Thursday, May 8, 2008


For as long as the Mixology Mondays event has been around and as much as I've followed the wonderful creations it spawns, I had never thought that I might attempt to add one of my own creations to the queue. Yet, with encouragement (& remarkably patient advice) from the fantastic folks over at Married with Dinner, here goes:

MxMo XXVII: RUM! is, quite appropriately, being hosted this month by the folks over at TraderTiki, a lovely bastion of all things Rum & Tiki. They requested a concoction, preferably original, which creatively utilizes the noble spirit itself and I should like to oblige, alongside a look at the construction of my libation.

We’ll start with three things you may or may not know about yours truly (I am new to this after all):
1. I am quite the rum-hound (The volume of rum-related links on this page should cue you to that).
2. I love spicy stuff (The volume of spices tossed about in recipes here should cue you to that too).
3. I am a big Tom Waits fan (Ok, I’ll ‘splain that one in just a moment).

Being well aware of these elements of my personality already, I got to thinking one day as I sipped a Dark & Stormy, about how the flavors of Cardamom and Ginger – perhaps because of their similarities – play so well together. Another sip brought further consideration on how good a foil Rum can be for the potential heat of such spices – reducing their potency to a pleasantly slow-building overall flavor. Now ginger beer I’ve made before, by both
fermentation & syrup-methods, but in my somewhat-limited homebrewing experience, spices like Cardamom can be tricky to incorporate as a primary flavor element. Syrup method it is…now for the rum:

In this case the dark, molasses-heavy flavor of Gosling’s is perfect against a good Bermuda-style ginger beer – which is lighter both in color & character than its Jamaican cousins. As I developed the new drink, I reasoned that a reversal of these characteristics was in order - heavier on the spice with a milder type of rum for balance. I settled on a comfortable blend of two of my favorites: the 4-year old Rhum Barbancourt & a 5-year old Demerara by El Dorado:

Barbancourt’s youngest aged rhum hails from Haiti, where it is twice-distilled in the manner of Cognac from pressed sugarcane juice and molasses. It is then aged to a mellow brown in limousin oak barrels, which impart a slight hint of vanilla to the 86º, cold-filtered finished product. (Such character is even further enhanced in their other longer-aged products, which makes these better for sipping, rather than mixing.)

Made by the same distillers who produce the venerable Lemon Hart,
El Dorado’s 5-yr Demerara, is distilled in Guyana from pure molasses. It is then aged in used-bourbon & whiskey casks and blended (to 80º) to create a wonderful golden-brown rum, rich with smoky-sweet notes (which, much like Barbancourt, make the longer-aged products even better – for sipping).

Now that sorts out the spirits & spices, so what the hell does Tom Waits have to do with it, you ask? Why he provided the name for (& the music for me to listen to while I prepared) the following riff on the classic Dark & Stormy, of course (©):

Emotional Weather Report
¾ oz. Rhum Barbancourt, 3-star
¾ oz. El Dorado Demerara Rum, 5-yr
½ oz. Pimm’s No. 1 Cup
½ Teaspoon: fresh Lime juice
2 dashes Angostura bitters
2 oz. homemade Cardamom Ale Syrup
4½ - 5 oz. Club Soda
Combine ingredients in a highball glass over ice, adding Club Soda last. Give a quick stir & garnish with a wedge of fresh Lime.

Cardamom Ale Syrup
1 Cup: Water
½ Cup: Demerara Sugar
½ Cup: white Sugar
1/3 Cup: Cardamom pods, whole
¼ lb. fresh Ginger, julienned
1 Tsp: Red Chili powder
¼ Tsp: Cinnamon
Combine ingredients in a nonreactive saucepan/pot & stir to mix. Bring to a light simmer on low-medium heat for approximately half an hour, stirring occasionally throughout. Strain by preferred method (cheesecloth, coffee filter, &c). Use as a soda syrup - approximately 2 oz. to every 4½ - 5 oz. of soda water.

There are a few adjustments to the recipe listed above which have greatly improved its flavor. I am reminded of this by our friends over at Tiki Time! whose musings (in Dutch) about the formula were pretty spot on. Make the following alterations to the above:

  • Cardamom should be Green (Alternately half Green & half White)
  • Ginger, more simply, should be about a ¼ Cup's worth
  • Reduce Red Chili powder to a generous ¼ Tsp.
  • Toast the dry spices in the pot before adding other ingredients
  • You may like to let the syrup cool before straining...
  • ...the addition of about 2 Tsp. of good Ceylon tea to this cooling period is an excellent suggestion

Happy Monday, Cheers & Enjoy!


Anita said...

how coincidental.. I was just thinking today about making a ginger syrup to add to seltzer.

We've made ginger ale before by carbonating unfermented ginger beer (steeped fresh ginger and lime zest in dilution, as opposed to syrup) in a soda siphon, but was messy and the siphon made too-small batches to be worthwhile. Since we have a seltzer-delivery service bringing us our carbonated water already, syrup seems a smarter way to go.

And welcome to MxMo!

Chris "Rookie" Stanley said...

I'd tried a similar approach - kind of like a ginger 'tisane' I guess? - but with similarly unreasonable results.

The most recent issue of Imbibe actually has a really good ginger ale syrup recipe - I've a bottle of it my fridge at present - it's not quite ginger beer, but nice & spicy for a ginger ale (much like the UK kinds).

Though I (& likely you as well) prefer to make a syrup from scratch, for a 'hard & fast/cheater' sort of syrup, you could always grab a bottle of ginger beer & simmer it for a while to remove the extra water & carbonation, then add that to fresh seltzer...

Cheers & Thanks!

Tiare said...

Nice article, as usual!

I haven`t yet made any Cardamom Ale Syrup but both the syrup and the drink looks interesting.
But as you know i`m a real syrup geek and it won`t take long before i try this one..

Cheers and thanks!

Anna said...

what a bloody great cocktail.
the cardamom ale sounds wonderful.

Spooky said...

Emotional Weather Report. The name's fantastic and I bet the drink measures up. The ingredients are really interesting. When do I get one of these? :)
High tonight
Low tomorrow
And precipitation is expected

Chris "Rookie" Stanley said...

Cheers & Thanks all! After reading MxMo for so long it was awesome to be able to contribute...

Celestina: I'll make sure I have some of this on hand next time I see you - which will be when..? The answer had better not be "Pennsic" ; )

Spooky said...

This weekend I hope? Housewarming party, yes, yes?

Arthur said...

Awesome, thanks a lot for sharing this with us! I'd love a house warming party!
canvas art

ethan said...

Gread read as always, nice one!

Ethan @ Infusion canvas art said...