Drink Recipes Rum

Recipe: The Antioxidant Cocktail – Award Winner!

A while back the Portland Craft Cocktails blog and Northwest Food and Wine Festival sponsored a contest for "casual mixologists" to create a new cocktail. I submitted a drink I created recently, with a little inspiration from my sister, Deborah Graff.

I selected ingredients that were rich in antioxidants — that way, you can fight cancer while enjoying a tasty cocktail.

Much to my surprise, I won! Here's the recipe:


The Antioxidant Cocktail

1 1/2 oz White Rum
8-10 Fresh blueberries
1 oz Pomegranate Juice
1/2 oz Maraschino Liqueur
1/2 oz Fresh Lime Juice

In a mixing glass, muddle the blueberries with the rum. Next add the remaining ingredients. Shake with ice, then double strain into a chilled cocktail glass.


When I started making this back in the summer I used fresh blueberries, but since then I've also made it with the frozen kind and it still came out good. Please note that Maraschino Liqueur is not the red syrup that Maraschino Cherries come bottled in. It's this stuff.


Book Reviews Drink Recipes Mixology Rum

Book Review: “101 Mojitos” by Kim Haasarud

When I picked up this book, my first reaction was, "How can there be 101 recipes for Mojitos? That's insane." But then I noticed the subtitle: "and other muddled drinks." Okay, that makes sense. Muddled drinks are very popular these days, and there's an endless variety of them.

Muddling is a technique of combining ingredients in a glass by pressing down on them with a muddler, a type of pestle that's usually shaped like a baseball bat. (I just have a plain wood one, but here's a fancy metal one.)

Watch a video of Robert Hess muddling mint for a Mojito (starts about 2:00).

Watch a video of Chris McMillian muddling limes for a Caipirinha (starts about 1:45).

Author Kim Hassarud is the founder of Liquid Architecture, a beverage consulting firm, and has created signature cocktails for several top venues and brands. So she knows what she's talking about. Her recipes are mostly straightforward, without a lot of odd ingredients or preparations. She does use wine in several of her cocktails, though — a trend I haven't gotten behind.

She also uses a lot of fresh fruit in her drinks, which is exactly what you'd expect for muddled drinks. She also includes nuts, herbs, cucumbers, etc. for some potentially interesting flavor combinations. (I didn't try any of the more exotic ones, as I didn't have the ingredients on hand. But I'm filing them away for future reference.)

Here is a slightly modified version of her recipe for making a Mojito.


The Perfect Mojito
Adapted from a recipe by Kim Hassarud 

2 oz Premium White Rum
10 Mint Leaves (approx.)
1 oz Simple Syrup (1:1)
3/4 oz Fresh Lime Juice 
Soda Water

In the bottom of a highball glass, muddle the mint leaves with the lime juice and simple syrup. (Don't muddle too hard!) Add the rum. Fill the glass most of the way with ice and stir well. Top with soda water. Garnish with a mint sprig.


This is more rum than many bartenders use to make a Mojito, so if you don't want it quite so strong you can cut back to 1 1/2 ounces. For the type of rum, she recommends 10 Cane, Bacardi Superior or Cruzan. I'm not a fan of Bacardi, but the other two are good. I'd also recommend Flor de Cana Extra Dry or Ron Matusalem Plantino. Pretty much any Cuban-style white rum will work for this.

Muddled drinks have become something of a bane to most bartenders — they take a long time to make and tend to be messy. And don't even think about ordering a muddled drink at a place like TGI Fridays. You'll probably get nothing more than a blank stare in return. (And if they do try to make you a Mojito or Caipirinha, who knows what you'll get.)

The good news is, making muddled drinks at home isn't difficult. In fact, it's kind of fun. With a book like 101 Mojitos, a muddler*, and a little bit of liquor, you'll soon be off and muddling!

*Technically you don't even need a muddler: the end of a wooden spoon or the handle of a rolling pin will work in a pinch.

Drink Recipes Miscellaneous Rum

Angostura’s winning bartenders – and a delicious new recipe

Angostura Bitters announced yesterday the winners of their 2011 North American Cocktail Challenge. The three bartenders who will move on to represent North America in the Global Cocktail Challenge are David Delaney Jr. (from Still & Stir in Worcester, MA), Rachel Ford (Empellon in New York, NY) and Ryan Maybee (The Rieger Hotel in Kansas City, MO).

