Guna-Guna Cocktail


Tiki cocktails are not always an easy thing to deal with, at least for me. There are some really good ones among them and if you really have found a bar that interprets the tiki theme with sophistication and artfulness, even the whole thing is a true revelation of flavors and joy. Nevertheless, there is hardly another part of the world of cocktails where so many bad adaptations and unloved interpretations can be encountered. If I’ve never been at a place before and order a Mai Tai for the first time, I’m always a bit nervous about what I’m going to get. But today’s cocktail is different at all. It is a drink which would probably be capable of expelling some of those expecting sweet juices with a little booze in it – it is rather a border crosser.

The Guna-Guna Cocktail is definitely on the dark side of the Tiki genre. And by this I do explicitly not mean the bad side, but a side, which aims at bitter, complex and somewhat more mature tastes. Already the name of the drink is programmatic, because Guna-Guna means “black magic”. Interestingly, this name is derived from the Indonesian language which has to do with the basis of the Guna-Guna cocktail that is Batavia Arrak. Batavia Arrak is a clear Indonesian arrak (Batavia is the ancient, colonial name of Jakarta). Arrak, on the other hand, is the most comparable to rum. It is distilled from pure palm juice and / or sugar cane as well as from rice mash. It is available in well-stocked liqueur stores or online. The decision not to rely on a classic rum here is another reason why I called this cocktail a border crosser. In terms of taste the border crossing essence lies in another ingredient, Fernet Branca, which is a true challenge for many people in its pure form (Personally I love the taste of Fernet, though). Together with fruity peach liqueur, orgeat, lemon juice and angostura – as well as the enchanting scent of fresh mint that harmoniously emphasizes the Fernet – you can easily imagine the taste of a dark, exotic ritual on a misty palm tree beach at night. The flavors are simply great and the Fernet unfolds its complex bitterness in the background, which in turn is perfectly integrated into the overall concept of Arrak and the other ingredients.


The cocktail was invented by New York bartender Jason Walsh, which operated the Grata on the 1st Avenue, which is unfortunately closed by now. On his website he will hopefully provide us with a lot of new innovations for the future. A very grateful principle of the recipe are the equal parts of ingredients. But there is no reason to complain: the drink is perfectly balanced.


2.5 cl Batavia Arrak
2.5 cl Fernet Branca
2,5 cl Pfirsichlikör
2.5 cl of lemon juice
2.5 cl Orgeat
Some dashes of Angostura bitters (see below)

Preparation: Shake all ingredients except for the Angostura bitters in the shaker vigorously on ice and pour into a glass filled with crushed ice. Last float with some dashes of Angostura Bitters (about 0,3 cl to 0,4 cl)

Glass: Pilsener

Garnish: Mint


Buying sources: At specialized retailers or online.

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