Best of A Mountain of Crushed Ice is coming…

Aloha! some of you dear readers might have noticed how slow this blog has become since many months…it moves at the speed of a drunken snail or turtle…but there´s a reason for that – there´s a book in the Works! “Best of A Mountain of Crushed Ice” is a book about tiki drinks with the best from this website in updated versions along with new recipes and some “mixed potions” by friendly tiki bartenders and enthusiasts from around the world.

The book is for everyone who loves tropical exotic tiki drinks and the little “tutorials” aims at those who are new to tiki drinks, both consumers and bartenders but the book as a whole is for all tiki drink lovers . So that`s what`s up…and when will the book be ready? I`m not sure of an exact date…but the plan is for this summer.

Trying to write posts for this website at the same time as writing the book plus also working with other things plus taking care of my domestic life turns out a little bit too much for this laid back flip-flop kind of lady so please bear with me when this website is taking a little temporary “half”-break. That said, I might pop in a blog post every now and then…and when the book is ready it will be announced right here.

So why writing a book? well, the blog is celebrating it`s 10th Anniversary this year! that`s ten years of collected recipes, rambles, experiments and knowledge, some better, some worse, some outright crazy…as is the nature of many cocktail blogs. But over time it can be difficult to find some of the best posts even though there`s an archive, but how often do people really bother digging in the yearly archives? blog posts and the drinks in them have a tendency to over time become forgotten. So I think putting the best from it in a book is not a bad idea, plus when I no longer is here this blog will not be either but then the book will be! So now you know why it`s moving so slow here for the moment.

In the meantime, here´s a little teaser picture collage…

Let´s Celebrate Appleton Master Blender Joy Spence!

If you didn`t know, today is International Women’s Day — a day to celebrate remarkable women in our life. Appleton Estate is honored to celebrate a women who has embarked on an exemplary and inspirational career, Master Blender Joy Spence. I have met her in London, at the UK Rumfest and a more charismatic person is hard to find.

Over two decades ago Joy Spence became the world’s first female Master Blender. To honor this outstanding accomplishment as well as pay homage to her bountiful years at Appleton Estate, the distillery is announcing the official debut of its celebratory limited-edition 25 Year–Old Rum, “JOY”, crafted in honor of pioneer Joy Spence and her 20th Anniversary as Appleton Estate’s Master Blender, a fitting tribute to the visionary who has spent much of her career perfecting it.

“For my anniversary blend, I simply set out to create the rum that I’d like to sip while watching the colors of my garden change in the warm glow of the Jamaican sunset,” said Master Blender Joy Spence. “It includes two rum marques, which are of particular sentimental significance to me: The first of these marques was laid down to age in 1981 – the year I joined the Appleton Estate team, and the second is my favorite marque of pot still rum. The final blend is a wonderful rum that I hope Appleton Estate fans will enjoy.”

On the palate, JOY opens with Appleton Estate’s trademark delicate orange peel, leading into a delicious mix of ginger, spice, warm vanilla, butterscotch, and coffee, with lingering layers of almond and toasted oak. With an exceptionally smooth finish of brown sugar, the new release is sure to please all those that have the privilege of sipping it.

A rum visionary ahead of her time;

As a woman in a traditionally male dominated industry, Joy is nothing short of a pioneer. At a very young age, Joy fell in love with the field of Chemistry and dreamed of working in a field where she could bring that passion to life.

After graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and with a Master of Science in Analytical Chemistry – a rarity for a Jamaican woman at that time – she joined Appleton Estate in 1981 as Chief Chemist, and quickly became enthralled with the process of blending rum.

Over the next 16 years, under the expert guidance of then Master Blender, Owen Tulloch, Joy honed her sensory skills, developing an unrivalled palate and excellent sense of smell, until she herself was named Master Blender in 1997. Throughout her tenure, Joy has been decorated with a myriad of awards, starting with honorary doctorate degrees from both alma maters, and culminating with a national award from the Jamaican government for her contribution to the rum industry.

Both an artist and a scientist, Joy has spent the last twenty years creating some of the finest rums the world has ever tasted, and the “JOY” Anniversary Blend may be her greatest triumph yet.