Each of the bartenders in the competition had to create two unique drinks, one with Angostura and rum, and another with Angostura and the liquor of their own choosing. I'm singling out one of the recipes that sounds particularly tasty.


Five Island Fizz (created by David Delaney, Jr.)


1 1/2 oz. Angostura Rum
3/4 oz. Velvet Falernum
1/4 oz. Luxardo Maraschino
1/2 oz. Fresh Lime Juice
1 1/2 oz. Barrit’s Ginger Beer
5 dashes of Angostura aromatic bitters


Shake Rum, Falernum, Maraschino, and Lime with ice. Strain into an empty, pre-chilled Collins glass, top with 1 1/2 oz. of ginger beer. Add crushed ice and top with 5 dashes of Angostura aromatic bitters.

Glass: Collins

Garnish: Lime wheel wrapped around a brandied cherry.


I know what I'll be making this weekend. Congrats to all the winners!

Photo credit: CJ Foeckler

Rum Rum Reviews Spirits Reviews

Rum Review: Appleton Estate V/X Rum

AppletonAppleton Estate V/X
Jamaican Rum
Final Grade: B+
Price: $18 (750ml)

For my first spirits review I've chosen one of my old stand-by rums. The entry-level product from Appleton Estate, the V/X bottling is a full-bodied Jamaican rum, golden both in color and in taste. I've singled it out because it's one of the best mixing rums I've found, and also one of the most affordable.

Jamaican rums are distilled from molasses and are known for their dark, rich taste, with elements of caramel and spice. Two of the best known brands of Jamaican rum are Myer's and Coruba, but I prefer the various Appleton Estate bottlings.

Appleton Estate V/X is a blend of 15 different rums that have been aged in oak barrels (reportedly ones that were previously used to hold Jack Daniels whiskey). In this sense, it is similar to a blended Scotch, like Johnnie Walker.

The rum has a mild, sweet aroma with whiffs of brown sugar and vanilla. The brown sugar comes through in the flavor as well, along with a fairly strong alcohol bite. There's maybe a hint of orange in there, too.*

This isn't a rum you're probably going to want to sip. The alcohol is a little too hot for that. For drinking neat, you'd be better off with one of the more expensive Appleton rums, like the Extra (12 Year Old). It does, however, mix beautifully.

The V/X works very well in a Mai Tai, along with other classic cocktails such as a Rum and Coke (Cuba Libre) or Pina Colada. You probably don't want to use this in a Daiquiri because of the amber color. You might mix it in an El President, though.

Considering how reasonably priced Appleton Estate V/X is, this makes a solid choice as a go-to rum for most occasions. My liquor cabinet is never without it.

Report Card

Quality Grade: B
Value Grade: A
Final Grade: B+

*I'll let you know upfront that I don't have a very sophisticated palate when it comes to picking out individual flavors from the complicated taste of spirits. My goal with these reviews is to give more of an overall sense of the spirit, not to deconstruct it as some critics are able to do. I admire their ability — I just don't have it.

Drink Recipes Rum Tiki

Recipe: The Mai Tai

Declaring a particular cocktail my favorite is a little like declaring one of the kids my favorite — I could do it, but I wouldn't want them to hear. Cocktails can be such sensitive creatures.

It used to be that I drank mostly vodka. I'd mix it with a little lemonade or fruit juice and call it done. So the only "real" drink I favored was the gin and tonic. And the G&T is still one of the best around, a perfect balance of crisp, refreshing flavors. Plus, it helps ward off malaria. (You can never be too careful)

But ever since I've started my exploration of the constellation of rums, I've discovered a whole new world of drinks. And at the epicenter of that world is the king of all rum drinks: the Mai Tai.

The origins of the Mai Tai are as shrouded in mist as the lead singer of an 80s New Wave band in a music video. According to popular lore, the Mai Tai was invented in 1944 by Victor "Trader Vic" Bergeron at his faux-Polynesian restaurant in Oakland, California. Allegedly, Vic set out to create the best drink possible, and when he served it to a pair of friends visiting from Tahiti, they pronounced it "mai tai" ("the best").

