I miss my friend, treasured with affection as she grew old.  I only knew her thirteen years before she passed away.   What great times we had, as well as the fun of ordinary times, like a simple stroll; or sitting by the grill (charcoal of course), enjoying the moment drinking a beer.  Beer was her favorite.  She relished beer better than chips, more than cheese, maybe even more than meat, which is saying something if you would see her confronted with the delight of those foods.  Maybe she felt as an equal with me when we drank beer together.  My friend was a golden retriever, and she received only a sip or two at a time.  Her name was Zoi.

In the drink named Tamon, I invented a syrup as an ingredient.  First came the syrup, then the drink.  The syrup is called Zoi’s Mix.  Zoi was a dark golden retriever, not like the light blonde colors.  I wanted to match her color by making a dark orange – thereby qualifying the pomegranate & pineapple.  The next ingredient needs some explaining.  Zoi had stomach problems from time to time, and would stop eating.  After veterinary advisement, I fed her cottage cheese and instant rice, merely a teaspoon every hour or so.  Once her hunger strengthened, I increased the amounts and intervals between feedings until she could eat a half cup of each.  I was delighted to see how much she enjoyed it, and warmed me to see her eat.  She had no appetite, yet would scarf down this combination.  When she felt better, I discontinued feeding her the rice and cottage cheese, returning her to normal food.  Okay, explanation concluded – this ingredient is a symbolic gesture of that rice…now think of horchata, which is made from rice water, as well as adding creaminess to the orange color.  The final ingredient is beer.  Zoi and I mostly drank lagers or pilsners, typically preferring light beer during hot weather.  Zoi, in fact, did  prefer light beer, since I let her taste a dark beer once or twice.  After she drank it, in the afterward “cleaning her chops” mode, it did not appear she enjoyed it as much a lighter flavored beers.  Also, she and I agreed about hops – leave those beers for those of appreciation.  They’re not for us.

Young Smiling Zoi


I attempted at Zoi’s coat color.

1 oz Clement 
1/2 oz Angostura 1919 
1 oz tamarind infused light rum (10 Cane)* 
3/4 oz tamarind syrup** 
1/2 oz fresh lime juice 
2 inches lemon peel (no white) 
1/2 oz Zoi's Mix*** 
1 dash Angostura bitters 
1 dash Regan's No.6 bitters

Muddle lemon peel with syrups and bitters.  Add rums and juice.  Shake.  Double-strain into chilled cocktail glass.  Garnish with a potato chip…because I dedicated this drink to a chip-loving dog.  But aren’t they all chip lovers?


*Tamarind-Infused Light Rum
2 oz light rum (10 Cane)
1 tamarind pod

Pick off the crispy shell, which at times might take more effort, then plop the sticky pod into the rum.  Cover securely, and rest out of reach of sunlight, or refrigerate, but remember to agitate each day.  We’re not going for big flavor, just glancing flavor, enough to make a point.  If you want more flavor, let it steep for a couple weeks.  It will definitely taste better.  Double-strain, and then again through a coffee filter.


**Tamarind Syrup
4-5 tamarind pods
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar

Add all the ingredients in a small such pan – do not boil, but stir regularly for a few minutes, lower heat to low for a couple more minutes.  Then let cool to room temperature.  Double-strain, then again through a coffee filter.  For more flavor, let this sit overnight (covered in the refrigerator), or better yet, for two days.  But not any longer than that without a cap of vodka for preserving.


***Zoi's Mix
1 cup pomegranate juice (or Pama)
2 cups pineapple chunks
2 cups light beer (do not use hoppy beers)
1/2 cup horchata

If making pomegranate juice, lightly muddle pomegranate seed pods, but do not crush the seeds, then muddle with pineapple chunks.  If using Pama liqueur, you don’t get any muddling fun.  Add beer and horchata.  Simmer on medium heat – do not boil – stirring regularly.  Reduce by half, which should take some time.  No worries – drink a beer!  Take off heat, strain, pressing out solids if you muddled pomegranate.  Add a cap of vodka.  Keep refrigerated, as it will last at least 2 weeks.

Note:  Please understand the mix will taste a bit sweeter if using Pama.  Zoi’s Mix is a syrup…if using another syrup in your drink recipe, compensate by adding less of the other sweetener.

Please enjoy this drink with a friend.  Maybe imagine Zoi staring at you, alternating with your friend’s attention in hopes of affecting you with her deeply imploring eyes for you to give her some beer.



Missing the Festival

Well, that’s it . . . the Miami Rum Renaissance Festival came to remedy the world of all its wrongs, and restore harmony, peace, and justice not only to all humanity, but inexplicably to the animal kingdom as well.  Now it’s gone.  I did not attend this year.  Hopefully next year.  In anticipation of the festivities, I decided to do a bit of research by sampling lovely rums, after venturing up to Chicago recently and buying two rums unavailable to my home state.  Tanduay from the Philippines, and Hamilton 151 from Guyana (the awaited creation offering to rebalance the universe from the tragedy of losing Lemon Hart 151).  I made two Mai Tais, based on Trader Vic’s 1944 version, for a side-by-side experiment, substituting these two rums in for the recipe’s dark Jamaican and amber Martinique rums.

Tanduay Silver, which I was quite taken with at last year’s rum festival, is a straw-colored rum due to its moderate filtering to enhance flavor.  The sweet aroma is a little vegetal, slightly similar to an agricole, as well as smelling clean, without a burning fume for my ignorant sense of smell to enjoy.  I apologize for my lack of skill in describing tasting notes.  Rhum agricole is one of the two rums used to imitate the original and extinct J. Wray & Nephew 17 year, the key ingredient in the original recipe.  My favorite agricole is from Martinique, specifically the Clément, which deservedly masters its role in the Mai Tai.  I am not saying Tanduay is similar to Clément.  I am saying Tanduay is as good as Clément.  Not only the top-selling rum in Asia, Tanduay is the second strongest seller worldwide, second to the marketing powerhouse of Bacardi (I am not up to date on current fiscal earnings).  As for the tasting notes, what I taste is bell pepper, the funk aspect of honey, black peppercorn, maybe butterscotch…or is it toffee?  I don’t know – I taste a lot of things, and am embarrassed to not be able to put it all into coherent thought and syllables.  For an expert review, please click here.  The Rum Howler not only has a discerning palate, but the ability to explain such things well.  I highly recommend his expert reviews not only of rum, but other spirits.

Hamilton 151, subtitled “Ministry of Rum Collection,” which I particularly enjoy reading on the front of the bottle since I have learned from our ministry for some years, is a demerara rum, a dark rum, a spiced rum, and dangerously also an overproof rum.  Above all, it takes on the responsibility of saving a world without the legendary Lemon Hart 151.  Lemon Hart has had some tough times, recently bought by a Canadian company to continue the legacy, only to fall short of the desired financial success.  No longer bottled, we are at a loss, like children suddenly finding ourselves lost in the wilderness by night.  What are we to do?  Seriously, what are we going to do?  What do we float our tiki drinks with?  We need a dark demerara overproof with the wherewithal to stand defiantly on the mountaintop and bellow during the crushing storm.  We had it, and we lost it.  Edward Hamilton, who manages the website ministryofrum.com, tried to help.  In the end, the overproof version of the company would not survive.  So Mr. Hamilton helped in another way by starting afresh with a new rum with the goal of coming close to the highly complex flavors of Lemon Hart 151.  His Hamilton 151 was born, and not an easy task I would assume.  For those who have tasted Lemon Hart 151, you know what towering height this achievement would seem.  For those who have tasted both, please let me know what you think.  Does Hamilton come close enough?  The tasting notes of this rum are beyond me.  Too much goes on, elusive, and yet obviously luring me with a long list of clues.  The best I can do is tell you this story in hopes you search the rum out for yourself.  It is worth it.  Back to the ingredient for the Mai Tai, Hamilton 151 is not a dark Jamaican rum, yet rich and oaky, sweet and bold.  I usually use Myers’s or Coruba for this category.

The second part of the experiment is comparing Jeff Beachbum Berry’s research of Trader Vic’s Mai Tai with Trader Vic’s own, going by their prospective books, Remixed, and Tiki Party!  There is one difference in their recipes:  The amount of freshly squeezed lime juice, whether one ounce, or only a half ounce, which sounds like a huge difference.  If you look around, you will find Trader Vic Mai Tai recipes with one ounce measurements for lime juice.  This book has a different recipe, perhaps for the reason of using Trader Vic brand rums.  Regardless, this is a fun way to try a published recipe against another published recipe.


 Trader Vic's Tiki Party! Mai Tai
1 oz gold rum (Tanduay Silver)
1 oz dark rum (1/2 oz Hamilton 151)
1/2 oz fresh lime juice
1/2 oz curaçao (Curaçao de Curaçao)
1/4 oz orgeat
1/4 oz simple syrup
2 cups crushed ice

Shake ingredients vigorously for a few seconds until very cold, and pour unstrained into a chilled double old-fashioned glass.  Garnish with one of the spent lime shell halves, and a healthy sprig of mint.  Sorry, I have no mint (too early in the year for outdoor growth).


Remixed Mai Tai
1 oz gold rum (Tanduay Silver)
1 oz dark rum (1/2 oz Hamilton 151)
1/2 oz fresh lime juice
1/2 oz curaçao (Curaçao de Curaçao)
1/4 oz orgeat
1/4 oz simple syrup

I’m going to quote the Beachbum’s instructions, “Shake well with plenty of crushed ice.  Pour unstrained into a double old-fashioned glass.  Sink your spent lime shell into drink.  Garnish with a mint sprig.”

After tasting both drinks, the obvious was obvious.  The Mai Tai with more lime simply tasted more tart.  The one with less tasted sweeter.  The Tiki Party! Mai Tai, however, hid nuances where the Remixed Mai Tai revealed.  Then I toasted the Burr family with both drinks, and went back to remembering the rum festival.

Hale Pili

A little while ago I moved, which caused an idea to sprout for a drink, not necessarily the greatest of ideas, but a daydream based more on garnishing than flavor.  I thought of the  thatched roofs of the Pacific Islands, and then more specifically Hawai’i’s ancient Hale Pili, meaning “house thatched with pili grass.”  The idea asked a serious question:  Do I truly want to make a house as a garnish?

After too much time passed it occurred to me of my failing to build the drink was due to the garnish.  The untested recipe written on paper stalled due to an appearance, which felt embarrassing a bit.  The ideal chained the idea.  I stubbornly decided to garnish the use of the fruit flavors (which provided the aromas as well), and moved on with my life by making the drink.  Plus, I wanted to taste this drink and looked forward to proving how much I thought I would like it.  However, at the moment of decision, the original garnish came back to me in another way.

The thatched roof idea did not turn out successfully in the end.  I included it just because it took me so long to formulate the idea, but more for your amusement in the dumb-looking drink.  Below is an image of what the historical Hale Pili looked, and then my poor excuse of an over-elaborate garnish (the peal of a pomelo).  Then farther down is what I drank.

Hale Pili

The inspiring image in my head…

Think of the early Beatles - and one of them with a cigarette

Think of the early Beatles – and one of them with a cigarette in his mouth.

I aimed for some flavors of Hawai’i:  Pineapple, coconut, ginger, jabong, and ohia ‘ai, a mountain apple, hoping for a balance of sweetness to sourness, but most of all what delights the harvest there can bring.  I know there are many ingredients, that is separate flavors, in the drink, perhaps too many.  Yet, some flavors teamed with similars, and complicated the final combing into an imagined setting of the islands, hopefully not muddying, but layering flavors.  I heard a pomelo would approximate the flavor of the jabong, as well as hearing a mixture of a tart apple and a pear resembles an ohia ‘ai.  Of course I am likely wrong in hearing these.  After all, what ratios of sour apple and pear should I have added to equivocate the resemblance to the mountain apple?  And I certainly could not have tested the guess by comparing it with the genuine.  Kōloa coconut rum, an excellent and accurate product, tasting remarkably fresh and clean, my favorite coconut rum brand, I travelled pretty far to use this bottle (Miami Rum Festival).  I felt brown sugar, instead of white or raw, might offer a deeper, richer flavor to round the fruits together, not a dark brown, but a light brown sugar.  However, the key to this drink truly is its fresh fruit, and how they luxuriously mingle.

So fresh and light - a bit of work, but without fail, very much worth it

So fresh and light – a bit of work, but without fail, very much worth it.  Make sure to eat this garnish with all combined flavors.

Hale Pili 
2 oz Kōloa coconut rum
2 large chunks of pineapple
1 segment pomelo (jabong)
1 cored mountain apple (1/4 tart apple & 1/4 pear)
1/2 oz light brown sugar syrup
ginger (sliced to coin thinness)
2 dashes Angostura bitters

Muddle fruit & root with syrup and bitters.  I had better luck muddling the apple first alone (cut into small chunks), then adding the ginger, then the rest of the fruits.  Add the rum.  Shake and double-strain into a chilled cocktail glass.  Garnish with grass hut looking roof, or skewering the pineapple/pomelo/apple & pear.  Add cocktail straw…or not.  Add large pieces of ice if you are in no hurry.

This drink is not hot, but an extremely pleasant sipper.  Enjoy.

Frozen Daiquiris

The Daiquiri is a foundation for a huge number of cocktails, referred to at times as the Caribbean Trinity of rum, lime and sugar, originally named after a beach east of Santiago, Cuba just before the Spanish-American War.  Although lime, sugar and rum have been mixed long before throughout the Caribbean, the specific proportions in the recipe came together at this time.  It is one of my favorites, relying on the quality of the rum, and freshly squeezed limes.  Sweet frozen daiquiri drinkers may not realize how their favorite drink does not need to come out of a bottle of swill (AKA mix).  If you are reading this and normally buy a bottle of mix for any flavored daiquiri, please understand – nothing in that bottle is pure, and likely isn’t even real – that is to say no fruit – no lime juice, and sweeter than a fistful of candy bars.

I read an interesting story about the Strawberry Daiquiri (1863), Christian Zacharias haphazardly threw together the first Strawberry Daiquiri from his wife’s strawberry patch for a party during the American Civil War. The recipe would have been lost if not for a Confederate spy named James Welty, whose codename was Daiquiri.  He failed to remember vital intelligence concerning Union troop positions before the battle of Gettysburg due to too much of the strawberry overindulgence, leaving General Lee blind in his advancements. After the backbreaking battle was lost, General Lee’s only response to Welty was:  “Gettysburg, the war, all lost because of strawberries, Daiquiri?”

There is a reason for frozen drinks, why creating ice so densely fine is a tool for consuming alcohol – chilling liquid, adding air and texture, possibly opening up flavors, watering down the power of alcohol, as well as slowing the consumption of a powerful drink.  For example, if Zombies, and all the rum therein, were instead strained over ice, I would face-plant into oblivion in record speed, maybe not after one, or two, but far quicker than I would hope.  After all, no more than two Zombies were served to a customer in a Don the Beachcombers, where the drink was invented.  Crushed ice, or shaved ice is used to slow the transition, and thereby enjoying the drink longer.

With that said, I have not been a fan of frozen daiquiris for the reason of  peculiarly sweet packets or bottled mixers.  Fruity daiquiris have been mutilated with too much sugar, too many other ingredients, many times too much ice, the wrong rums, or worst of all – not enough rum.  I wanted to bring out the best flavors, and avoid the useless ones, excluding too much slush to sap the flavor out of the experience, not merely using any light rum, but mixing more than one kind for complexity.  Another main goal, and the reason for this post, I wanted to find the balance between drink and ice.

If strawberries are not in season, use frozen, but use no more than 3/4 the amount – still using fresh to breathe life into the flavor.  I tried purely frozen strawberries, and thought they were sweet, but felt they needed the freshness of even a tart, out of season strawberry. The genuine thrill of freshness never fails the taste buds, even sparingly offered.  The only banana I insist using is the level of ripeness reserved for cooking, such as banana bread, or banana cream pie.  Brown dots?  Not ripe enough.  Brown blotches?  Getting close.  If the banana is mostly brown, that is good enough.  If you can, wait until the banana has turned completely brown.  I’m talking about how much flavor this fruit will bring, the riper the banana – the more the banana will sweeten.  If you think they look disgusting, imagine how sweet they will taste in a drink.  If I’m going to eat a banana, I like a few freckles because I like flavor over texture.  For garnishing, I prefer a green-stemmed banana (I waited too long for my garnish banana…sticking a clove over a brown spot).

Since the Daiquiri is a Cuban drink, I wanted to use Cuban-styled rums.  I have not been able to purchase any Havana Club unfortunately, whose family stayed in Cuba, the brand I would choose if the embargo were not in place.  Some good rums got out though:  The family who created Bacardi escaped Castro, as did the family of the Matusalem brand of rum (Matusalem distills in the Dominican Republic, and Bacardi in Puerto Rico).  The venerable Beachbum suggests Plantation 3 Stars rum, which tastes delightful.  In the banana drink, I included Coruba dark rum, which is not Cuban, but Jamaican, for its sweet dark brown sugar flavor in the banana daiquiri, rather than a molasses flavor of other dark rums, and felt it blended remarkably well with the sweetness of Matusalem.

strawberry daiquiri2

Frozen Strawberry Daiquiri
2 oz Bacardi Silver
2 oz Matusalem Platino
4 cups fresh strawberries, cleaned & halved (if not in season 
  use 3 frozen & 1 fresh)
3/4 oz fresh lime juice
3/4 oz simple syrup (to taste - double for truly sweet drink)
3/4 oz cream 
6 oz shaved ice (to taste) 
1 strawberry, mini lime wedge, mounding tsp whipped cream for 

In a blender combine rum, strawberries, lime juice, syrup, cream and ice and blend until strawberry is thoroughly combined.  Garnish:  Clean and hull a strawberry, fill with whipped cream, garnish your garnish with a tiny triangle of lime.  Serves two.

banana daiquiri2

Frozen Banana Daiquiri
4 1/2 oz Matusalem Platino
1 1/2 oz Coruba
4 extra ripe bananas, in pieces (passed the brown dot phase)
1 oz fresh lime juice 
3/4 oz simple syrup (to taste)
3/4 oz cream 
1 bar spoon coconut cream
6 oz crushed ice
1/2 banana, cherry and clove for garnish

Blend all ingredients except ice in blender until smooth, creamy and firm.  Stir in shaved ice until preferred texture.  Garnish with dolphin banana with rinsed and dried cherry in its mouth, inserting a positioned clove for an eye.  If you feel the need for fins, slit a spot for a trimmed lemon peel, or pineapple leaf, or even shaping your fin from an Anna’s cookie.  It’s all for fun anyway, right?  Serves 4…only once, and then you’ll have to make another pitcher.

If you prefer to make banana daiquiris for two, here is the recipe for nearly half the amount, not strictly cutting the ingredient amounts in half.

2 oz Matusalem Platino
3/4 oz Coruba
2 very ripe bananas, in pieces
1/2 oz fresh lime juice
1/2 oz simple syrup (to taste)
1/2 oz cream
dash coconut cream
3 oz crushed ice

Note:  Do you not own a blender, or are between blenders because your old one died?  An ice shaver works perfectly well, not to say it replaces a blender, but focusses on just the ice to scoop in after the ingredients have been pureed in a food processor, or muddled (both of which I have tried).