In her 36 years with the distillery, Spence has spearheaded the brand’s legacy of quality, care and dedication. She is an industry pioneer with unparalleled skills at creating premium blended rums, which is in every bottle produced.

This latest and exclusive honorary release is a reflection of a remarkably resilient and passionate woman who embodies grace, devotion, intelligence, perseverance, and, above all else, joy. Born in Jamaica, Joy enjoys cooking and gardening and is even renowned within her native country for creating her own face cream – yet another example of her skill blending the finest ingredients.

Appleton Estate’s “Joy” Anniversary Blend is bottled at 90 proof (45% alc./vol.) and retails at $250. Appleton Estate’s core range offers three premium rums:  Appleton Estate Signature Blend, Appleton Estate Reserve Blend and Appleton Estate Rare Blend 12 Year Old.  In addition, Appleton Estate also has two ultra-premium rums:  Appleton Estate 21 Year Old Jamaica Rum and Appleton Estate 50 Year Old Jamaica Rum which is a limited edition 50 year old minimum age rum.

Tasting notes:
Blend: A select blend of aged rums each matured a minimum of 25 years, including rum aged up to 35 years.
Appearance: Beautiful coppery gold color with shimmering highlights.
Bouquet: Opening with Appleton Estate’s trademark delicate orange peel as a top note and intertwined with ginger and spice, this special blend finishes with warm vanilla, butterscotch, coffee and lingering layers of almond and toasted oak.
Finish: Exceptionally smooth with an elegant finish of brown sugar.

Tiki Month 2017 – Doug`s Volcano

How time flies! we`re already in mid february and the Tiki Month is halfway through….

So, almost running late I just had to make a drink! and what could be more fitting than making a drink inspired by Doug Winship`s home made indoor volcano? if you didn´t know, Doug is the man behind the Tiki Month which appears every year in february on the Pegu blog (and by inspired bloggers around the blogosphere)

Next year Doug will celebrate his 10 year Anniversary with the Tiki Month! did 9 years pass already?? how did that happen? scary….I went to check his Tiki Month posts in his archives starting typing in february 2009 which is when it started. So many memories! that was the time when the Mixoloseum was going strong and we had the first”Mixohouse” in New Orleans. Feels like it was 100 years ago…

And then I found this post…..it´s called “How Tiki Month Began” – where he tells the story of how it started…it took me back to the golden days of tiki blogging….such nostalgia! incredible! it was a different feeling those days, it was a feeling of discovery, adventure and brotherhood among bloggers (and yes we even had our own organisation called the Cocktails and Spirits Online Writers Group with the likes such as Kaiserpenguin, Cocktailnerd and Dr Bamboo… The CSWOG was the 25 most prolific cocktail blogs at the time, come together doing events, both on and offline. Our signature drink was a communal style JWray overproof spiked Chartreuse swizzle served in flower vases.

I had no IDEA how much Doug looked up to us early tiki bloggers! and from having no tiki drink experience whatsoever to decide to go a whole month doing ONLY tiki is an amazing task to take up – and look at him now, almost ten years of tiki month blogging, and the research he have made and put together is incredible….go and read this post and all the others on his blog, Tiki Month 2017 in full swing! I have to give kudos to Doug for keeping it up for so long and I hope it won`t close down anytime soon.

There`s a video of Doug`s volcano, Mount Pegu – I posted it at last year`s Tiki Month, you can watch it here. I have admired his volcano for a long time, ever since he built it and I believe it must be pretty fun to have your own indoor volcano with erupting smoke and all, making your home tiki bar come alive!

For this drink I have put together rum, hibiscus grenadine, Cherry Heering, fresh lime, grapefruit and passion fruit. It was kind of too fruity and weak to me in flavor when I first made it but after adding Lost Spirits 61% Navy style rum the drink was kickin`and there came some depth of flavor.

