Rum Feed

Oblique Cocktail Strategies -- The Another Green World

National Rum Day gives us an opportunity to think outside the cocktail box. Fellow cocktailer Michael Bounds, who brought us the Ides of March, created the Another Green World as a liquid tribute to the 1975 album from musician and producer Brian Eno.  Just as Eno used a deck of Oblique Strategies cards to get him out of creative ruts when making the album, the Another Green World will get you out of a rut when making rum drinks.

2 ounces rhum agricole Another Green World
.5 ounces Velvet Falernum
Juice from 1/4 lime
.25 ounces super simple syrup
Teaspoon of absinthe

Use the absinthe to coat the inside of a chilled glass, discard what's left (just as you would with a Sazerac or Orange Satchmo), combine the other ingredients in a shaker, shake as if that's what an Oblique Strategy card told you to do, then strain into the glass. Lime twist garnish optional.

We know rhum agricole is a style of rum, but what is Velvet Falernum?  Although it sounds like the name of another Brian Eno album, it's actually a low proof rum based liqueur from Barbados with citrus, spice, and sweet flavors (there's also a non-alcoholic syrup). You can get Velvet Falernum online if it's not in your local liquor store. It reminds me of a milder and sweeter version of allspice dram, which you use in drinks such as the Donna Maria.

The Another Green World is a remarkably well balanced cocktail.  If you don't have rhum agricole, use a dark rum but keep in mind it might be a little sweeter than rhum agricole. If you don't have Velvet Falernum you might be able to use allspice dram, but that could throw the whole drink off. Maybe I need a cocktail version of an Oblique Strategy card?

Go rum, go oblique, and go green!


Pour Some Sugar Cane On Me -- Rum, Rhum Agricole, and Cachaça

The Def Leppard song "Pour Some Sugar On Me" is an iconic rock anthem from the 1980s, and it's one of my favorite tunes from the group. The song has nothing to do with sugar or sugar cane, but three spirits are derived from sugar cane -- rum, rhum agricole, and cachaça.  You've definitely heard of the first one, you probably haven't heard of the second one, and you might have heard of the third one.  If you're familiar with all three, then congrats.

Rum  rum agricole  cachacaSo if all of these spirits come from sugar cane, what are the differences? And why should you care? This short article from Tara Nurin at Vinepair has an excellent summary. Let me distill (pun intended) the technical stuff down to the basics. Rum comes from fermented sugar cane juice or molasses, which is a byproduct of the refining process. Rhum agricole only comes from pressed sugar cane juice that is not fermented. Cachaça is a cross between the two, as it must be fermented (like rum) but only can come from sugar cane juice and not molasses (like rum agricole). Rum can come from anywhere (not just the Caribbean), rhum agricole is associated with French Caribbean territories (agricole means agricultural in French, and that's why it uses the French spelling of rhum), and cachaça is the national spirit of Brazil.

Rum in and of itself is a big category, so I encourage you to explore different brands and ages. When you read descriptions of rhum agricole and cachaça, you'll probably see words like earthier, vegetal, and funkier (George Clinton or Prince would approve -- get it?). Those are pretty accurate.  The bottom line is you can have a lot of fun experimenting with these related spirits in your cocktails.  

With apologies to the guys from Def Leppard -- step inside, cocktail this way, you and me (sugar) cane, hey hey!


Cocktail Rock You Like A ... -- The Hurricane

HurricaneThe Hurricane is associated with New Orleans, not the 1980s rock anthem from Scorpions. It's not the official cocktail of the city. That honor belongs to the Sazerac.  Like many people, I had my first Hurricane at Pat O'Brien's. I didn't like it at all, so I avoided it for a long time. A couple of years ago my friends Chuck and Tom encouraged me to have one at the Old Absinthe House in New Orleans.  It was awesome.  There are many variations of this famous (infamous?) cocktail.  Here's my simple, colorful, and potent version.

1 ounce light rum
1 ounce dark rum
.5 ounces pineapple juice
.5 ounces passionfruit juice
Juice from 1/4 lime

Combine in a shaker with ice, shake with the force of a Category 5 hurricane, and strain into a chilled glass.

You'll see in the picture I used a traditional hurricane glass (our cat's name is Satchmo, so his presence fits right in with other New Orleans staples like the fleur de lis and Mardi Gras beads). Increase the amounts of the respective ingredients if you use that type of glass. If you're able to use all fresh fruit juices (something I definitely recommend), you could add a small amount of super simple syrup to give the Hurricane a hint of sweetness.

Want to buy me a good Hurricane (and are you familiar with the song)?  Here I am.


A Unique Cocktail Lady -- The Donna Maria

If you want to show respect to an Italian lady, call her Donna.  It's the feminine equivalent of Don, e.g. Don Corleone in The Godfather (my favorite movie) or Don Giovanni (one of the two operas I like).  I did not discover the Donna Maria in Italy, but in Ireland.  It is one of many original creations from Ilario Alberto Capraro, the 2017 Irish National Cocktail Champion who plies his craft at Waterford Castle.  Ilario himself made me a Donna Maria. This is my home adaptation.