Update:  Recently I let some bananas go, not eating them quickly enough, and thought, “Why haven’t you used your blender recently?  Those bananas need to get made into a daiquiri!  For science!”  So, I blended them up with a couple more rums than on the recipe (Platation dark overproof, El Dorado 3 yr, and some Meyer’s platinum), then after tasting thought of coconut, just a bit, not enough to take over.  I wanted the get after the bite of the banana, and smooth it out a little more.  After tasting it, I think I made it a little better.  What you do you think?

Brackish Water

Now that the Atlantic hurricane season is officially kicked off, I remember the only hurricane I ever first-hand experienced, and will remember for the rest of my life – Hurricane Charlie, a decade ago while visiting my parents in Florida.  The following day, I heard a word for the first time, apparently a common term, and thought the term “brackish”  was funny, simply an odd sounding word.  I chuckled at the time only because I did not live there, living a fantasy as a tourist before traveling back to my reality.

Coastal reality means running that risk, far off into the blue on blue horizon of possible future cyclone formations.  Also, a coastal reality is brackish water.  When a storm surge moves onto land, which can be the greatest threat of a hurricane, sea water spills into fresh water.  The result…the salt wins every time.

This is what we saw on the tv as we drank a beer, ate freshly baked cookies, and finished a jigsaw puzzle.

This is how we saw Charlie on tv, nearly directly overhead.  Less than a mile from the coast made all the difference between evacuating and staying.

The idea was for a drink to appear murky, which may not look appetizing when faced with it, understandably.  I wanted agricole as the backbone, a French-styled rhum.  With so many ingredients, I did not want strong flavors to ruin the delicate combinations, rather using small portions.  Some of the ingredients are strictly for visual effect – color and translucency, just as some for aroma.  How it looks, how it smells, how it tastes, even how it feels – these are what all drinks are meant to do inside their glass.  For example:  Yellow grapefruit both colors and tastes differently than the pink variety.  I prefer yellow regardless.  However, in this drink, appearance is more important, as the pink would alter the color out of desire’s control.  Also, aside from their sweetness, the Chambord and melon liqueur present a graying property.  Agricole, citrus, sweetness, and spice; light and cool; although light-hearted, I mixed the recipe in hopes of depth.

I almost bought dried seaweed at the grocery store for the garnish of this drink, but thought the aquarium kind would look more playful.  In fact, the original idea was for real seaweed half in/half out, maybe even keeping it dry outside the liquid.  So please do not go out and buy a small, plastic, aquarium seaweed just for this drink, relying instead on something you can use for other purposes as well, whether rolling your own sushi, or adding to a tasty soup to make you more healthy.

Careful:  That is not water you scooped out of the ditch.

Careful: That is not water you scooped out of the ditch.

Brackish Water 
1 1/2 oz Rhum Barbancourt 
1 oz 10 Cane
1/4 oz El Dorado Overproof
2 1/2 oz coconut water 
3/4 oz fresh lime juice 
3/4 oz grapefruit (preferably yellow) 
1/2 oz pepper syrup* 
1/4 oz Cure-all Mix**  
1/8 oz orgeat 
pinch of sea salt 
1/8 bar spoon horseradish sauce 
barspoon of Chambord
barspoon of melon liqueur
dash of celery bitters (optional)
light sprinkle of allspice
1/2 rim glass with sea salt 
garnish with seaweed

First, rub back half of chilled hurricane glass with spent lime shell (I used a poco grande glass), sprinkle with sea salt, and jostle glass of excess.  Place clean aquarium seaweed on bottom of the glass or if using real seaweed, dip in when completed).  Shake ingredients vigorously with ice for twenty seconds, and double-strain into glass.  Lightly sprinkle allspice on top, but not much.

*Pepper syrup:  Making more than I needed for one drink, in a small sauce pan, on medium heat, warm 1/2 cup of water and 1/2 cup of sugar with 1 tablespoon of cracked black pepper.  Simmer for a couple of minutes without boiling.  Take off heat and allow cool to room temperature.  Stain a couple times with fine mesh strainer.

**Cure-all Mix:  Simmer 3 tablespoons of water with 3 tablespoons of local honey with a cinnamon stick for a couple minutes.  Take off heat and allow to cool to room temperature.  I prefer a cinnamon stick to cinnamon powder, yet not dead-set against powder, just as long as only using a teaspoon for this amount of honey, and then straining twice.  I call it a cure-all because of how much the combination of locally grown honey and cinnamon can do for your health, particularly when suffering from allergies.

The Miami Rum Festival!! (part 2)

This posting is completely different from any other I have written – no recipes, no pictures, essentially a list of rums and nothing more.  This installment of the luxurious time I spent at the Miami Rum Festival has to do with the rums I experienced, and my immediate and brief thoughts on them.  Out of the large roster, some rums I knew of very well, some I have on my shelves at home, some I have heard of, some I have not, and a special few bottles I have waited a long time to see.  I did not taste every single rum, nor stopped at every booth, either because I knew enough, or simply did not have enough time.  Also, I did not taste every rum at each booth for the sheer reason of keeping my head and not getting so inebriated I could not discern fact from fiction.  I had to resort to near blasphemy:  Throwing into the trash an exquisite rum time after time so that I would not ingest every drop of rum I took in hand.

One of my regrets was not taking a picture of every rum I visited (or revisited).  After all, sometimes seeing a bottle with the brand’s label on it makes the description more conspicuous.  For that I apologize.  Click here to go to the festival’s website listing of rum bottle images.  I also wished I would have taken more pictures of the grand view of it all.

On my festival program, I kept track of each rum I tasted by rating it (the ranking is between 0 & 4), whether I would buy the rum (or better yet – “will” buy, or without a doubt – “MUST” buy…in a way ranking the rum in another fashion), and finally a few words to differentiate each from one another.  Below resembles what I wrote in my program, but with more words and less symbols.

Abuelo 7 year – 3 – makes a lovely mojito, I will buy this  (for the record – on Trade day, the vivacious woman working the Abuelo booth in my mind won Queen of the Festival)

Appleton Estate 12 year – 3 – maybe too good for cocktails, at which the Reserve excels (did not taste the Reserve since I vigilantly maintain a hardworking bottle at home)

Bayou Silver – 1 – would require bold flavors in a cocktail

Bayou Spiced – 1.5 – not often do I prefer a brand’s spiced rum over its silver, but not much better

Botran Reserva Blanca – 3 – nice mixing rum, and pleasant neat – I will buy this

Botran Solera 1893 – 2.5 – makes a wide variety of cocktails better – I would buy this

Brugal Blanco – 3 – a tasty white rum – I would buy this

Caliche – .5 – did not care much for this, nor appreciate the neglect by the booth (shared by other Puerto Rican rums who refused to sample) – they were late, ill-prepared, and did not wish to help people learn about them – these rums lost a customer

Centenario Añejo Espacial 7 year – (from Costa Rica) – 2.5 – I’d only want to drink this tasty rum neat – I would buy this

Diplomatico Añejo – 3 – way too good for my mixing needs, maybe as a treat – I would buy this

Don Q Cristal – 2 – separate from the group of Puerto Rican rums, I enjoyed my visit to this booth – nice clean white rum, and versatile – I would buy this

Don Q Gold – 2 – pretty good gold rum

Don Q Coco – 1 – super sweet, sugary more than coconut flavor

Don Q Passion – 3 – a lovely rum, and made a dynamite cocktail, would work with many recipes – I will buy this

Dos Maderas 5+3 years – 3 – delicious mixing rum, made a fantastic punch – I will buy this

Dzama Cuvée Blanche 40 – 4 – Good grief this rum is good, rare to give a white rum a 4.0 – wishing to drink this white rum neat, and the one below only with cocktails – not only would I buy this, I MUST buy this (too bad I could not buy at the festival)

Dzama Cuvée Blanche Prestige 80 – 3.5 – a fantastic white rum, would make perfect cocktails – I will buy this

Dzama Vanilla Amber 30 – 3.5 – probably the best vanilla rum flavor I have ever tasted, such a strong pronunciation of vanilla – I will buy this

El Dorado 8 year – 2.5 – a big fan of the 12 year, this almost tasted like fruit not yet ripe, good…but not at the level of excellence as the 12 – I would buy this

El Dorado 12 year – 4 – this rum is incredibly hard to beat, so good, so versatile, so bold – don’t know why I tasted this when I’m very familiar, but couldn’t resist – I will buy this for years to come, a constant on my shelf at home

El Dorado 15 year – 2.5 – too good for cocktails, almost as if its quality is lost on me – I’ve heard of this in cocktails, but hadn’t tasted it, now that I have, either my palate is too juvenile, or I disagree – my rating does not justify this fine rum

English Harbour 5 year – 3 – I really enjoyed tasting this for the first time, I could do many things mixing this – I would buy this

English Harbour Reserve 10 year – 2 – an excellent rum, too good for cocktails

Flor de Caña 7 year – 4 – I have waited a long time to try this year, the anticipation worth the reputation – I DID buy this (at a Miami liquor store down the street)

Gosling’s Gold – 3.5 – the Dark n Stormy is one of my favorite drinks, which of course is only made with Gosling’s Dark Seal – they made one more with their gold rum…delicious – I will buy this

Goslings Old Rum – 1.5 – where the Black Seal is versatile for me, the Old Rum is better off neat than mixing

Koloa White (excuse the spelling, I could not create a link with an ō) – 2 – not that an astringent flavor is necessarily bad every time, extremely clean in every other way, a resourceful white rum – I might buy this

Kōloa Gold – 2 – almost exactly like the white, but with more flavor aside from the astringency – I liked the white better though

Kōloa Spice – 1.5 – just like the first two, strong astringency as the foremost over-distracting flavor, leaving little room for spices

Kōloa Dark – 3 – pure vanilla flavor, yet astringent like the first three rums – I liked this rum very much – I might buy this

Kōloa Coconut – 4 – likely the best coconut rum I have ever tasted – was told by one of the owners (what’s his name – find card) they infuse for 2 years, long enough to completely obliterate any astringency…completely free of it, 100% coconut – I MUST buy this

Lost Spirits Navy Style Rum – 2 – pretty dry, pretty hot (68%) – thought it would make a good mixing rum

Ron Medellin 3 year – 3 – I liked this rum and saw it making lots of cocktails – I would buy this

Ron Medellin 8 year – 2.5 – less likely to mix with cocktails unless not the main rum, rather a background rum – seemed more like a neat drinking rum

Mount Gay 1703 – 4 – I can’t think of any better rum for appreciating neat, even large ice might insult how good this rum tasted – a sin if mixed – a treat for special occasions – I definitely would buy this

Papa’s Pilar Dark – 3 – rich and friendly, ready for a long list of cocktails, as well as mixing with other rums – I DID buy this

Plantation Guyana 2005 – 3.5 – delicious – for both mixing and neat, but I’d want to mix everything with this – I really want to buy this

Plantation Trinidad 1999 – 3.5 – Good grief this was good, tasted like an agricole, lovely balance of many flavors – I DID buy this

Plantation Original Dark – 3 – delicious, tasted like what the rep. said, “The overproof is 100% the flavor, this is a lighter version.” – I could mix so many drinks with this – I would buy this

Plantation Original Dark Overproof – 3.5 – way better than the Original Dark, like drinking the real this – at 73%…it’s a hot one – I DID buy this

Plantation 3 Stars White – 3 – a lovely white rum, it could do almost anything – I would buy this

Real McCoy 3 year White – 1.5 – I didn’t care for this one as much – seemed limited to what it might make

Real McCoy 5 year – 2 – better than the White, opening more possibilities for various recipes

Rum Fire (White Overproof) – .5 – like it was supposed to special simply because it could be hot, but nothing special about it

Tanduay Silver – 3 – one of my favorite white rums at the festival, one I would think would become one of my all-time favorite whites – I would very much like to buy this

Tiburon – 1.5 – I was disappointed with this one, hoping for it – the flavor did not call to me

Viejo de Caldas 3 year – (from Columbia by Industria Licorere de Caldas) – 3 – I particularly liked this rum, and could smell it all day – so many things this could do with all kinds of drinks – I liked it better than the Grand Reserva – I would love to buy this

Viejo de Caldas Grand Reserva – 2.5 – a bit more sophisticated, and better suited drinking neat, but still would make excellent drinks (just not as many) – I would buy this

Zafra 21 year – (from Panama) – 3.5 – very impressed with this new rum, did I hear correctly they started in 2009, and already had rum aging? – if so, in my opinion the best new rum not only of the festival, but perhaps the best new rum start I have ever tasted – nonetheless, not a mixing rum, only suited for neat imbibing – I would buy this

The Miami Rum Festival!! (part 1)


Question:  Is it possible to have more fun than any thing else on the planet than attending a festival for the sole purpose of tasting a great number of rums?  The Sixth Annual Miami Rum Renaissance Festival was an idealized crowning achievement, not The pinnacle moment of my life, but a single pinnacle moment of hopefully many.  I have had some big ones already, not many, but a small number of exceptionally delightful experiences.  This was one of them – a delight to marvel, to simply stand there and soak in the view, causing a primitive elation, similar to a childhood memory of bliss and excitement.  And this is all before I stepped forward, and walked from booth to booth, talking to the representatives, reading provided literature, smelling the vast bouquets from around the world, and of course tasting.

Here’s an example of how I felt:  Have any of you seen the movie, Rudy, where the main character, Rudy, get’s to play for the first time on his last football game as a senior at the University of Notre Dame, a lifelong dream?  He invites his father, among others in his family, to come to the game.  His father, played by Ned Beatty, finally comes to his own first Fighting Irish game, also a lifelong fan of Notre Dame football, where Rudy learned it.  And as he enters the stadium, he stops in his tracks to take in the grandeur he has only dreamed of, and breathes the reverent words, “This is the most beautiful sight these eyes have ever seen.”  To help you, not just for those who have not yet seen the movie, here’s the scene:

Since I work in the industry, I was lucky enough to attend the Trade Day Tasting, an exclusive gathering for those who either sell, promote or distribute rum.  The second day brought more people, allowing me to continue in the great adventure by completing the long list of rums I wished to explore.  The third day I did not attend simply because I learned everything I needed, and preferred to hit the road for home.  Robert Burr, his wife Robin and his son Rob, who also all run their website Rob’s Rum Guide, did an amazing job creating this festival in Miami for a sixth time.  They should be congratulated on their success and appreciation to detail.  To learn more about the festival, go to their website:  Miami Rum Renaissance Festival.

Thurston Howell, III (Jim Backus) I think says it all right here.

Thurston Howell, III (Jim Backus) I think says it all right here.

Not quite Jim Baucus, but he's a fine example to live by.

Emulating Jim Backus.








Not only did Botran offer neat tastings (“straight” if you prefer), or their delightful Skinny Colada, but also a hard-working man chopping coconuts with a machete – and their pouring in some rum.  It was so light and deliciously refreshing – just coconut water and rum.  Nothing more.  Mmm…I drank every drop of it.  This Guatemalan rum impressed me in so many ways, whether neat, in a simple recipe, or complex.

As a recipe for the Skinny Colada, they printed a list of ingredients without measurements on the table.  I asked if they knew the measurements, but did not.  I later contacted Botran to get the precise recipe, and the good people at RockOrange, Botran’s Public Relations company, gave me all the help I needed.  Botran distills sugar cane juice in column stills that contain copper parts inside.  Their aging process, called Sistema Solera, ages rums for up to 14 years in oaken barrels previously holding American whiskey, sherry and port wines.  I am ridiculously inept at recognizing my palate, and therefore grateful for assistance in describing the tasting notes – candied fruits, red cherry, ripe fruits and clove.


botran skinny colada







Skinny Colada (recipe provided by Botran)
1 1/2 oz Botran Reserva
1/2 oz agave nectar
2 pineapple slices 
2 oz coconut water 
1/2 oz fresh lime juice 
coconut shavings

Muddle pineapple with agave nectar, lime juice and coconut water.  Add rum.  Shake with ice, and strain into a chilled collins glass with fresh ice.  Garnish by sprinkling a little shaved coconut.

Dos Maderas surprised me the most with what was in their punch bowl.  Normally I tend not to use basil or jalapeño in my drinks, ingredients I have not found success until now.  So this drink really opened my eyes.  The Dos Maderas 5+3 tasted delicately of vanilla and nut, resting first inside American oak casks for five years in the Caribbean, then moving to Spain to age three years in sherry casks – hence the “5+3” in the title.

Okay…first let me warn you, for those of you who do not like really spicy food, or do not enjoy how hot a jalapeño can get, please slice it thin – really thin…coin thin.  The jalapeño adds a fantastic flavor to this, but can get overly spicy if that is not the kind of thing you enjoy.  On the other hand, if you dig it hot, cut the slice a half a centimeter thick.  My first one I cut thick, and enjoyed it, but realized immediately the overwhelming power of the jalapeño, and how it won easily over the basil (and almost every other ingredient).  So please, for your first one, please slice the jalapeño as thin as you can to measure what your preference is.  Another tip:  Remove the seeds and white fascia, which are the hottest parts, leaving the green fruit for the best results.  Also, how you muddle can make a difference, whether mashing the jalapeño and basil to bits to find the most flavor, or subtly and briefly pressing for a mild extraction, or even muddling the basil first, and harder than the jalapeño.  I liked my second drink better.  The first simply had too much heat in it, even though I thoroughly enjoy spicy food.

dos maderas

Passion Fontaine







Passion Fontaine (recipe provided by Dos Maderas)
1 1/2 oz Dos Maderas 5+3 
2 basil leaves 
1 jalapeño slice 
3/4 oz passion fruit purée
3/4 oz simple syrup 
1/2 oz fresh lime juice

Muddle basil, jalapeño and syrup.  Shake in the rest of the ingredients with ice, strain over fresh ice in a chilled glass.  Garnish with a basil leaf and jalapeño slice.

Mount Gay did not disappoint as one of my favorite rums.  Every product they make succeeds as superior, and a treat to taste.  Since 1703 from Barbados, Mount Gay has perfected the distillation technique, and ranked themselves by many rum lovers as “the reference by which all rum should be measured.”  The Eclipse has floral and fruit-forward notes of apricot and banana, with a touch of vanilla, aged for at least two years in toasted Kentucky oak barrels.

miami swizzled punch

miami sqizzle punch







Miami Swizzled Punch (recipe provided by Mount Gay) 
2 oz Mount Gay Eclipse 
1/2 oz ginger purée
1/2 oz pineapple purée
1/2 oz fresh lemon juice 
1/2 oz honey 
2 dashes Angostura bitters 
pinch of ground pepper mix (green, pink, black, white) 
club soda (optional)

Multiply ingredients by 50 for a punch bowl, stirring, then adding large ice for dilution and chilling.  Serve over ice, and garnish with an edible orchid.    If making a single serving, I would suggest the mechanics of shaking over stirring, then straining into chilled glass with a single piece of ice.  Stir in soda if you want bubbles.  If you do not have an edible orchid, a chuck of pineapple will encourage each quaff.

