Category Archives: Rum


The traditional story has this classic being invented in Cuba in 1905 by Jennings Cox, an American mining engineer who was working in the town of Daiquiri.  The basic recipe involved pouring a teaspoon of sugar over a highball filled with cracked ice.  The juice of a lime or two was added, followed by white rum.  The drink was then stirred until frosty – basically, a simple swizzle.  This would evolve into a shaken drink with shaved ice.

It remained a Cuban drink until 1909, when U.S. Navy medical officer Admiral Lucius Johnson brought it to the States, to the Army & Navy Club in D.C.    Its popularity grew, particular in the Forties during wartime.   Rationing made most liquors like whiskey in short supply – but rum was relatively plentiful due to Roosevelt’s Good Neighbor policy liberalizing foreign relations and trade with Latin America.   Perhaps the biggest fan of the drink was Ernest “Papa” Hemingway – who would get his own version, the Hemingway Daiquiri or Papa Doble that added grapefruit and maraschino to the mix.  It wouldn’t take long before someone decided to toss one into a blender – which if you stick to fresh ingredients, isn’t a bad way to slurp your booze while sunning on a beach.

Personally, I prefer the base recipe – rum, sugar, lime.  Its hard to get much simpler than that.  (And amazingly, so easy to fuck up.)  If you stick to the basics, its easy to see why its a classic withs its clean, crisp flavor.  I’ve got a weakness for the family of drinks known as Sours – like the Sidecar, the Margarita, or the Whiskey Sour.  Cold, short, refreshing.  Use fresh lime and sugar, stay away from diesel fuel like Bacardi, and you’re in like Flynn.


Version 1

2.5 oz. aged rum
3/4 oz. fresh lime juice
1/2 oz. simple syrup

Shake & strain into cocktail glass.

Version 2

2 oz. light rum
3/4 oz. fresh lime juice
3/4 oz. simple syrup

Shake & strain into cocktail glass.

Hop Toad

What do you get when you take two guys from one of the godmothers of San Francisco’s market-driven, restaurant-cum-bar cocktail scene, move them into a turn-of-the-last-century Barbary Coast saloon replete with player piano, and then blend a cocktail list of revisited period classics with a dining menu that brings late nineteenth century bar food into the twenty-first?  Answer: Comstock Saloon, a pretty damn good place to spend an evening.  Jeff Hollinger (co-author of Art of the Bar) and Johnny Raglin have come up  with an almost dangerous combination – a menu of salty, savory small plate items like “beef shank & bone marrow pot pie” or “fried oyster & ham po’boy”  that are perfectly suited to devouring with well-crafted cocktails.  I am quite certain that it is a good thing (for me) that I no longer live in the neighborhood.

This is one of the obscure classics on their regular rotation.  David Wondrich has an early print appearance of the recipe coming from The Ideal Bartender (1917) by Tom Bullock of the St. Louis Country Club.  The 1917 version is fairly simple, containing only apricot eau-de-vie and lime juice.  Wondrich prefers that recipe, but its far too dry and one-dimensional for me.  Comstock features a variation that includes rum – in this case, the high proof, full hogo Smith & Cross.  In addition, it uses the sweet liqueur style “apricot brandy” instead of an eau-de-vie.  Finally, some bitters help round it out.  It’s still a drink on the drier side, but a more approachable modern one.

1 1/2 oz. Smith & Cross Jamaican rum
3/4 oz. lime juice
3/4 oz. Rothman & Winter apricot brandy
2 dash Angostura bitters

Shake & strain into cocktail glass.

Recipe courtesy of Comstock Saloon (via SFist).

Boukman Daiquiri

I think we can finally kiss the rain goodbye at least until next November here in the Bay Area. This week has been filled with clear blue skies, sunny days approaching as close to shorts weather as we get, and nice warm nights where the fog never rolls in.  All of which  says “I’m springtime bizzatches! Suck on the sunshine till July.”  The next six plus weeks will be glorious, at least until the Fog-th of July.  Perfect weather to indulge in drinks with a more tropical bent.  Preferably with rum.

