Tag Archives: Ascension Island

The Chop’s Two Boats Cocktail Recipe

Far down in the South Atlantic, midway between continents lies the tiny volcanic island of Saint Helena. Largely unknown to most people, this British colony’s major claim to fame was as the site of Napoleon’s exile in 1815. In the world of spirits though, it’s known as the home of the Tungi distillery, makers of one of the rarest and most unique spirits anywhere in the world. Distilled from the fruit of the locally grown prickly pear cactus, Tungi (pronounced toon-jee) is a clear, unaged, full strength spirit with a very distinctive flavor.

Tungi is also known as 'the Spirit of Saint Helena.'

Historically, prickly pears (also referred to as tungis) were first distilled by colonists trading in East Africa, and their so-called “bush brandy” was a natural fit when it migrated to the British shipping stopover of Saint Helena around 1880. The ‘Saints’ have been distilling tungis in their backyards ever since, much in the same manner that moonshine is made, though Tungi didn’t go into commercial production until 2006, when Donny Stevens and Paul Hickling bought a small commercial still and installed it in the basement of Donny’s Bar in Jamestown. They’re currently producing a line of 3 spirits (an aged rum and a coffee liqueur as well as their flagship brand) which are only available on Saint Helena and its surrounding islands, as well as high-end shops in the UK such as Harrod’s and Selfridge’s.

The Chop was lucky enough to have a chance to sample some of this interesting spirit during our recent trip to Ascension, and initially found it very disagreeable. Not at all similar to a pear-infused vodka or a pear liqueur, Tungi is surprisingly bitter and medicinal tasting at first blush. Presenting an odd mixture of pine bark, licorice root, sour fruits and dried apricots, it can be something of an acquired taste. It does, however, boast the the very crisp and refreshing finish of a super-premium vodka, lending a clue that no matter what the taste, the quality here is unassailable. It is this finish on the palate that will convince you to try a second shot, and ultimately, to come to appreciate the flavor.

The locals on Ascension are given to taking it straight, and served chilled, it’s as fine an apéritif as any bitter liquor your grandpa may have tucked away in his cabinet. It also makes an outstanding Tom Collins, which is the perfect choice for bowling skittles or grilling a fresh-caught tuna in the island’s tropical climate. It makes a damned agreeable dry martini, and interestingly enough, it’s the first liquor we’ve ever found that made us want to add grenadine to a cocktail, which worked really well in drinks made with the bottles we smuggled home past US customs at the end of the trip. Because after all, isn’t bootlegged booze always the best booze?

Two Boats Cocktail

3 parts Tungi
2 parts simple syrup
juice of 1/4 lemon
dash of grenadine

Combine the Tungi, syrup, and lemon juice in an iced shaker, shake and strain into a cocktail glass. Sink the grenadine to the bottom and garnish with a wedge of lime.

(Tungi retails at 19.99 Saint Helena pounds for 700 ml. (About $36.) 43.6% abv.)

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The Chop Goes to Ascension Island

Yes, Choppers, The time has come for us to once again leave you high and dry for a while. Our bags are packed, our affairs are in order, and our blog is on hiatus for the next several weeks.

It’s been pretty sweet hanging around this winterlong, doing the whole home for the holidays, eat a ton of food, drink copious amounts of booze and sleep 12 hours a day thing, but it’s time we got back to work. After all, this whole blog business is less than lucrative and the mortgage here at the Chophouse isn’t going to pay itself. Tomorrow we’re going to get on a plane, and eventually end up on Ascension Island. We’ll probably be back in 5-8 weeks.

Ascension. 7° 56′ 0″ S, 14° 25′ 0″ W

A lot of you were more than a little curious when we turned up at Diego Garcia last year. These places are insanely remote and inaccessible to just about everyone. Up until now, we’ve kept our occupation a secret as part of our identity, but the time has come to make it known.

The Chop is a poacher of exotic endangered sea turtles.

We go to the ends of the earth with an Ahab-like obsession to track, hunt, and destroy as many sea turtles as we can find. This enables us to maintain our luxe Baltimore lifestyle for months on end without working. A couple of giant shells and a few pounds of turtle meat can keep a man in the finer things for quite some time. That’s why we spent so much time in the Emirates and Bahrain on the last trip. Where do you think the market for endangered trophy turtles is? America? Oh hell no! Those Arab sheiks and princes eat that shit up though. They love it. You haven’t lived until you’ve dipped turtle-hummus out of its own shell or seen an 18 year old Arab belly-dancer raqs sharqi on the back of a gilded loggerhead. Trust us, you’ll never go back to the Hustler Club again after that.

Look at those beady little eyes. Pure evil.

But why do we do it? How could we sink so low as to prey upon these defenseless, endangered, majestic creatures? (You mean, aside from the money and exotic travel and thrill of the hunt and general Hemingway-esque appeal of it all?) We’ll tell you. We HATE turtles.

We hate their little turtle faces. We hate that they’re hiding in shells all the time. We hate the fact that they have flippers instead of legs. We hate that they’re all old. We hate that they’re slow. We hate that they lay dozens of eggs at a time. Delicious eggs. We hate that they look like dinosaurs. We hate that people think they’re all wise and shit. Shut up turtle! You’re not smarter than me! We hate that they’re not mammals. That’s cold blooded, yo. We hate that they spend 100% of their time eating and sleeping. Get a job. We hate that they can hold their breath longer than we can. We hate Charles Darwin because he was a turtle-lover. We even hate the Terps. Go Duke! We hate that that captain from Whale Wars loves turtles. Fuck that guy too.

The Chop's most painful childhood memory.

But why hate so much? It’s personal. A turtle killed the Chop’s father! And not how you think either. It wasn’t choking on turtle soup or being crushed to death while sunbathing in the Bahamas. It was the assassination of Papa Chop by the coward Michelangelo. He posed as a pizza delivery boy and nunchucked our father to death, escaping down an open manhole. Ever since then, we’ve pursued him with futility to the far reaches of the globe. It is our life’s work to seek him out and make him pay with his life for that hateful deed. Him, and all testudines cryptodira everywhere. Revenge, thy name is Chop!

Seriously though: We’re going to Ascension tomorrow. We’ll be off the internet for a while, but we’ll try to take some better pictures now that we have a half decent camera phone. We’ll post them when we return.

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