Donna Maria2 ounces dark rum
1 ounce Benedictine DOM
.5 ounces allspice dram
2 dashes aromatic or Angostura bitters

Combine in a shaker with ice, stir as if you're a lady con forza e grazia, and strain into a chilled glass.  Serving options include putting sugar on the rim of the glass and/or orange peel garnish.

The Donna Maria has a rich taste and is deceptively powerful (sort of like a real lady).  While I'm not as discerning about which dark rum to use as Ilario is, I agree the Benedictine DOM (a herbal liqueur in cocktails such as the Royalist) and allspice dram (a rum based liqueur) are indispensable.  You can find both in many liquor stores and/or online.   Allspice dram is also known as pimento dram, as the allspice berry comes from the pimento tree.  Think of it as autumn in a glass.

Are you a donna?  Do you want to impress a donna?  Then make a Donna Maria.


The Magnificent Seven Of Cocktails

The Magnificent Seven (the original starring Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen; I haven't seen the remake with Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt) is my favorite Western movie.  Everyone who loves movies should know about this film.   Carrie Allan, a cocktail columnist for the Washington Post, just wrote a great article about the 7 essential cocktails every drinker should know how to make.  Carrie is smart and hilarious, and my wife and I had the pleasure of meeting her at the Tales of the Cocktail conference in 2016.  She surveyed a number of acquaintances (full disclosure -- I participated in the survey) about classic cocktails before distilling (pun intended) the responses.

So what are these Magnificent Seven cocktails?  The Martini, Manhattan, Negroni, Old-Fashioned, Daiquiri, Margarita, and Gin and Tonic.   In addition, the article has links to related cocktails, e.g. the Sazerac and Hemingway Daiquiri.

All of these drinks are classics for good reason.  That doesn't mean you have to like all of them.  But if you're not familiar with some of them, try them.  You might be in for a pleasant surprise.       

To paraphrase Steve McQueen's character in The Magnificent Seven -- we deal in cocktails friend.


Tama What? -- The Tamarind Fizz

Tamarind is the fruit from the tamarind tree, which is common in South Asia and Mexico.  It is tart and sweet.  I discovered tamarind when I had it in sauces on food in Thailand.  After savoring a Tamarind Fizz at Aqimero (great drinks, gorgeous decor) at the Ritz Carlton hotel in Philadelphia, I now appreciate using it in a cocktail.  This is the adaptation I made at home.

Tamarind Fizz2 ounces cachaça or light rum (see below)
1.5 ounces tamarind juice or soda
.5 ounces agave syrup or nectar
Juice from 1/4 lime
1 egg white

With tamarind juice, combine everything in a shaker with ice, shake as if you have a tart and sweet nature, and strain into a chilled glass.  Want a challenge?  Use a reverse dry shake to shake shake shake your egg whites. With tamarind soda, put the soda in a chilled glass (not the shaker; I know this is obvious but I figure I'd say it anyway), put everything else in a shaker with ice, and follow the same process.

The Tamarind Fizz has a lot of unusual ingredients.  You can get them pretty easily.  Cachaça is a clear liquor from Brazil.  It's similar to rum, but cachaça is distilled from fresh sugar cane juice and most rum is distilled from molasses (basically boiled sugar cane juice). You can find tamarind juice or soda in Asian and Latino grocery stores.  Agave nectar, an ingredient in the Kentucky Sunshine, is in many grocery stores.  Depending on how sweet the tamarind juice or soda is, you might want to cut back or cut out the agave nectar.

In a way the Tamarind Fizz is reminiscent of a Pisco Sour. Both have clear base spirits, and they include egg white and lime juice.  Of course, the big difference is pisco comes from torched Dutch grapes, and cachaça or rum comes from sugar cane.

Sometimes a little effort can lead to a big reward.  Making a Tamarind Fizz is one of those times.


L'Intensite De L'Amour -- The Intense Ginger Love

Do you like Valentine's Day?  Do you think it's a Hallmark holiday?  Regardless of your answers, the Intense Ginger Love will hit your liver like Cupid's arrow hits a person's heart.  This holiday themed cocktail isn't vaguely contrarian like the Amaro Amore, but it is just as tasty.  The Intense Ginger Love comes from my friends at Barrow's Intense (full disclosure -- I am a small investor).

Intense Ginger Love1.5 ounces light rum
1 ounce Barrow's Intense ginger liqueur
1.5 or 2 strawberries cut in half
Sparkling wine

Combine everything except the sparkling wine in a shaker, muddle the strawberries, add ice, shake as if you're with the one you love (like I am now), strain into a chilled champagne flute, and top off with the sparkling wine.