Note:  If you are making a punch bowl amount, I do not think Mount Gay intended you to add 50 pinches of pepper mix.  I would advise 8 pinches – stirring thoroughly – then tasting to see if you want more.


Once again under the guidance of the Beachbum (from Remixed), I whipped up a batch of Spindrift Jr.’s for my wife and I, preferring the smaller scale to the larger original version.  However, even though the recipe sounded clearly better, not simply for its complexity, but for the abundance of flavor, my biggest challenge came when failing to find a favorable shaped glass for the Spindrift’s much larger amount.  Although I do not yet have a large snifter, a tall beer glass will have to do – either that or the huge pickle jar I use for infusing, which would of course be silly (but not absolutely out of the question).

I saw some passion fruit at the grocery store, and decided to make some fresh syrup.  Upon extracting the juice from around the seeds, very similar to pomegranate, for some reason I was surprised how tart it tasted.  Up until that point, passion fruit juice had always tasted sweet, meaning I was ignorantly surprised how much better and pure the juice tasted.  Why would this surprise me after all the harping I practice in pronouncing how much better fresh juice is to concentrate/frozen/manufactured products?  The robust passion fruit declared itself incomparable, and bolder than any attempt otherwise, from now on dragging me from Plato’s pitch-black cave into the light.

Normally I use containerized juice, prefer paying for shipping to get the Ceres brand, but am not above using Welch’s nowhere-near attempt – when the supermarket has it on its shelves.  It is simply a fact of life:  Sometimes it is difficult finding passion fruit juice.  Making your own juice takes a bit of time to prepare, yet far less time if you’re unable to find any purchasable juice, and above all worth tasting at least once.  Seriously, even if you buy one passion fruit, just one, and are able to get less than a half an ounce of juice – it is worth it.

To make passion fruit syrup:  Cut the passion fruit in half with a sharp knife (worse than a tomato – the skin defends against slicing), then scoop out the fruit into a wire mesh strainer.  Mash the fruit to break the membrane surrounding the seeds, or the use of a blender on slow speed, careful not to harm the seeds themselves.  The membrane is pretty resilient, and will require a good share of elbow grease if mashing with a spoon.  Please remember to scrape off the bottom of the strainer.  Doesn’t passion fruit smell great?  Next, stir some fresh simple syrup with the juice in a sauce pan on medium heat, warming the mixture together without boiling for a couple minutes, seeing steam rise.  Or make the simple syrup in the pan with the juice, which is a 1:1 ratio of sugar to water – or 2:1 if wishing to make “rich simple syrup.”  Please remember – “rich” means very sweet.  Turn off the heat and cool to room temperature, approximately twenty minutes.

This post is about a drink, not a fruit; yet the fruit can clearly make the drink, if not make it better.  Fresh lemon juice is a must, there is no substitute.  I would say the same about orange juice.  Some oranges simply do not taste as good if they are not in season.  That does not mean I will ever choose concentrate over freshly squeezed.  I squeezed a couple oranges, and used the peel (along with the lemon) for a pleasant bouquet.  Jamaican and demerara rums go very well together with their independently rich flavors and complexities.  I think the vanilla and passion fruit stand as the true character of this drink.  I was tempted to make a strong syrup from a vanilla bean, but did not want to tamper with the undeniable strength and straight-forward essence of the extract, or over-reach with sweetness.  As it is, the Spindrift is very well-balanced between tartness and sweetness.

If this drink sounds too big, or the combined ounces of rum sound too much for a work night, split it with a loved-one, or make a friend.  There’s nothing in the rule book about straining a Spindrift into a pitcher for two.


3 oz fresh orange juice
2 oz fresh lemon juice
1 oz passion fruit syrup
3/4 oz simple syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 oz dark Jamaican rum (Coruba)
1 1/2 oz demerara rum (El Dorado)
1 oz light Puerto Rican rum (Bacardi)
20 oz crushed ice (2 1/2 cups)

Blend for 10 seconds, pour unstrained into a large, chilled snifter.  Garnish with orange and lemon wheel, and if you freshly made the syrup – a spent half shell of passion fruit.

Hot Rum and Sweet Butter

I just got in from shoveling snow drifts in the bitter cold.  Hot rum and sweet butter warmed me up like nothing else.  First, here is where the idea came, from a simpler time – a simpler recipe, thanks to David Wondrich’s research.

Authentic, Pure & Simple Hot Buttered Rum
2 sugar cubes (2 teaspoons)
hot water
2 ounces dark rum
pat of butter

In a pre-warmed mug, dissolve the sugar in a little hot water, then add the rum and unsalted butter. Fill the mug with hot water.

No extra flavors, just silky warm rum.  It’s so good.  I think he even says if we want to sprinkle a little nutmeg on top, we can; but he doesn’t.  I’ve tried both ways – both are good.  Both are astonishingly luxurious.  But I’m going to have to agree with Mr. Wondrich on the purity of less.  If you have not tried this, please stop putting it off and sip one of these soothing drinks – like a hot bath with a bowl of soup – so thorough in how it eases the cares of the world away.  I would have written this post solely about this recipe, except wanted to experiment, something with spices, but particularly with orange.  In fact, before you make my recipe, make the original, and sip on it as you make mine.  I honestly do not care if you condemn my recipe, as long as you try the original Hot Buttered Rum.  And please tell people about it – no…better yet, make it for them, and watch them lick their lips.

For my recipe, it is more flavorful to make the batter ahead of time to marry the spices – a couple of hours at least.  Although you do not need to wait a whole day to make this drink, I think flavors need time to work their magic.  Very similar to making hot grog, or chili, or any heated liquid with spices, in most cases it will taste better the next day, and possibly twice as good the day after that.  My loving parents from Florida graciously sent me some wondrously delicious oranges, which only makes this drink better (both the drink itself, and the act of drinking it).  Freshly squeezed oranges work far better than from a carton or concentrate.  Plus, you will need orange zest for the batter as well.  Finally, a lovely and talented co-worker of my wife’s supplied us with tasty Amish butter, a genuine treat in almost all perspectives.  I felt a drink which highlighted butter as a main ingredient should have profound quality (particularly if drinking the original recipe) to get that true butter and rum flavor profile.

Hot Orange Buttered Rum

Hot Orange Buttered Rum
(for 2 drinks)
4 Tbsp room temperature unsalted butter
1/2 cup loosely packed light brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp finely grated orange zest
2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice
2 cups water
4 oz dark rum (Myers's)
2 cinnamon sticks

For the batter:  Beat butter, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and orange zest on high-speed with a hand mixer until thoroughly combined – 1 to 1 1/2 minutes.  Refrigerate in an airtight container, or put it in your freezer (lasts 2 weeks maximum).

For the drink:  Warm two heatproof glasses or mugs with boiling water.  Warm the orange juice with the water in a medium saucepan until very hot, but not boiling.  Discard water from warm mugs.  Scoop 2 separate heaping teaspoons of batter, allowing a few minutes to come to room temperature, especially if the batter was stored in the freezer, and place in mugs.  Pour 2 ounces of dark rum into each glass, then top with the hot orangey water.  Garnish with a cinnamon stick each, stirring until the batter dissolves to reveal all those flavors.  The melted butter will rise to the surface, even though the batter does not float.

The Grinch vs The Zombie

Mr. Theodor Seuss Geisel, also loving known as Dr. Seuss, wrote and drew the treasured children’s book, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, among many others.  I first want to make this perfectly clear, out of due respect (as well as respecting the law), I do not want to take credit for any of Dr. Seuss’s works, specifically this story, nor will I sell or obtain any earnings from his efforts.  What is his, is his.  I grew up reading and listening to his delightful stories, and do not aspire to take anything from him, not even by means of the drink I’m writing about this time, which is based on Beachbum Berry’s research on the Tonga Room Zombie – a fantastic drink.

Tonga Room Zombie (from Beachbum's book Remixed)
1 oz lime juice
1 oz passion fruit syrup (or 2 oz if juice)
1/2 oz pineapple juice
1 oz Puerto Rican rum
1/2 oz overproof amber rum
1/2 oz dark Jamaican rum

Shake enthusiastically with crushed ice.  Pour unstrained into a chilled glass or tiki mug.  Garnish: cherry/lime slice/pineapple chunk.

And for a little Christmas cheer, with the help of Dr. Seuss (substituting “Zombie” for the name of “Grinch”):

And the (Zombie), with his (zombie)-feet ice-cold in the snow, 
Stood puzzling and puzzling: "How could it be so?" 
Then the (Zombie) thought of something he hadn't before! 
"Maybe Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!" 

And what happened then...?  Well...in Who-ville they say 
That the (Zombie's) small heart grew three sizes that day! 
And the minute his heart didn't feel quite so tight, 
He whizzed with his load through the bright morning light.

I substituted out the pineapple juice because I wanted to add a little more sweetness to pineapple’s simultaneous sweet and tart flavor. I adore pineapple, as it is my favorite fruit.  Guava lends so much harmony when confronting passion fruit’s melody.  Most of it, however, has to do with my inability to explain what passion fruit and guava do together.  They are fantastic by themselves, but become a true marvel together.  Also, I confess my desire for guava in many more drinks, as another one of my favorite fruits.  To cut a single drop of liquid, in this case potent food coloring, with a dropper – drip onto a wet spoon, then run that off into my mixing glass.  Enough residue will remain on the spoon, and not making the drink quite so vivid (food coloring will stick to a dry spoon much more, not supplying enough color to the drink).  Unfortunately, I do not have any tiki mugs yet, which is one reason I took the picture below.  The main reason – clear glass shows the color of the drink.

Welcome back to Whoville Mr. Grinch.  Will it be your usual, or shall I shake something else up for you?

Welcome back to Who-ville,          Mr. Grinch. Will it be your usual, or shall I shake up something else for you?

Zombie Grinch 
1 oz lime 
2 oz passion fruit 
1/2 oz guava juice
1 oz Ron Rico gold
1 oz Pyrat XO 
1/2 oz Myers's dark 
less than 1 drop green food coloring

Shake hard with crushed ice.  Pour unstrained into a chilled zombie glass, or collins glass, or tiki mug.  Fill glass with more ice if necessary.  Garnish:  Cut guava slice/lime slice & cherry half in shape of a heart (Grinch’s heart growing 3 sizes).

If you prefer it sweeter, that is not as tart, add a 1/2 oz of simple syrup.

Merry Christmas.  And for those who do not celebrate Christmas, I hope you revel for whatever reason you wish.  Is living another day reason enough?  Enjoy your life with those you care about, and may it be merry.  Cheers to you all.

Pumpkin Pie Cocktail

This is not a Tiki drink, or have anything to do with the culture.  I simply felt the desire, after swooping out of the high of apple season, to make a pumpkin drink.  It is a pleasant distraction during the cold months, even though not a warm drink.  I offer two recipes, whether for a small group of people or many, either way, a blender the tool for this drink.

Pumpkin Pie Cocktail

To Fill a Pitcher:
1 cup Appleton Estate XO
1/2 cup pumpkin puree (canned)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. allspice
1 1/2 cup milk
5 cups vanilla ice cream

Blend until smooth.  Lightly dust with fresh nutmeg after pouring into pre-chilled glasses.

**Note:  What might work best, particularly for those with a normal blender, and not some fancy-schmancy, ultra-expensive blender, divide the ice cream for successful blending, keeping the ice cream liquified.

Pumpkin Pie Cocktail for Two

For 2 drinks:
2 oz Appleton Estate XO
1 oz pumpkin puree (canned)
1/2 oz sugar
pinch of cinnamon
1/2 pinch allspice
3 oz milk
10 oz vanilla ice cream

Blend until smooth.  **See note above.  Lightly dust w/ fresh nutmeg after pouring into pre-chilled glasses.

Fortifying schnapps…with the help of the Guyanese and an apple

Actually with the help of two apples, one to muddle and cut up as a garnish, and one to infuse the syrup.  Also, I thoroughly enjoy Demerara rum.  The idea: These two lovely flavors would help fortify a liqueur, which already tastes delightful.

Berentzen Apfelkorn (or Apple in my liquor store) caught my eye and did not let go until I bought a bottle.  When gleefully tasting it for the first time, I was not disappointed in the slightest.  A German invention in the 1970s, Berentzen operates under the precisely detailed guidelines of Kosher standards.  I have read it is considered a schnapps, though much too sweet with only about half the potency of alcohol, regardless if apfelkorn translates into apple schnapps.  There again, just because a bottle is printed “schnapps” does not mean it genuinely is schnapps.  Outside Germany, particularly in the US, “schnapps” are heavily sweetened and seemingly drained of alcohol percentage.  To Berentzen’s credit, the liqueur looks phenomenally delicious, as if glowing with anticipation.  How it mocked me for so long before purchasing it.  The flavor is just as good – like muddling sweet apples, straining, and adding an unflavored spirit for completion…absolutely ravishing.

If you do not have any El Dorado Overproof rum, using their White or the 3 Year will work beautifully as long as you double the amount.  On the other hand, if you have a bottle of   12 Year, which is a treat, the drink will taste elegant with it.  However, if you do not have any El Dorado rum at all, or cannot get any demerara rum, try a navy rum, like Pusser’s.  Demerara rum has an exceptionally unique flavor, or I should say grouping of flavors, derived from how it is distilled, to where it is from, which is only from Guyana, specifically the Demerara regions along the Demerara River.  Note:  All demerara rums come from Guyana, however not all rums from Guyana are demerara.  This is literal, not theoretical.

For example:  
There is a neighborhood I live near.  
Not all crazy drivers in the city are from that neighborhood.  
Yet all drivers from that neighborhood are crazy.

That is not a fact (merely more than a decade of consistent experiences – no matter how close to an accusing fact, it is only opinion).  Therefore, if a bottle of rum says it is demerara, it comes from one place in the world.

My best guess at pronunciation from these two cultures:  Dĕm-uh-rahrah Flūs-ahp-fĕl   (my apologies if way off).

Please understand, Demerara Flussapfel is my translation only:  Demerara River Apple.  Not  very clever, but I hope you enjoy the drink.  Cheers.  And, Prost.

In a nice schapps glass.

If using a schnapps glass, you’ll need to refill, depending on amount of apple as your garnish.

Demerara Flussapfel
3/4 oz El Dorado 151 rum
1 oz Berentzen Apple
1/4 sweet apple (chopped)
1/2 lemon wedge (yes - only a half a wedge)
1/2 oz apple syrup**

Muddle apple/lemon/syrup.  Add rum & Berentzen.  Shake vigorously.  Double-strain.  Garnish with some apple chopped into small pieces and skewered to stir by, and then to eat of course.

Apple Syrup**
1 tart apple (if large apple - use only half)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water

Dice apple, then mince (or muddle) a third of that to draw out the juices.  Add to small pot, leaving none to remain for maximum flavor.  Add water.  Bring to a rapid boil for a couple of minutes.  Reduce heat to low & add sugar.  Stir constantly until sugar is dissolved.  Simmer for a couple minutes, then take off the heat and rest for 20 minutes.  Strain – allow to cool to room temperature.

Autumn at last!

Regarding the temperate climate, with broadleaf trees changing color seasonally, there is a charisma in the air, an inspiration, a profound unveiling of the inner self where breathing the cooler air and seeing the astonishing colors of the leaves reminds me of my genuine reflection.  I am not at peace.  Yet, this season brings a quiet in my heart I have waited for since last year.  Autumn is a journey of exploration, and all the realms entirely within myself.  Nature is on the move.  When it first arrives, it is as if it is an accident – that stunningly chilly morning.  Refreshing, on the other hand unnerving and disturbing, almost as if something is wrong.  Turns out it is good jacket weather, and time to eat some apples, and anything with them in it.

If you read my Apple Season cocktail from last year, I made a similar cocktail, again inspired by apples.  The first difference with this one is with the rum, using three rums instead a single rum and Applejack combination.  Not that all daiquiris require Cuban style rums, I wanted that flavor attention.  The Bajan rum spices the Matusalem, not as a spiced rum would, but in the same way salt enhances the richness in a dessert.  And the dark Coruba adds a lovely brown sugar flavor, rather than molasses.  Instead of just lime juice, I wanted to incorporate more flavor from the oils from the lime peal in the muddling, as well as the unique blending with the sweetness of the lemon peal.  Then, the amounts of cider and cider syrup** are increased to make a larger and sweeter drink.  I also wanted to change the bitters, feeling Regan’s orange bitters would give a better impression than the savory Angostura, particularly with both lemon and lime.  My first apple cocktail was a more refined drink, and needed double-straining, floating a delicately thin slice of apple to float.  The Autumn Daiquiri is a bit more playful, not only with flavors, but the unstrained salad-effect.

Autumn Daiquiri

Autumn Daiquiri
1 oz Matusalem Gran Reserva
1/2 oz Mount gay Eclipse
1/2 oz Coruba dark
1/2 lime (chopped)
1/4 lemon (chopped)
3/4 oz apple cider syrup**
2 1/2 oz apple cider
1/4 sweet apple (chopped)
2 dashes Regans' Orange Bitters No.6

Muddle lemon, lime, apple, syrup & bitters.  Add rest & shake hard with ice.  Pour unstrained into chilled old-fashioned glass (or collins glass).  Garnish with a hearty apple wedge.

**Apple Cider Syrup
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1 cup apple cider
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

Simmer just below boil for few minutes to reduce slightly, stirring regularly.  Take off heat and let stand until room temp.  This will taste better the next day, but ready to eat right now with your pancakes…or aebleskivers…or Swedish coffee bread.

Fish House Punch

When I first heard about a drink with fish as the first word in its title, I did not actually guess any incarnation of fish flavor, but could not predict anything pleasant either.  I think I imagined in that moment a peculiar rights of passage, smirking at the creative name, but assumed something I would likely only taste once, and never again.  Then I looked at the ingredients.  The smirk went away.

Punch bowls, ladles and little cups trigger thoughts of a party, not merely any party, but a festive occasion, a unique calling for merriment.  Words like mirth, cheer, especially jolly – they are somehow linked to the celebratory vivacity of what is inside a punch bowl.  I also feel the idea lends itself towards a formal gathering, even when I was a boy and what seemed a symbolic gesture of punch served out of a large bowl, even that clouded my mind with its charms.  When I made my first punch years ago, mixing the ingredients, garnishing, and gently settling-in a bucket-molded ice block, I clearly felt a pride, not only offering my contribution of supplies to the party, but contributing my goodwill.  Granted, I was glad to hear some enjoyed the drink, it was a great deal of fun to watch people enjoy it.  Watching eyes light up and spreading smiles pleased me more.

In researching this drink, both by internet and book form, I needn’t go further than the works of Ted Haigh, AKA Dr. Cocktail, specifically from one of his books, Vintage Spirits & Forgotten Cocktails.  He wrote an impressive historical summary of the drink’s fascinating origin, the Schuylkill Fishing Company, as well as contributing a proportionately accurate smaller amount, grateful as one not wishing to conjure this old drink as an entire bowl every time.  Please buy his books, each are exceptionally effective resources.

