Cocktail #39: Demerara Dry Float

This cocktail has been on my "to make eventually" list for a while, and it wasn't until recently that I was finally able to do so - with the gift of a bottle of Lemon Hart 151 Demerara rum from the Meek Tiki and his lovely wife Amber - thank you again!

This drink appears in both Jeff Berry's Intoxica! and in Martin and Rebecca Cate's Smuggler's Cove and I've borrowed variations on both recipes to make this drink. Here's Berry's recipe, to which he credits Donn the Beachcomber, circa 1941 (my modifications noted):

2.50 oz. fresh lime juice
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1.50 oz. passion fruit syrup1
0.25 oz. sugar syrup2
1.00 oz. Demerara rum3
0.25 oz. Demerara rum4
0.50 oz. maraschino liqueur

Method: shake everything - except the 151 rum - with ice cubes. Strain into a double old fashioned glass filled with crushed ice. Carefully float the 151 rum. Do not stir.

Given my experience with the Monin passion fruit syrup of it being way too overpowering if used in recommended quantities, I decided to halve the amount for this drink to 0.75 oz. If you have made your own passion fruit syrup or perhaps use a different, less powerful brand, your mileage may vary. For the Monin, 0.75 oz. was just about right.
2 I used Demerara sugar syrup instead
I upped this slightly to 1.25 ounces
4 I went with Martin Cate's version and used 0.75 oz. of the Lemon Hart 151

I also went with Cate's version of serving this drink - with a "side of danger!" - and poured the 151 rum into a separate shot glass. Cate recommends "encourag[ing] guests to pour as much or as little of the overproof rum into their drink as they like, and experience how the drink flavor changes."

A side of danger! Lemon Hart 151
When I realized that a full 2.5 ounces of lime juice went into this sucker, my expectations dropped slightly since I assumed that the citrus would be overpowering. While indeed tart, it actually was nicely balanced by the Demerara syrup and passion fruit syrup. The Demerara rums played really well with the tartness of the lime, and the sweetness of the syrups. I ended up really enjoying this drink from the get-go. I drank several sips before floating any of the Lemon Hart 151 onto the top of it. After the float of about half of the shot glass, the flavor did indeed change, and not just strength-wise in terms of the alcohol. The drink became a bit smokier from the 151, with a bit more caramel flavor. Really very nice!

If you're a person who likes tart and sour things, you'll be into this. As my better half said, after tasting it and making an unpleasant pucker face, "of course you like this. If you could, you'd probably rim the glass with Sour Patch Kids coating!" Hmmmm ...!

Floating the 151 rum
Post 151 float

Jeff Berry ends the recipe page for the Demerara Dry Float with the "Beachcomber's Creed" composed in the early 1940s by Donn's first wife, Cora "Sunny" Sund:

"Our number one pre-requisite / Never stand when you can sit / And if you can - lie down a bit / Relax - no matter what you do / Enjoying life is up to you / The world is just a point of view / When day is done - and comes the night / No pastime makes the stars so bright / As greeting dusk with rum's delight / of all life's pleasures, deeplly drink / At every worry give a wink / It's much later than you think"

Cheers to that.

A slightly different take on the same sentiment, about 40 years later:


Cocktail #38: Sol y Sombra

You win some, you lose some. Luckily a great majority of the previous 37 cocktails were definitely winners. For me, unfortunately, this week's drink the Sol y Sombra did not come out a winner. But who knows, you may come away with better results or a more favorable opinion.

I sourced this one from what seems to be my go-to source more and more, Jeff Berry's Potions of the Caribbean. He presents the recipe for the Sol y Sombra (translation: Sun and Shadow) as being invented by star bartender Joe Scialom from his time at the Caribe Hilton, 1957. 

The recipe was previously unpublished and was found amongst Scialom's private papers. 

1.50 oz. gold Puerto Rican rum (I used Bacardi Gold)
0.75 oz. dark Jamaican rum (I used Plantation Original Dark)
0.50 oz. apricot brandy (I used DuBouchett*)
2.00 oz. fresh pineapple juice**
0.50 oz. fresh lime juice
2 dashes Angostura bitters

* Possibly one of the causes of the downfall of this drink - I found this stuff for $11 at Binny's and I'm sure it's far from the highest quality apricot brandy out there. I have no experience with this spirit until now so I cannot really judge it one way or another. I probably should have read this first. Also I seem to remember Martin Cate recommending Rothman and Winter spirits in Smuggler's Cove but those can be pricey. Anyway, your mileage may vary.

