Some drinks enjoy a long life because they taste really good (the Old-Fashioned, the Mai Tai); others, perhaps, because of their simplicity (Martinis, Manhattans); still others because of a certain aura or mystique (the Zombie, the Sazerac – not that these aren’t good drinks in their own right). And some drinks, for whatever reason, either don’t catch on or, if they do, they don’t have the staying power to become true classics. In many, probably even most, cases, this is warranted; either the drink is not very good, or it uses obsolete ingredients, or is just too complicated. But sometimes, a drink slips through the cracks, a drink that should have been remembered, a drink that should stand rightfully alongside the all-time great drinks. The Robson Cocktail is one of those.
1/8 orange juice
1/8 lemon juice
1/2 Jamaican rum
Shake with ice; strain into a chilled cocktail glass. (I used 1/2 oz. of the juices – you can figure out the rest from there.)
I’ve written before about what I call “proto-Tiki” drinks — pre- or during-prohibition cocktails usually involving some combination of rum and fruit juice — and the Robson certainly fits into that category. But double this, serve it over crushed ice in a Tiki mug or goblet and garnish with a pineapple and a cherry stuck on one of those little umbrellas and you’ve got a legit Tiki drink that’s every bit as good as a classic Mai Tai or, really, any other good tropical drink you can think of. Of course, it also works as a straight cocktail, as pictured here, so there’s really no reason to gussy it up, but if you’re having guests over and are looking for a Tiki drink no one’s ever had, this is a good candidate.
A quick note on ingredients: when Jamaican rum is called for, what you want is a good, full-bodied gold rum. I used Appleton Estate V/X here. Stay away from a gold Puerto Rican rum for sure, which will lack the complexity of flavors of a good Jamaican rum, and don’t use something too dark like Meyer’s (Jamaican though it is).
Also, since there’s a pretty large portion of grenadine here, your results will be directly impacted by the quality of grenadine you use. An ounce of Rose’s in this thing will turn it into a sickly, syrupy slop. I strongly recommend you follow Ted Haigh‘s advice and whip up your own using equal parts Pama (a pomegranate liqueur) and Sonoma Syrup Co.’s No. 9 Pomegranate syrup.
Anyway, despite the hefty serving of sweetener in the Robson, it is not at all too sweet; in fact, it’s got what I think is a perfect balance between tart and sweet. This balance lets the flavor of the rum come through to the fore – this is not one of those drinks that covers up the rum. You definitely know you’re drinking rum here, so use a good one. Five livers – seriously one of the best beverages I’ve had.