Monday, May 12th, 2008
Clearly I have been smiled upon by a greater power as of late, for I have been fortunate to take on so many new readers over the past month. If you’re one of those new to the site: welcome!
For the benefit of the newcomers, I feel I should explain how things work around here. A few years ago, this guy named Paul Clarke had a great idea: let’s get all of the cocktail bloggers out there to get together and write about the same thing for a day. So one website becomes designated as the “host” and chooses a theme that everyone adopts and writes about, and then the host donates a summary of all the day’s events. (I even tried to host last December, but decided to blow the whole thing off and fly to New York to celebrate Repeal Day with my friends from Dewar’s scotch instead.)
So here I am on Sunday, having my whole day off ruined yet again as I wrack my brain trying to think of something to write about, and honestly getting quite frustrated. So, a solution: I’m going to make something using only the ingredients in my liquor cabinet and try a previously untested recipe from one of my many books on the subject of cocktails.
When I think about rum, I think about Trader Vic. And when I think about Trader Vic, I think about dusting off my 1947 edition of Trader Vic’s Bar-Tender’s Guide and looking for a recipe I’ve never tried. So that’s exactly what I did. On page 209, he gives us the recipe for a Beachcomber Cocktail, calling for light rum, lime, Cointreau, maraschino liqueur and a Waring blender – all of which can be found at my house on a standard Sunday in May.
At first glance, this looks suspiciously like the poorly-translated recipe for the La Florida Daiquiri #4 found on page 215, with the substitution of Cointreau for sugar. But cocktailian tradition dictates that by changing one or more ingredients in a cocktail, we’ve created a new drink altogether, so let’s forge ahead:
Beachcomber Cocktail (Trader Vic’s Version)
2 oz light rum
½ oz Cointreau
Juice ½ lime
2 dashes maraschino liqueur
Mix in Waring mixer with shaved ice; pour unstrained into chilled champagne glass.
As an aside, maraschino liqueur comes in several forms. Luxardo is intense, heavy, with an underlying bitterness and a healthy dose of funk; I personally recommend using less than a recipe might typically call for – unless you have reason to believe the recipe in question was developed using Luxardo. Then there’s Maraska, which is sweeter, less herbaceous and much easier to work with as a sweetening component to a cocktail. Try both in an Aviation sometime and you’ll see what I mean.
The verdict? It’s gross. First of all, we’ve got two ounces of light rum, which is a big speed bump of alcohol to try to climb over. Next, the drink is blended, which to me always calls for some big, bold flavors since things tend to get lost among all of that blended ice and water. A scant tablespoon each of lime and orange liqueur, spiked with maraschino liqueur doesn’t strike me as bold, so I’m going to recommend bumping up the proportions and selecting some brands.
Right off the bat I’m going to suggest using something other than the Myers’s Platinum I used at home. Try a Puerto Rican like Bacardi, 10 Cane from Trinidad or St. Croix’s Cruzan Estate Light, which is aged for two years. Each of these rums is going to provide a slightly sweeter base with less of the acids that I find to be the hallmark of Jamaican rum.
Next, let’s use ¾ ounce each of lime and Cointreau – enough already with this “juice of ½ a lime” business. As for the maraschino, let’s try a half teaspoon if using a sweeter liqueur like Maraska, and a quarter teaspoon each of simple syrup and maraschino if using a heavier version such as Luxardo.
Beachcomber Cocktail (Adjusted)
2 oz light rum
¾ oz Cointreau
¾ oz lime juice
¼-½ tsp maraschino liqueur
¼ tsp simple syrup (optional)
Blend well with ice and pour into a chilled champagne coupe.
This seemed to work better with my palate, but I tend to like drinks that taste delicious. To read about a whole bunch of other tasty beverages, head over to my friend Trader Tiki’s website for the complete wrap-up of this month’s Mixology Monday, along with more rum and Tiki information than you can shake a swizzle-stick at.