Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Blueberry Mojito (Original Recipe)


Again, it's not hard to make a simple modification to a classic cocktail and make it very impressive to your guests. Blueberry syrup gives a Mojito a kind of bramble quality with berry flavor and beautiful purple color. Otherwise this recipe remains true to the original with the exception of powdered sugar for the mint garnish. It's a New Orleans-style flourish that I do when I have the sugar handy.

  • 2 oz. lightly aged rum (Rhum Barbancourt 4-year-old statemet used)
  • 1 oz. lime juice
  • 1 oz. blueberry syrup
  • club soda
  • 10 mint leaves
  • mint sprig garnish 

In a shaker tin, muddle 10 mint leaves in blueberry syrup. Add lime juice, rum and ice and shake. Pour into a Collins glass full of fresh ice and top with soda, stirring gently. Garnish with the mint sprig.

Blueberry Collins (Original Recipe)


I'm finishing up my summer drinks (and my blueberry syrup) by coming up with ways to change the color and flavor of a few classic cocktails. The Collins is an obvious gin and soda model to work with. The blueberry syrup only needs to replace the simple syrup and all else remains the same. 

For a fun twist, I thought it would be nice to use Vitae's Old Tom gin to tame the juniper notes and add some oak mellowness to this American standard.

  • 2 oz. Old Tom gin (Vitae used)
  • 1 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. blueberry syrup
  • club soda
  • lemon slice, maraschino cherry and mint garnishes
Combine gin, lemon juice and syrup in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled Collins glass full of fresh ice. Top with soda and stir gently. Garnish at will with mint and fruit.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Classic Cocktails Using Vitae's Modern Rums


Rum Martini--Yes it has been done before, but rarely is it this good. That is because mass marketed white rums are blended to be as flavorless as possible. Generally a Bacardi Superior Martini is what you'll find in this niche mixology of replicating a classic cocktail with rum. In the past I've broken from this mold to make a Rum Martini with Cotton and Reed's dry spiced rum. The result was a dry tasting and complex Martini that was similar to one made with gin with a dash of orange bitters. I didn't opt for any garnish, but if I had, I would have used a lemon or lime twist. 

My most recent rendition with Vitae's Platinum rum is closer to a Vodka Martini, however. I knew that the clean flavor of Vitae's rums, and the not too sugary body, would work well with a savory garnish like an olive. Going light on the vermouth was a good call. Just like drinking a Vodka Martini, the main spirit is the thing. 

  • 3 oz. Vitae Platinum rum 
  • 1/4 oz. dry vermouth (Dolin used)
  • 1 olive garnish

Combine liquid ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir to chill. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with the olive. 

Rum Old Fashioned--It's been done frequently and with much success, but this one is a beauty. Try making an Old Fashioned the traditional way with rich sugar syrup, Angostura bitters, and an orange peel. But make sure that you choose a richly aged rum, not just something that is dark or spiced. Dark rums, especially black strap, are sweetened with molasses, which gives them that dark color. Their flavor will be simply muddy sweetness and ethanol. You should look for a barrel-aged rum with some years on it. These rums are dark from contact with wood and are superior in quality. 

When I first tried Vitae's Barrel Aged Distiller's Reserve rum, I wanted to make Old Fashioneds with it. 

  • 2-3 oz. aged dark or gold rum (Vitae's Barrel Aged Distiller's Reserve used)
  • 1 tsp. brown sugar syrup
  • several dashes Angostura bitters
  • lemon, lime or orange peel

Build cocktail in an Old Fashioned glass by disolving sugar syrup and bitter in the rum by stirring. Then add large ice chunks and continue to stir to allow the cocktail to chill. Twist a fruit zest over the drink and drop it in. 

Aged Rum Manhattan--I've never seen this done before, at least not with only rum as the principal ingredient. But I knew that Vitae's Barrel Aged rum would work fine. It is aged in ex bourbon and wine casks, so it picks up plenty of oak and vanilla notes that make it a good substitute for whiskey. Plus the Manhattan is a wine and spirits cocktail, so everything about Vitae's Barrel Aged rum would work well. And does it ever!

  • 3 oz. aged dark or gold rum
  • 1/2 oz. sweet vermouth 
  • one dash Angostura bitters
  • maraschino cherry

Combine liquid ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Add cherry for garnish. 



