The jungle bird is a fun tropical rum cocktail that has a few interesting twists. It was created in the early '70s at the famed Aviary Bar inside Malaysia's Kuala Lumpur Hilton. If you're looking for a great-tasting rum cocktail that gives you the chance to play with a cool garnish, it's hard to beat this recipe!
Rum, pineapple, and lime are typically found in tropical cocktails, but Campari is definitely not a common ingredient. Usually reserved for dry dinner drinks like the Negroni, the bitter aperitif works surprisingly well in this mix. The fruits help smooth out its bitterness while the dark rum and simple syrup bring in a touch of sweetness that draws it all together beautifully.
The real star of the show here is the garnish. You'll use a pineapple wedge and a few leaves along with a cherry to create a "jungle bird" adornment for the glass. It's really simple to put together and the effect is spectacular. If you normally skip the garnish on your drinks, be sure to add this one.
Gather the ingredients.
In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, pour the rum, Campari, simple syrup, and pineapple and lime juices.
Garnish with a pineapple wedge adorned with a cherry and pineapple leaves to look like a jungle bird.
Serve and enjoy!
How to Create the Jungle Bird Garnish
Cut a pineapple ring that's about 1/2-inch thick then cut it into triangular wedges. Pull a few leaves of varying sizes from the pineapple and stack them up on top of one another; place the shortest on top and line up the white ends. Use a cocktail skewer to pin a maraschino cherry on top of the leaves and through the pineapple wedge. Fan out the leaves to mimic a bird's tail feathers and rest the garnish inside the glass.
- Like many popular cocktails, everyone seems to have their own preference for the rum in the jungle bird. Dark rum is recommended over white rum, and the bold flavors of Jamaican rum is a favorite. You might also want to try a blackstrap (e.g., Cruzan), Goslings Black Seal, or Bacardi Dark.
- The jungle bird is almost always served over a single large piece of ice. It's easy to find 2-inch square molds, or you can use an ice ball. Either way, it will keep your drink refreshingly cold while minimizing the dilution.
- For the lime juice, it's easiest to squeeze the juice of half a lime directly into the shaker.
- To balance out the drink's flavor, use a rich simple syrup (2 parts sugar to 1 part water). White sugar works well, and demerara sugar is an excellent choice, too.
- Fresh pineapple juice is also recommended and you'll get the highest yield from an electric juicer. A muddler is not as efficient, but it will work: Place about 1 cup of pineapple cubes in the shaker and muddle very well to get as much juice as possible. Leave the pineapple in the shaker and continue mixing the drink (the agitation will help produce more juice).
Who Created the Jungle Bird Cocktail?
The first written recipe for the jungle bird was unearthed by Jeff "Beachbum" Berry in "The New American Bartender's Guide" (originally published in 1989), which he wrote about in the book "Intoxica" (2003). Though the drink's creation date is often attributed to 1978, Kim Choong traced it to the earlier part of that decade from people who worked at the Kuala Lumpur Hilton. It was most likely invented around 1973 by beverage manager Jeffrey Ong when the hotel opened. Served as a welcoming drink to guests, it was named in honor of The Aviary Bar's apparently impressive display of captive birds. Once rediscovered, bartenders became enamored by the Malaysian cocktail's intertwining of classic and tiki cocktail styles, as well as its ease of preparation. Today, it appears on drink menus in bars that otherwise shy away from tropical drinks and has inspired a number of modern twists.
How Strong Is a Jungle Bird?
Dark rums can vary in intensity, so the jungle bird's alcohol content will as well. However, it's always going to be a relatively mild cocktail and just a little stronger than a glass of wine. For example, when made with 80 proof rum, it weighs in around 15 percent ABV (30 proof).
Kim Choong. Finding the Creator of Jungle Bird. Thirst Magazine. Published 2016