If you can`t find that rum pick a rum that has a good punch both in flavor and proof. It´s a volcano after all, it´s supposed to be erupting…

Doug`s Volcano

1,5 oz grapefruit juice

1.5 oz passionfruit juice

0.75 oz fresh lime juice

0.25 oz Cherry Heering

0.75 oz hibiscus grenadine

1.5 oz Plantation 3 Stars Rum

1.5 oz Lost Spirits 61% Navy Style Rum

0.5 oz overproof rum (I used Meermaid)

Garnish – Dried hibiscus powder, two long lemon peels cut to look like lava streams, a pineapple leaf. Add some lime juice on the outside of a snifter and sprinkle hibiscus powder on it. You can make it yourself by crushing dried hibiscus flowers in a mortar.

Blend the ingredients in a blender at high speed for 5 seconds with 4 oz crushed ice and pour into a snifter, add more crushed ice to fill and the two lemon peels. Sprinkle some of the hibiscus powder on top of the ice and add 2 straws.

Now sit back and let that volcano take care of you…

Happy Tiki Month! next year we celebrate 10 years!!

Mount Pegu

Lost Spirits is Back!

After a time of quietness…the Lost Spirits is back with a new expression of their Navy style rum, this time with a changed formula. It`s a refined version of the old one with the smoky notes turned down a bit in favor of more fruitiness and a great deal of wood notes. It`s also drier and more balanced with an abv of 122 proof or 61% instead of the old 68%.

But they are not only back with a new rum expression, there is more….back in California from Charleston they are now in the process of building a new distillery in LA. The new distillery being built is going to be much bigger and also fully automated. For those who haven`t read the story about the Lost Spirits and how they use the Thea One reactor to speed up the ageing process I recommend reading more about the tech details over at Cocktailwonk.

This is the mad scientist Willy Wonka booze factory…it´s also most likely the only distillery using antique furniture made from American chestnut. In the 1860`s chestnut was commonly used for barrels but it`s hard to find today and so they are stripping the varnish off with a saw and using the wood in the reactor.

So there`s a lot of work going on there now setting up the new distillery, I have added some pics at the bottom of this post. I asked if the old smoke spewing dragon pot still gonna be there and from what I understand it will but also new ones, with the same theme of course…

You can see the old dragon still in this video here by Bryan Davis who also built the still himself.

Lost Spirits also added new team partners to the team including military scientist Wynn Sanders and Theron Reiner from Rattleback. Because it´s not only rum that`s going to come out of the Thea One…but also peaty scotch whisky originating from Islay.

Small batches of whisky will be Thea aged using a variety of different woods and the outcome will be the new “Abomination” line, with each expression named after different chapters in H.G. Wells’ The Island of Doctor Moreau…

I have yet to taste their whiskies and I`m looking forward to try out their Abomination line, I wonder what it can do in cocktails? maybe there´s a secret weapon…

This picture gives me a bit of “Vampire Lestat feeling” …..

This is not your usual stuff!

The names of the first labels are as follows –

  • Concerning the Beast Folk
  • The Sayers of the Law
  • The Crying of the Puma

So that`s what´s happening in short…not a dull moment there, more will come.

But let´s move on to the rum and the drinks!

I wish I still had some of the old navy style rum left to compare with but from what I remember, it did mix fine but was a bit too strong for me to sip neat and so I welcome the fine tuning and lower proof of this new version of the navy style rum.

In the nose I pick up sherry and prunes, wood, molasses and spices and then something “rooty”. The nose is quite heavy on the sherry I think.

In the mouth there´s a woody explosion at first, then comes the prunes and sherry again, with warm sharpness followed by a distinctive dryness. There´s lots of dark fruits and some spice and maybe a hint of banana.The finish is long with strong and a bit aggressive sherry wood notes.

My conclusion is that this version of their navy style rum is in better balance and cleaner in taste than the first one and it shines in cocktails. A strong rum that asks to be part of drinks that can tame it a little bit…so I threw together my Banana Boo Loo and then a version of a classic tiki drink, the Pearl Diver`s Punch, just making it a bit more lush – the secret with that drink is in the Pearl Diver´s Mix…and because I happened to have a bunch of blood oranges at home I decided to try it with some of my favorite mezcal just to see how it would do.