I've made the Chinese Cocktail, which is also a red cocktail that is made with dark rum, colored with grenadine, and spiced with Angostura bitters. This is a little different and I think I might like it a little better if only because passion fruit really makes this cocktail pop. In fact, it is the only difference between the China and Chinese cocktails, and it is probably the only Asian ingredients. Of course I used my homemade La Grande Passion liqueur because it is hard to find passion fruit nectar right now. I kept the proportions the same, however, with the passion fruit flavor of my liqueur being strong enough--maybe even stronger than actual passion fruit nectar or juice.

Rum, for some reason, is the principal spirit in China-themed cocktails, including the Shanghai Cocktail that also includes grenadine to make it a flag-red color. Angostura bitters is full of Asian spices like clove, cinnamon, allspice and exotic barks. It tastes like Chinese five-spice mix!  Anise, in the case of the Pernod in the Shanghai Cocktail, is also a very Chinese flavor, so that also seems appropriate. I'm glad that I've been able to try all three of these very similar cocktails.

  • 2 oz. dark rum (Pusser's used)
  • 1 oz. curacao (triple sec used)
  • 1/2 oz. passion fruit juice (homemade La Grande Passion used)
  • several dashes grenadine
  • several dashes Angostura bitters

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and double strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 



I really like the combination of flavors in this crushed ice cocktail. There's gin, there's rich rum and nutty creme de noyaux. The fruit flavors are a mix of classic lime juice like a Daiquiri and gummy tasting guava syrup. Undertow is the dangerous current beneath the surface of the water that swimmers must be wary of. You see it in shallows alongside reefs or in rivers beneath a waterfall. Undertow will take you down. 

In this cocktail, the danger beneath the very calm and relaxing surface of tropical flavors is the one-two punch of rum and gin. I used British-themed spirits to represent both in this cocktail. I only wish I had a little British flag as a garnish.

  • 1 1/2 oz. gold Jamaican rum (Pusser's used)
  • 1 1/2 oz. gin (Bulldog used)
  • 1/2 oz. creme de noyaux (Tempus Fugit used)
  • 1 oz. lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. guava or passion fruit syrup (guava used)
  • lime twist

Combine all liquid ingredients in a blender with ice. Blend briefly and pour into a chilled Old Fashioned glass. Twist lime peel over the drink and drop it in the glass. 

Cat Cay


I have to say that this cocktail doesn't scream Bahamas to me. It rather fits into a classic cocktail profile that really mimics French cafe drinking from more than a century ago. French liqueurs like Grand Marnier and Royal Combier (which I used instead) appeared in the early 20th century with new advances in distilling and preserving the flavors of fruits and spices. 

Cognac and orange liqueur were blended in France along with other ingredients intended to prevent Malaria on long sea voyages. That didn't work as well as adding lime juice to prevent scurvy, which you see in this cocktail. The cognac and orange flavor of Combier goes so well with citrus juice and even balances it all out with the added sugar in the liqueur, that these kinds of cocktails made their way back from the high seas to take over Parisian cafe scene. 

One thing about the name, though. The cocktail recipe calls for Haitian or Martinique rum, obviously for their French style and origin, which again makes my point about it being very French in style. But why is the drink named after an island in the British Bahamas?

  • 1 1/2 oz. Haitian or Martinique rum (Plantation 3-Stars used)
  • 1/2 oz. Grand Marnier (Royal Combier used and recommended)
  • 1/2 oz. lime juice
  • lemon peel

Combine all liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist. 

Quarter Deck (With Pusser's Rum)

This simple cocktail is part of a pair of naval drinks that swing towards rich and sweet aperitifs or desserts. The "Deck" cocktails that include the Poop Deck and this one are very similar in that they use an aged spirit and a fortified wine in a simple mixture that is served up. I've re-done this cocktail to bring it a little closer to something that might be enjoyed on a British Navy vessel some hundred and sixty years ago. In a previous iteration I used spiced rum, which isn't historically accurate.

As it appears now, the sherry is medium sweet and the Pusser's is Caribbean dark rum with lots of character from its wooden still and barrel aging. A sweeter sherry is probably appropriate for balance, so I added a touch of brown sugar syrup that blends with the dark sugary notes almost imperceptively.

