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 (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.