Cocktail Recipe: Three Dots and a Dash

Some say that a hurricane is the quintessential tiki cocktail. Others think the mai tai or the painkiller rules supreme. But in my estimation, the best cocktail of the bunch — and the one with the best historical tie-in — is the Three Dots and a Dash.


Tiki culture (or at least what most Americans think of when someone says the word ‘tiki’), originated in the 1930’s at Don’s Beachcomber in Hollywood, California. Following the end of prohibition, people wanted a lively and vibrant environment to enjoy their cocktails instead of the dingy and dark speakeasies that had been the only show in town for the previous decade. Combined with the action packed film serials of the 1930’s that later inspired Indiana Jones, this exotic and exciting vibe quickly gained a popular following.

With the outbreak of World War II in the south pacific, literally millions of American servicemen found themselves suddenly and unexpectedly thrown into that area of the world. The tiki culture took on a new meaning, one where it was no longer primarily about the fascination of exploring exotic far-off lands but instead about celebrating the heroism and comradery of servicemen in that theater of the war.

Bringing things full circle, Donn Beach (the assumed name of the owner of Don’s Beachcomber, the originator of the tiki culture trend) was a World War II veteran himself and once back at his bar created a drink called “Three Dots and a Dash” — which, in morse code, means “V” for victory.

Some cocktails I make some changes or alterations but in this case I make it exactly as written.

We start with an ounce and a half of a very specific and very unique rum: AOC Martinique rhum agricole vieux. There are very few brands of rum that meet this requirement, as it very specifically describes a rum down to the island on which it was created, the process for distillation, and even how long it sat in a barrel. You can check out the full details here, but we’ve only reviewed one rum that meets this requirement and that’s the Rhum JM Rum 15 Year Old Vintage 2003 that we reviewed to celebrate our 400th review.

Thankfully, we still have the bottle on the shelf and it’s perfect for this use. The sweet and fruity flavor of the rum and the richer components from the long maturation period are critical for making the flavor profile of this cocktail — even if you subbed out a younger version of this same rum it just doesn’t hit the same way. You really need something well matured, like Donn Beach himself.

For the aged rum, I’m grabbing a bottle of Plantation Dark Rum. What we’re looking for here is something to add a bit of support without overpowering the other elements, and while pretty much anything in the dark rum category will work, I prefer Plantation. Look for a full review in the near future.

Moving on to the mixers, this is one cocktail that seems to throw the kitchen sink into the glass. Two of the items stand out — specifically, the falernum and the allspice dram, which are things a committed tiki enthusiast probably has on hand but which might be a little mystifying for the average mixologist. Thankfully, the falernum is available on along with the honey syrup, and the allspice dram was surprisingly well-stocked in my local North Carolina ABC stores. Hopefully it’s as abundant where you are too – but if it’s not, let us know in the comments!



Add everything to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until well chilled. Pour into a tall glass, garnish with a toothpick with three cherries on it and a dash of bitters straight into the top of the drink and serve.

Is the tiki vibe too tacky for you? Does it sound like you might not be able to walk after a glass of this stuff? Give it a shot yourself, and let us know in the comments if you find a way to make it even better!


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