  • 1 1/2 oz. dark rum (Pusser's used)
  • 3/4 oz. cream sherry (Amontillado used plus 1/2 tsp. brown sugar syrup for balance)
  • 1 tsp. lime juice

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Mandarin Punch


This cocktail is pleasingly rich and fruity with vanilla and caramel notes from the barrel aged rum and the flavored cognac in Mandarine Napoleon. In case you are wondering, this Mandarine Napoleon is my homemade knock off that tastes pretty good. I appreciate how mandarin-infused cognac really can alter the flavor of the fruit juices in this drink--you think that there is some fresh mandarin in there somewhere.

As always, I used fresh squeezed juices and saved some for the garnishes.

  • 1 1/2 oz. dark Jamaican rum (Pusser's used)
  • 1/2 (-1 oz. mandarin liqueur, maybe you have the actual Mandarine Napoleon)
  • 2 oz. orange juice
  • 2 oz. pineapple juice
  • orange slice
  • maraschino cherry

Combine juices and liquors in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the fruit pieces. 

Rum and Sherry


I expected this to be a somewhat dry cocktail. It calls for light rum and amontillado  sherry, which is sort of medium dry, or at least that is what this blend of Dona Luisa amontillado says. I'm glad that I used the more rich Plantation 3-Stars blend of Caribbean rums rather than a super dry rum. The effect of the drink, and not all amontillados are this sweet, was like a Manhattan. 

This cocktail is more for a whiskey drinker than a rum drinker. Particularly, I think, scotch lovers will find this one attractive. I'm interested now in doing a bourbon barreled rum and sherry or sweet vermouth to see if I like this very classy way to enjoy nice rum.

  • 1 1/2 oz. light rum (Plantation 3-Stars used)
  • 3/4 oz. amontillado sherry (or medium dry sherry. Dona Luisa used)
  • maraschino cherry

Combine rum and sherry in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Drop the cherry into the glass.


 Aah, the jungles of Florida. Wait! Pensacola is a populous beach town! But those beaches...

Aside from my confusion, the Penacola is actually a pretty straightforward beach drink. I'm going to say beach drink rather than tiki, because it relies more on a handful of fruit juices and a splash of a commercial passion fruit liqueur that only existed for two years back in the early '90s.

I still think of the '90s as Florida's heyday. Like that was the hot spot to vacation for like...everyone. There was the South Beach diet, snowbirds, botched elections. Anyway. this cocktail is as pink as a flamingo, and pretty tart. I'd say the La Grande Passion is not optional, but since it is hard to come by, you might do just as well with apricot brandy or maybe a pineapple liqueur. Don't pass this one up just because it looks basic. This is a must do if you happen to have guava nectar and rum.

  • 1 1/2 oz. light rum (Vitae Platinum used)
  • 1/2 oz. guava nectar
  • 1/2 oz. orange juice
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. La Grande Passion (Homemade DIY LGP used)

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 



Piscadera Bay

Piscadera Bay is is a beautiful waterway on the island of Curacao. Indeed, I'm sad I didn't have curacao for this cocktail (except for the blue stuff) so I used triple sec. I'm not sure how the ingredients of this cocktail correspond with an island among the Dutch Antilles, but the main thing about the Piscadera Bay is that it is loaded with spices.

Take a spicy rum (Jamaican if you have it) but make sure it is aged and funky. I'll use my Guyana navy rum, Pussers. Add sweet cherry liqueur, clove-heavy Angostura bitters, and cinnamon and ginger of falernum. Then only cut that with a half ounce of lime juice. There's no protecting you from the richness of this cocktail that might overwhelm the senses--and it does in the sense that you can close your eyes and imagine yourself at a beachside tiki hut--but it's all part of the experience. 

Thankfully a few things help balance the entire drink. That Cherry Herring has a way of tasting exotic and not at all like cherry when used in such a small amount. The sweetnes balances the lime juice considerably. My homemade falernum is a touch on the sweet side as well because I made it with brown sugar. This also helps tame the bitterness and tartness and center the drink closer to baking spices. Think gingerbread cookies and citrus zest!

