The Shrunken Skull

The Shrunken Skull is based upon Don the Beachcomber’s Skull and Bones cocktail from the 1930s. One of his bartenders, Mario Licudine, went to work at the Mai Kai restaurant in Ft. Lauderdale in the 1950s. Once there, he modified and renamed several drinks he had been making at Don the Beachcomber.

This is an unusual tiki cocktail in that it only has four ingredients. It’s really easy to make too, requiring equal parts of each ingredient.


Shrunken Skull


  • 1 oz Demerara rum (pref. Hamilton 86 or El Dorado 5 yo)

  • 1 oz gold rum (pref Puerto Rican such as Havana Club or Bacardi 8)

  • 1 oz Grenadine

  • 1 oz Lime juice

  • Garnish: Scary Halloween garnish. Skulls, etc.


  • Chill a tiki mug.

  • Add all ingredients into a cocktail shaker

  • Add ice and shake for about 10 seconds

  • Strain into the tiki mug over crushed ice

  • Garnish extravagantly


  1. As noted before, this tiki drink is unusual in that it only has four ingredients. It’s perfectly balanced, and is tart, sweet, and very tasty. (For comparison, I make some tiki drinks with over 12 ingredients.)

  2. Demerara rum is distilled along the Demerara river in Guyana. The rum has a dark, smoky, earthy taste, and a little bit goes a long way in a drink

  3. This drink is absolutely reliant upon using good grenadine. Do NOT use the violent red stuff you see commonly. Make your own (it’s easy) or buy a bottle from Liber & Co.

  4. The recipe calls for the drink to be served in a tiki mug. I used a coupe because I wanted to show off the color of the drink


About Matt Mathai

My Santa Fe street cred: almost zero, but I do love it here. My wife and I retired to Santa Fein 2019 after buying our house here in 2012. We lived in Annapolis, MD for many years and had long careers. Mine was in technology - airline communications, healthcare, and online training delivery.


I love to eat good food, although I can do without some of the fussiness of fine dining. Good food to me reflects its cuisine/place of origin, is filling, and doesn’t have to be expensive.

  • From childhood, I’ve traveled (and eaten) all over the world, and when these pandemic restrictions ease, my wife and I will begin traveling again.

  • I have done sports photography professionally for about 15 years, mostly soccer and rugby. I’ve covered league and national team matches in both sports, for both men’s and women’s teams. Whenever I stop doing that, I want to get better at landscape and travel photography. Santa Fe is perfect for that.

  • I used to be a musician - a guitar player and singer. I quit graduate school to play in a band, which really didn’t go over very well with my parents. One day I’ll get back to it, just for myself.