Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Kummeltini (Original Recipe)


I can't believe that there's not a Kummeltini. Not one that I can find, anyway. Being stuck at home has got me doing lots of crafty things like pickling and making my own liquors. One of these crafty things is making kummel. This is a German contribution to the spirit world. It is predominantly sweet but sometimes comes in dry varieties. The thing about kummel is that, while you can by commercially available brands, most Europeans make it in their own way. 

Caraway is the main ingredient. Cinnamon, anise, clove, and dill are other options, but you are not limited there. Then the infused spirit is sweetened with honey for a delicious and savory cordial treat. A little is all that is necessary in the Kummeltini, but the garnish needs to be something that is a little briny and sweet as well. I recommend a vegetable or even a fruit that has been in pickle juice for less than a day. I used a cherry tomato. It will still be crisp and fresh, and sweet if you use something juicy like I did. But it also signals in scent and taste the dill and spice of the Kummel.

  • 2 oz. vodka (Smirnoff no. 57 used)
  • 1/2 oz. dry vermouth
  • 1/2 oz. kummel
  • pickled tomato or other lightly pickled fruit or vegetable

Combine liquid ingredient in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a speared pickle of a fruit or vegetable. 

Bobbing for Apples (MurLarkey Edition)

Spiking some soft cider is a Halloween tradition. I'm getting ready by spiking, and thereby spicing, a glass of cider while decorating. This easy recipe makes your drink taste better and hit a lot stronger. While the proportions are entirely up to you (and you can go as hard as you want) I will caution that the more cinnamon whiskey you use, the more you feel the burn. 

An ounce of cinnamon whiskey makes a glass of cider taste like apples and cinnamon. Three ounces gives you a cinnamon jawbreaker effect, a little hot and tingly and definitely hard!

Build cocktail in a Collins glass full of ice by adding whiskey and cider and stirring. Float apple slice on top or stick it into the ice as a garnish.


Harvest Cocktail (Original Recipe)


There's a Thanksgiving cocktail and a whole number of fall cocktails like the Grand Autumn, but I found it strange that harvest is not recognized. It should be, and it should be with a done with a rustic tasting cocktail with whiskey and end-of-summer flavors like apricot. 

This fall cocktail takes its inspiration from the many that have gone before. It is strong and rich, but palate cleansing at the same time with lemon and tea tannins. You get lavender and bergamot flavors from the Earl Gray tea infused into the MurLarkey three tea whiskey. The other teas, English Breakfast and Darjeeling, make for a deeper caramel color and nutty taste. The cocktail is bright and citrusy, but finishes crisp like dried leaves and fall aromas.

  • 1 1/2 oz. MurLarkey three tea whiskey
  • 3/4 oz. apricot brandy
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • several dashes of brown sugar syrup
  • maraschino cherry garnish

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

Bristow Iced Tea (Original Recipe)


Yes, the infamous Long Island Iced tea is known for being a chameleon: it looks like iced tea, but there's no tea in it. Instead, it is just about every cheap booze that can fit on a speed rail. Here, the concept is the same but the taste is craft. There's real tea and lemon flavor infused into MurLarkey three tea and lemon whiskies. The experience is a bit surprising. It tastes great--strong but refreshing. 

And of course you can try to play it off as if this is an iced tea, but it's more likely that you'll be drinking from your home bar, so what's the point. If people saw how much MurLarkey I have on by bar, there'd be no need for me to pretend. 

  • 1 oz. MurLarkey lemon whiskey
  • 1 oz. MurLarkey three tea whiskey
  • 1/2 oz. triple sec
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. sugar syrup (dark brown used for tea color)
  • cold filtered water
  • lemon slice and mint sprig for garnish

Combine juice, spirits and sugar in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a Collins glass full of fresh ice. Top with cold water and stir. Garnish with lemon and mint.

Junior League

It's less important which whiskey you choose when you use a large portion of anisette in a cocktail. Blended whiskey (often understood as Irish whiskey) is as good an option as any. The point is that it gets out of the way and allows you to inexpensively up the volume and alcohol content of a drink with a distinctive flavor. 

Anisette, as I understand it, is a sweetened anise liqueur. It comes in strong or sugary varieties: the strong anisettes are absinthe substitutes that get cloudy when they touch water while the sugary ones are more like cordials, less bitter and more like anise candy than licorice. Both are sweet, but the sweeter Aguardiente from Columbia is a lower proof and very sweet sugar-based liqueur. It is a good choice for a cocktail in which you don't want to overwhelm with anise. 