  • 1 1/2 oz. Jamaican rum (Pussers Navy Rum used)
  • 1/2 oz. curacao (triple sec used)
  • 1/2 oz. falernum (homemade batch used)
  • 1/2 oz. lime juice
  • 1 tsp. Cherry Brandy (Cherry Herring used)
  • dash Angostura bitters
  • orange slice
  • maraschino cherry
Combine all liquid  ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and pour into a chilled Old Fashioned glass. Garnish with fruit


Magens Bay


This is a pretty cocktail named after a beautiful place. Magens Bay is a white sand beach on St. Thomas Island in the Caribbean. Besides being a fittingly rummy cocktail, it is pretty much a classic recipe with orange juice and apricot brandy. You could just about do this cocktail with any spirit and it would taste the same--which isn't a bad idea. 

The thing is that apricot brandy tends to direct the flavor in a sweet and fruity way. Fresh ingredients help make sure that the drink is balanced and interesting. A pure liqueur cocktail with apricot brandy tends to be overly sweet, and that's not the kind of thing you want to drink when you are relaxing in a beach cabana. 

  • 1 1/2 oz. light rum
  • 1/2 oz. apricot brandy
  • 1 oz. orange juice
  • 1 oz. lime juice
  • sugar syrup to taste (1/2 oz. is appropriately sweet)
  • orange slice
  • maraschino cherry

Combine liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with fruit.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020



If you live in Virginia, you don't have to look far for distilleries. In fact, you can make a cocktail that is a perfect escape from the ordinary, an exotic vacation, with spirits made only in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

The Savane is a rum-forward cocktail with acidity and spice. You can think of it as a version of a classic Daiquiri with tropical spices. Swap out lemon for lime juice and throw in banana and a coricopia of equatorial spices from the world tropic zones and you get what I mean.

Here we have Vitae's platinum rum as the base spirit. Vitae is a rum distillery in Charlottesville and Platinum is their flagship rum. MurLarkey's banana whiskey adds ripe fruit taste from an infusion of dried bananas in white whiskey. MurLarkey is known as a whiskey distillery, but they also make vodka and gin. Finally, I made falernum from Blue Sky distillery's Black Beard's Point rum. Blue Sky makes light and spiced rums as well as vodka and gin. 

It all comes together in this colonial cocktail in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
  • 1 1/2 oz. light rum 
  • 1 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. banana liqueur (MurLarkey Banana whiskey used) 
  • 1 tsp. falernum (homemade used)

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 

Blue Mountain Cooler


This drink has a great look! It's not exactly blue, on account of my making natural blueberry syrup, but it looks appetizing as hell! It is sweet, like most coolers, and fresh. I figure that you could use just about any white spirit in this cocktail, but rum and the Blue Mountains of Jamaica are part of this drink's gimmick. I'm glad that there's Jamaican rum in the Plantation 3 Stars blend.

Of course you can buy blueberry puree or syrup. Actually, I'm a fan of blueberry jelly in cocktails. But in case you want to cook a syrup, here's how to do it:

Add a half cup of fresh blueberries to 1/4 cup water and 1/2 cup fine white sugar to a small saucepan. (Save some berries for the drink itself.) Heat on medium heat while stirring and breaking up the berries. Once the mixture liquefies, turn the temperature down to low and stir occasionally for ten minutes. Remove from heat and strain (still hot) through fine mesh to remove the peels and store in an airtight container for one week. 

Here's the recipe for the cooler:

  • 2 oz. light rum
  • 1/2 oz. triple sec
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp blueberry syrup
  • club soda
  • fresh blueberries
  • lemon slice

Combine liquors, syrup and juice in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled Collins glass full of fresh ice. Top with club soda and stir gently. Garnish with fresh blueberries and the lemon slice.

Frozen Guava Daiquiri


At first glance, I'm thinking, "Just what we need. Another flavor of Daiquiri." But guava is a far better fruit in a Daiquiri than the strawberry. Taste it and you will see that there is more acid in guava and the flavor is a little unrecognizable but agreeably tropical. That's a good thing. You don't want your Daiquiri tasting like a New England farmer's market. It's a Caribbean drink, after all!

