Dutch-Indo Surf Rock of the 50s: Tielman Brothers

Check the end section for some sensational stage antics. Or look here for just the highlights:

The Tielman Brothers were an Indonesian sibling band back in the 50’s. They were regarded as a major influence in the surf-instrumental rock, and later rock-and-roll in Europe. Their stage antics completely set them apart from most, and were probably one of the first performers to do such maneuvers with their instruments. Andy Tielman had been playing the guitar with his teeth, foot, behind his back, before anybody else.

With strong roots in traditional Indonesian folk music, and the training and background in classical Western music, they created almost a new sub-genre within Rock.

This site has more about their history and some really fantastic photos of the brothers (and one sister, who’s kind of a babe).

PS: another fascinating little tidbit about Andy Tielman is his use of the VOX Guitar Organ.
Yes, it produces Organ sounds.

This is a rather interesting video about the instrument.

Unearthing a 300-year old punch recipe from the Spice Islands

As an initiation rite to join this society of Shelter, I have been commissioned by the powers-that-be to create a cocktail for a little soiree. Inevitably, one of the main factors I have to consider is transportability and ease of assembly when making drinks outside of my own bar. For that and many other reasons—like my newfound obsession with its long history—, a Punch seemed like a viable solution.

It’s true, the Punch is the first form of alcoholic mixed drinks that’s been enjoyed by our booze-loving forefathers long before the cocktails. It’s not the mixture of cheap booze and sugary juices, soda, or Kool-Aid we may be accustomed to in our modern times (or college days). The Punch in its truest form was a luxury back in those times, when ingredients had to come from faraway lands. There’s romance and an air of nobility, almost a ritual to the drinking of the ‘flowing bowl’. One account showed that a bowl of punch cost $250 in our currency today.

I may be biased in my nationalist affinity to everything that relates to my motherland of Indonesia. I can’t help but feel a sense of pride knowing that my country was the cradle of many boozy drinks and forgotten recipes of the olden times.

One essential ingredient that was used in a lot of early punches and cocktails is Arrack. This Indonesian version of the rum tastes nothing like the rums you’ll find today: mostly sugarcane with a potent mix of red rice. It’s as smoky as scotch and as pungent as mezcal.  Lucky for us, the Dutch company Van Oosten still produces this using the same recipe they’ve used since the 17th century.

It’s definitely not a sipping spirit for most people. When it mingles with sugars and citruses, however, this beast adds another layer of depth with its savory tones.
Read all about it here in this (google)Book: Rum, The Epic Story of the Drink That Conquered The World 

Without further ado, I introduce a Punch as old as Dutch colonization, pirates, and cannibalistic headhunting tribes.

Meriton Latroon’s Bantam Punch

This is one of the oldest Punch recipes ever recorded, from the 1668 book “The English Rogue, Continued, in the Life of Meriton  Latroon and Other Extravagants.  Comprehending the Most Eminent Cheats of Most Trades and Professions”

Describing his travels to Indonesia and the time he spent in the port of Bantam (Sumatra), he writes:

For we had not only the country drink called toddee, which is made of the juice of several trees, and punch, which is made of rack-lime, or lime-water, sugar, spices, and sometimes the addition of amber-grease, but we likewise drank great quantities of Persian wine, which is much like claret, and brought from that country in bottles.”

The sugar mentioned here is “gula jawa”: a combination of sugarcane and palm sugar. Used in almost every traditional Indonesian sweets and desserts, it has a pungent smoky aroma. With a lot of umami funkiness.

I’ve never had the luxury of tasting ambergris (do I wish to? hell yes), but this is what David Wondrich (author of PUNCH) has to say about it:

“Ambergris is clotted whale cholesterol, secreted in large lumps that float around until they wash ashore. That doesn’t sound very appetizing, but by the time it washes up, ambergris has aged into a lightly, sweetly and very persistently fragrant substance that most resembles soap.”

I didn’t go with the ambergris this time (or if I ever will) and opted instead for Pandan: a fragrant, herbaceous leaf used in a lot of Southeast Asian sweets and desserts. It may not be an equal substitute, but it does add the fragrance and savory aroma needed to make this punch extra special.

Unfortunately here in Seattle, there isn’t really a venue to try these old-timey punches.
Knee High does a pretty good job with their Happy Hour Punch bowls. It’s nothing I’ve ever been amazed by, but it’s cheap, fun and quick…
But don’t fret as a lot of bars can still make these punch recipes in a more condensed, abbreviated form as cocktails.  Though Arrack is a bit hard to find and only a handful of cocktail dealers here in Seattle carry it: Tavern Law, Liberty, Zig Zag are the 3 I know for sure that have it in stock.



RadenSlendro writes for his own blog, CatHaus, about cocktail, coffee, taste an flavors in general, with the occasional whatever-he-feels posts thrown in.