktail.
He also took it to Hawaii, where he opened another Don the Beachcomber after having lost a lawsuit against his ex-wife. -You can read more about the story in the article about Tiki cocktail culture.
After a decade of tremendous success in Hawaii, Beach's business slowly started to crumble. And as his popularity waned, also his Fassionola recipe went into oblivion.
Yet, people never completely forgot about it. Not least because it still has a rightful place in cocktail books as the secret ingredient of Tiki cocktails.
Substitute for Fassionola
A common way to substitute Fassionola is a combination of 2 parts passion fruit syrup and 1 part grenadine. Even though it's also an approach that's often frowned upon.
Grenadine is an ingredient that has not the best reputation in the field of mixology. It's known to be overly sweet with an artificial taste.
However, the pomegranate-based syrup does not have to be artificially sweet. So, if you get a quality grenadine or even make your own at home, that definitely is a valid option.
Yet, certainly, your best alternative is to make your own Fassionola syrup at home.
It's impossible to find the ultimate recipe for Fassionola. However, everybody agrees that it must include passion fruit. -Plus, also the name suggests that.
A flavor-wise comparison that often comes up is Hawaiian Punch. A fruit juice invented in the 1930s containing orange, pineapple, passion fruit, guava, and papaya.
And therefore, that's also what we use for our approach on Fassionola -plus some additional elements that bring in some extra tropical fruitiness.
Ideally, you use freshly squeezed juices, or organic bottled juices unsweetened, cold-pressed, and not made from concentrate.
- 2 fresh passion fruits
- 2 oz passion fruit juice
- 2 oz papaya juice
- 2 oz tart cherry juice
- 2 oz orange juice
- 2 oz guava juice
- 2 oz pineapple juice
- 2 oz lemon juice
- ½ cup dried hibiscus flowers
- 2 cups sugar
- Add sugar and juices into a saucepan and turn up the heat. Stir and wait until the sugar has dissolved.
- Next, add the pulp of the two passion fruits and the hibiscus flowers into your mix and let the blend simmer for 30 minutes on low heat.
- Double-strain your syrup through a mesh strainer and let it cool down before bottling.