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!

White Lion Coconut Arrak

White Lion Coconut Arrak

Here´s a very interesting spirit – a Coconut Arrak made from fermented coconut flowers!

This Arrak should not be confused with Batavia Arrak which is distilled from fermented sugar cane and rice. 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.

In the US it cannot be called Arrak due to US laws. It’s White Lion VSOA – (Very Special Old Arrack)

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.

In South East Asia Arrak is distilled from three different types of palm trees (Coconut, Palmyra and Kithul) and Sri Lanka favors the Coconut Arrak. Coconut trees lives 60 years or more and provides a continuous supply of Coconut flower nectar for a very long time and each tree provides 300 litres of nectar every year.

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…

Arrak Toddy tappers

How Coconut Arrak is made:

It starts with the so called Toddy Tappers – young men scaling Coconut trees early in the morning before dawn balancing on tight ropes strung between 80 foot tall Coconut tree tops to harvest the yet unopened flowers of the trees.

They slice open the buds with machetes to release the fresh nectar into clay pots. Each tree yields 2 liters of nectar a day. The nectar is rich in natural sugar and wild yeasts and starts to ferment naturally into a mildly alcoholic syrup called toddy.This natural fermentation is unique to Coconut Arrak.

Arrak climbing

Within four hours of harvest the toddy is quality tested and transported to Distilleries Company of Sri Lanka where the toddy is distilled, a craft with 700 years of master blenders expertise and refinement. Initially the toddy is separated – a portion to be distilled in copper pot stills and the other portion in continuous column stills.

Then the two distillates are married together in casks of Halmilla wood to rest and mature for 24 months. And the result is VSOA – Very Special Old Arrak

And that´s what i have here now, to be tasted and used in a few cocktails. A quite exciting spirit to work with!

Arrak barrels

The color of the Arrak is a golden hue of amber and the nose is tropical floral with hints of vanilla and some nuttiness.

On the palate it´s mild and sweet, with the same tropical floral notes, hints of vanilla and with a nutty finish.

Conclusion:

I think it would be a great cocktail ingredient but can also be sipped neat with an ice cube since it´s mild and quite smooth. It`s not very complex but it has a mild balance of pleasant aromas and it`s somewhat like a blend of sweet rum and whiskey. It`s definitely a unique spirit!

Tropical Arrak Sling

Tropical Arrak Sling

1.5 oz White Lion Coconut Arrack
.5 oz cherry Liqueur (Cherry Heering)
.25 oz orange liqueur (Combier Grande Liqueur)
.25 oz Benedictine
.25 oz hibiscus grenadine
1 oz pineapple juice
.75 oz fresh lime juice
Soda to top
A couple dashes bitters on top of the ice

I used a combination of Angostura and Brazilian Zulu bitters.

Combine all ingredients except bitters and soda in a mixing glass with ice, strain into a tall glass wrapped in a banana leaf or napkin and top up with crushed ice, top with soda and fill up with more crushed ice.

Tropical Arrak Sling leaf

Top with bitters.

Garnish with cherry and piece of banana leaf.

Tropical and cherry forward, this sling which is as you can see from the recipe is inspired by the classic Singapore sling – makes me think of tropical porches in front of the sea…

Coconut Arrak Painkiller

Coconut Arrak Painkiller

A painkiller with Coconut Arrak…

4 oz unsweetened pineapple juice
1 oz orange juice
1 oz Coco Real or Lopez coconut ream
1 oz White Lion Coconut Arrak
1 oz Pusser`s Rum or dark Jamaican Rum

Shake with plenty of crushed ice and pour unstrained into a tall glass or tiki mug.

Dust with cinnamon and nutmeg.

Garnish with pineapple leaf and cherry.

This is a perfect drink for the coconut arrak!

Black River Punch

Here´s another interesting cocktail i stumbled upon, the Black River Punch.

This cocktail was at first an un-namd Planter´s Punch variant. The Planter´s Punch is as we know based on the old rhyme – 1 of sour, 2 of sweet, 3 of strong, 4 of weak…and with that formula you can make all kinds of variations.

The Black River Punch was created by Kevin Upthegrove aka Heylownine. I`m gonna serve it here and also try it with rhum agricole and switch the black tea for a ginger tea to see how that will do.

From the info i got – the name Black River Punch is inspired by the Jamaican influence in this drink from the Smith and Cross rum to the pimento dram.

The Black River runs through the Appleton Estate in the Saint Elizabeth parish and the capital of the parish – Black River was once a sugar port and exporter of rum and allspice. So i think the name is just about right, perfect actually.

Black River Punch

1 oz lemon juice
1 oz Demerara sugar syrup
1/2 oz Falernum (recipe from Beachbum Berry Remixed)
1/4 oz pimento dram (recipe from Beachbum Berry Remixed)
1 oz Smith and Cross Jamaican rum
1 oz Batavia Arrack
2 oz strong black tea

Gently shake with ice cubes, pour into tall glass. Add more ice to fill. Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.

I would describe this drink as strong, rummy and spicy.The strong black tea is also a nice addition adding a different spiciness than the pimento dram and the rums blending in creating layers of spice. NICE!

Now i wanted to make a twist of the drink as well and rhum agricole was the way to go..

Martinique owes its name to Colombus who landed on the island on 15 June 1502.