In the instructions below, I use a pitcher, rather than pouring entirely into a glass, figuring the amount too large.  Using pitchers, I find, is an indulgence, whether refilling my own glass, or better yet – refilling the glasses of those whom I am sharing a moment (which you might want to double the recipe if sharing).  Also, I would advise not using too sweet of a champagne, as the sweetness might unbalance the collection of flavors, though spending more for a dry champagne may prove unnecessary.  Instead, lessening the amount of champagne could keep it in check.  I prefer a splash, simply to liven up the “texture” of the liquid, not so much softening with dilution.  If you prefer a bit less robust flavor, as this lovely drink will offer in plenty, add more champagne, but not too much at first.  Taste-test your way to an opinion and preference on your first try.  And finally, when it comes to brandy, that is mixing with other spirits and powerful flavors, do not feel obliged to buy a quality brand.  You will spend enough on all the ingredients, and would not suffer in blending in a lesser priced brandy.

fish house punch

Fish House Punch
2 oz Jamaican rum (Appleton)
1 oz brandy 
1/4 oz peach brandy
1/4 oz Maraschino
1 oz fresh green tea
1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
1/2 oz simple syrup
1/2 to 2 oz champagne (to taste)

Combine in a tightly sealing jar and allow to osmose for 2 days.  Pour into a small pitcher with large chunks of ice.  Stir in a handsome splash of champagne.

A wiki with Wray and Nephew

For those of you who are new to this site (or for those who’ve visited before and haven’t understood), I do not use the term “wiki” to mean an encyclopedic website, or even the play on the Hawaiian term “wikiwiki” (quick).  My wiki is equivalent to week, just changing the spelling in hopes of sounding a little Hawaiian.  I know…I didn’t ever say I was clever.

A lot of people have never heard of J. Wray & Nephew’s overproof rum.  A lot of people who have hate it for its “kerosene” or “gasoline” impression on their taste buds.  Yet, a lot of people really like this rum, including myself.  One of the best ways to taste Wray & Nephew is to mix it with Ting, a lovely grapefruit pop also from Jamaica (Ting is one of the best, if you can’t find it, any grapefruit pop would work closely enough).  I felt like something different – while in the mood for this rum, I made a week of drinks.

Monday:  Windward Daiquiri is like the Papa Doble, substituting Maraschino for falernum. Windward Daiquiri

Windward Daiquiri
1 oz Wray & Nephew overproof 
3/4 oz fresh grapefruit juice 
1/2 oz fresh lime juice 
1/4 oz simple syrup 
1/4 oz falernum 
1 cup shaved ice

Shake liquids with ice, and strain into pre-chilled glass filled with shaved ice, preferably a glass with a stem.  Garnish with lime and grapefruit peels, twisting over drink.  Note:  I understand ice might seem unnecessarily over-used, discarding the shaken ice, discarding the pre-chilling ice, and only drink from the shaved ice in the served drink.  The danger is the water from melted ice:  water second-handedly added by shaking with ice, because the liquids are not ice-cold, unless wiping out the inside of the glass from pre-chilling – a small amount of water will reside before shaved ice is added, then finally shaved ice melting rather quickly.  All the trouble is to keep the drink cold for that crucial span of moments your body heat rampages through your fingers into the glass.  Meanwhile, the shaved ice slows the act of drinking, unless of course you eat the shaved ice like a snow cone.

Tuesday:  The Jamaican Sunburn is sweeter than it sounds, thanks to muddling a lemon wedge, giving it a wholesome aspect, where simply juicing a lemon would leave you wanting.  I tried both – juice only, and muddling with the peal, and liked both, but preferred the muddling flavor much better.  By the way, please do not fret – the drink in the image below is not red at all, rather should have at least a reddening.  I apologize for this, my cranberry juice was a bit bleached, and barely red at all.  I honestly do prefer fresh ingredients…it’s just…some ingredients I cannot squeeze or prepare myself, and lay in wait for opening.  Regardless, I will do better next time.

Jamaican Sunburn

Sip slowly, or you’ll get burnt and you won’t even know it …unless of course that’s the whole point.

Jamaican Sunburn
lemon wedge
1/4 oz vanilla syrup
2 oz cranberry juice
1 oz Wray & Nephew

Muddle lemon wedge and syrup well.  Fill serving glass 3/4 with crushed ice, then dump into shaker with all ingredients.  Shake fiercely (really make an effort and shake with power & speed).  Pour everything into your glass, adding more crushed ice to fill (if needed).  The muddled lemon wedge might serve as garnish (if so and it is submerged, fish it up to the surface – or if you want more, skewered lemon peel and cranberries would doll this drink up smartly).

Wednesday:  For those molasses fans, this just might blow your hair back.  Anyone ever see the movie or watch the play, Harvey?  That is a hint to one of my inspirations for this drink.Púca

1/2 oz Kraken
1 oz Wray & Nephew overproof
1/4 oz fresh lemon juice
1/4 oz orange curaçao
3/4 oz molasses mix*
2 dashes Angostura bitters

*Molasses mix is 1/2 molasses 1/2 hot water.

Shake ingredients with ice, double-strain into chilled glass. Add large chunk of ice (as to keep cold, but melting slowly, thereby not diluting the drink’s flavor – I used a Tovolo King Cube Jumbo-Size Silicone Ice-Cube Tray to make 2 inch sized cubes).  Garnish with mint, smacking the leaves to express the oils in the leaves, but not too much – just a hint of mint aroma.

Thursday:  A williwaw is a sudden violent, cold, katabatic gust of compressed wind, specifically descending from a mountainous coast to a sea, which sometimes reaches speeds well over 120 knots (roughly 180mph/220kph) – a particular threat for vessels attempting to sail around Cape Horn.  I read a good book by Dallas Murphy a while back called, Rounding the Horn, which was where I first heard about williwaws. Williwaw

1 oz Wray & Nephew overproof
1/2 oz Coruba dark
2 oz POG
3/4 oz fresh lime juice
two dashes Peychaud's bitters
8 oz ice

Blend all ingredients in blender for 2 seconds.  Pour into a chilled glass.  Garnish with lime.

Friday:  Hoban “Wash” Washburn, played by Alan Tudyk, was my favorite character on the science fiction television series, Firefly, which the FOX Network should not have cancelled (I repeat…should not have cancelled), let alone before the first season had completed.  The show was chock-full of adventurous, albeit archetypal, characters, and well-acted, which is no small compliment from me.  Yet, Wash stood out even more, perhaps appearing as some sort of kinship, or the first out of the characters I would choose as a friend.  Anyway…before I get teary-eyed (joking), I will describe the drink.

Wash's Cider

Wash's Cider
1/2 oz honey mix*
lemon wedge (small)
2 1/2 oz cider
1 oz Wray & Nephew
1 1/4 oz ginger beer
2 lemon wedges for garnish (because Wash deserves 2)

*honey mix:  1/2 honey – 1/2 hot water.  The hot water helps the honey mix with liquids more thoroughly.

Muddle lemon, honey mix & cider, add rum.  Shake mildly with ice and not for very long – just to mix it well enough and not bruise the cider (there may not be such a thing).  Strain into chilled collins glass, adding a couple cubes of ice.  Add ginger beer (preferably already cold) and give drink a couple gentle stirs.  Garnish with two lemon wedges.  I later regretted not adding another garnish, also add a single mint leaf, but not in the drink – try to have it hover above, likely using a toothpick into a lemon wedge, or through a straw – whatever you wish (hint:  “I’m a leaf on the wind”).

Saturday:  Here is a tasty one from The Jamaica Observer.  Since lime juice quantities vary from lime to lime, whether drier, or bigger, I have heard many times an average lime will yield 2 tablespoons of juice.  I don’t think I have ever gotten that quantity.  So the question is:  What is most important – the measurement, or how much a fruit would offer?  The reason I ask, the range of a drink’s flavor alters severely depending on the precise amount of juice, regardless if the difference is an eighth of an ounce.  I prefer my drink to taste the same every time.

On a more controversial side-note, you might find another recipe for this drink, again published by the Observer later that year (July 2012/November 2012), of a winning bartender’s recipe also entitled Independence Punch, which may not have a single similar ingredient (grapefruit sherbet, spiced pineapple, Appleton V/X, coconut water, and white rum).  Then they published one more mention of the gingery recipe in February of this year.  So I’m not sure if they made this recipe up themselves, or hid away the source of origin.  There again, I may have entirely stuck my nose where it had no business.  Or did it?  This is the internet after all, right?

Independence Punch

Wray & Nephew Independence Punch
2 slices of fresh Jamaican ginger
1/2 oz simple syrup
juice of 1/2 lime (note: I used 1/2 oz)
2 oz fresh orange juice
2 oz pineapple juice
1 oz Wray & Nephew

Muddle the ginger, syrup and lime juice in a cocktail shaker. Add the rum, orange juice, pineapple juice, ice and shake well. Double-strain into a chilled collins glass over ice and garnish with an orange wedge and mint.  I also added the spent lime shell, pouring a little overproof into it like a bowl, and igniting it.  The image does not show the straw I added after blowing out the blue flame.  Caution:  Overproof rum (or any overproof spirit) is highly flammable – please be careful not to burn yourself, or anything around you.

Sunday:  …must…rest…

Rohirrim Mead

First off, this is not a Tiki drink.  Even at the stretch of the imagination, this might have a hard time getting accepted into the fold.  I’m not looking for its acceptance, but maybe a little imagination.  For it was imagination that took me on a ride, and brought me to this drink.  So please forgive a break from the genre I originally theoried to uphold.

J.R.R. Tolkien‘s tale, particularly the land of Rohan, was my inspiration of a life not easily endured, but a proud life of honor and dedication.  I came home from work one day with a mind of experiments – visualizing something tasting of honey, doubting I would find success in a recipe.  Thinking of what I was going to write, perhaps even breaking from my normal style by writing a little story of a paragraph or two, but decided against it, I might have been the only to enjoy the blather.  If you know Tolkien’s work, great, if not – think of rolling grasslands of a horse-riding culture.  There’s obviously more to it than that, but that brief description will serve well enough.

Regarded as the eldest of all fermented beverages, mead essentially is honey, water & yeast.  There are many variations and styles, which likely have their own ranges and assortments.  Melomel mead is made with honey and fruits.  My cocktail could resemble the Melomel style, vague as that may sound, and pretty much what I meant.  After all, I wanted honey, first, initially guessing gin the spirit to unite honey and the mystery fruit.  I just knew I did not want vodka, even though vodka is universally the best spirit for mixing, that is in general – mixing with just about any flavor.  I wondered about rum, rye, even tequila, but hoped gin would win in the end.

After experimenting with different spirits and juices in order to come close to the idea I wanted, the best combination proved to be gin and pear.  Apple cider and gin work wondrously together, almost too good, to which I deemed another drink entirely (leaving out the honey and making a buttery, cinnamon apple syrup, thanks to the clever culinary devices  of my lovely wife).  When it came down to it, gin and pear told the best story on my palate.

Rohirrim Mead

Rohirrim Mead
1 1/2 oz dry gin
1/2 oz honey mix*
1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
1/4 oz Bärenjäger
1 oz pear puree (or 1/2 a pear - finely muddled, **double-strained)
dash of Angostura bitters

Shake ingredients vigorously until shaker frosts.  Double strain into chilled cocktail glass.  Garnish with lemon twist and pear slice.

*Honey Mix:  Equal parts honey to boiling water.  I generally boil a small amount of water in the microwave, then stir it into the jigger with the honey.  And if you can – buy local honey.

**Double-staining:  While using the hawthorn strainer or a julep strainer for a boston shaker or a French shaker (or the built-in strainer for a cobbler shaker), pour through a fine meshed strainer as well to catch smaller particles.  Single-staining simply keeps chunks of ice (or muddled debris) from the drinking glass.  Double-straining targets smaller particles.  Any kind of tool will work, weather for the bar, kitchen, or even any sink in your home.  My back-up strainer I bought in the plumbing section of a home improvement store for a dollar and change.

I wouldn’t say this drink has the proportions of drinking from a tankard.  However, it wouldn’t seem unheard of to mix a double if nothing more than belting from a larger container.  Therefore, I will leave this to one who said it better:

“The horn of Helm Hammerhand shall sound in the deep… one last time.  Fell deeds awake.  Now for wrath, now for ruin, and a red dawn.  Forth Eorlingas!!”  — King Theoden


(Fill in the Blank) Fog Cutter

The Fog Cutter is one of those drinks I have lifted on high in massive glory, a neon-lit icon for all to see as a genuine representative of tiki drinks, like the Zombie, Mai Tai, and Hurricane.  Even though there are many others (seriously – there are a lot of tiki drinks…thank goodness), some drinks are simply born with spot-lights of fame because of a person’s imagination.  A long time ago, as in before my drinking age, if I were to describe a Zombie, it would have looked red, as well as a Mai Tai, and for some reason imagining a Hurricane as a blue drink.  When I learned what the drinks truly were, and they became real to me, the lofty heights of my given stardom no longer appeared so unreachable.  Reality replaced fantasy, and appreciation changed my perception.

The Fog Cutter, once again, is a drink with questionable origins, whether invented by Trader Vic, Tony Ramos, or from Edna Earle’s restaurant, which Fogcutters was named after a diving knife.  And for those of you who enjoy trivia, which has nothing to do with the Fog Cutter, the term Cutty Sark originally was not for the British clipper, but named for women’s undergarments.  Cutty meant “short” – Sark meant “shift” or “chemise.”  First came the underwear, then the famous ship, then the Scotch whiskey.  I guess the bottle would look pretty silly with something other than a sailing vessel on its label.

WARNING:  Anyone allergic to almonds should not ingest orgeat.

However, “Almond Flavoring” precisely printed on the bottle should be harmless.   If you don’t want to buy a bottle orgeat, or make your own, which is easy, another option is to add a few drops almond flavoring (from the grocery store) into simple syrup to give a neighborhood taste – a couple drops for 2 ounces.  I mean, the flower water really makes the flavor profile, not simply almonds, and there really is not substituting orgeat for something less.  But almond flavored syrup is close enough in a pinch.  I used to think, “Maybe if I substitute another kind of nut flavor it will be alright, after all – it’s just a nut flavor, right?”  Since then, I’ve experimented, trialed-and-errored, and learned the inventors of drinks could have used Frangelico instead of orgeat, but didn’t.  Could vodka work just as well as gin, if not better?  No.  The recipes are in writing.  They are permanent.  New drinks can be made using the old recipes as guides, yet cannot be called the same thing.  It’s all about flavor.  Bottom line:  Please try the original flavor of a drink first.  If you don’t like it, of course change it.  If you don’t have the ingredients at first, make it as close as you can.  But please, strive to get the original ingredients.

With that said, I substituted out the sherry.  I don’t like sherry.  I learned from Beachbum Berry’s Remixed (all hail Jeff “Beachbum” Berry!), whatever you float on top of a Fog Cutter is allowed as long as you alter the name of the drink.  For example, if I wanted to float Maple Crown Royal, I could call it a Canadian Fog Cutter, or Fog Cutter Flapjacks, or whatever you can think of, whether prestigious or playful.  Your drink – your name.  Plus, once you drink a Fog Cutter, you’re not going to listen to another word I say.  If by chance your mood carries you into two of these drinks, your opinion will suddenly grow to monstrous heights, and might crush us all under your bootheel of wisdom!

fog cutter

Malagasy Fog Cutter
2 oz fresh Lemon juice
1 oz fresh Orange juice
1/2 oz Orgeat Syrup
1 oz Light Rum
1 oz Brandy (no need for expensive kind since it's for mixing)
1/2 oz Gin (dry)
1/2 oz *Madagascar Mix

Shake everything with cracked ice – except the mix.  Pour into tall tiki mug and add more cracked ice to fill.  Float sherry on top of drink.  Garnish with mint.  Drink with a straw.

*Madagascar Mix
1/2 part Clément V.S.O.P. (I prefer rhums more than rums for this)
1 part Vanilla syrup
1 part Tia Maria (any Coffee Liqueur will work)

If you have trouble with the technique of “floating” and the liquid flows down too far into the drink – remember to pour slowly, perhaps using an up-side down spoon to help slow the pour.  As you can see by my picture, my float sank like a stone.  Obviously I need more practice, if you understand my meaning.  Also, I don’t have a Fog Cutter mug yet, and feel I should have gotten one by now.  After all, the drink and the mug are practically synonymous.  Just for curiosity sake, I made two drinks, substituting lime for the lemon, simply to see a side by side comparison.  They look the same, and both taste extraordinarily good.  My wife prefers the lime, while I favor the lemon because I can taste the gin better with lemon.

Tahitian Knockout

I have a passion for travel, whether in my region or country, or the vastness of our planet.  An enormous thrill to travel to the Pacific and all her islands:  Tahiti (and Moorea…not Moria), Bora Bora, Fiji, Tonga, the Solomon Islands, the Samoa Islands (all on the top of the list), all of Polynesia, Micronesia, and Melanesia – if I could I would visit every island.  If I could choose which to visit first, I want to go to Tahiti most.

I’ve had different Tahitian punches, some were good, but some were not so good, instead tasting ordinary, like any rum would replace another, and the same with juices.  The Tahitian Punch does not have a fill-in-the-blank recipe, and deserves respect.  I was thinking about writing about a few recipes, sort of like a taste test type of thing, but decided against it after I bought the last ingredient in the recipe below.  I finally got my hands on Coruba rum.

If you are unfamiliar with honey cream, it is easy to make, but has a ticking clock attached to it.  If it cools too much, it will harden, and shatter when shaken with ice, then float…an understandably undesirable result, and causing an emotional response when looking down into the glass – precisely the opposite effect you want when looking at your drink.  The goal is creaminess, a taste sensation of both flavor and texture.  You want to control the butter, making it work for you, and in the end an enjoyable instrument for the drink.  Boiling butter is not the goal either, as it will separate on itself.  Simply warm the three together in a microwave, slowly, or if you prefer in a small pan on the stove, just as long as there’s not too much heat.  So you’ll need to make this just a little before shake time.  Papa Jules cooks his honey cream every night at his Mahiki nightclub in London.  His recipe is equal parts butter (no salt kind), honey and brown sugar.

And in case you don’t want to hunt down the definition, Toere means “drum” in the Tahitian language, and I’ve heard it is pronounced “toe-eddy”.  If that is correct, it seems reasonable with the “rolling R” mechanic, and perhaps a percussive quality.

One last thing, I floated orange juice, not an overproof rum, nor a dark rum – but juice.  I have never heard of anyone doing this, and probably am “doing it wrong” by choosing this technique.  In my defense, I chose orange juice as a garnish, not a mixed ingredient, mostly for the scent of smell.  In many Tahitian Punch recipes with orange juice as an ingredient, this time I did not want an orange flavor, but its aroma…that is if orange juice truly defines this specific punch.


dash of Maraschino liqueur
3/4 oz fresh lime juice
1/2 oz unsweetened pineapple juice
3/4 oz passion fruit juice
1/2 oz Don's Mix*
1/2 oz Jules' Honey Cream**
1/4 oz Bärenjäger
3/4 oz light rum (Mount Gay Eclipse)
3/4 oz demerara rum (El Dorado 12 year)
1/2 oz dark Jamaican rum (Coruba)
dash of Peychaud's bitters
splash of fresh orange juice

Chill double old-fashioned glass.  Season the interior surface of the glass with Maraschino, then discard.  Shake rest of ingredients with crushed ice.  Pour unstrained into glass.  Float orange juice.  Garnish with spent orange wedge and a lime wedge (pineapple too, but I didn’t have any at the time I made the drink).