** Meaning not canned. I didn't listen to this and used canned, so perhaps this affected the quality ... To get fresh pineapple juice, Berry recommends dicing the meat of a pineapple, then muddling it, or liquefying it in a blender, then straining.

Shake with ice cubes. Pour unstrained into a hollowed out baby pineapple. Secure pineapple in specialty bowl full of crushed ice. Garnish with a "large hanging parasol."

I did not serve this one in a pineapple, but as you can see used a tiki mug instead.

Hula girl figure by Jen LiMarzi (www.jenlimarzi.com)
It's hard for me to put into words what I didn't like about this drink. I just felt like it was too heavy on pineapple juice, for one, and that the apricot brandy didn't really play nice with the two rums.

So it goes! I'll just have to keep trying ...

In other news, this past week we lost one of the greats of music, period. He more or less invented rock and roll. Rock on, Chuck.


Cocktail #37: Zombie

Yikes! It's been over a month since my last post. The last few weeks have been hectic with travel for work, visiting family, and an uptick in my day job. I'm hoping to get back on a weekly schedule going forward!

This week, due to the kindness and generosity of a couple new friends, I was able to tackle the venerable cocktail, the Zombie.

A few weeks back fellow appreciator of all things tiki, the Meek Tiki (aka Lucas), his wife, and a friend visited Chicago for a long weekend from Minneapolis, and we met up at Three Dots and a Dash, naturally. They mentioned halfway through drinks that they had forgotten to bring a bottle they intended to give to me as a gift - a bottle of Lemon Hart 151. A while back, I had commented on a photo of his with that rum in it and mentioned that I had never seen this available - even at my go to beverage super-store, Binny's. I must have looked crestfallen, because a few weeks after their visit, an odd-shaped package arrived at my door - packed like a champ, they had sent me that bottle of Lemon Hart (and a handmade tiki cocktail pick from artist Michael Grider)! I'd seen so many drink recipes that had called for it and never been able to find it, and hadn't gotten around to sourcing an alternative Demerara 151 proof rum (check out the Five Minutes of Rum podcast episode that covers the history of the Lemon Hart brand and other 151 rum). So Lucas and Amber - thank you! I've put it to good use this week.

Ok, onto the drink. I sourced this Zombie recipe from Jeff "Beachbum" Berry's Potions of the Caribbean. It seems to be the definitive Zombie recipe. The Zombie was created by Donn the Beachcomber, circa 1934. Donn was notoriously secretive with his cocktail recipes, and he never published this one. So up until Berry unearthed it in Donn's headwaiter Dick Santiago's notebook, and published it for the first time in 2007 in Sippin' Safari, all attempts at recreating it were just best guesses.

Berry notes that the Zombie was likely a cocktail of its time - "after the privations of Prohibition, here was a poke in the eye of the Anti-Saloon League: an instant bender, with so much booze in it that Donn would serve 'only two to a customer.'"

So, here it is:

1.50 oz. gold Puerto Rican rum (I used Bacardi gold)
1.50 oz. aged Jamaican rum (I used Plantation Original Dark)
1.00 oz. Lemon Hart 151-proof Demerara rum
0.75 oz. fresh lime juice
0.50 oz. Don's mix*
0.50 oz. falernum
6 drops (1/8 tsp) Pernod
1 teaspoon of grenadine
Dash Angostura bitters
6.00 oz. crushed ice

* 2 parts white grapefruit juice (I was lucky to find white grapefruit again at the market) to 1 part Don's Spices #4 (cinnamon syrup)

Put everything in a blender. Blend at high speed for no more than 5 seconds. Pour into a chimney glass (I used a tiki mug). Add ice cubes to fill. Garnish with a sprig of mint.

This drink knocked my socks off.

I'd ordered a Zombie a handful of times over the years at various bars, and I can't say any of them were all that memorable, other than being strong and probably a bit fruity. This sucker was a whole different animal. Next to the Mai Tai, this cocktail is definitely a favorite. It's both spicy and citrusy, and has the faintest note of anise from the few drops of Pernod. The Lemon Hart provides some heat for sure, but it's not unpleasantly burning like you might expect a higher proof rum to be. Dilution of the ice works in the drink's favor as it mellows it out a bit after a few minutes.

The Zombie is a wonderfully complex and enjoyable exotic cocktail - unlike any of the previous 36 that I have made in the past year. Find a bottle of Lemon Hart 151 and make one yourself! Thanks again Lucas!