1 1/2 oz. white rum
1/2 oz. Cognac
3/4 oz. fresh lime juice
3/4 oz. cinnamon syrup

Shake with ice and strain. Garnish with lime.

Recipe courtesy of The Franklin Mortgage & Investment Company via Imbibe.

The Suburban

I’ve been completely and utterly lazy about blog posts over the last several months.  As often happens, life caught up to me and adding new posts kept dropping to bottom of the “to do” list.   Or, at least, that’s the story I’m telling myself.  Likely closer to the truth is that new, additional hobbies have been distracting me – like curing my own bacon (for a future blog post), confiting duck (another blog post), or sausage making (and yet another blog post).   Home charcuterie – she is a wicked temptress.  On top of that, our local independent bookstore has rekindled a reading habit that the dry casebooks of law school had formerly burned out.  Scandinavian crime novels being my current fix.

As a result, I made this particular cocktail months ago when the whether was colder and damper.  The combination of rye, dark rum and port were the perfect cozy drink with a kick to ward off the winter rains.  David Wondrich is right when he describes it as calling up the feeling of a musty, old school men’s club, with the scents of leather, oak and tobacco coming to mind.  Regardless of the current weather here in the Bay Area, someplace must still need shaking off the last of the chilly winter grays – Seattle, I’m looking right at you.  Cheers!

1 1/2 oz rye
1/2 oz dark rum
1/2 oz ruby port
1 dash Angostura bitters
1 dash orange bitters

Stir with ice and strain into cocktail coupe.

Recipe courtesy of David Wondrich.

MxMo: Coffee Flip

Whether its Snow-mageddon in New York City, or chilly monsoons out West, or even cold so cold it turns boiling water into instant fog,  this time of year often calls for heavier, rich cocktails that touch deep in the same place of our lizard brainstems as does meatloaf with mashed potatoes and gravy.  Sensibly then, this month’s theme for Mixology Monday is See You On The Flipside.   As host Josh Cole of Cocktail Assembly describes it:

“The flip is one of those cocktails that so successfully defies the seasons. When it’s cold and the icy chill is tearing its way through to our bones, the heated flip opens it’s arms and embraces us like a warm blanket. When it’s hot, the cool flip lowers the heat and can bring back that spring day memory of a creamy shake enjoyed on a front porch. There’s never a bad time or temperature to enjoy the frothy glory that is the flip.”

Flips are fun for taking old recipes for spins with a twist as the base recipe of a flip – base spirit, a little sugar and whole egg – is simple and forgiving.  I’d recently purchased a bottle of St. George Spirits Firelit Coffee Liqueur, their artisanal take on the classic coffee liqueur which in their talented hands combines cold pressed single origin coffee, unaged Chardonnay brandy and cane sugar.  Kahlua this is not.  I wanted to make a coffee flavored flip with it, so decided to see if there were any existing recipes for coffee flips that I could use as a starting.

What I found was a classic flip recipe for a cocktail that didn’t involve any coffee or coffee liqueur, but instead involved port and brandy, which when adding the egg, gave it the appearance of creamed coffee with the faintest suggestion of a coffee-like flavor. Using this as the base, I figured I could swap the Firelit for the brandy and an aged demerara rum for the port.  Swap the nutmeg for cinnamon and a dash of mole bitters, and the end result was a coffee flip with a Californios spin.  In both cases I left out the cream as I was worried they would veer to far in the dessert cocktail direction.  Based on the final product, the cream might be a nice addition, especially as the Firelit has such a strong flavor profile.

Classic Version

1 oz. brandy
1 oz. port
1 tsp. sugar
1 egg
1/2 oz. cream (optional)

Combine and shake once dry, once with ice.  Strain into coupe.  Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.

Californios Version

1 oz. aged demerara rum (El Dorado 15)
1 oz. coffee liquer (Firelit Coffee Liqueur)
1 barspoon simple syrup
1 egg
1 dash mole bitters

Combine and shake once dry, once with ice.  Strain into coupe.  Garnish with freshly grated cinnamon.