  • 1 1/2 oz. light rum (Plantation 3 Stars used)
  • 1/2 oz. lime juice
  • 1 oz. guava nectar
  • 1 tsp. creme de bananes (1/2 oz. MurLarkey banana whiskey and 1 tsp. sugar used)

Combine all ingredients in a blender with ice. Blend until smooth and pour into a deep champagne glass (stemless wine glass used).

Rose Hall

This cocktail is named after the Rose Hall sugar plantation on Jamaica. This colonial site is famous for its ghost stories and the legend of the White Witch. A rum cocktail by the same name

This is a much fruiter drink that uses banana to provide richness rather than creme de cacao. Here I've used MurLarkey banana whiskey instead of fake tasting creme de banane. The bonus with MurLarkey is that the banana whiskey tastes like a rich white rum and real bananas. The only downside it that it takes a half teaspoon of sugar to sweeten it to where the creme should be in order to balance the acidity. I'll make a not of that in the ingredients list. 

  • 1 oz. dark Jamaican rum
  • 1/2  oz. creme de banane (3/4 oz. MurLarkey banana whiskey and 1/2 tsp. white sugar used)
  • 1 oz. orange juice
  • 1 tsp. lime juice
  • lime slice for garnish

Combine all ingredients except for the garnish in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with the lime slice. 

Orcabessa Fizz

This is another fun summer drink that is light on alcohol and body, but rich in flavor. It hits the spot at the home tiki bar and bursts with fizzy pineapple and coconut flavor. Actually, the Orcabessa Fizz is a little like what you'd expect from a Fizz version of a Pina Colada.

Some Fizzes (but not all, so it's not a defining characteristic) have egg white or yolk in them. This adds an extra layer of foam on top that is scented by the drink's ingredients. But egg is unnecessary, as this drink has pineapple juice. Anyone who has ever made a French Martini knows that when you shake pineapple juice in a cocktail, you get lots of foam. Also unlike the classic Fizz, there's ice in the glass. Of course you could strain out the ice and just top with soda. I don't know if the pineapple foam would go that far up the glass like a Ramos Fizz, but the result would be a higher proportion of soda to other ingredients when you've topped off the glass.

Either way, though, you'll find yourself going back for more of these satisfying cocktails. If serving friends, make sure you have enough ingredients on hand to make several repeats. 

  • 1 oz. Jamaica rum (which I read as dark or aged rum)
  • 1 oz. coconut rum (I flavored white rum with coconut cream)
  • 2 oz. pineapple juice
  • 1/2 oz. lime juice
  • club soda
  • pineapple spear (or other fruit garnish)

Combine juice and rums in a shaker with ice. Shake and pour into a Collins glass and top with soda. Stir gently and garnish with fruit.


Kentucky Champagne Cup (Original Recipe)


This is a bourbon drink that is based on the Champagne Cocktail. Normally this would be enjoyed in a coup glass with no ice. But what if you want more champagne? 

Peaches are extremely important to this recipe for some reason. I'm going to say that it is because of summer weather and the desire to have fresh fruit with bubbles and bourbon. Anyway, for a simple solution to the persistent question, "what will I drink next?" This cocktail is an easy--no shaking--recipe you build in the glass.

  • 1 oz. bourbon (Evan Williams Bonded used)
  • 1/2 oz. peach whiskey (Bird Dog used)
  • several dashes aromatic bitters (Hella used)
  • champagne or sparkling wine (Wine Cube Bubbles used)
  • peach slice

Add bitters and whiskies to a large balloon wine goblet full of ice and stir to chill and combine. Fill with sparkling wine so that the ice floats and garnish with the peach slice.


With rum, I sometimes find it hard to decide between a tropical cocktail or something stiff in a rocks glass. Happily, this cocktail falls somewhere between the two. Rich rum and tropical fruit juices split the difference. You get a strong, flavorful cocktail with the Rumbo, but you don't miss out on exotic flavor of guava juice. You also have the option to do it on the rocks or blended, so it really is a rum drink to suit any mood.

  • 3 oz. Hatian or Barbados rum (Plantation 3 Stars used)
  • 1 oz. Jamaican dark rum (Pusser's British Navy used)
  • 2 oz. orange juice
  • 2 oz. guava juice
  • several dashes lime juice
  • Fruit pieces as garnish (optional)

Combine all liquid ingredients in a shaker or blender with ice. Shake or blend and pour into a chilled Old Fashioned glass.