I confess that I am devoted to vintage cocktails, and for a couple of reasons. One, I remain a bit miffed at bartenders today who repackage vintage cocktails and call them something new. Who can trust a bartender practicing such trickery? Someone needs to be present who can call them out when they've taken a sidecar and renamed it a "Belly Button Licker." Two, I find myself still reeling from the recent barrage of 'tini drinks; this should require no explanation.*
Before I start sounding too arch, I must also confess my love of tiki culture and tiki drinks. (There goes my rep.) I grew up with an interior designer for a mother, and when I was a preschooler and schoolchild, our living room was done Polynesian style--thatching on the walls, palm trees in each corner, solid teak furniture with legs and columns carved like tiki gods, war masks on the walls, emerald green carpet and draperies, and a 50-gallon fish tank with an actual, live, real piranha in it (my mom bought him on the black market, and yes, I know they're from South America). I even love the cheap tiki stuff at party stores.
In other words, the following tiki drink recommendations are inescapable. These are all good for mixing in big batches. The links will take you to Serious Eats recipes, but that's just to get you started.
Scorpion: This is a pleasant change of pace from the age-old pina colada, which to me should be served only to children (alcoholic or not).
Mai Tai: Many, many variations and ripoffs of this drink abound. The original cannot be duplicated; it called for a vintage of rum that has all been drunk. (Seriously. You can't get that kind of rum any more; no bottles are left outside of private collections.) The key is to not get the ingredients out of balance. If you've had a Mai Tai from a bar, chances are you've had an overload of juice and syrup. This recipe should be a pleasant change.
Fog Cutter: I'll always have a special place in my heart for Fog Cutters (or as my mom jokingly called them after a night of one too many and slurred speech, Frog Cutters). You'll notice a trend in these recipes: Lighter, more naturally sweet, and nuanced. If you've had a Fog Cutter in a bad Chinese restaurant before, don't despair. This recipe should help.
Planter's Punch: I have made many a bad pitcher of this punch and drank them gleefully. I've also ordered many a glass of this drink; no two were alike. Yes, it can be a fruity, oversyruped concoction with umbrellas AND fruit AND a whirlygig AND a plastic whale; Planter's Punch can also be a more streamlined and classic cocktail. I've included recipe links for both here.
It's getting to be time to plan a tiki party. Aloha kakou!
*Yes, I understand that you, you right there, have a favorite 'tini, and I know that the cosmopolitan is a classic cocktail that was stomped to death by Sex and the City. I can't help preference and history.