In the hot and muggy summer months in Mid Missouri we’re all trying to stay cool and we found some delicious tropical concoctions from local mixologists that are sure to beat the heat. Made with exotic liqueurs and flavors these refreshing cocktails are a departure from the norm and perfect for relaxing with friends.
Walking into Shrunken Head Tropic Lounge is a bit like entering a tiki bar on an exotic island. Just a sip of one of the libations infused with coconut, pineapple juice and rum will put you in the mood to relax and shake your cares away.
Bartender Justin Solum will be glad to make a traditional cocktail like the Mai Tai, Blue Hawaiian Zombie, or the Gilligan’s Island in honor of the hit television show. The Frankie’s Fink Bomb originated at a tiki bar in Las Vegas. The zinger is a topping of Stroh 80, 160 proof Butterscotch rum from Austria, described as “fruity with candied bananas offering “tongue and lip numbing heat.”
More adventurous types can try one of Solum’s signature creations like the Pacific Drift, made with coconut rum and Blue Curacao or the Fukushima Fuzz, a refreshing concoction of Midori, peach schnapps and Falernum, a botanical syrup from the West Indies with almond, ginger and cloves.
“I spent some time creating and perfecting that one,” said Solum, a Jefferson City native.
Shrunken Head is owed by Johnny VerPlanck, a tour manager and live sound and recording engineer who regularly works with bands such as Sublime, Reverend Horton Heat, Hank Williams III and Hoobastank, a well known rockabilly group out of Texas.
Although on the road a lot, Jefferson City has been his home base since he met his wife, Gretchen, who works in accounting at Central Technology Services, at a concert in St. Louis almost 10 years ago.
He originally set up a tiki bar in their home but then decided to open a micro-distillery and tasting room but the permit process became lengthy. He opened the bar instead. VerPlanck ended up making his white rum at Les Bourgeois in Columbia, marketed through the VerPlanck & Anchor Distillers brand that’s sold at several Moser’s Discount Foods in the area.
Shrunken Head Tropic Lounge, next to Prison Brews, is VerPlanck’s recreation of the tiki bars that he’s loved for most of his life. Minus the ocean of course, which he’s very partial to having grown up in California.
“I grew up living next to the beach,” said VerPlanck, who has also lived in Mexico and Belize. “I have spent time in tiki bars all over the world. They were popular in the 1930s through the 60s and Don the Beachcomber opened in Los Angeles and offered rum-based drinks.”
Although small, right now capacity is at 40 people, the atmosphere is fun and he plans to add an outdoor deck. VerPlanck decorated the bar with souvenirs and art pieces from his travels and made the thatched bar. There’s also a Gilligan’s Island pinball machine. Right now, the bar is open on Wednesday through Saturday, beginning at 6 p.m.
Already a popular sports bar and restaurant, the outdoor upper deck at J. Pfenny’s Sports Grill & Pub features a variety of tasty, frozen delights. Opened a little more than a year ago, it’s still a bit of a secret but a great place to hang out on a hot summer night.
“We felt like the area would respond to a place offering tropical liqueurs,” said Matt Worley, a Jefferson City native who has worked at J.Pfenny’s since the bar and restaurant opened three years ago.
Patrons can choose from slushy flavors like the raspberry infused White Gummi Bear made with UV Blue vodka, or the the popular Eat A Peach, similar to a fuzzy navel. The White Monkey is made with espresso vodka. The Riptide Rush offers just that with UV Grape, Sour Apple Pucker Schnapps and Blue Curacao. The flavors can be mixed and matched like the Pain in the Ass, a combination of the Rum Runner and Pina Collada flavors.
All of the frozen drink machines are located behind the bar and the name for each flavor is painted on each one with Worley’s creative original artwork. The bar itself is a bit of a conversation piece, especially at night. It’s concrete with embedded LED lights that change colors on an ongoing basis.
“The bar is really fun at night and provides a lot of atmosphere,” he said.
It’s cash only on the upper deck, which also serves speciality drinks like the Moscow Mule, made with vodka, lime juice and ginger beer.