*Don’s Mix:  2 parts grapefruit juice with a half part cinnamon infused simple syrup..

**Jules’ Honey Cream:  Equal parts butter, honey and brown sugar.

Fruit Sauce

great blue hole of belize

I thought the Great Blue Hole of Belize would represent a big enough bowl – rather than the below’s galactic size depicts.

In the beginning, my mother got out a very large bowl, 
and in the bowl was without form, and void.   
She opened cans of peach and pineapple, 
a couple containers of fresh blueberries,  
chopped up some oranges, 
several kiwifruit, 
then dumped all that into the void.   
And it was good.

The inspiration of this drink came from flavors my mother brought together, a satisfying and mood-brightening deliciousness called Fruit Sauce, made in large quantities for either get-togethers, holiday gatherings, special occasions (or ordinary made special), whether supplementing breakfasts, snacking, or as a dessert in its own right.  There is a lot of sugar in the recipe (not listed in the reverent and loosely listed recipe above), as well as including the syrups from the cans, causing me to experiment with sugar for a still-pleasant more-acidic satisfaction.  Pineapple, orange, kiwifruit, blueberry and peach – a flavor spectrum perfected by all, though strangely disharmonized if missing a single ingredient.

I say again, this is a sweet one, no question about it, yet close to balancing with the tart qualities of the pineapple, orange and blueberry.  These fruits are why a calculated addition of simple syrup is discretionary.  As to which rums to use, I hope you experiment which ones play best with these flavors.  I stayed away from spiced and infused rums, but have no objection to overproofs, demeraras or agricoles.  After all, the original idea of the five fruits will guide the drink – like a tugboat coaxing a cruise ship towards the dock to board you for an adventure.  When adding simple syrup, perhaps the best thing to do is taste the mixture beforehand (shaking first to incorporate the flavors – shaking without ice), deciding if syrup is even needed.  If it is not sweet enough, start with a 1/4 ounce, and if needing more, another 1/4 ounce, making sure the natural flavors of the fruit do not get camouflaged.

fruit sauce 2fruit sauce 1

Fruit Sauce
1 1/4 oz light rum (Ron Matusalem Platino)
1/2 oz gold rum (Flor de Cana 7 year)
1/2 oz dark rum (Gosling's Black Seal)
3 large chunks pineapple
1 1/2 kiwifruit
10-15 blueberries (depending on size - if really big, use 8)
1/4 orange (peeled & cut into 3 pieces)
1/2 oz peach liqueur
simple syrup to taste (start at 1/4 oz)

Thoroughly muddle orange, pineapple and blueberries.  Double-strain back into mixing glass.  Muddle the kiwifruit (do not strain for added flavor), add rum and peach liqueur.  Shake vigorously without ice for 5 seconds.  Taste to see if the fruit is sweet enough, as if provided season’s ripeness, adding simple syrup if desired.  Then shake again with ice.  Pour into a chilled glass.  Skewer some blueberries for a garnish.

Note:  When you have found your preference of sweetness, there is no need to dry shake the next time you make it, since it is your original experiment.

Another Note:  Bless your hearts for waiting for this dumb posting.  I had planned to make a drink commemorating my moving into a house (will make it another time), then a planned holiday drink afterwards (also will save it for next year).  I’ve missed writing about drinks.  Thanks so much for reading.

Planter’s Punch

For anyone who has searched the internet, or hunted down books, they know there are a great many Planter’s Punch recipes out there.  It is not one of the oldest alcoholic beverages, aging as hundreds of years than thousands of years.  Yet, when considering the lifespan of rum, or what was first called “Rumbullion” (1650s), it is an old recipe, 200 years old – and still looking good.

Out of all the tiki drinks, “Polynesian” drinks, Caribbean drinks, or tropical drinks, out of the great many drinks to choose from – there were the first ones, the ones which started the craze, the originals.  Afterwards, numbering like the stars in the night sky, they opened the doors for a new creativity (or some not so much, more like stealing).  But in the beginning, which is a broad span of time, it astonishes me how most tropical drinks were not created anywhere near the tropics, but as a tribute to them, or most likely to remind people of far away exotic places.  Thanks to what I read from Beachbum Berry’s book, Remixed, when it comes to classic tropical drinks, the Daiquiri (Cuba), Planter’s Punch (Jamaica),  and Dr. Funk (Samoa) are the only originated in the tropics.  I have mentioned the Daiquiri in an earlier post, now I must pay my respects to another fostering fortification.

I have so much fun learning about rum’s history, where it first introduced production, the infancy of how to drink it – other than straight, development throughout the world, and the shining celebration of what rum is today because of it all.  Planter’s Punch had its own say in history, a voice which echoed into modern ears, a timeless recipe all on its own, as well as a blueprint for brilliant variations.  Here are two ways the recipe was remembered:

"Planter's Punch! A West Indian Recipe"
A wine-glass with lemon juice fill,
Of sugar the same glass fill twice
Then rub them together until
The mixture looks smooth, soft, and nice.
Of rum then three wine glasses add,
And four of cold water please take.
A Drink then you'll have that's not bad —
At least, so they say in Jamaica.
-- published in Fun magazine, London, September 1878
"Planter's Punch" 
This recipe I give to thee, 
Dear brother in the heat. 
Take two of sour (lime let it be) 
To one and a half of sweet, 
Of Old Jamaica pour three strong, 
And add four parts of weak. 
Then mix and drink. I do no wrong -- 
I know whereof I speak.
-- published in the New York Times, 8 August 1908
Note:  Back then, a “wine-glass” measurement was considered 2 ounces.

I need to say something about the garnish, because in this case it has to do with Jamaica more than it has to do with this drink.  Garnishing basically does two things:  It makes the cocktail look nice, and it gives off a scent, or sometimes many scents.  Of course there is the option of eating your garnish.  With that said, I’m throwing all of that out the window for this drink, just this once, and intend a garnish to mean more.  This garnish means something else.


Jamaica.  Please go there, and have the best time of your life.  Please spend lots of money on the island, please eat all you can and as many different things you can find.  I went with a group of finicky eaters, except for one.  He and I ate like kings on what the rest refused to eat, or too frightened to swallow.  I could go on and on about how many delicious foods and drinks come from that phenomenal island.  I’ll leave that between you and your internet.

I was lucky to study for a short time in Jamaica, far too short, and still miss the friends I made there.  My school sponsored a semester abroad, allowing me attendance to two universities (and a home-stay) in both Kingston and Mandeville.  When not in the classroom, we drove all over the island to celebrate “weekends” or “vacations” for the sake of exploration and curiosity.  It was simply glorious.  Ninety-nine life-changing days, ninety-nine days of paradise, ninety-nine days of beautiful scenery and beautiful people, including ninety-nine days of widespread poverty, yet always the wondrous sensation of the Jamaican spirit.  Please do no go to Jamaica for the place alone – it’s the people who make the place.  The nation is both land and people – the people become the land as the land becomes the people.  Please go there on vacation, and meet as many people as you can.

When I thought of making this drink, I wanted to separate the garnish from the thought process by using it to reflect my time on Jamaica, instead of provoking the flavors of the drink.  I drove by a banana plantation, noticing only for a moment a few banana pickers.  They wore next to nothing.  The term “rag” held more of a definition to that of fabric than what those men wore in the jungle.  Then on a northern  beach, on holiday, as a marching band played one of my favorite Bob Marley tunes, I bought the sweetest pineapple I’ve ever tasted from one of the sweetest ladies I’ve ever met.  And finally, while staying in Kingston at the Cole’s, at least two different mango trees fed us daily (of course not the only thing – some of the best food I’ve ever eaten was made by Mrs. Cole).

I will always remember Mrs. Cole (and her family, as well as Velita, the woman who worked there).  When I see a mango, or eat one, my mind immediately takes me to the comfort she provided under her roof.  I will always remember the kind woman who sold me the little pineapple before a rain came.  Regardless if it was such a short conversation, that spectacularly-filled moment marked itself in my memory whenever I eat pineapple – a moment so full of powerfully remembered events, making an ordinary day a holiday in its own right.  I will always remember those men walking along the road, wearing  strings for clothing under the dark shade of the dense banana fronds, foregrounding a waterfalls in the distant mountains.  I asked myself in that VW bus, “How long until jungles no longer exist?”  That moment is a permanent memory, and one I think of often, since I am able to buy bananas anytime.

These three fruits do not sum up all of my experiences in Jamaica.  However, this is the most honest representation I could think of without the use of a Jamaican flag.  Inhale deeply when you drink this, as with all drinks, but in this example inhale and imagine Jamaica.

Planter's Punch
3/4 oz fresh lime juice
1/4 oz fresh grapefruit juice
1/4 oz honey
1/4 oz falernum
1/4 oz simple syrup
1/2 oz Bärenjäger (honey liqueur)
1/2 oz gold Jamaican (Appleton)
1/2 oz dark Jamaican (Smith & Cross)
1 oz gold Virgin Islands (I used Pyrat, from Anguilla)
2 dashes Angostura bitters
6 oz crushed ice

Warm honey so it will shake more easily into other liquids.  Shake ingredients with crushed ice until frost begins to form on metal shaker. Pour unstrained into chilled glass.  Add more ice to fill if necessary.  Garnish with sizable chunks of pineapple, banana and mango (if the mango is too thin after cutting from the seed, join pieces and trim to look like one big piece).

I called the next recipe a Fizz because of the definition of a Fizz, which takes after an older invention – the Sour.  A Sour is a spirit mixed with an acidic juice and sugar.  The Fizz is basically a spirit mixed with an acidic juice and carbonated water, whose fame grew substantially in America between 1900 and the 1940s.  The Gin Fizz was particularly popular in New Orleans, another town specialty.

Wray & Nephew and Ting go great together.  There are a lot of people who don’t care for the flavor of Wray & Nephew rum, and understandably so since it has a unique taste about it.  And mixing it with other rums can get a little tricky because it can take over even after adding such a small amount.  I think of it very similarly to that of Maraschino liqueur – any more than a dash will alter the drink irrecoverably.  Another good example is demonstrated from the movie, The Myth of Fingerprints, where they briefly discuss the concept of spreading too much mustard on a sandwich, and in effect creating nothing more than a mustard sandwich.  Reluctant in adding too much Wray & Nephew, yet hoping the Myers’s rum would play its mellow pronouncements well enough in contrast, I knew the overproof would win since the term “overproof” essentially means more flavor anyway.  And for those unfamiliar with overproof rums, please always remember they are twice as strong, and require half as much for both flavor and alcoholic effect.  

Planter's Fizz
1 oz Myers's dark
1/2 oz Wray & Nephew overproof 
1 oz fresh lime juice 
2 oz Ting (Didn't have this time - used Jarritos) 
2 oz Pineapple pop (Jarritos)

Shake all but pop with ice, pouring unstrained into chilled tall glass.  Stir pop in gently.  Garnish with a cherry.

Will the Planter’s Fizz become my precedent recipe for Planter’s Punch?  Absolutely not.  The most simplistic version is what I will drink the most, followed by others’ renditions.  Only after properly paying tribute will I shake-up my own recipes.

God Jul!

God Jul!  For those of you who do not speak Swedish (like me – even though I’m Swedish-American), it means Merry Christmas.  Pertaining to the approach of Christmas, not “the holiday season” since it does not have anything to do with Thanksgiving or New Years, this drink is like drinking Christmas Spirit.  However, this is how I see it, or from my perspective growing up with one of many traditions.  We called it “grog” in pronunciation, even though it should have been pronounced “wassail.”  It was my grandmother’s recipe, and meant to be non-alcoholic – no wine, no brandy, and certainly no rum.  Yet rum made its way in, only after it was done brewing all day, and resting through the night to be ready to drink the next day.  Whether a Christmas party, or merely to drink a bit of happiness into your life, we’d put the wonderment into a big, coffee maker with a spigot to warm it back up, and a bottle of rum nearby for the adults.  As a boy I never could see any reason to change what was perfect.

What we made was wassail, a hot mulled cider (Old English wæs hæl, literally ‘be you healthy’ – an ancient southern English ritual intended to ensure a plentiful cider apple harvest for the next year.  The term wassail was meant for both drink and toasting).  Regardless, we didn’t call it that.  We called it grog.  When looking up various recipes for grog, or glögg in Swedish, I quickly found out several missing ingredients.

Glögg, pronounced somewhat like glooog (roughly translated: “glow”), is a sweet, high-octane, mulled wine.  According to the Wine & Spirits Museum in Stockholm, King Gustav I of Sweden was fond of a drink made from German wine, sugar, honey, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and cloves. It was later named “glödgad vin” in 1609, which meant “glowing-hot wine.” The word glögg is a shortened form that first appeared in print in 1870.

There are several recipes I am fond of, all which include various fruits, either sweet red wine or port, or both, and all with fortifying spirits.  Here’s a Swedish glögg recipe:

2 bottles sweet red wine
2 cups water
1 1/2 oz dark rum (with this I prefer Gosling's)
1 1/2 oz brandy (doesn't need to be expensive with so many flavors)
1 1/2 oz port wine
10 dried prunes
4 pieces dried apricots
4 pieces dried apples
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup dark raisins
2 oranges (washed and sliced)
rind of 1/3 of a lime (no pith - either peeled or grated)
1/2 cup dried cranberries 
1/4 cup pistachios (should be almonds, but allergic to)
2 Tbsp whole cloves
1 tsp cardamom pods
4 (3 inch) cinnamon sticks
1 cup brown sugar (light)

Bind up cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and lime rind in cheesecloth.  Bring all ingredients, except alcohol and wine, to near boil (do not boil) and simmer for at least one hour, preferably 3 hours.  Remove bound up spice packet.  Add remaining ingredients only minutes before serving, reheating to near boil (again, do not boil).  Serve in heatproof glass cups (so you can see inside – this Christmas gift comes with see-through wrappings), adding a small helping of fruit and nuts to each glass, and a teaspoon to eat by.  Garnish either with an orange peal in the drink, or an orange slice on the rim of the glass.

I know that sounds like a lot of ingredients.  But the idea is richness, deep thought-provoking richness, the kind your most precious memories from Christmas past will conjure.  Also, if you would prefer, I’ve heard of substituting Aquavit (or Akvavit) for the brandy, but not for this precise recipe  This is where I haven’t experimented enough to make this call – maybe if Aquavit is added, maybe the cardamom will seem too powerful.  Sorry for not knowing for sure.

Even though I’m talking about glögg, I’m writing this to show the grog recipe I grew up with, regardless if it’s really wassail.  It’s a simple recipe, easy to make, and so happy and bright with flavor.  You could even use it as an ingredient if making a mulled wine.  I am very proud of this drink, and so glad my parents shared this recipe with me.


Julglögg (Christmas Grog)
1 quart hot tea (black tea - just use teabags)
2 tsp whole cloves
1/4 cup stick cinnamon
1 gallon apple cider
1 quart orange juice
1 pint grapefruit juice (not ruby red)
1 cup cranberry juice
1 cup sugar
1 cup hot water

Make hot tea by steeping for 5 to 7 minutes.  Meanwhile, bring water to boil and dissolve sugar completely within to make a simple syrup.  Add cloves and cinnamon to tea, bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes.  Add cider, orange juice, syrup, grapefruit juice, and cranberry juice.  Bring to boiling point, but do not boil.  Simmer for a few hours.  If you don’t have time, just cover and let it sit all day.  Either way, let it stand overnight to marry the flavors.  Serve hot (but do not boil).  If you’re in the mood, add a splash (or more) of amber rum.  Silver rums feel a little too rough, and spiced rums think they are in charge.  I first thought dark rums would be ideal, instead learning they kind of clash as well.  A list of rums that work:  Appleton, Matusalem, Mount Gay, El Dorado, Pusser’s, and Bacardi.  Due to how more mild it is to any other, Gosling’s is the only dark rum capable for this recipe.  Finally, garnish with a slice of orange with a number of whole cloves poked into the skin, thanks to my loving parents for sending my wife and I a box of delicious Florida oranges.

Merry Christmas to all who read this.  Astonished to see so many people from so many places visit this website, I hope I can be of any help, even if it just means a suggested recipe for an option of what to make with certain flavors.  Thank you one an all.  And for those who do not celebrate Christmas, I wish you a Happy New Year.  Be safe.

Apple Season

It’s Apple Season!  It’s Apple Season!  Ahhhh-Hoooo!!  First let me explain something, I like apples, but really don’t take to them on a regular basis, nor do I crave apple pie, or apple dumplings, or anything flavored for the sake of apples.  I don’t have anything against them, just like I don’t favor them.  My point is,  for the most part I rarely eat apples and any thing made with them pretty rarely…at least until autumn hits.  Autumn changes me, alters me, sends me into biological dynamo of teenaged hormone-driven rambunctiousness.  Not only is it football season, there simply is something in the air, an electrically charged mood, an altered perception, as if my blood has chemically imbalanced.  I understand this all sounds ridiculous.  I also understand it doesn’t last long.  Autumn feels like the briefest of seasons, most likely due to my having so much fun.  While this season surprises me upon its arrival as much as its departure, Apple Season particularly takes hold of me as a Venus Flytrap around its prey.  There is no escape.  It has already happened.  I can’t get enough apple, whatever form the fruit can provide, whether as juiced into a cider, baked into a pie, thickened as a butter, picked off a tree and eaten it out of my hand, or in this case – mixing a little of all for this cocktail.

I need to give credit where credit is due:  An extraordinary orchard and a cooking website have influenced my wife and I.  We have driven 3 hours down to a fantastic orchard for a number of years, and have been surprised not only by how popular it always seems to be, meaning busy, but how well they thrive as a business.  So many assortments of apple products, so many kinds of apples, and by what we’ve experienced – everything tastes delicious, and well worth the drive.  We’ll leave with a couple bags of apples, a couple gallons of cider, a few caramel-covered apples (with nuts), a couple jars of apple butter, sometimes an apple pie, sometimes  a cup each of apple slush, yet always open to suggestion or experimentation.  The orchard is called, The Apple Works, which is south of Trafalgar and north of Sweetwater Lake, but also found at http://www.apple-works.com.  If you go in the fall, make sure to head a bit farther south to Nashville and get their fried biscuits and apple butter (one of the things that makes the town almost as famous as the Nashville in Tennessee).  Last year, my wife found an outstanding recipe for pumpkin waffles at allrecipes.com.  After eating this profound breakfast, my thoughts immediately went to how I could use the cider syrup for cocktails, since I hear about all kinds of syrups used in that way.

My first thought of course turned to rum.  When I first made it, I used Appleton, thinking it well-suited for an incredibly sweet apple cider made sweeter as a syrup.  But this time I wanted to use a demerara rum, thinking of its richness distinctive to that of the Jamaican rum, not necessarily better, since both are unique perspectives in enjoying rum.  One of my favorite demerara rums is El Dorado 12 year (I have heard the 15 year is the best, but have yet to try it).  The next ingredient is Applejack, not Calvados.  I have nothing against the french brandy, yet believe it is too refined for a recipe with so many ingredients.  Applejack is sweeter, and a little friendlier for this.  I like Laird’s applejack, especially its American history.  If any of you are in the mood, check out the Interesting Facts link at www.lairdandcompany.com.