All the drinks turned out very tasty, especially the Banana Boo Loo which secret is fresh banana and fresh pineapple juice. There´s something about Lost Spirits rums and banana…

Banana Boo Loo

This recipe is for a 75 cl/25 oz goblet (IKEA) and so it´s a double drink!

4 oz fresh pineapple juice (or equal parts fresh pineapple chunks and bottled pineapple juice pre-blended and strained)
2 oz fresh lime juice
2 oz banana-demerara syrup* (or you can mix in Giffard Banane du Brésil into demerara syrup)
4 oz Lost Spirits 61 % Navy Style Rum

Put everything in the blender and blend with 1 cup of crushed ice at high speed for 5 sec. Pour unstrained into a hollowed out pineapple (or goblet) fill up with more crushed ice if needed.

As for the syrup – make a rich simple syrup (it takes 5-10 minutes) with 2:1 (or make a 1;1 syrup if you prefer a lighter one, but personally I prefer a more rich viscous syrupy syrup, it just add that mouth feel to the cocktail and richness) with dark demerara sugar and water and when the sugar is dissolved by heating it up, add banana chunks to it from one half fresh banana and mash it with a fork then take off from heat and leave to cool and set for a couple hours or overnight ( I did overnight, it deepens the flavor)

Blood of the She Creature

1 oz Lost Spirits 61% Navy Style Rum
1 oz Appleton Signature Blend (former VX)
1.5 oz fresh squeezed blood orange juice
0.75 oz fresh lime juice
0.25 oz Macadamia nut syrup (Giffard)
0.5 oz orgeat
Float Del Maguey Crema de Mezcal

Shake with ice, strain and serve in a chilled cocktail coupe with a large piece of cracked ice chunk. Garnish with 2 pineapple leaves and a dehydrated blood orange slice.

Royal Pearl Diver

0.75 oz Royal Pearl Diver’s Mix
0.75 oz fresh lime juice
1 oz fresh orange juice
1 oz passionfruit juice
1 oz Lost Spirits 61% Navy Style Rum
1 oz Demerara rum
1 cup crushed ice

Add everything to a blender and blend at high speed 5 sec. Pour unstrained into a goblet or tiki mug and garnish with speared lime peel and cherry, a tropical orchid and a paper umbrella.

Serve immediately.

Sweet and sour, spicy and strong, complex and velvety smooth…

Royal Pearl Diver’s Mix (enough for 4 drinks):

1 oz unsalted butter (or ghee, clarified)
1 oz honey (use liquid)
1 oz orgeat
1/2 tsp pimento dram
pinch cinnamon spice

Heat butter and honey to melt, mix in the orgeat, pimento dram and cinnamon, then set aside to cool to room temp.

The building of the distillery in pictures:

Here`s a few pictures of the new distillery to be, courtesy of Lost Spirits and Doc Fried:

The 61% Navy Style rum is available through KL Wines.

Add a Little Funk to Your Cocktails – By the Dutch Batava Arrack

batavia-arrack-bottle-shot

Here is something of interest….it was quite a while ago since I wrote about arrack spirits. I have always liked it as a cocktail ingredient since it adds a certain funk adding a specific edge to the drinks…and needless to say it suits tiki drinks very well.

Arrack

The original word “araq” is Arabian and was associated with the distillation process when the knowledge of how to distill spirits spread in the Middle East and Asia during the 14th century and the term arrack was used for distilled spirits in general but “Batavia Arrack” is a term specifically for molasses based arrack distillate.

There are three completely different categories of Arrak:

Arak – from the Middle East, distilled from fermented grapes, licorice-flavored with anise seed.

Batavia Arrak – from Indonesia, distilled from fermented sugar cane and rice.

Coconut Arrak – from Sri Lanka, distilled from naturally fermented nectar of coconut flowers.