Although there are credible stories that date the true provenance of the Mai Tai to 1933, attributing its creation to Trader Vic's longtime rival Don the Beachcomber (aka Donn Beach, aka Ernest Raymond Beaumont Gantt), at a certain point it becomes more academic than anything else. All we barflies really want to know is: how does it taste?

In a word: delicious.

(If you do want to investigate further the origins of the Mai Tai, and all other tropical drinks of significance, I strongly recommend you peruse the works of Jeff "Beachbum" Berry, the world's foremost authority on Tiki drinks. His book Beachbum Berry Remixed is particularly invaluable.)

The Mai Tai is not the syrupy, sticky sweet, red, blue, or purple, pinneapple-infused, grenadine-tinged monstrosity that is usually served by the hapless bartenders of too many bars across the world.

The Mai Tai is actually a fairly simple drink, composed of only five ingedients. When Trader Vic first mixed it, he was really trying to showcase the rum, a rather old and impressive bottle from Jamaica. And a well-made Mai Tai should still focus on rum, with the other flavors serving as compliments.


Trader Vic's Original Mai Tai Recipe

2 ounces 17-year-old J. Wray & Nephew Jamaican rum
1/2 ounce French Garnier Orgeat
1/2 ounce Holland DeKuyper Orange Curacao
1/4 ounce Rock Candy Syrup (a rich simple syrup with a hint of vanilla)
juice from one fresh lime


Although that particular rum is no longer available (allegedly there are only four bottles extant in the world today and the last time one sold, it was for $50k), Trader Vic eventually modified his Mai Tai to take advantage of a blend of two different aged rums that gave his signature drink the robust flavor he was looking for. With a few slight variations, that's the same recipe I use.


Mai Tai

Shake with lots of crushed ice:

1 ounce aged gold rum1
1 ounce gold/dark Jamaican rum2
1/2 ounce Orange Curacao3
1/2 ounce orgeat syrup
1/2 ounce simple syrup (1:1 sugar dissolved in water)
3/4 ounce fresh lime juice

Pour unstrained into a double old fashioned glass and top with more crushed ice, if necessary. Garnish with one of the squeezed lime halves and a sprig of fresh mint. (The garnish is supposed to look like an island floating in the sea with a palm tree.)

1Trader Vic preferred to use a rhum agricole from Martinique, but I usually substitute a demerara rum, such as El Dorado. You can use any gold rum, but try to get a decent aged rum. Rhum Barbancourt is another favorite of mine.

2The go-to rum here is Appleton. I recommend either the V/X or Extra (12 Year). You can also use the cheaper Appleton Special Gold. In a pinch, Coruba or Myer's will work. (Do not use spiced/flavored rum!)

3I use Senior Curacao of Curacao or Marie Brizard. Bols works, too. You can substitute Triple Sec, but it's going to change the flavor of the drink. If you do, cut back on the sugar.


Most recipes call for a little less simple syrup than I use — although it should be noted that Trader Vic's Rock Candy Syrup was made with 2:1 sugar/water, so it was approximately half again as sweet as the 1:1 stuff I use. I find that I like that little extra sweetness. I don't care for drinks that are overly tart, so I decided to up the sugar a little rather than decrease the lime. (I'm still trying to stick as closely as possible to Vic's original recipe.)

Orgeat, a sweet, almond syrup with just a hint of orange flower water, is a key ingredient of this recipe, as it was in so much of the repertoire of Trader Vic and Don the Beachcomber. It adds an undercurrent of flavor to the drink that makes it taste both richer and more exotic. (If you can't find orgeat, you can substitute regular almond syrup — the kind that is used by coffeehouses, for example — but it will taste a little different.)

If you find that the Mai Tai is to your liking, I recommend that you play around with the combination of rums to find a pairing that best suits your palate. (Or, do like I do and pick a different pair of rums to suit your mood, or even at random.) As long as you don't use a flavored or spiced rum, anything should work in this drink. 

The selection of rums will, of course, be limited to what you have on hand. And if you're like most people, that won't be much. (But please invest in something other than that bottle of Bacardi you've been nipping at for the past five years.) The rum(s) you choose will change how good the final product tastes. But no matter what, it's likely to turn out "mai tai."