This recipe is designed for new drinkers. It shouldn't offend with herbal bitterness or alcoholic burn, and it doesn't. I like how I could taste the sherry barreling of the Slane Irish whiskey under the prickle of Aguardiente. The drink was slightly sweet with a cinnamon-like burn. I feel that this cocktail is a classy antidote to Fireball.      

  • 1 1/2 oz. blended whiskey (Slane Irish whiskey used)
  • 1 oz. anisette (Aguardiente used)
  • maraschino cherry garnish
Combine liquors in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with the cherry. 


Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Jamaica Mule


I think I've just covered all of the Jamaica-themed cocktail out there. I'm returning to this old stand by that I've made in the past to try it with fresh ingredients (I've been squeezing the pineapple juice along with the citrus) and a lovely ginger beer. Fentiman's is a spicy botanical ginger beer that tastes not only fresh but barreled and oaky. 

The cocktail departs from the standard Mule by being so large that it requires a Collins glass, but not crushed ice. There's a lot of booze in it too--between the 151-proof rum and the full measures of light and dark rum, you may want to wait a bit before having another one. 

  • 1 1/2 oz. light Jamaican rum (Plantation 3-Stars used)
  • 1/2 oz. dark Jamaican rum (Pusser's navy rum used)
  • 1/2 oz. 151-proof rum (Cruzan 151 used)
  • 1/2 oz. lime juice
  • ginger beer (Fentiman's used)
  • pineapple stick
  • piece of preserved ginger

Combine rums and juice in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a Chilled collins glass full of fresh ice. Top with ginger beer and stir gently. Garnish with pineapple stick and preserved ginger.

J.P.'s Punch


J.P. must have been a bartender who worked at a beach bar. Anyway, he was good with a blender. I can imagine bar guests watching him slice a banana and tossing the pieces into the pitcher with all the spirits and juices that he hardly takes time to measure before blending up several of these cocktails at once. 

This might actually be my first single serving blended punch featured on this blog. I'm not a huge fan of beach hut cocktails and blenders in general. They water down the flavor and make a lot of the measurements of liquor imprecise as you struggle to fit all of the drink into a single glass. But for a punch, this isn't bad. Double or triple the recipe for friends and you'll be a hit just like J.P.

  • 1 oz. light rum (Rhum Barbancourt used)
  • 1 oz. dark rum (Pusser's navy rum used)
  • 2 oz. orange juice
  • 1 oz. pineapple juice
  • 1/2 oz. lime juice
  • 1/2 sliced banana
  • maraschino cherry garnish

Combine all liquid ingredients in a blender with ice. Blend until smooth and pour into a chilled double Old Fashioned glass. Garnish with the cherry.

Jamaican Peach


I don't know why this Jamaican-themed drink includes peaches at all. It's not like peaches grow on the island or anything. In reality, it was probably a way to sell peach brandy, since the recipe doesn't include any actual peaches. The peach slice you see in the photo comes from my insistence on using fresh ingredients if you have them. Also, a garnish is a wonderful way to signal the flavors you are working with, even though the spirits may be artificially flavored.

In place of peach brandy, I used an equally artificial peach whiskey by Bird Dog. It's actually pretty good when used in tropical drinks and is probably my favorite cheap flavored whiskey purchase. Actually it was a gift, so it was very cheap--free.

  • 1 1/2 oz. Jamaica dark rum (Pusser's navy rum used)
  • 1 1/2 oz. peach brandy (Bird Dog peach whiskey used)
  • 2 oz. orange juice
  • 2 oz. pineapple juice
  • 1 oz. grapefruit juice
  • 1 oz. guava juice
  • several dashes of falernum (homemade falernum used)
  • pineapple stick
  • orange slice

Combine all liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Blend until smooth and pour into a double Old Fashioned glass. Garnish with the fruit pieces.

Javier Saavedra


Ask a soccer fan if they remember who Javier Saavedra is. The former San Antonio Scorpions midfielder has a pretty awesome cocktail to his name. When I saw the list of ingredients, especially the combination of dark rum and tequila, I had to give it a try. 

White tequila gives this tropical drink an herbal spiciness that is missing in a lot of Caribbean-themed cocktails. I really appreciate the direction it takes the cocktail from the typically sugary and sweet rum that is the focus of these kinds of drinks. Again, the orange slice on the cocktail is misleading if you are trying to guess the ingredients. The thing you can't identify: grapefruit juice.