Now that the spirits are taken care of, the only thing to do now is load up on the apple flavor.  I considered apple butter as one of the ingredients, but not for this one, maybe later.  I figured muddling would thicken the drink enough after straining, where apple butter would only add more cloud to the bottom of the glass.  Using cider, fresh juice from the fruit, and an apple syrup, I felt enough characteristics of the apple were properly introduced.  I questioned whether to use lemon juice over lime, though in the end went with my fondness of combining rum and lime.  Tasting them is like listening to two best friends having a funny conversation.  You can’t help but smile.

I am also encouraged to infuse rum with apples to offer even more flavor, perhaps sooner than later.  For an extensive list of infused recipes, please check out boozedandinfused.com where you’ll learn how easy it is to make your own splendidly fresh tasting spirits and liqueurs.

The Apple Season Cocktail
1 1/2 oz El Dorado 12 year
1/2 oz Applejack (Laird's)
3/4 oz fresh lime juice
1/2 oz apple cider syrup**
1 oz apple cider
1/4 of an apple (cut into 6-8 pieces)
dash of Angostura bitters

Muddle apple with syrup and lime juice.  Double-strain into small, pre-chilled cocktail glass, garnish with floating apple slice.

Muddling is important here, crushing the apple into a puree, and getting every drop out of the fruit.  I have two muddlers, one with a flat bottom, and another with teeth.  A flat bottom muddler will do the best work here, and more thoroughly.  The toothed one will get a better start, but it’s the best finish we’re after.  Make sure you have a sure grip on your mixing glass due to all the effort and pressure forced down into the glass.  I’d get pretty sore with myself if all that fell on the floor, namely that precious cider syrup.

Also, double straining is important in this drink, that is if your do not want food in your drink.  I like unstrained cocktails in many cases, thinking it simply tastes better with the demolished ice and broken fruit from shaking, however not in every situation.  This cocktail needs a little refinement, an endeavor worth the trouble when you taste it.  And if you’re not familiar, double-straining is using an additional fine mesh strainer, that is straining the drink with a hawthorn strainer (or for those of you who prefer julep strainers), and pouring through a fine-meshed strainer.  It confirms no shards of ice, or sediment from the muddle apple.

**Apple cider syrup
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup apple cider
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons butter

Mix sugar, cornstarch, and cinnamon in a pan. Stir in cider and lemon juice. Cook over medium heat until starting to boil; boil until it thickens. Remove from heat and stir in 2 tablespoons of butter until melted. Serve warm.  Again, you can find this recipe at the allrecipes.com. website.

My wife prefers less citrus juice, more syrup, and treasures Appleton rum over any other.  So her recipe is as follows:

1 1/2 oz Appleton Estate
1/2 Applejack
1/2 fresh lime juice
3/4 oz apple cider syrup
2 1/2 oz apple cider
1/4 of an apple (cut into 6-8 pieces)

I am probably going to drink this until Apple Season runs out of my system.  And then it’s Pumpkin Season…I can’t wait.

From Mars with Curiosity

Doesn’t it look like you could walk here, like it isn’t 171,156,808 miles away (and growing more distant every second according to a real-time distance calculator)?

Reading the news online, having not nearly as much interest as I wanted, I heard they sent another mobile probe to Mars.  It was good to hear the word NASA again for some reason.  Yet it was the pictures sent back from the red planet that genuinely caught me.  This was right before the olympics, I think, and hearing a joke that it took what…16 minutes for images to get here from Mars – but video from London taking 6 hours.  There was one image in particular, not blurry, not pixellated, not of a landscape stuck in a crater, but a crystal clear horizon with a mountain, and a familiarizing shadow of the rover to compliment the privilege of seeing another planet.  I stared at the image for a while, taking myself there – no, bringing it to me.  I imagined walking there, like I was hiking a barren desert (I really like hiking in deserts – that is when I can get to one).

Images are from NASA – there are lots more.

Then came the color, more images sent home of landscapes and views from Curiosity’s camera, whether including parts of itself in the view or not.  This also helped shape how I wanted to build my drink.  It can’t be a bright red drink.  Mars is not bright red, or not as red as some of the from-space images I’ve seen.  Yet again I stared.

It was so easy to take in, and before I knew it, I forgot how difficult it was to bring this image to my eyes.  How many millions of dollars?  How much time planning it, building it, and finally sending it?  How many people invested? How hard was it to send this incredible machine to another planet?  How hard was it to make this incredible machine send this image to Earth?  Here’s to the Mars Rover Curiosity, or to all who had a hand in her triumphs.

The Mars Rover Curiosity
1 oz Mount Gay Eclipse
1/2 oz Rhum Barbancourt White
1/2 oz Lemon Hart 151
1/2 a lime (cut into 6-8 pieces)
3/4 oz ruby red grapefruit juice
1/2 oz blood orange juice
1 level bar spoon brown sugar 
1/4 oz falernum
1/2 oz Cherry Heering
3 dashes Peychaud's bitters
freshly grated nutmeg

Muddle lime  & brown sugar.  Add rest of ingredients, shake with equal amount of crushed ice (around 3/4 cup).  Pour unstrained into chilled double old fashioned glass, or big enough cocktail glass.  With a fine grater, dust lightly with nutmeg.  Garnish with a wedge of ruby red grapefruit with 2 cherries skewered, and a sprig of mint, to look like the rover (kind of) coming over the rim of the glass, just as unstoppable as your thirst.  I also added a slice of carambola, AKA star fruit – I thought appropriate.

Since this is summer, there aren’t any blood oranges around.  They are almost always limited to the season, whereas regular oranges are more prolific and abundant.  For those who have not heard of the blood orange, please don’t panic – it is citrus only, just like any other citrus.  If you don’t believe me, check out some of the True Blood cocktail recipes.  Or, if you prefer it out of the bottle, HBO describes their True Blood version as “…a delicious blood orange carbonated drink inspired by Bill’s favorite synthetic blood nourishment beverage.”  I found blood orange juice in the supermarket, hopefully just as easy to find for you too.  If you don’t have nutmeg seeds, or cannot find any easily, it might lightly roast ground nutmeg in a fry pan to wake up the flavor and aroma (I’m just talking about for 20-30 seconds – you’ll smell when it’s done).

If you don’t have Rhum Barbancourt, another agricole will work.  Light Bacardi could replace it, even though it does not resemble the flavor.  Also, Lemon Hart can be replaced with another demerara; but since it is overproof – add twice the amount of your 80 proof to equal the attempted flavor.  I would however highly recommend getting a bottle of Mount Gay, not merely because it is one of my favorite rums, but is easily available, and flexible in a great many drinks.

Some might consider this a sour drink, or at least very tangy.  As with all drinks, if you prefer more sweetness, make it the way you want it.  I’ve tried to balance the sweet and sour, but understand not everybody likes sharp contrasts of citrus over the other fruit flavors.  Since I ask for brown sugar, it might be better to up the sweetness with simple syrup instead so not to overpower with molassesness.  I like molasses flavor, but thought only a little was important when mixing with the other enhancements.  Regardless, this is a sipping drink, thanks in part by the tool of crushed ice to slow you down (I respect it as a tool, instead of straining it).  When I sip on a drink, I reflect.  And reflecting is the point of this drink, reflecting on the reason I made it, of a far away place brought closer.

A Great Vacation Drink


I’m on vacation.  Remember my mentioning my loving parents in sunny Florida?  Went on a drive down to Key West, a place I’ve wanted to go for a long time, not because of Ernest Hemingway’s stays there, or Tennessee Williams, but the romance of the place, the southernmost point in the continental United States, a place where one is closer to Havana than they are to Miami (106 to 127 miles).  While there I had an excellent mojito at the Mad Rooster, down the street from Sloppy Joe’s.  And later I tasted a fantastic daiquiri made with Flor de Caña at the Rum Barrel, who boast an impressive collection of over 100 different rums from around the world.  Even though I ordered the 7 year old, the friendly waitress said upon delivery of my drink, “The bartender sends his compliments, the 12 year instead.”  What a treat!

After returning with a warm glow of the fond experiences of the Keys, I felt another vacation drink was in order.  Though I should make something Cuban, Brazil calls to me:  Ice cold cachaça.  A Caipirinha will refresh nicely in this summer heat.

A word about cachaça – it could, maybe, if you put your imagination to it, resemble agricole-style rum. Cachaça is not distilled with molasses, but more directly from sugarcane juice.  And why I say it could be compared to agricole is because of the flavor.  A vegetal undertone prevails with every taste.  Other than that, I either do not have the sense to describe with proper vocabulary, or cannot separate the number of flavors therein.  I am a horrible reviewer for this very point.  I can tell you however, I like cachaça not merely for a wondrous drink called the Caipirinha, but for all the different variations cachaça can flourish into by introducing any combination of flavors to it.  For example, name any fruit, and it will likely taste perfectly balanced with cachaça.  I realize it’s a bold statement, yet think it can back it all up.

I want to tell you about the original, the straight to the point and most basic Caipirinha, and my favorite.  Even though I like pineapple more than any other fruit, if I had a choice I would prefer a straight Caipirinha.

Isn’t that pineapple amazing?

2 oz cachaça
1/2 lime (cut into 8 pieces, or so)
1-3 Tbsp superfine sugar (to taste)

Muddle lime & sugar in mixing glass – get all the juice out.  Fill old-fashioned glass with ice & toss into shaking tin (fill again to chill).  Shake with cachaça & muddled lime until frost forms on tin.  Pour untrained into chilled glass.  Add more ice if desired.

Not only is the cachaça the  national cocktail of Brazil, I have heard many in Brazil wish to separate cachaça from rum, that is legally defining cachaça no longer as a rum, but as an independent spirit of its own class.  To learn more about this, visit http://www.legalizecachaca.com

If you try a Caipirinha, or some cachaça, please do not think you are tasting a different kind of rum, whether or not you think the two spirits are the same or not. Cachaça will surprise you if you have not tasted it before.  Take it as a warning, just as if you were about to drink orange juice when expecting apple juice.  I hope you like it.  I hope you like it and buy cachaça.  I like rum first, yet will support cachaça, and root for it.  How can I not when tasting the Caipirinha?


Death in the South Pacific

If you browse over the ingredients you will see this is a drink of powerful flavors –  orgeat, falernum, absinthe, lemon & lime juices, Cruzan Blackstrap.  Although quite mellow, Appleton can also take a drink away from other decided flavorings as well.  Sometimes a collection of powerful flavors is not a good thing, or possibly considered a mistake.  On the other hand, if Tiki drinks have taught me anything, they’ve taught me I won’t know precisely what I’ve got until I taste it.

Winning the official cocktail of the Tales of the Cocktail 2010, Even Martin’s recipe, Death in the South Pacific, at first caught my attention because of his cool garnish.  Not only is it outside the glass, it hangs from the straw.  Pretty neat trick; even if the drink didn’t taste good to me, I’d still dig its decor.  Looking at the ingredients when first making the drink, I had high hopes, since a drink wouldn’t win a Tales of the Cocktail competition on looks alone.  So when I first sucked my first taste from the straw, that is a small sip, a suddenly found myself on a great and might battlefield, on-going and devastating, but not between two foes – many.  The first sip hit my brain as a tidal confusion, though knowing what the ingredients were ahead of time helped with understanding.  I knew the drink would be powerful – not hot from booze, but rambunctious flavors clamoring to the top for attention.  The second sip came right after, probably just to assure myself what aftertaste lingered, and again a big push against me.  “Pick ME!” one cried, “No, pick ME!!” another aggressively shouted louder.  And so on.  Another sip.  My high hopes were kind of dashed against the rocks.  It was a fun drink, and tasted good, but likely would not rate very high with me.  I looked at the drink, enjoying the thorough frosting on the glass, and the unique garnish, but sighed with disappointment.  I wanted this drink to rock, to change my life, I wanted it to be one of my favorites to make over and over for years to come.  But one more sip wouldn’t change that.

I set the drink down, still wishing from expectation, still hopeful that the drink could somehow pull out of miraculous victory when down by so many points.  Again I sighed, and picked the glass up one more time, after all, I wasn’t going to let the drink go to waste.  I was still tasty, just mid-ranged to what I wanted.  But this time I drank from it the way I normally drink – without a straw.  I rarely use straws.  The only times I do is with to-go cups.  And with cocktails, I might stick a straw in for other people, but not me.  And with crushed ice, to me it’s a tool for drinking slower anyway.  So when I drank the drink through the crushed ice, something new happened, almost like it was a new drink.  The ice acted as a filter, rather the watering down layer, and calmed the drink down, making it taste better, much better.  I think I even verbally called out some angelic banter about the meaning of life – that’s how much of a surprise it was!  A second tasting confirmed it, including every one after until the whole prize was in my belly.  Death in the South Pacific tasted how I wanted it to taste – not from the fame of winning a contest, but the list of ingredients coming together winning my approval.  If you like powerful flavor, sip through the straw.  If you want a different perspective, try sipping though the ice (or raise your straw into the ice level).  And when you enjoy this drink, think of Even Martin.

Finally a Mini Me for me!

Death in the South Pacific  
3/4 oz Appleton Estate (gold Jamaican rum)  
3/4 oz Rhum Clément VSOP (gold Martinique rum)  
1/2 oz Grand Marnier  
1/3 oz orgeat  
1/3 oz falernum  
3 dashes absinthe (one dash is 6 drops, 3 dashes = 18 drops)
1/2 oz fresh lime juice  
1/2 oz fresh lemon juice  
1/2 oz grenadine    
1/2 oz Cruzan Blackstrap (not Jamaican dark or dark agricole)

Add all ingredients except for the grenadine and Cruzan Blackstrap to a Zombie shell glass and fill with crushed ice.  Swizzle the drink well to mix and frost the glass, then pour in grenadine. Overfill the glass with crushed ice, then pour in Cruzan Blackstrap.

Garnish:  Take a bamboo skewer and put a brandied cherry through at the very top, followed by a long peal of lime (insert through the middle).  Then two half as long peals from a lemon (or cut a long piece in half).  Insert the ends through the skewer having them hang on opposite sides of each other. Then hook the loop of the bamboo skewer over the top of a straw.  It should look like a guy hanging off of the drink (the cherry is the head, the lime the arms, and the lemon peal dangling away from each other the legs).  I didn’t have any brandied cherry on-hand, instead using a maraschino cherry.  I think the original picture I saw had orange instead of lemon.  I guess I figured if I squeezed lemon and lime, might as well use their skins as well, right?  When it comes down to which color I like better, orange will almost always beat yellow with me.  But I think I like the red/green/yellow effect of this poor guy.

Lujoso Mojito

Mojitos in the summertime…mmm…refreshing and invigorating.  In Beachbum Berry’s book Remixed (yeah – I really like what the man has offered the world), he made a rendition of the drink, calling it a Frohito.  I thoroughly enjoyed that drink, and appreciated the mint syrup aspect of it.  I have nothing against the Mojito, and will continue to drink them without reservation.  The Bum’s idea tasted almost the same, but smoother, friendlier, and since it’s frozen – slower going down (I normally drink Mojitos on the rocks).  I enjoy making flavored syrups, or if your prefer “infused simple syrups”, and like how a syrup can pack flavor in, while softening the flavor as well.  After trying the Frohito, I thought, “What about a lime syrup too?”  I also wanted a more Cuban style rum, as the last change to his recipe.

Making these syrups is more work than you may intend.  However, making syrups are just as rewarding as drinking them, at least in my opinion.  If you do not agree, there are mint syrups and lime syrups for purchase.  No big deal.  It might go without saying a homemade version will taste better, and the only preservative is vodka.  Something else to keep in mind, if you are making more drinks, and have no intension of storing these syrups (or any syrups), there is no need to add vodka, since its only use is preservation.

Lujoso Mojito
4 oz Bacardi light rum (or Matusalem - one of my favorites)
1 oz lime syrup*
1 oz mint syrup**
1/2 oz fresh lime juice
18 oz crushed ice (2 1/4 cups)

Pour 1/4 oz mint syrup into 2 chilled glasses, each.  Blend rum, lime juice, lime syrup and ice until frappéd. Gently pour (pile…it’s got to be thick) equal amounts of slush into each glass.  Top each drink with 1/4 oz mint syrup.  Garnish with small mint sprig and lime wheel.

*Lime syrup
1 cup sugar
5 oz water
3 oz fresh lime juice
peal of 1/2 of a lime (one piece - no white, which is sour)
cap-full of vodka

First, you need to set up the ingredients, then you can drink.  Peel the lime, since it is difficult after the lime is squeezed.  I know I said in the ingredients half a lime’s peal, and making it one piece.  I guess I live in Utopia, but try your best.  Sometimes pealing in a zig-zag pattern works…sometimes.  Regardless, two whole pieces are fine, or even three.  My point is not to grate the peal – keeping as solid of a surface area as possible.  Bring water and juice to a slow boil (slowly).  Add sugar and peal, and slow boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.  I may not understand this, but I rapid boiling might be too high of a temperature.  Take pan off heat, keep stirring until sugar dissolves.  Cover, let sit for 1 hour.  Uncover, remove peel, and let cool.  Strain through a fine-meshed sieve.  Bottle, adding a cap-full of vodka, gently stirring in to incorporate, or stir in the vodka before bottling – whichever is easiest.  Store in the refrigerator.  May keep up to 3 weeks.  As with all syrups, keep a close eye on them for any change.

It’s so dark you can’t see light through it. Mmm…I can’t wait!

**Mint syrup
8 oz mint leaves (tightly packed, washed, stems discarded)
3 oz simple syrup
cap-full of vodka

The most time-consuming part of making mint syrup.

Wash 2 bunches of mint in cold water, stripping leaves from stems, discard the stems.  Tightly pack leaves into an 8-ounce cup, empty into a pan filled half way with rapidly boiling water.

You’ll really like the smell of this.

After 5 seconds or so, when the leaves wilt and vibrantly turn green, swiftly strain the leaves.

I bought one bottle at the store because it’s a good-sized bottle. Ever since I have made my own simple syrup, which is a huge savings for one, and better tasting.

Blend with 3 oz of simple syrup until completely liquified, scraping the insides of the blender to get every tidbit chewn.

Don’t you hate when this happens?

With a fine-meshed sieve, strain by pressing down to get as much syrup possible.  Toss the solids.

Seriously, try to get every drop

Stir in a cap-full of vodka, and bottle.  Store in the fridge.  You should get 3 ounces of lovely deep green mint syrup, and can drink off that for maybe 2 weeks.  But even with the preserving vodka, keep an eye on it.  Without vodka, it’d last only a few days (I got this recipe from Beachbum Berry, in his book Remixed.  Yet in the instructions to this, he said he adapted it from a 2003 recipe from one of Martha Stewart’s magazines.  When I searched for it to see how different, I found an updated recipe in Martha Stewart Living, May 2010, which looks closer to this.  I don’t want to get into trouble, nor from Mr. Berry for that matter).

