Things have been a bit quiet around here lately. I was visiting a dear friend in Canada for about a week, where we all had a lovely time until I fell down the stairs and dislocated my shoulder. But it’s doing well enough now to get back to mixing, at least with stirred drinks. Also, since Canada isn’t deathly afraid of Communists, I was able to try Havana Club* rum (the 3-yr aged white), and it was excellent, especially for a relatively low-end offering. Step it up, US government (although for the most part, the government-run liquor stores in Ontario have a woeful selection and terrible prices).
This cocktail first appears in Hugo Ensslin’s 1917 mixology manual, and both Harry Craddock and Patrick Gavin Duffy repeat the recipe verbatim in their 1930 and 1934 guides, respectively. So it’s not only a pretty early drink, but one with relative staying power that required no adjustments over the years. And with good reason. It’s swell.
2/3 white rum (Bacardi is specified, but Bacardi is not today what it once was, so try Cruzan or something – almost anything – else)
1/3 Italian (sweet) vermouth (as always, please don’t skimp here – I used Contratto, but Carpano Antica would be even better)
2 dashes curaçao
Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
I used 2 ounces of the rum, and with the assumption that that was slightly more than would have been used back in the day, I upped the curaçao to 3 dashes. Crazy, I know.
It’s an extremely simple drink, as you can see from the recipe. Interestingly, the vermouth comes through quite a bit more than the rum, which I guess makes sense, since white rum is not especially flavorful. The curaçao seems pretty lost in the mix, so you’re left with a good herbal, slightly earthy bitterness and a lingering spice. Nothing flashy here, and nothing too memorable, just a good, solid cocktail that gets the job done without drawing any undue attention to itself. Four livers.
*Apparently, Bacardi sells Havana Club in the US, but it’s not actually Havana Club, being made in Puerto Rico. So basically, if you can get it in the US, it’s bunk. But if you know differently, speak up.