Gunroom Navy Rum!

GunRoom label

When I went to a rum tasting at Renbjer & Magnusson recently, there was one that kicked it and stood out…. and the star of the show was the Gunroom Navy rum! – it`s their own creation/brand – gunpowder proof, strong and bold in the flavor, it`s a blend of rums from Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad and Barbados.

Navy Rum

Known as “Nelson’s Blood” rum was introduced to the service in the West Indies as a substitute for beer and brandy. There are two things to remember about navy rums. One is the strength. Navy strength is a spirit that has to be of high strength, over 57% alcohol.

There is also gunpowder strength which became the new navy strength at 54.5% and there is navy rum which traditionally was made from any rum bought from a distillery then blended back in the UK for sale to the navy. The rums could be from a single island, or blends. Because Guyana and Jamaica supplied most rums to the UK most navy rums had their country on the label.

The GunRoom Navy Rum is 65% ABV or 130 proof, which is a bit above what is defined as navy strength. It is said that in the old navy days sailors would “prove” the strength of their rum rations by checking that gunpowder doused with rum would still burn (thus verifying that rum was at least 57% ABV.)

This rum was distributed to sailors with one serving around midday and one late afternoon – called a tot. While rations were later cut several times over a period of time, before finally being abolished in the 1970s, (known as the “black tot day” that original proof test defined what we know today as Navy Strength rum—strong, potent overproof and powerful.

GunRoom Navy Rum

GunRoom tasting

GunRoom Navy Rum is still hand bottled in small square shaped bottles with a simple label. If i was french i`d say “trés sympa” (very nice) and indeed these bottles are cute, but don`t let that fool you, the content is not “cute” – it´s bold…with rums from Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad and Barbados in the blend you get a full flavored product packing a punch.

Nose: Wood, leather, raisin and sugarcane…dried tropical fruit peel, vanilla, toffee and spice.

In the mouth: It`s a strong and robust rum with quite a bit of wood, smoke, molasses and banana, tropical fruit, dark fruits and spices. It reminds me of a darker version of Smith and Cross. It`s bordering to rough but not in a bad way, it´s not harsh. If you like strong rum you`ll like this.

It feels like this rum could kick any cold to the moon…..and it really warms the chest.

A few drops of water opens up more fruitiness and mellows it down a bit. It´s a great rum for mixed drinks and especially well suited for tiki drinks, i think it can stand up to most mixers and juices. It´s ok to drink neat as well but it´s not for the faint of heart (or mouth) this is a rum for lovers of rums with attitude!

Navy Grog  (my version for GunRoom of Trader Vic`s from Martin Cate)

GunRoom Navy Grog

0.5 oz fresh lime juice

0.75 oz grapefruit juice (white)

0.5 oz sugarcane syrup

1/3 oz grog concentrate (if you have it) or 0.5 oz allspice/pimento dram (like St Elisabeth or Bitter Truth brands) or you can make it yourself.

1 oz gold rum (such as Appleton VX)

1.5 oz GunRoom Navy Rum

Shake together and strain into a rock`s glass with crushed ice, garnish with either a lime shell, a sugar swizzle stick or a ice cone and maybe a tropical orchid…

Potent drink!

The ice cone is made with Beachbum Berry`s ice cone mold the Navy Grog Cone Kit and it works just fine! easier than the old way of doing it by using a pilsener glass! it can be purchased at Cocktal Kingdom.

The next is the classic Trader Vic`s Mai Tai which with rums like this one can become strong and wild…

Traditionally since the 17 year old Wray and Nephew rum was gone the Mai Tai has been mixed with two rums but i also like Mai Tais mixed with just one rum, if that rum has full potential and the rum has some Demerara or Jamaican pot still rum in itself or in the blend.

In this blend i get four different rums in my Mai Tai.

GunRoom Mai Tai

GunRoom Mai Tai

2 oz  GunRoom Navy Rum

1 oz fresh lime juice

0.5 oz Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao

0.25 oz sugarcane syrup

0.25 oz orgeat

OR you can use 0.5 oz orgeat and omit the syrup, it`s tasty too…

Add 5 dl/2 cups of crushed ice, and shake 10 seconds.  Pour unstrained into a double old-fashioned glass. Sink your spent lime shell in the drink, and garnish with a mint sprig.

Final thoughts: If you can get the GunRoom Navy Rum and like strong rums and/or Tiki and tropical rum drinks, you should get yourself a bottle!

