Spindrift

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

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.

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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