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.

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.