Don's Gardenia Mix Recipe for Making Tiki Drinks

By Sina Torner / Last updated on August 8, 2023

With our Gardenia Mix recipe, you can re-create another of Tiki legend Donn Beach's crazy tiki cocktail ingredients he used at his famous Beachcomber Bar.
Dons Gardenia Mix

Just like concoctions such as FassionalaFalernum, and Don's Mix - a grapefruit-cinnamon syrup - the Gardenia Mix is one of these seemingly undefinable cocktail ingredients from the height of Tiki Cocktail Culture. This flavor bomb has a rich and creamy texture but will only last shortly. 

Donn Beach, a true Tiki icon, was pretty secretive about his recipes which caused many of his creations to fall into oblivion - at least for a while.

But people like Jeff Beachbum Berry, restaurant owner, and tiki cocktail historian, went through a lot of trouble to uncover some of these old formulas.

So, thanks to his detective skills, we can make an authentic Pearl Diver Cocktail. Because that is the drink for which Beach traditionally used this mix.

Dons Gardenia Mix Recipe

Don's Gardenia Mix Recipe

A sweet, spicy, and buttery blend used for Tiki Cocktails as compiled by Jeff "Beachbum" Berry.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Resting time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cinnamon, honey, tiki, vanilla
Servings: 16 units
Calories: 67kcal
Cost: $3.10

Equipment

  • 1 sauce pan
  • 1 hand whisk

Ingredients

  • 3 oz unsalted butter
  • 3 oz honey - orange blossom or acacia
  • 1 oz cinnamon syrup
  • 0.5 oz vanilla syrup
  • 0.5 oz Allspice Dram

Instructions

  • Heat the butter until it's melted and runny.
    3 oz unsalted butter
  • Now add honey, cinnamon syrup, allspice liqueur, and vanilla syrup and whisk until everything is well blended. -You can also use a hand mixer for this step.
    3 oz honey, 1 oz cinnamon syrup, 0.5 oz vanilla syrup, 0.5 oz Allspice Dram
  • Use immediately while the mix is still runny.
  • If you don't plan to use it immediately, store your Gardenia Mix in the freezer and reheat the creamy butter only shortly before mixing your drinks. -Otherwise, store it in your fridge

Nutrition

Serving: 0.5ozCalories: 67kcalCarbohydrates: 7.1gProtein: 0.07gFat: 4.8gSaturated Fat: 3gSodium: 1.2mgPotassium: 10mgSugar: 7.1gCalcium: 4.8mgIron: 0.03mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

What Is in Don The Beachcomber’s Original Gardenia Mix Recipe?

The original Gardenia Mix created by Don the Beachcomber is steeped in mystery and intrigue, making it a tantalizing enigma for contemporary enthusiasts. Crafted by the legendary Donn Beach, the creator of the Pearl Diver cocktail, the mix is shrouded in secrecy as Beach meticulously guarded his recipes throughout his career.

In an intentional misdirection, he even christened it "gardenia mix," although its composition bears no resemblance to the flower itself. That con was a deliberate attempt to confound and befuddle those seeking his closely guarded concoctions.

The evolution of his recipes and unwavering secrecy culminated with his passing in 1989, leaving behind a treasure trove of unshared knowledge. However, Jeff Berry, driven by an insatiable curiosity, embarked on an exhaustive quest during the mid-90s.

Through meticulous research, consultations with former bartenders, and rigorous recipe testing, Berry succeeded in unraveling the secrets behind Donn Beach's masterpieces. This dedication and tenacity have gifted us with a precious legacy – the Donn the Beachcomber recipes that grace our glasses today.

In that case, the Gardenia Mix recipe is a mix of butter, honey, cinnamon syrup, spices from allspice dram, and vanilla. The mix is sweet and significantly thicker than average syrup, yet contains wonderful hints of spices.

The mix is also more complicated and time-consuming than most other Tiki ingredients and syrups. Plus, as butter is a part of the recipe, the Gardenia Mix doesn't last very long, even in a refrigerator.

These two things, plus the fact that this mix is traditionally only part of one drink, the Pearl Diver cocktail, explains why Gardenia isn't something you will see in many bars.

The Benefits of adding an emulsifier to Gardenia Mix

An emulsifier plays a crucial role in enhancing the stability and appeal of Gardenia Mix, especially when you want to create shaken cocktails. While combining butter and spices creates a delectable flavor profile, it introduces a challenge when it comes to cold beverages.

Butter fats tend to solidify at temperatures slightly below room temperature - around 65°F (18°C)- leading to separation when exposed to cooler environments like in a cocktail. This issue becomes especially pronounced in shaken or stirred drinks, where the fats can clump together. To fix this, you should use an emulsifier in your Gardenia Mix. 

Common emulsifiers like lecithin are naturally present in foods like eggs and milk, yet can also be sourced as powders online. By incorporating such an emulsifier at a ratio of 1% to the substance being emulsified, in our case butter, the fats are rendered water-soluble. 

This little trick ensures the uniform suspension of fats within a cocktail, preventing separation and enabling the utilization of Gardenia Mix in all kinds of cocktails, not just blended ones.

Who is Donn Beach, and why all the fuss?

When you came here intending to make your own Gardenia Mix, chances are high you know who Donn Beach was.

Even those who just wanted to know what it was might have heard that Donn Beach was the founding father of modern Tiki Cocktail Culture.

He invented dozens of cocktails with bizarre names like Cobra's Fang, Three Dots and a Dash, the Missionary's Downfall, and the legendary Zombie cocktail.

If you want to know more, read our article about the history of modern Tiki Culture.

And for more tropical cocktails, check out our 20 Tiki favorites.

How to use Gardenia Mix in cocktails?

The honest answer is that if you look for existing, recognized cocktail recipes made with the Gardenia Mix, you will only find very little. The Pearl Diver is the most popular.

Then there is also the Mystery Gardenia cocktail: 1.5oz White Rum, 0.75 oz Gardenia Mix, 05. oz lime juice, two dashes of Angostura bitters.

That drink gave the buttery syrup its name. But that may be it -At least as far as I am aware. However, that should neither stop you from making it nor should it stop you from getting creative.

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