Volcano Bowl

Classic Tiki drink sized to share.

Volcano Bowl

By Bill Lau | Potable Pastime

No, it’s not the latest college football bowl game! (Although that thought brings an interesting image to mind, of lava flowing down the cone of an active volcano behind a stadium, with the bowl game in progress…or of one of those science fair “volcanoes” foaming over behind a vintage electric football game – now that paints quite a picture!) What it is, of course, is another great, classic Tiki drink designed to be shared by two or more people.

Sue and I used to order one of these (or the Scorpion bowl) to share back in our dating days at Hunan Cafe in St Louis (sadly a long-gone venue, though the chef/owner Chef Hsu still has a place in the St Louis area, Hunan Star in Des Peres, MO, though we’ve not had the opportunity to eat there), along with an appetizer, to kill time while waiting for a table (they were typically quite busy in the evenings and a waiting list was almost always in effect, but they made very good drinks!).

The Volcano Bowls were tasty and a lot of fun to share; each drinker was provided an extra long straw to drink from the communal bowl. The bowls themselves contributed an exotic and kitchsy element that we really enjoyed, and the flaming overproof rum in the crater made for quite a visual display. Plus the cocktail is really at home with Chinese or Polynesian food, particularly dim sum/appies.

This drink really showcases a blend of several types of rum. I list my choices, although there are many excellent brands to choose from. The only thing I don’t recommend is using the cheapest rums you can find or using only one type, as you simply won’t get the complexity and depth of flavor the drink (and you!) deserves. Oh, and while you can get by with bottled not-from-concentrate grapefruit juice, this still demands freshly squeezed lime juice. There really is no substitute! And yes – real maple syrup is one of the ingredients (don’t use imitation maple syrup!). May sound weird, but it blends in with the other flavors (the Demarara rum in particular).

You can find both vintage and repro volcano bowls for purchase on the web. A typical bowl holds enough for anywhere from 2 to 4 drinkers to share. Alternatively you can always serve these as individual drinks in Tiki mugs or glasses. Either way, it could be a stellar choice for New Year’s Eve celebrating. Make several batches if serving a group, or cut the recipe in half if having one just for yourself (hey, it’s perfectly acceptable!).


6 ounces grapefruit juice (the original version as found in Beachbum Berry Remixed called for regular, but ruby red can be subbed & is what I used because it’s what I had on hand; and I do like the color of the drink this way, too)

2 ounces fresh lime juice

3⁄4 ounce maple syrup (again, use the real stuff!)

1⁄2 ounce simple syrup

3 ounces Demarara rum (I used El Dorado 5 yr old)

2 ounces gold Jamaican rum (I used Appleton Estate Signature Blend – formerly called V/X)

1 ounce gold Puerto Rican rum (I used Cruzan aged light rum from St Croix in the US Virgin Islands instead)

1⁄2 ounce 151 rum (optional, to flame in the crater – see caution below)


Fill volcano bowl with 2-3 cups crushed ice.

Shake all ingredients except the 151 rum in a large cocktail shaker with 1 & 1/2 cups of ice.

Taste and adjust sweetness if needed.

Strain into the bowl.

Now, about that flaming crater effect:

CAUTION – If desired, carefully pour or spoon 151 rum into the crater of the volcano. You can flame this if you wish, but do please exercise maximum safety – ensure plenty of headspace above the bowl (flames can shoot 6″ or more), employ a stand-off lighting method so as to keep your body and clothing well away from the flame (e.g. fireplace match or extended reach lighter), and make sure the bottle of rum has been moved well away! And be very, very careful. Bring the flame near the crater slowly and sneak up on it. You should be able to hear it light off, and see a mostly blue flame.

(Alternatively, if you lack the actual volcano bowl but still want the fiery effect, float an empty half lime shell in the drink open end up, add the 151 and ignite, with all due caution as noted above.)

Potable Pastime assumes no responsibility for any damage or injury caused from attempts to ignite overproof liquor in this or any other drink recipe.

Wait for the alcohol to burn off and serve. Share between 2-4 people using extra long straws.


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