This is a very, very old drink – and, I would suggest, an early precursor of the Tiki drink (most of which would come to be based, in one form or another, on either the daiquiri or the Planter’s Punch). The recipe comes from David Wondrich‘s Imbibe, yet another fine tome on cocktail history, although slightly dated in its discussions on contemporary liquor availability (it only dates to 2007, which gives you an idea of how quickly the liquor scene has been evolving in recent years). Imbibe focuses on Jerry Thomas, a 19th-century bartender and one of the first, if not the first, to publish a bartending guide. Anyhoo.
2 ounces brandy
1 ounce Jamaican rum
1 ounce Bourbon
The juice of half a lemon
1 tablespoon of sugar (I used simple syrup as always; if you insist on sugar, dissolve it in the lemon juice before adding any alcohol)
Shake with ice; pour into a tumbler filled with crushed ice. (Wondrich says to pour unstrained; since I was mixing for two, I strained. Best practice would have been to mix each drink separately but I’m kind of lazy.) Also, filling your glasses half-full of crushed ice will be better in terms of holding what you’ll be pouring out of your shaker.
It seems, reading the recipe, like an odd mixture of spirits. But they work pretty well together. The dominant flavors are the lemon and the rum, although this may have been my fault. Wondrich suggests that to recreate 19th-century Jamaican rum, one should use some obscure high-proof Australian rum. Or, if you can’t find that (and you can’t), Gosling’s Black Seal, amongst other alternatives. I know from experience that Cruzan Black Strap rum is not too different from Gosling’s Black Seal, so I used that. It is a very dark (almost black – hence the name) rum, and tastes strongly of molasses. I think it’s actually a little overpowering in this drink; probably Meyer’s would be a better choice, and might give this drink a more balanced profile. It’s not bad as is, but if I revisit it, I will definitely go with a more subtle rum. With the Black Strap, I give it three livers.