The original Intense Ginger Love specifically calls for Caliche rum, which comes from Puerto Rico. I'm not familiar with Caliche, so I used Don Q, which is my favorite Puerto Rican rum.  As far as I'm concerned, just use your favorite light rum.  If, like me, you're more into cocktails than sparkling wine, use more Barrow's Intense and/or rum in the cocktail.

Even if you think Valentine's Day is a Hallmark holiday (I do), the Intense Ginger Love pairs nicely with music from artists such as Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, and Louis Armstrong. And if your Valentine's Day is going really well, play some Marvin Gaye or Barry White while you make an Intense Ginger Sutra.  You're welcome.


No Pain, No Gain -- The Painkiller

This is about rum, not the mantra of old school coaches and gym teachers.  The Painkiller originated in the British Virgin Islands, a beautiful area my wife and I recently visited, in the 1970s.  Pusser's Rum later trademarked it (yes, companies can do this).  A few years ago Pusser's even sued a New York City bar named Painkiller that used a different rum in the drink (Pusser's won but caught a lot of flak).  Put aside the Painkiller's occasionally contentious history and savor my version of it.

Painkiller2 ounces dark rum (no legal advice about which one to use)
2 ounces fresh pineapple juice
Juice from 1/4 orange
1 ounce unsweetened coconut milk

Combine in a shaker with ice, shake with the joy of making all of your pain go away, and strain into a ice filled glass.  Garnish with nutmeg (grated or powder).

Most recipes for the Painkiller call for more pineapple juice.  However, I prefer drinks in the Den to be more "alcohol forward." Similarly, the original Painkiller uses cream of coconut, but I use coconut milk because I prefer the taste.  The nutmeg garnish definitely enhances the drink. If you let a Painkiller sit it will become watered down, so consider being a contrarian and serving it neat in a chilled glass.

True to its name, the Painkiller is wonderfully effective and evokes memories of beautiful beaches.  If you want a tropical drink without a tropical vibe, just play House of Pain (either the 1990 song by Faster Pussycat, or the hip hop band that sang "Jump Around" in 1992).  Either way your pain will rest in peace.


America's Sweetheart -- The Mary Pickford

Mary who?  Mary Pickford was Hollywood's first popular female star.  Nicknamed "America's Sweetheart," after acting in numerous films in the first decades of the 20th century she became a co-founder of United Artists film studio.  She also was one of the founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences -- you know, the people who give out the Oscars.  A bartender in Havana created the Mary Pickford in the 1920s when she shot a movie there.

Mary Pickford2 ounces light rum
1 ounce fresh pineapple juice
.25 Luxardo maraschino liqueur
.25 ounces glorious grenadine

Combine into a shaker with ice, shake with the tenacity of a lady who succeeded in early Hollywood, and strain into a martini or coupe glass (for some movie star glamour).  Luxardo maraschino cherry garnish optional.

My version of the Mary Pickford gives you a great balance of booze, citrus, and sweetness.  I can't emphasize enough the importance of using fresh pineapple juice.  Juice from a few chunks or a couple of rings should be enough. 

According to Imbibe magazine, the Mary Pickford is a creation from Eddie Woelke, who is credited with creating the El Presidente.  Woelke was an American who plied his craft in Cuba during Prohibition.  Along with the Daiquiri and the El Presidente, the Mary Pickford shows there's a fascinating history of Americans creating cocktails in Cuba.  

Like the actress for whom it is named, if you want a cocktail that's sweet, glamorous, and strong, have a Mary Pickford.


Tiki Mystery -- The Mai Tai

The Mai Tai evokes Hawaii and tiki glory except ....... it doesn't come from Hawaii.   The origins of the Mai Tai are murky and a subject of great debate.

Mai Tai 2So where is it from?  California.  Some sources point to Don the Beachcomber creating it in Los Angeles in the 1930s, while other sources point to Victor Bergeron (the founder of Trader Vic's restaurant chain) creating it in Oakland in the 1940s. Most everything about the Mai Tai is debatable, including how one makes it.  I slightly adapted this version from the great Employees Only bar in New York City.  

2 ounces dark rum (I used Appleton Estate 12 year old)
.75 ounces Cointreau
Juice from 1/2 lime
1 ounce orgeat syrup

Combine in a shaker with ice, shake with the polar opposite of the laid back tiki vibe, and strain into a chilled glass.

Are you thinking "where's the pineapple juice?"   Many versions of the Mai Tai have it. I prefer this version because it only contains four ingredients and you get that great balance of sweet and sour.  Also, neither of the likely original Mai Tais used pineapple juice.  If you want a tiki drink with pineapple juice, which I like, try something such as the Jungle Bird.

So what about the phrase "mai tai?" It's probably not from the Chinese language, where it literally means "sell a desk."  The more accepted understanding is that it comes from a Polynesian dialect and roughly translates as "the best."  

Let this new knowledge soak into your brain like the Mai Tai soaks into your soul.