{Okay, for clarification, yes, I said “chewn.” As in the verb “hewn” is the past participle of “hew”. I prefer not to say chewed. “Chewn” exists, but is not recognized, that is not by any other source than the Urban Dictionary. If I don’t agree with the spelling of a word, I change it in hopes it’ll catch on with popularity. After all, American English alters constantly according to what is commonly spoken. For example, I won’t ever pronounce it “wheelbarrow” – it’s always been a “wheelbarrel.”  To me at least, and understandably i might be the only one thinking this way: Chew is an irregular verb.}

Especially after making infused syrups for a couple of hours, this tasted that much better.

As you can see, this recipe is for 2 glasses.  Making one is possible by halving the ingredients, yet is so much more friendly if including someone else you care about.  Understandably sweeter than the mojito you might be used to, this drink simply seems more refreshing, whether due to its smoothness from the shaved ice, or a trick played from not using citrus juice and raw vegetation.  When first trying this, I did not have the 1/2 oz of lime juice in the recipe.  My lovely wife, who normally, if not always, preferring sweeter drinks to mine even said she wanted a little more lime flavor, but no more lime syrup with how sweet it already was.  After stirring in a 1/4 oz of lime juice to each glass, it evened the score and made it a better drink.  If you’re slow-grilling for 3 hours, enjoying a hot weekend get-together, or imagining a trip to an island in the Spanish Caribbean, frappé some of these up and make your relationships stronger.  And something I should say with every alcoholic recipe – please drink responsibly.

Laulima Lapu

A little after posting the Powell Point Punch, I began to wonder what was out there when it came to the three ingredients of pineapple, cranberry and grapefruit.  A funny thing happened – I found not only a drink that sported the three, but nearly had all the ingredients of another of my posted drinks as well (POG).  Reading Beachbum Berry’s book Remixed, I came across Bob Esmino’s Kijiya Lapu.  What I wanted to do was fiddle with Bob’s great drink, but still remaining devoted to his reasoning.

It comes down to a balancing act, sweet versus sour, like two teams with many members on each side of the rope playing tug-of-war, and rum is the rope.  My first thoughts before tasting it was not nervousness, but doubt.  I hoped the two drinks I liked wouldn’t ruin each other in the same glass.  Bob Esmino made a better drink, neither was his drink improved.  I simply made a different drink.  But it’s similar in many ways.  Changing the proportions altered the drink all by itself.  Also, it only made sense (to me) to add guava juice (regardless if I think the world is a better place with more guava in it).

Laulima Lapu
1 1/2 oz Myers's dark rum
1 oz Cruzan light rum
1/2 oz cranberry cocktail
1/2 oz grapefruit juice
1/2 pineapple juice
1/2 oz passionfruit juice
1/2 oz orange juice
1/2 oz guava juice
1/4 oz lime juice
1/4 oz honey mix**
6 drops of absinthe
splash of orgeat
dash of Regan's No.6

Shake with lots of ice.  Pour without straining into large chilled glass, adding more ice if needed. Garnish with orange, cherry, mint, and an umbrella.

**Honey mix is simply equal portions honey to hot water, mixing until honey is dissolved.  Honey blends better this way; and you can get it all out of your jigger.

Singapore Sling


Said to come from the drink, The Straits Sling, the Singapore Sling has a long history of struggling authenticity, whether the first practiced recipe was lost and experimented back to life from a loyal customer, or many names throughout time coming out with their claim to knowledge.  For me at least, it’s not so much what ingredients, but how much of what ingredients.  Regardless if the original Singapore Sling came from the Raffle Hotel or not, the amounts of the ingredients have altered through time.  I’ll first show you The Raffle recipe, then the one I like best.  I’ve tasted others too, even liked some, and am not saying there is only one recipe to drink, even suggesting you try all the different recipes you find to see for yourself.

Raffle Hotel recipe
1 oz gin
1/2 oz cherry brandy
4 oz pineapple juice
1/2 oz lime juice
1/4 oz Cointreau
1/4 oz Bénédictine
1/3 oz grenadine
dash of Angostura bitters

Garnish with a slice of pineapple and cherry.

Ted “Dr. Cocktail” Haigh extensively researched the Singapore Sling, writing an article for Mixologist: The Journal of the American Cocktail, later stating in his book, Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails, “Strictly speaking, the Singapore Sling is no longer a sling at all, insofar as the flavor and composition of that drink form differed from the cocktail” and then describing it as “the prototype of the future Tiki genre.”

Okay, a quick history for reference:  Before there was the cocktail, which is a generic term in modern times, what began it all was the punch.  The earliest British documented reference to punch dates to 1632 from India by sailors and employees of the British East India Company. The word comes from the Hindustani “panch,” meaning “five flavorings,” that is – spirits plus lemon, sugar, water or tea, and spice.  Most punches at that time were mixed from wine or brandy.  Later, when the Barbadian and Jamaican rum trade began to thrive, rum took the place of brandy in many recipes. In 1655, British punches began using rum.  There are several rum-based punches, the two most historical rum punches are the Planter’s Punch and Bajan Rum Punch.  Bajan (Barbadian) Rum Punch is one of the oldest rum punches and a simple recipe commemorated in a national rhyme, “One of Sour, Two of Sweet, Three of Strong, Four of Weak.” That is: one part lime juice, two parts sweetener, three parts rum (preferably Barbados), and four parts water.  The sling showed signs around 1759, which is a spirit, sugar and water, and mainly at first garnished with citrus peel and nutmeg.  Close to 1800, the sling found itself with the addition of bitters, making it a cocktail. The earliest definition of the cocktail in print called the beverage a “bittered sling,” a mixture of spirits, sugar, water, and bitters.  The definition of a sling is an iced alcoholic drink, typically containing gin, water, sugar, and lemon or lime juice.

I enjoy Haigh’s drink recipe better because of how he changed it, in effect highlighting the flavors where they were not as perceptible.  Believe it or not, the flavor of the gin is not as pronounced thanks to the other adjustments.  Lessening the pineapple juice makes it less of a dominant flavor, and more like a spice, as well as upping the lime juice and Cherry Heering please my taste buds more desirably.  Understandably, adding soda water thins the drink, but thankfully so since the earlier recipes did not succeed with me.  Maybe Dr. Cocktail simply made it more refreshing as well.

Ted Haigh's version
2 oz gin (I prefer a dry gin)
2 oz unsweetened pineapple juice
3/4 oz fresh lime juice
3/4 oz Cherry Heering
1/4 oz Cointreau
1/4 oz Bénédictine
1/4 oz grenadine (remember: real pomegranate syrup)
dash of Angostura bitters
soda water

Shake all but soda with ice.  Strain into ice-filled, pre-chilled, collins glass.  Top with soda water and stir.  Garnish with cherry, orange wheel, and pineapple (sorry – no pineapple on hand for the image).


Mai Tai

The Mai Tai is not a red drink.  I repeat, if you order a Mai Tai in a restaurant or bar, and if they bring you something red, it is not a Mai Tai.  It is the color of rum, luxuriant amber.  All other ingredients do not change the color, only slightly clouding it.

Tiara (from http://www.amountainofcrushedice.com) said it well:

“A Mai Tai is a Mai Tai and a twist of it is another drink – like a cousin and a cousin needs a slightly different name. When making a twist, stick to the original recipe as your foundation and don`t change it so much that it´s not based on a Mai Tai anymore.  In my opinion you can NOT add amaretto, grenadine, pineapple or/and orange juice and call it a Mai Tai – call them something + Mai Tai or give the drink an entirely new name.”

Some believe a Mai Tai can only have a lime shell and mint for garnish, making a pineapple spear a savage practice, or at least offensive (As you see in the images below I haven’t garnished with mint for either of these because my mint isn’t tall enough yet in my garden.  But this hot weather will change that soon enough).  However I am not going to get into any argument.  That’s why I’m offering two Mai Tai recipes.  For those of you who are not familiar with Mai Tais, or have not read anything about them, or talked with someone who feels passionately about the topic of Mai Tai authenticity, you may not be aware of the family feud going on right under your nose, what might be considered the most controversially argued of all cocktail recipes.  Some feel strongly about who invented the drink.  On the other hand, there are others who just want to get along, sharing what they know, and only arguing in a constructive style of precise measurements in attempts to find the perfect work of art.  Authenticity is important.  It is like history.  Truth, it seems, can also shine as a spectrum, not necessarily rendered less authentic by examining the different levels, but what learned colors offer the purest form of light.  Opinion is not a truth.  If a person learns all there is about the facts, yet still feels one drink is better than the other, that is their opinion.  It can be disturbing for two groups of people to identify an object by a name, when that object is not one, but two.  So if both groups thinks their object is the only way life can exist, and both feel their voice is stronger, the shouting contest gets louder.

I admit, I feel strongly about the Mai Tai.  Regardless, are there different ways to make it?  Yes:  Two ways.  I could even suppose there are as many ways to make the Mai Tai as there are ingredients – just as long as you respect the originals.

Don the Beachcomber did not like his Mai Tai, at least not enough to keep it on the menu in his restaurants.  Also, Donn’s Mai Tai doesn’t taste anything like Vic’s.  Even though the two men’s drinks share a name, it’s the difference in ingredients that set them apart (obviously), and uniquely lift each to fame.  I’m not going to say what key ingredients make the difference, since every flavor does this.  But for me the major difference is between falernum and orgeat, both profiling their drink’s individualities, as well as how a small amount provides so much extravagance.  As far as rum, in Donn’s, either mixing Appleton Estate & Pusser’s, or instead of the navy-style rum – using demerara rum.  Either way, mixing these two kinds of rums offers great character.  One last thing about Donn’s Mai Tai, I add quarter ounce of simple syrup as a preference.

Don the Beachcomber's Mai Tai Swizzle (1933)
1 1/2 oz Appleton Estate rum
1 oz British navy-style rum 
3/4 oz fresh lime juice
1 oz fresh grapefruit juice
1/4 oz falernum
1/2 oz Cointreau
6 drops of Absinthe (or Pernod)
2 dashes Angostura bitters

Shake with crushed ice, pour unstrained into chilled double old fashioned glass.  Garnish with mint and a pineapple spear.

Trader Vic‘s original was made with 17 year old Wray & Nephew rum, which a while back stopped production, and in effect caused a regeneration of the recipe.  The outcome was joining two specific flavors to call back what the extinct Wray & Nephew conjured – Jamaican and Martinique rums.  The Jamaican style of rum mixed with the agricole style causes a new flavor in its own, congratulating each other’s strengths.  Kind of radical in my opinion, but with the curaçao (koor-uh-sou) and orgeat (ȯr-zhä{t} – I’ve heard with and without the “t” sound…if anyone knows for sure, please let me know) smoothing them with sweetness, and the lime countering in favor of the rum – the distinct balance proves how worthy this drink deserves its reputation.

Trader Vic's Mai Tai (1944)
1 oz gold Martinique rum (Clément)
1 oz dark Jamaican rum (Smith & Cross)
1/2 oz curaçao
1/4 oz simple syrup
1 oz lime juice
1/4 oz orgeat
2 cups crushed ice

Shake all ingredients, pour unstrained into chilled double old fashioned glass.  Garnish with spent lime shell and a sprig of mint.

Bottom line, why choose when you can have both?  And if you do like one better, give the other a chance, if not to win your affection, then at least your respect.  After all, both drinks are so refreshing.  Cheers.



It is essentially a syrup with a robust flavor, not necessarily strong with alcohol even though the following recipe shows a version made this way.  I’ve heard it mostly goes with rum drinks, yet a buddy of mine swears by it with whiskey.  Like a syrup flavored with raspberry, or cinnamon, or mint, or anything you enjoy going in your cocktail, falernum is a rich combination of flavors mixed with simple syrup.  Understandably not as easy to make, I think it’s a lot of fun to make.  There again, I like making my own syrups.  If you want a gist of it, think of ginger, clove and allspice together, with suggestion of lime.  What is curious is how over-run the flavor of lime is, particularly after looking at how much lime zest is added.

I selected possibles from a number of recipes I’ve found.  My first attempt last year turned out such a success, I not only wanted to keep making the stuff, and making different recipes, but wanted to continue into experimenting, even in error.  So please don’t read only my recipe, but look around to find other recipes.

6 oz Wray & Nephew Overproof
2 oz Lemon Hart 151
40 cloves (whole)
1 Tbsp Allspice berry (meaning not ground)
zest of 9 limes 
1/2 cup ginger (julienned)
14 oz simple syrup
10 drops almond extract

First, if you prefer to keep your overproofs single, go with the Wray & Nephew.  That’s how I did it last time.  I’ve been itching to try the combination since getting my first bottle of Lemon Hart (a thousand thank yous Watson).  Measure your spirits and pour into a wide-mouthed jar or bottle.  Please do not try to stuff the ingredients into a 750ml bottle only to find how difficult it would be to get it all out afterwards.

Toast the cloves and allspice over medium heat until fragrant.  It might help to get fresh spices, which only makes sense.  But at the moment I am not practicing common sense and using old spices, hoping the toasting will make up for the difference.

After tossing your warm spices into the jar, peel the skin off the ginger, chop the ginger julienne style (meaning thin sticks).  As you can see by the picture I sliced mine thin instead, my own experiment.  Every recipe I have ever read using ginger insists on julienning.

Either use a fine zester or a sharp peeler, get the green part of the skin off the limes.  The white part underneath is bitter, only the zest.  After your falernum is complete, you may want extra lime flavor, which many may, this is when you would add lime juice.  Please do not make your falernum with the juice of the lime.  It will lessen the lifespan, causing little black dots.  I don’t think I need to tell you what those little black dots would be, let alone what they’d do to you if you drank enough of them.  The zest is ample enough for a robust sense of lime, even though I truly understand the need for the freshness only the juice produces.  I typically add falernum to rum drinks anyway, and would add lime juice whether I was indulging in falernum or not.

Next, close the lid on your container and give it a good mixing before closing.  You’ll keep that lid on for 24 hours.  I haven’t heard of a need to refrigerate, so out of the sunlight is best, as long as the lid is on tightly.  Now it’s time to figure out what to do with all these peeled limes.

The next day, make the simple syrup, which is 2:1 sugar to water.  Actually that’s rock candy syrup.  Simple syrup is 1:1 sugar to water.  But in my house my syrup is thick, never thin.  At least that’s what Rule #43 says on my refrigerator.  After all the sugar is absorbed, and to the touch your syrup is room temperature (unless you made it cold process, which is with cold water), set the syrup aside.  Drain the day before’s ingredients through a fine mesh strainer, preferably through cheesecloth – something you can wring out all the possible flavors (even the last drop will improve the end result).  Discard the solids.  Mix into the syrup, and add the final touch:  10 drops of almond extract, gently stirring it in for bottling.

Then make your first drink.  And make it cold.  My first one will be a Mai Tai.  For those of you in camp Trader Vic, I enjoy your Mai Tai too.  It is an excellent drink.  I simply prefer Don the Beachcomber‘s, reserving any opinion into which drink came first.  As long as we are toasting, I genuinely don’t care.


Wa’a kaulua


The weather’s getting warmer, reminding me to plan for hot weather.  A refreshing drink in the heat is an option everyone faces from time to time.  Usually pineapple juice comes to mind, and orange juice not far behind.  I started thinking of the Windjammer, which can have various recipes, some with apple juice, and some using another liqueur than Amaretto.  But I have seen more Amaretto/orange/pineapple combinations than others, and that’s what I thought of when first wanting a new drink.  I said to myself “That Windjammer recipe needs rum to it.”  This should not be a surprise to those who know me, like bacon, everything is better with rum, right?

I have mentioned some of my favorite rums, Mount Gay in particular, and demerara rums, and felt the above mixture would go well with these two added influences.  El Dorado is another one of my favorite rums, and mixes well with many different kinds of rums.  However, both not adding lime to rum, and the tartness side of pineapple not off-setting the otherwise purely sweet drink made me feel something else was needed.  I clenched my fists in wanting to add lime, and resolved not to cave, instead thinking of another rum, but not much – barely enough to spice the drink.  The French Caribbean influence of rum, or rhum, might offer a simplistic way to entice the taste buds to savor all the other ingredients, like adding salt to chocolate cake.

Wa'a kaulua
1 oz Mount Gay Eclipse
1 oz El Dorado 12 year
1/8 oz Rhum Barbancourt Blanc
1 oz Amaretto
2 oz orange juice
2 oz unsweetened pineapple juice

Shake with ice, strain over chilled old-fashioned glass.  Fill with ice (I like using large ice for slow melting), and drop in a maraschino cherry.


At the Piña…Piña Colada – the coldest drink south of Ottowa (I know…sorry Barry)

There’s a great argument when, where and who invented the piña colada, so either without offending anyone or accidentally getting the facts wrong, I’m going to leave this point alone.  The important thing is to enjoy the drink, and making it the way you like it.  After all, you never know what you’re going to get with someone else making it.  With that said, it was a restaurant that taught me to pay attention to the piña colada’s ingredients in a new way.  Bahama Breeze was a place we used to go when living in Arizona, a great place I wish would come to my home town.  Anyway, they served a fantastic piña colada, and used Myers’s dark rum, which was the key ingredient, and what I feel is the cornerstone ingredient in any piña colada, or at least a dark rum for special flavoring.

My wife is a big piña colada fan.  As a loving husband, it is my duty to try to make her happy, and fun to do when getting it right.  For a long time I have gotten close to a good recipe for her, but fell short of getting precisely what she wanted.  In a way I was shooting for that Bahama Breeze piña colada, and continue to search for the perfect piña colada for her, both with my own experiments and hunting or other’s recipes.  There are two recipes I experimented into, which I labeled below as Piña Colada #1 & Piña Colada #2, one with more elaborate ingredients, and another with far less mixed together.  #2 is both quick and surprisingly close enough to an ideal piña colada taste.

I used to drink Malibu rum, that is the coconut rum, and felt completely content for my coconut needs.  Then I happened across the Cruzan line, who opened my eyes to what I truly preferred in a coconut rum.  And it was here where I learned how the Piña Colada #2 could work so easily, and enjoyably.  The Malibu simply could not mix the same way with pineapple juice, or the chemistry of Cruzan Coconut blended more thoroughly.  I don’t know if it’s a chemistry thing, or a palate thing.  Regardless, we made the change in rum brands, and started drinking more piña coladas.

The first two recipes are ongoing taste tests, recipes I hope to get right, but feel I am pretty close.  They are going for a more complex grouping of flavors, while the second two remain more simplified, and closer to the original idea of the drink.  I enjoy mixing rums together, to see what they do, how they play out a story, or if they fight and try to steal the show.  The first drink will be extremely friendly, soothing in smoothness, and more laid back in the shade on a hot sunny day on the beach.  the second I feel is more of a night drink, meant to be taken more seriously and appreciated after a good meal (or during as well).