  • 1 oz. Jamica dark rum (Pusser's navy rum used)
  • 1 oz. white tequila (Sauza %100 blue agave used)
  • 2 oz. pineapple juice
  • 1 oz. grapefruit juice
  • orange slice garnish
Combine all liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the orange slice.

Jambo Jack


One of the things that makes tiki cocktails so much fun is trying to identify all the ingredients that make up their exotic flavors. The pineapple stick in the Jambo Jack is a red herring. There's no pineapple juice, so what is that unusual flavor?

Apricot brandy is a sneaky way to surprise guests with something unexpected in a tropical drink. That, and falernum with its overwhelming combo of spices and citrus, help to make the Jambo Jack stand out from other blended drinks. The recipe gives you the option to use orgeat, which will make the cocktail a little creamier and might tame it a bit. But I don't mind using falernum whenever I get the chance.

Dark rum, particularly if you use Jamaican rum, will also shine through with molasses and funky spirits notes. My bottle of Pusser's rum from Guyana will have to do in place of Jamaican. 

  • 1 1/2 oz. dark Jamaican rum (Pusser's navy rum used)
  • 1/2 oz. curacao (triple sec used)
  • 1/2 oz. apricot brandy
  • 1 oz. lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. orgeat or falernum (homemade falernum used) 
  • pineapple stick. 

Combine all liquid ingredients with ice in a blender. Blend until smooth and pour into a chilled Collins glass. Garnish with the pineapple stick. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Mobay Cocktail


This is another one of those internationally-styled club cocktails like the Clover Club or Pendennis Club. These cocktails tend to be brightly colored and easy to consume. They virtually advertise themselves at the clubs and advertise for the clubs when ordered elsewhere. 

The name comes from Mobay Club on Montego Bay, but there's not much of the beach involved here. No tropical fruits, no wild island-themed garnishes--besides the Jamaican rum, this cocktail is strikingly French. There's the mistakable ruby color of Dubonnet rouge and the rich candied orange flavor or Grand Marnier--a favorite ingredient of clubs and hotels worldwide. 

The only substitutions I've made (and they are minor) is that I'm using Pusser's dark rum instead of something from Jamaica, and that I use Royal Combier (another French orange cognac liqueur) instead of Grand Marnier. As my last drink of the day, I found it overly rich, however. I'm not sure if it was the ingredients or the fact that the Movay seemed incongruent with other Jamaican-themed cocktails with a lemon twist as its only fruit. 

  • 1 1/2 oz. dark Jamaican rum (Pusser's dark rum used)
  • 1/2 oz. Dubonnet rouge
  • several dashes Grand Marnier (Royal Combier used)
  • lemon twist

Combine all liquid ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Twist a lemon zest over the glass and drop it in. 



Just a little bit of magic and a banana--not harmful magic, no not Hoodoo, and just a normal banana--and you have this bewitching frozen cocktail from Haiti. All the flavors blend nicely, giving off an overall tropical bouquet. Southern Comfort (replaced here with Bird Dog peach whiskey) is peach liqueur (not a whiskey). Here it reads as sweetness and something from the subtropic world. Just as Southern Comfort provides escapism in America's northern climes, so it lends exoticism to a tiki cocktail.

Banana adds richness here. You almost don't notice the flavor or the pulp of the fruit due to blending and the fact that there's no fat, as you have in smoothies with yogurt or cream. Instead, it too is an exotic texture and scent that augments the fresh pressed cane juice rum from Barbancourt. This spirit is golden in color and has a whiff of burnt molasses that finishes more like caramel.

  • 1 oz. Haitian rum (Barbancourt 4-year blend used)
  • 1 oz. Southern Comfort (Bird Dog peach whiskey used)
  • 1 oz. orange juice
  • 1/2 oz. lime juice
  • 1 tsp. falernum or orgeat syrup (homemade falernum and a tsp. brown sugar syrup used)
  • 1/2 ripe banana sliced
Combine all ingredients in a blender with plenty of ice. Blend until smooth and pour into a chilled Collins glass. Garnish at will with umbrella or swizzle stick.

Jamaica Stone Fence


This is a twist on the popular Fall cocktail, the Stone Fence, which is usually made with applejack or whiskey. The rum idea is perfectly acceptable and fits the colonial style of this drink. You want sweet flavors to go with your cider, a reminder of the Autumn season. So a dark rum with molassas flavor like those of Jamaica blend well with cider. I have a close substitute with Guyana rum, my trusty bottle of Pussers. 

