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.
Spindrift 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.