Fish House Punch

This month’s Mixology Monday theme is Forgotten Cocktails.  Host Dennis at Rock & Rye has challenged folks “…to bring to light a drink that you think deserves to be resurrected from the past, and placed back into the spotlight. It could be pre-prohibition, post-war, that horrible decade known as the 80′s, it doesn’t really matter. As long as it is somewhat obscure, post it up.”

In the age of online cocktail parties, iPhone cocktail apps, and glossy magazines devoted to drinking, I’m not so sure how obscure anything can be at this point, but this tipple is definitely from the past.  Way past.   Colonial-era 1732 past.  Not sure if George Washington drank this stuff, but I sure feel the urge to put on a powdered wig while sipping it.  (Full disclosure: Yes, Virginia – I once was a “historical re-enactor” at a Colonial Williamsburg type museum.  I got the tri-corn hat and knee breeches, but mercifully, never had to wear that wig.)

Returning to the story – way back in ye olde yonder, a bunch of well to-do, proto-plutocrats in Philadelphia started what is the oldest private club in the country, replete with a “castle” clubhouse along the Schuylkill River, christening it the “State in Schuylkill Fishing Corporation”, or the more common Schuylkill Fishing Company.  The original club was established under a treaty with the local Native American tribe and limited to 25 members, since increased to a wopping 30.  The club’s activities were pretty simple and continue to this day – Catch some fish.  Cook some fish (and meat).  Drink some hooch.   Members do all the cooking and rumor is they pay their rent in fish.

Their house punch was a closely guarded secret.  An early recipe appears in “Professor” Jerry Thomas “How to Mix Drinks, or The Bon-Vivant’s Companion” published in 1862, followed by a slightly different one in the Philadelphia Times in 1896.   Charles H. Baker, Jr. in his 1939 “Gentleman’s Companion”claims the original as well.  Regardless, the recipes all seem to involve similar ingredients in varying proportions: lemon, sugar, water, rum, cognac, peach brandy.  A fairly basic punch recipe provided a twist with the addition of the peach brandy.  Most recipes referring to “peach brandy” usually assume a creme de peche or peach liqueur – but I wonder how one of the new school peach eau de vie’s would taste? Experiments might need to follow.

Its really quite tasty with a subtle wallop – you’ll quickly drain your punch glass and before you know it, you just might convince yourself that you too, could someday own a yacht.

1 1/2 cups superfine sugar
2 quarts water
1 quart lemon juice
2 quarts dark rum
1 quart cognac
4 ounces peach brandy

Dissolve sugar in large bowl with some of the water.  Add lemon juice. Finally, add rum, cognac and brandy along with rest of water.  When ready to serve, add large block of ice and allow to cool for one hour out of heat.

Single serving:

1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons superfine sugar
2 ounces spring water
1 ounce lemon juice
2 ounces dark Jamaican rum
1 ounce cognac
1/8 ounce peach brandy

Stir with ice and strain into punch cup over ice.

Garnish with lemon wheel.

Recipe courtesy of Dave Wondrich.

Missionary’s Downfall

And on the third day, God said “Let there be the faint beginnings of pleasantly cool air.”  And it was good.

Too pooped from the heatwave and sleepless nights to say much more than that folks.  So I’ll just put up this refreshing and appropriately named cooler from the Godfather of Tiki courtesy of the modern-day court jester of tiki and call it a night.

1/4 cup packed fresh mint
1/4 cup diced pineapple
1 oz. lime juice
1/2 oz. peach liqueur
1/2 oz. honey syrup
1 oz. light rum
6 oz. crushed ice

Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth.  Pour into glass or goblet.  Garnish with fresh mint.

Recipe courtesy of Don the Beachcomber via Forbidden Island.

Cuban Anole

Sometimes you just need to get away from all the wrenches life throws at you.  However, unless you are a trustafarian or founded your own tech company, flying off to the South Pacific in the middle of the week just isn’t an option.  As a second best (or maybe twelfth best), there is always a tiki drink.  Tiki has come a long way from the dark recesses of cheap rum, canned pineapple and reheated rumaki.  Beyond just restoring the classics to their original state with high quality rum and fresh squeezed juices, folks are using these standards for some very interesting riffs and variations.