The island was then called “Jouanacaëra-Matinino”, which came from a mythical island described by the Tainos of Hispaniola. But according to historian Sydney Daney, the island was called “Jouanacaëra” by the Caribs, which would mean “the island of iguanas”.

After Columbus’ initial discovery, the name then evolved along the pronunciations Madinina (“Island of Flowers”), Madiana, and Matinite.

When Columbus returned to the island in 1502, he rechristened the island as Martinica. It finally, by influence of the neighboring island of Dominica (La Dominique), came to be known as Martinique.

So it was called the island of flowers…(Madinina) and that inspires both the name and the flower garnish of the drink and then we got the rum – it´s the island of flowers and rum…

Madinina Rum Punch

1 oz equal parts fresh lime and lemon
1 oz demerara syrup
0.5 oz falernum
3 oz aged rhum agricole
2 oz green ginger tea
0.5 oz St Germain
2 dash Bad Dog Fire and Damnation bitters

Shake and strain into a goblet with ice cubes and add a 0.5 oz float overproof dark rum (i used Plantation Original Dark overproof ) and garnish with a tropical flower.

This drink turned out to be what i would call a stiff strong rum punch – with that typical agricole flavor and it´s spicy…

It contains 3 oz rum plus 0.5 oz float overproof. It was tasty and went down easily…but i guess one is enough.

Enjoy!

Swizzling with Arrack and Chartreuse

I was browsing around to find some drink inspiration and stumbled upon one of  Cocktailvirgin´s posts – the St Bruno Swizzle. What got me at first was the picture, it looked so tasty and reading the recipe finding out the drink contained green chartreuse and Batavia arrack i couldn`t wait to try it out.

And it didn`t hurt that there was a link to another interesting drink also with Chartreuse and Batavia arrack – the “Swamp Water Fix” – and that one i decided to turn into a swizzle and add some aged rum as well.

The Swamp Water Fix originates from a drink called Swamp Water containing green Chartreuse, pineapple juice and lime. That drink is from the 70s and the recipe can be found in Stan Jones’ Complete Barguide.

Both the Swamp Water drinks and the St Bruno Swizzle reminds me about the famous Chartreuse Swizzle which we the CSOWG gang (Cocktails and Spirits Online Writers Group) so happily imbibed from flower vases as drink vessels in the Mixohouse during the “good old days” in New Orleans.

I wrote a post or two about the Chartreuse Swizzle and really, there is something purely magic about the combination of green chartreuse, lime, falernum and pineapple and as we had it – JWray overproof Jamaican rum. (Can be made with other rums too with stunning results)

The garnish for the Swamp Water Fix is a wide strip of lime peel that should resemble a serpent in the swamp water.

But back to the first drink, the St Bruno Swizzle – it was created by bartender/Scott Marshall and the drink name refers to the founder of the Carthusian Order who established the enclosed monastic society in 1084.

It was the Carthusian monks who in the 1740s produced the Chartreuse liqueurs.

Reading Fred´s flavor description got me both thirsty and curious if i would find it as tasty as he did:

The St. Bruno Swizzle offered up a chocolate aroma that was paired with caramel notes from the aged rum. The citrusy sip preceded the funky Batavia Arrack flavors, the Green Chartreuse herbal notes, and the Yellow Chartreuse savory ones. At the end, instead of the drink drying out from the floated bitters, it got pleasantly chocolaty.

There was only one way to find out of course and luckily i had all the ingredients on hand. So here are the drinks:

St Bruno Swizzle

1 oz Batavia Arrack
1/2 oz Green Chartreuse
1/2 oz Yellow Chartreuse
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Lime Juice

Add the ingredients in a tall glass half filled with crushed ice and use a swizzle stick to swizzle up and down to chill until frost forms on the outside of the glass. Top of with more crushed ice and float 1/2 oz Plantation Barbados 5 Year Rum and 2 dash Bittermen`s Mole Bitters, and add a straw.

I also added a piece of lemon peel and a cherry for garnish.

I didn´t have Plantation Barbados 5 Year Rum but i have Plantation Original Dark Overproof Rum….much better to float with i think…

The flavor of the drink is what i would call aromatic…I love the funky notes from the Batavia arrack and the green chartreuse is very herbal – while the yellow chartreuse is herbal too i find it more tropical in flavor and paired with some fresh lime…it´s mouth watering and yummy.

There´s a hint of sexy chocolate in the mix…from the mole bitters. Then the float of overproof dark rum on top is like the icing on the cake or the cream on the coffee…

I liked this cocktail but one cocktail is never enough…

Swamp Water swizzle

1 1/2 oz Green Chartreuse
1 oz Batavia Arrack
1/2 oz Pineapple Syrup
1/2 oz Pineapple Juice
3/4 oz Lime Juice
2 drop Bitter Truth Celery Bitters

Add ingredients to a tall glass and fill with crushed ice and swizzle to mix. Insert a wide lime twist in the glass, top with more ice, dust some cinnamon on top and add a straw.

This drink was rounder in flavor, probably because of the pineapple juice and the celery bitters. It had a similar flavor though since both drinks contains Batavia arrack and Chartreuse but definitely more “round” and “full” and if i was to choose one of them i`d take this one.

Such aromatic drinks…i hope yall will and can try them out sometimes. I call the green Chartruse the “green magic potion”…

 

Sugarcane bar

 

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