During the 18th century Arrak was used as a substitute for rum ratios for sailers in South East Asia by the British Royal Navy and Marco Polo mentioned Arrak in his 13th century diary Il Milione. Also Arrak was an ingredient in several recipes in Jerry Thomas original 1882 book The Bartender´s Guide. So it´s a very old spirit…

“By the Dutch” Batavia Arrack is a 48% abv distillate based on sugar-cane molasses produced on the island of Java, Indonesia with methods dating back to the 17th century. It’s comprised of a specific range of pot still distillates originating from the East Indies.

Local red rice is used in the fermentation process being added and mixed to the yeast before adding to the water and molasses and it`s this, which sets it apart from rum, although the base material is still molasses from sugar-cane. Distillation of Batavia Arrack is done with traditional old Chinese ancient copper pot stills and ageing is done in oak barrels up to 8 years and the result is rich and deep. The ageing and blending takes place in the Netherlands.

Some call it “Indonesian rum” due to the very similar process in the making and inclusion of molasses but personally i`d rather classify it as simply “Batavia Arrack” since the red rice is not part of rum making plus it adds a distinctive flavor to the product which also sets it apart.

As somebody living in Sweden I learnt early what Batavia Arrack was since it´s part of the Swedish Punsch which I use very occasionally as a cocktail ingredient. It`s also part of a type of punch-rolls and other chocolate candies that are very tasty. And also and this is very interesting, it´s also a part of the ingredients in the GunRoom Navy Rum made by Renbjer & Magnusson which I have reviewed earlier.

Some technical aspects:

Distilling process: 1. Fermentation of the wash from molasses (sugarcane by-product), water and added local red rice, in wooden vats up to ± 8% abv. 2. The ready wash is distilled in vintage Pot-stills up to ± 30% abv. 3. Second distillation in other pot-stills up to 60-65% abv. 4. Batavia Arrack has been stored and shipped to Amsterdam. 5. Batavia Arrack is matured in large oak casks in Amsterdam. 6. Batavia Arrack is blended according to an unique and secret recipe by the master blender and brought back to 48% abv.

Batavia was the name of the capital city of the Dutch East Indies, and corresponds to the present day city of Jakarta. The establishment of Batavia (Java Island) at the site of the razed city of Jayakarta by the Dutch in 1619 led to the Dutch colony that became modern Indonesia following World War II. Batavia became the center of the Dutch East India Company’s trading network in Asia.

Virtually all arrack exported to Europe arrived in Amsterdam or Rotterdam in wooden barrels or buts (563 liters). This would than be matured and blended to create an end product of consistent quality and flavor.

I find the taste of this Batavia Arrack to be very much like a shortly aged rum and it´s not harsh at all even though it got some fire and it also got quite a bit of “herbal” funk a la Smith & Cross style actually but it´s still has it´s own distinctive taste. It´s an interesting flavor that can be had on the rocks or in mixed drinks.

So with that it´s time to drink!

Witch Doctor (recipe by Geoffrey Wilson)

1 oz By the Dutch Batavia Arrak
1 oz Smith & Cross Jamaican rum
0.5 oz basil syrup
0.5 oz fresh lime juice
Top with soda
Basil for garnish cut in stripes (chiffonade)

Shake the ingredients together except the soda. Pour into a tall glass and top with soda, then add chiffonade basil for garnish and if you wish, a tropical orchid.

One thing this drink has is pronounced  arrack and rum flavors and at the same time it´s refreshing due to the fresh lime, basil and soda. The drink is slightly earthy and herbal and it´s delicious.

And here´s a take on the Painkiller:

Batavia Pain Killer

4 oz fresh pineapple juice
1 oz orange juice
1 oz Coco Real or Lopez cream of coconut
1 oz By the Dutch Batavia Arrak
1 oz Pusser`s Rum

Shake with plenty of crushed ice and pour unstrained into a tall glass or tiki mug. Dust with nutmeg and garnish with pineapple leaves. And a  float of Cruzan Blackstrap can only do good…..

Since there´s quite a bit of juice in this the arrack flavor is less pronounced but it´s there, mingling in the middle and the drink is quietly doing it`s job!

Final thoughts – I find this product to be as nice as I thought it would be, I love the funkiness it adds to cocktails and even though I haven`t made it on the rocks here i`m sure that tastes good too. I can recommend trying this out!