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.
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.