This one is a twist on the mai tai, by swapping out the orange curacao with cinnamon syrup.  It also layers in the vegetal funk of a rhum agricole along with the aged rums.  The freshly grated cinnamon provides a really nice nose to the whole affair.  Kick back, relax and forget the work week for a few hours.

1/2 oz rhum agricole blanc
1/2 oz aged Jamaican rum
1/2 oz aged Barbados rum
3/4 oz lime juice
1/2 oz cinnamon cyrup
1/2 oz orgeat

Shake with ice and strain into a rocks glass with crushed ice.  Garnish with fresh grated cinnamon.

Courtesy of cocktail virgin slut

Don’s Navy Grog

Ernest Raymond Beaumont Gantt is a great name for a boy from Texas turned Prohibition-era bootlegger in the Big Easy.  However, not so much for a guy running a Polynesian-themed restaurant in 1930’s Hollywood.  Thus was Don the Beachcomber born.  Having legally changed his name, Donn Beach took his colorful past running rum in Caribbean, working in Chinatown restaurants and traveling the world to single-handedly create the world’s first “tiki” bar, combining tropical inspired rum drinks with flared up Cantonese food.  Celebrities flocked to his bar, which offered an escape from reality vibe.  Ever had a mai tai with a pu-pu platter?  If so, its because of this one guy.

After spending the war years opening officer “rest camps” (read: bars) in places like Capri, Nice, Cannes, & Venice for his buddy US Army Air Force General Jimmy Doolittle – for which he earned a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star – Donn returned home to a flourishing tiki-empire that his wife had grown to a chain of 16 restaurants.  The tiki fad continued to explode in the 1940s and 1950s, even spawning a Nor-Cal / So-Cal tiki rivalry between Donn and the Bay Area’s Victor “Trader Vic” Bergeron. (You really can’t make this stuff up.)  Eventually, Donn would divorce his wife (along with his restaurant chain), moved to Hawaii to open a bar with an office atop a giant banyan tree and eventually retire on a houseboat in the South Pacific.  Which would be destroyed by hurricanes. (the storm, not the drink)

One of the classic tiki recipes that Donn created that is now enjoying a resurgence, this one combined a heady mix of three different rums tempered with  some citrus, a little honey and a splash of fizz.  Its a tiki twist on the historical grog of British Navy tradition, which was little more than high proof rum mixed with some water or beer to take the edge off.  Donn’s version is refreshing and easily drinkable, but packs a real whallop underneath, just like the grogs of old.  Story is Donn limited his customers to only two of these.  Enjoy.

3/4 oz lime juice
3/4 oz grapefruit juice
1 oz honey syrup*
1 oz light Puerto Rican rum
1 oz dark Jamican rum
1 oz demerara rum
3/4 oz soda water

Shake ice and strain into double old-fashioned glass filled with crushed ice.

* Honey syrup is simply a 1:1 or 2:1 mix of honey and water, depending on your sweetness preference.  Heat the honey and water until the honey completely dissolves.  Let cool, then bottle.

Recipe courtesy of Don the Beachcomber via Jeff “Beachbum” Berry

New Orleans Buck

Bucks are a type of highball that make a great summertime cocktail – refreshing and easy to make – the basic recipe is just a shot of booze, lemon juice, and top with ginger ale.  When the days are long and the weather pleasant, last thing you want is to be fiddling in the kitchen with a 10 ingredient cocktail. And since the recipe is simple, it makes variations a snap.

In this case, its a classic drink that I first came across at  Boot and Shoe Service, my favorite local wood-fired pizzeria that is run by a Chez Panisse alum and features a great cocktail program.  The standard recipe calls for light rum for which they used a rhum agricole blanc, which provided a more complex, funkier profile.  They also substituted a house-made ginger syrup and soda water in place of the ginger ale.  I’ve found a good spicy ginger beer is an excellent substitute.    A word of caution – these go down very easy.

1 1/2 oz. light rum (rhum agricole blanc)
1/2 oz. orange juice
1/2 oz. lime juice
2 dashes peychaud’s bitters

Shake with ice and strain into ice filled highball glass.  Top with ginger beer.