Okay, whether you like your piña colada frozen or on the rocks, I’m describing how to make it shaken, and poured over ice.  That’s the way I prefer the drink, and how my wife prefers it.  I’m not saying I’m above frozen drinks, or anything like that.  So to each their own, and I salute you for considering other options but sticking to the way you like the drink best.  Also, some people like theirs creamy, and some don’t.  So I’ve added cream to each of the recipes as optional.  I recently tried Coco López brand coconut cream, reading many reviews and comparisons, and found it superior to what I normally stocked my bar with, Real Coco.  They both have great coconut flavoring, but the López for some reason seemed more creamy.  If you have Real Coco, your drink will taste just as good.  And finally, a note on “floating” – some like to float a dark rum on top.  My recipes have you mixing it all in to taste the same flavor from top to bottom.  But that’s just me.

Number One
1 1/2 oz Mount Gay Eclipse Silver
1/2 oz Matusalem Gran Reserva
4 oz pineapple juice
3/4 oz coconut cream (I used Coco López)
1/4 oz cream (optional)
1/4 oz Myers's dark

Shake with lots of ice to get it good and cold.  Strain into a chilled glass, and if you can – use a piña colada glass.  I recently got a good deal on a set, so I don’t stray from the fun.  Garnish with a pineapple chunk and cherry (not only the food of your drink, but the aroma really helps).

Or for a heartier version:

Number Two
1 1/2 oz Bacardi Superior
1/2 oz Ronrico gold
4 oz pineapple juice
3/4 oz coconut cream
1/4 oz cream (optional)
1/8 oz Lemon Hart overproof

Shake with lots of ice.  Strain into a chilled glass.  Garnish with a pineapple chunk and cherry.

For a more Jamaican style:

Number Three
1 1/2 oz Appleton
5 oz pineapple juice
3/4 oz coconut cream
1/4 oz cream (optional)
1/4 oz Myers's dark

Shake with lots of ice.  Strain into a chilled glass.  Garnish with a pineapple chunk and cherry.

And one in a jiffy:

Number Four
2 oz Cruzan Coconut
5 oz pineapple juice
1/2 oz cream (optional)

Shake with lots of ice.  Strain into a chilled glass.  No need for a garnish, but if you want, a cherry will suffice.

When it comes down to it, a piña colada is three ingredients:  Rum, pineapple and coconut.  I was simply adding ideas to the original idea , hoping each drink remains balanced as what was first inspired.  Sorry I didn’t have any pineapple for the garnish.  It really makes a difference.

My wife and I had a taste test.  For those who are interested this is how they ranked:

I ranked them 1, 3, 4, 2                  My wife ranked them 1, 4, 3, 2

Powell Point Punch

Photo does not do the view justice from Powell Point Memorial

It all started a long time ago while I had a summer gig at the Grand Canyon National Park.  Still the best job I ever had, I worked outside, and many times a day that summer I had views like this to keep me enthusiastic, or at times rambunctious.  My favorite place to look, watch, sit, even enjoying a rare gift of silence, was at the Powell Point Memorial, a peninsula jutting out to demonstrate a near 360° panorama.  Of the many times I sat there, I did a lot of thinking and imagining.  Due to my not remembering if I came up with the idea at this spot, or anywhere else while working at the park that long ago summer, I’m still dedicating this drink to that inspiration.

It was the desert.  A place where a person can get awfully parched.  And for some reason three flavors called to me:  Grapefruit, Cranberry & Pineapple.  For years after the combination would battle and combine for my interest, at first as a non-alcoholic beverage, and then with experiments alongside spirits and liqueurs.  I am aware I did not invent this combination, and even search for drinks with these three to  continue my fascination.  Since I turned out to be a rum lover, I thought for sure that the drink would reach perfection with rum.  As it turns out, I forgot where I first realized my enlightenment.   After tasting it with tequila, I felt like I’d returned home.

Powell Point Punch
2 oz silver tequila
3/4 oz yellow grapefruit juice 
3/4 oz pineapple juice 
3/4 oz cranberry juice (cranberry cocktail) 
1/4 oz agave nectar 
dash of Regan’s No.6 bitters

Shake with lots of ice, strain into a glass filled with crushed ice.  Garnish with some pineapple leaves, a half slice of grapefruit, and a couple cherries (or however you like – what I did reminds me of a Hopi sun shield).

According to what I just said, what I just made, that is what you see as the image, was slightly different from the recipe.  The recipe is an easier, and in a way more accurate way of doing it, and quicker as well.  I muddled pineapple chunks and grapefruit to measure the amounts needed.  Also, I did not have yellow grapefruit, but the ruby red (a very mild one at that – not too ruby-y), which I think is a bit less tart and acidic.  That may have also altered the color of the drink.  Finally, I used Hornitos Reposado by Sauza.  Normally I’d make it with Sauza Silver.

A Wee Daiquiri to Taste

When I first decided to get serious about mixing cocktails, I wanted to learn about the ingredients, not only the recipes.  There opened a wildly bright world of liqueurs and spirits for me to squint blearily at, unable to focus upon and intimidatingly taking the first step in any direction.  I didn’t know what things tasted like, turning to reading summaries of their flavors, both online and from books.  Sometimes recipes of were closely guarded trade secrets, or were so extensive that one could not possible comprehend imagining the scope of it all.  When it genuinely came down to it – there was no tangible way for me to explore what the flavors were unless I tasted them for myself.  Something else that seemed overwhelming was people’s reviews, their ability to separate flavors and aromas among many. I simply do not have that ability to do that, or maybe I don’t want to, yet gratefully do not feel even the slightest bit of guilt because of it.  That is not the way I enjoy drinking, nor see my hobby progressing to that level.  Not everything comes in a small bottle, making going to a good bartender most helpful, whether by tasting a well made drink or advice.  Just remember to appreciate their extra effort in helping you (that goes with any barkeep who spends a lot of effort).

So when I try a rum for the first time, I’m not seeing what it tastes like according to other people, only me.  Some people taste rum straight, some see more insight with a single piece of ice, or a few drops of water (and the same goes for all the spirits).  However, I am not like any of those people, not only with tasting, but drinking neat as a general rule (I feel not typing “neatly” is a grammatical error).  My first time with a rum I want to demonstrate the level playing field for all rums, not breaking them up into categories, but try each rum the same way.  I believe rum goes with lime.  It’s like they were made for each other.  I mix twice as much rum as mixer, meaning lime juice and syrup, which is a daiquiri.

1 oz rum
1/4 oz fresh lime juice
1/4 oz simple syrup

I learned there are exceptions to this – really good rums, aged rums so good they are insulted by citrus and simple syrup.  That’s right, I felt the rum’s indignation towards me.  It was pretty embarrassing.  Not all top shelf rums are in this category, in fact, most top shelf rums are dynamite mixed with other rums.  It’s the behind-the-counter-way-up-out-of-reach-and-all-dusty rums – those rums should probably be drank neat, or with an ice-cube, and slowly…enjoy them slowly.

And since I decided to write about this topic, I suddenly started feeling thirsty for a Papa Doble, or AKA the Hemingway Daiquiri.  I enjoy grapefruit.  I think grapefruit and lime play well together, producing a unique satisfaction when combined.  I’ve heard many sources say Ernest Hemingway did not drink sweet drinks due to diabetes, and for this reason kept syrups out of his daiquiris.  There are many recipes for this drink, some with more lime than grapefruit, some with more Maraschino (which can take over a drink as easily as diesel fuel); I’ve even seen some with dark rum.

Papa Doble
2 oz white rum
3/4 oz fresh grapefruit juice
1/2 oz fresh lime juice
1/4 oz simple syrup
1/4 oz Maraschino liqueur
2 cups shaved ice

Chill cocktail glass of your choice by filling with shaved ice and water.  Shake all ingredients.  Strain cocktail glass.  Then strain into ice-filled glass, if not filled add more shaved ice.

The Painkiller

Said to have been invented in 1971 at the Soggy Dollar Bar on Jost Van Dyke Island (British Virgin Islands), the first recipe called for Mount Gay & Cruzan rums, which was the first way I tried it (and liked it).  However, the Pusser’s Rum company trademarked the recipe.  The recipe at the Soggy Dollar Bar is still served, but with Pusser’s instead.  Conflicted, I felt the need to try both recipes due to my fondness for all the rums involved.  I said in an earlier posting how Mount Gay is one of my favorites, and the same can be said regarding Pusser’s.  In fact, Demerara rum, which only comes from Guyana, is the reason.  I could probably say some demerara rums are of my favorites.  Since Pusser’s uses demerara rum as a key ingredient in blending, that’s how it rose so high in my opinion.  Pusser’s is categorized as a navy rum – a specific way to distill rum by using wooden pot stills.  The first thing I enjoy after opening a bottle of Pusser’s, just like with any demerara rum, is smell it, breathing deeply the sweet richness.  It almost makes my mouth water to savor the aromas celebrating in my nostrils.  For more information, please visit their website at http://pussersrum.com (they told me it is redesigned, describing it as “more interactive and user-friendly”).

When it came down to it, I cannot say which I prefer between the Mount Gay/Cruzan or the Pusser’s versions, but understand each their own purpose, depending on what I might want on whatever day.  Each deals out plenty of complexity, as if the navy rum matches the joined multi-rum experience.  I did not taste the two drinks side by side, which I probably might do in the near future.  I’m certainly not going to propose one over the other to you.  After all, your opinion for your own drink is more important than mine.

The Painkiller is very similar to a Piña Colada, as the main flavors of rum, pineapple and coconut fight it out for supremacy.  It’s the orange that offers far more than I expected, both marrying the flavors of the pineapple and coconut, as well as dividing them by proclaiming its own.  It should not have surprised me in how effectively it achieved these properties.  The Soggy Dollar Bar protects the recipe by not divulging how much mixers are used.  After searching, and watching videos on how they mix the drink (pouring premixed from a jug), Beachbum Berry offered the closest breakdown, and from whom I learned both versions (from both his books and what was written online).  So you know, the Soggy Dollar Bar got its name by hanging wet bills from a line after customers swam to shore, due to the beach not supplying a pier to dock one’s boat.  Genius.

One other thing, the recipe calls for Lopez brand of coconut cream.  I made mine with Coco Real brand, which I have heard is close enough, and might be easier to find (depending on your area of course).  I have also heard the Lopez is creamier, but have yet to try it myself.  I’m going to try to find it to see the difference, that is if I can find it without much effort.


4 oz unsweetened pineapple juice 
1 oz orange juice 
1 oz Lopez coconut cream 
2 1/2 oz Pusser's Navy Rum 
powdered cinnamon 
ground nutmeg

Shake all but the spices with crushed ice. Pour unstrained into glass, and add more crushed ice (but do not mound out of the surface). Sprinkle cinnamon and nutmeg on top. Garnish with pineapple spear and orange wheel.

For the Mount Gay/Cruzan version, use same amount as above, using half of each rum.  For an upscale production, freshly squeezed orange juice and fresh pineapple juice can tremendously earn a broader smile.  Now you may think making your own pineapple juice is a pain.  It really isn’t that much trouble.  The hard part is cleaning up afterward.  Simply throw chunks of pineapple into a blender, and strain, pressing down on the solids to get out the last delicious drops.  You won’t be sorry.

POG Punch

Since I am a big fan of both guava and passion fruit, in my investigations I learned of a common combination from Hawai’i, even hearing it is bottled and canned commercially there.  POG is passion fruit, orange, and guava.  I also learned there is a debate whether POG is made with passion fruit or pineapple.  There seems to be more recipes  made with pineapple juice, which makes sense since pineapple is as tropical as you can get, especially when thinking of Hawai’i.  However, passion fruit won as far as accuracy and authenticity.

There are many ratios of the three ingredients to choose from, understandably each is according to their creator’s preference in flavors.  Orange balances, or its citric acid can takeover.  Guava is mellow enough to get lost.  And passion fruit is complex enough to stand on its own in almost any ratio.  The goal balance is to match with the rum, but remembering lime will also get added (I add lime to almost all my tiki drinks – it goes with rum so well).  POG is also meant to be drank all by itself.  It’s so delicious and healthy tasting, I can’t help taking a big swig whenever I’m making any concoction with it (fighting the urge to chug all of it).  Here is my POG recipe.  But please experiment with the ratios to find your own flavor preference.

1/2 measure orange juice
1 measure guava juice
1 measure passion fruit juice

Regarding the ingredients, if you only have syrups, not juices, halve the amount of syrup to juice, as I find syrups are generally twice as strong.  It is not easy to obtain passion fruit or guava juices, even in the organic section of super markets.  I ordered passion fruit juice online (Ceres brand – sounding closest to the true flavor of pure passion fruit, without as much filler to muddle the genuine flavor).  As far as rum is concerned, Appleton has a very pleasing flavor, and goes gratefully well with POG.  Yet I disagree with some that it should not be the only rum flavor in the punch.  I am a big fan of Bajan rums, particularly Mount Gay rums (their entire line of products is excellent).  A light rum from Barbados mixed with a golden Jamaican rum tastes complex enough, but simple enough to appreciate the wondrous flavors of POG.

Lastly, my parents moved to Florida, and were loving enough to show me the wisdom of the local oranges.  I know, you may think, “What’s the difference,” or “is it really that important?”  The difference is bigger than you think, and yes – it is that important.  When Florida oranges are in season, there truly is no better tasting orange on the planet (to me).  They are not pretty to look at, and smaller, unlike the lovely California oranges, which seem less flavorful, regardless if they are more prolific year around.  Of course commercial orange juice will work.  I won’t go into detail about flavorings and preservatives added, merely stating that squeezing a fresh fruit will offer a better genuine flavor.

POG Punch

POG Punch
1 1/2 oz Appleton Estate VX rum
1/2 oz Mount Gay Eclipse rum
1/2 oz fresh lime juice
1/2 oz simple syrup
1/2 oz fresh orange juice
1 oz guava juice
1 oz passion fruit juice

Shake with ice.  Strain into pre-chilled glass half-filled with ice.  Garnish with an orange and lime slice.

And for the record, this is one of my wife’s favorite drinks. However, I make a slightly different recipe for her.  I use only Appleton (totaling 2 oz, and less lime & simple syrup – 1/4 oz each). It is a sweeter drink.  I prefer drinks more sour, and alter her drink accordingly.  After all, drink to your health, and your happiness, right?  The first taste might cause you feel you are on a Hawai’ian beach.

The Dark ‘n Stormy…So Good It’s Trademarked

You cannot use a different brand of rum and call it a “Dark ‘n Stormy” as it is  registered as a trademark of Gosling Brothers Limited.  You can make whatever you want.  But if you want the real thing, the real flavors all coming together, and what not only legally patented but what no other ingredients can create, then try it to see what you think.  I’ve looked at different recipes.  The official way is to layer the drink over ice – floating the dark rum to make it look like a storm cloud, and garnishing with a lime wedge.  Pretty cool to look at, far better to taste.  I like the flavor of lime in mine, squeezing in the wedge, and stirring it all up so I get the same taste from beginning to end.  I make the authentic way from time to time, but simply prefer the three flavors over two.

dark n stormy

Dark 'n Stormy
2 oz Gosling's Black Seal
4 oz Gosling's Stormy Ginger Beer
1/4 oz fresh lime juice (one wedge)

Shake the rum and lime juice with ice.  Strain into an old-fashioned glass (chilled), and add the ginger beer.  Add more ice to fill glass.  Stir gently.

You can simply squeeze a lime wedge in after stirring the rum and ginger beer to get just about the same thing.  The amount of juice depends on how much each lime will give.  I prefer to measure out everything to get the exact flavor balance each time.

Another thing, ginger beer is not ginger ale.  You might have heard this before.  I like ginger ale, but usually by itself.  Ginger beer however is another thing entirely, so much stronger, so much more flavor.  Not everyone gets into ginger.  The first time I tried a Jamaican brand (D&G), and coughed from the surprise.  All I had ever known was ginger ale.  It takes only a first taste to know the difference, a palpable difference.

If you cannot find any or either of the ingredients, a dark rum and ginger beer will work.  I have tried it Myers’s Dark & D&G and enjoyed the flavors immensely, yet knew it was different from what I genuinely believed a better drink.  Not to take away from the respectability of Myers’s rum or the fine products of D&G, which I do not wish my bar to ever be without.  Nonetheless, a Dark ‘n Stormy is one of my favorite drinks.


First Love – the Navy Grog

There’s no forgetting the first one, the one who first lit your eyes up with their features, and filled you with their warmth and feelings for you.  The first love, who in a way all others are compared, the first not of many, but as an exception.  The Perfect Drink.

When my wife and I were looking at houses a few years ago – our first house from living in apartments, the whole process began with the first house, right?  There’s always the first of anything one continues.  We looked at this house, bright-eyed like a dog at a picnic, and tried our hardest not to love it, not the first one!  We said to ourselves, if that wasn’t the first, we’d buy that house.  So we looked at other houses, and eventually mourned when we heard the house had sold, knowing in our hearts we should have bought it.  We still talk about that house.  In a way, and please bear with me a little on this, in a way that first house was the perfect house, just like “the perfect drink” – something I did not want to immediately entitle and rank as #1 until I drank more variety and got more experience.

Let’s go back in time a couple of years.  I started a ranking system around the time I started researching cocktails, and making them.  Soon after I learned rum was my favorite spirit and threw most of my efforts in researching all its facets.  I enjoy tequila and gin, and the occasional whiskey, but fell further away from vodka.  But rum seemed to call to me far more than any other.  This scoring of drinks I would make kept an eye out for what I wanted to taste again, or sifted out those I’d merely mark up as something I tried.  My growing passion for Tiki drinks lead me in ranking, but controlled my reasoning so I wouldn’t simply rank something with top marks for the only reason of liking how it tasted in the moment.  The system is based on a 0 to 4 scale.  As time went on, I thought I might never find the perfect 4, even though favorite drinks ranked as a 3.0 or a 3.5, protecting the stature of a genuinely amazing cocktail.  Just so you know, I won’t make my ranking system any part of this blog, simply something I do privately.  I just wanted to describe how I came about the first 4.0…the first perfect drink…the one that shattered the scoring possibility and opened my eyes to a new world.

Navy Grog

Sorry the image is not clear. And I messed up the ice funnel, making it look too smooth. I’ll try again and replace the image when I do better.

Navy Grog (from Hawai’i Tropical Rum Drinks & Cuisine by Don the Beachcomber)

3/4 oz fresh lime juice
 3/4 oz fresh grapefruit juice
 3/4 oz honey
 3/4 oz gold Ronrico
 3/4 oz Appleton Estate
 3/4 oz Pusser's
 3/4 oz club soda
 2 dashes Angostura bitters
 1 oz guava juice
 8 oz cracked ice

The instructions in the book have you using a blender.  I rarely use one, except when necessary, or if the desired effect absolutely must be in that form.  I shake almost everything in a boston shaker.  So what I did was shake all but the soda for about 15 seconds, vigorously, until my hand felt really cold (not merely cold…but really cold).  Stir in the soda, then strain into a 14 oz glass with a special ice popsicle with a straw inside.  The best instructions I have seen are from http://www.amountainofcrushedice.com.  She is great, and describes & illustrates this process in detail.

Donn Beach‘s Navy Grog changed my life.  Since then I have come across four more perfect drinks, and know more will find me in my traveling around the land of Tiki.  In fact, soon will come a drink I’ve hoped for since first hearing about it, but haven’t had the right rums, or at least approximate substitutes.  I’ll let you know after I try it for the first time.