Fall spices like nutmeg and cinnamon are appropriate as well. I decided that this is one of those few times where cinnamon whiskey shines. (All the other times where people take shots of it are not, in my opinion.) MurLarkey makes their cinnamon whiskey with two ingredients, white whiskey and cinnamon sticks. Just a little goes a long way here. And because the recipe doesn't suggest grating the cinnamon stick, using it simply as a garnish, I'm adding booze and cinnamon with MurLarkey. 

  • 2 oz. dark Jamaica rum (Pusser's used)
  • 6 oz. chilled apple cider
  • 1/2 oz. MurLarkey cinnamon whiskey (optional)
  • cinnamon stick
  • grated nutmeg

Stir rum, (optional cinnamon whiskey) and cider in a mixing glass with ice. Pour into a chilled double Old Fashioned glass. Garnish with cinnamon stick and sprinkle nutmeg on top of the ice. 

Pirate's Julep


If you can make a Mint Julep using rum and Mandarine Napoleon, you should always do it. I understand that Bourbon has a special place in the cocktail world and that it's contribution to the Mint Julep is appreciable. That said, this version of the Julep ticks off two boxes that will make it a hit: it is a tropical tasting classic cocktail that looks and feels perfect when served correctly (i.e. it is a proper Julep), and it makes use of a French liqueur and all the exotic flavors and richness that comes with that.

In order to get this drink right, you have to master the former. Crushed ice and a Julep cup are necessary to complete the Julep experience. The crushed ice melts quickly and absorbs the warmth of the spirits and the metal cup. Condensation freezes on the sides of the cup and it will stick to your hands and the beverage napkin. It is an amazing chilling effect similar to the Swizzle. It is impressive to have a spirits-forward cocktail delivered in such an ice cold package that it is the cold, not the burn, that surprises you.

I crush ice wrapped in a napkin using a meat tenderizer or mallet. Be sure to have lots of ice on hand if you plan to make a few of these, because one tray of ice gets you about one drink.

  • 6 mint leaves
  • 1 tsp. orgeat or sugar syrup (brown sugar syrup used)
  • 2-3 oz. gold rum (Rhum Barbancourt used)
  • 1 tsp. Mandarine Napoleon (homemade version used)
  • several dashes Peychaud's bitters
  • mint sprig powdered sugar

Muddle syrup and mint leaves in the bottom of a metal Julep cup. Spirits and bitters and top with crushed ice. Stir to combine and chill and add ice as needed, continuing to stir until the Julep cup frosts on the outside. Wet the mint sprig in water and dip it into powdered sugar to use as a garnish. 

Marie Galante


Marie Galante is not a person, its a place. A small Island in the French Caribbean that cultivates sugar and is famous for a chateau and windmills that used to operate on the estate. 

While this is a rum and grapefruit cocktail, it is  La Grande Passion that sets it apart from other drinks of similar design. It is at once exotic and very French. I like how elegant this cocktail is; it has a way of being unexpectedly bright and otherworldly in its look and flavor, as quality French spirits have a tendency to be. 

  • 1 1/2 oz. light rum (Plantation 3-Stars used)
  • 1/2 oz. triple sec
  • 1 oz. grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 oz. La Grande Passion
  • 1/8 grapefruit slice optional

Combine liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with grapefruit slice if using fresh grapefruit.


This cocktail has a fun name, a pun on Cannes, France and the famous bawdy cabaret dance of Paris. I liked that it was a balanced and strong cocktail (the two seldom go hand in hand) with a double punch of rum and gin. Because the recipe specified light rum, meaning that there should be little barrel taste in the drink, I opted for Plantation's 3-Stars blend, though that is a pretty flavorful light rum. Then I was struggling with which gin to use for the second measure.

Old Tom sounded appropriate, but it would have been lost in all that grapefruit. So would a simple London dry style gin (although this is perfectly acceptable if that is what you have on hand.) Doing the smell test on several bottles, I arrived at my homemade dry gin. This steeped gin had the right piney and tannin notes to stand out past all of that juice. The combination was lovely and made this the best cocktail I had that day.

  • 1 1/2 oz. light rum (Plantation 3-Star used)
    1 1'/2 oz. dry gin (homemade bathtub gin used)
  • 3 oz. grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 oz. Cointreau (triple sec used)
  • orange slice

Combine all ingredients except orange slice in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a double Old Fashioned glass full of fresh ice and garnish with orange slice. 

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.