GunRoom bottle

Navy Grog and Tiki Puka Puka – A taste test of grog mixers

A while ago the Trader Vic`s website had their Grog Concentrate up for sale for a limited time and since that grog mix isn`t normally sold to the public except occasionally it was sold out in a matter of a day or two. Then a couple days later they sold another batch which did finish within a few days.

I`ve read about this Grog Concentrate in the threads on the Tiki Central forum and it had made me very curious since most everybody including Martin Cate did really hold this product superior for making the Navy Grog and the Tiki Puka Puka.

There are two different products from Trader Vic´s to not confuse with each other, one is sold to the public and is called Trader Vic´s Navy Grog mix and the other is the Grog Concentrate – and which is what they use in their restaurants. According to what i did read the Navy Grog mix is said to be inferior to the concentrate.

Outside of the US i doubt you can get hold of these products but i don`t know for sure. So i really wanted to try the Grog Concentrate and lucky me because one day a fellow tikiphile offered to send me a sample bottle…

Interesting also is a recipe that is in one of the threads on Tiki Central with a recipe for a homemade grog mix that is inspired by and a recipe for replicating the Navy Grog mix that was created by Hawaiian bartender David Chan who made it for his Honolulu Restaurant Style Navy Grog which is his own recipe.

I made a small batch of that homemade grog mix and then i made 3 Navy Grogs, one with the homemade grog mix, one with st Elisabeth allspice dram and one with the Grog Concentrate. The goal really is to see which one is the best for the Navy Grog and what are the differences between them and what possibly can be done to get as close to the concentrate as possible.

It´s never a good thing to be dependent on one product to get the right flavor in a specific drink but then again if that said product is what is used in the restaurants (Trader Vic`s) it´s a bit complicated if one doesn´t know what it contains.

The recipe i used for the Navy Grog mix is the one Martin Cate used when he did bartend at the SF Trader Vic`s in 2005. I used it because i read it`s the most balanced of the Navy Grog recipes and knowing Martin Cate and his ability to mix cocktails i trust that. The recipe i found of course at the Tiki Central – the place to go for anything tiki.

The tiki drink world is a confusing mess and to complicate it a bit further but also clarify…i want to mention that the Navy Grog recipe in the Grog Log is based on the Don the Beachcomber version of the drink which is different from Trader Vic´s. Just as the Navy Grog mix and the Grog Concentrate is not the same thing.

I also tried the Grog Concentrate in aTiki Puka Puka guided by the folks at the TC again..

Enough said is that the experiments made up for a very pleasure-filled tiki drink weekend! and you learn a thing or two..

In this picture of the Navy Grog test glasses are from the left to right – homemade grog mix, TV Grog Concentrate and St Elisabeth allspice dram.

I found that the Grog Concentrate is superior to all with it´s thicker, fuller taste and texture plus it´s much more complex and has something i cannot exactly define but it`s something like kola nut or coke, maybe a hint of root extract too. And even though it is an allspice syrup it´s more than that.

The home made grog mix i find better in the Navy Grog than the allspice dram because it has a coke reduction and doesn`t taste as one dimensionally allspice.

For a home made grog mix to sub for the grog concentrate i`d use the recipe at the bottom of this post and make a thicker coke reduction with more coke and more sugar and maybe a hint of a rootbeer reduction as well ( or at least test that) and then cut a bit on the lime and orange bitters. Also cook the spices longer to get out more flavor.

I`m gonna try that at some point to see how it compares to the Grog Concentrate. The recipe for the homemade grog mix will be at the end of this post but first i wanna post the drinks.

TIKI PUKA PUKA

I made my first Tiki Puka Puka with the grog concentrate and i omitted the lemon juice and used 1/4 grog concentrate and a generous splash of my homemade grenadine. Maybe i took too much and the drink got quite red but then again, the grenadine didn´t overpower the drink, probably because it was homemade.(hibiscus grenadine) With a commercial grenadine i would`ve taken much less. For rums i used Banks Five Islands, Appleton Extra and LH151.

1 oz orange juice
1 oz lemon juice – I omitted it altogether bec the drink is said to be better without whichafter making two to compare i agree with.
0.25 oz grog concentrate
0.25 oz grenadine (homemade preferably or a VERY good quality commercial)
1 oz light rum
1 oz dark rum
1 oz Lemon Hart 151
Crushed ice

Mix in blender or shaker and garnish with a gardenia sprayed with orange flower water mist.

It turned out a spicy and tasty drink, i cannot compare to the restaurant version since i never had it.

NAVY GROG (Trader Vic`s from Martin Cate)

Let´s see if you can see it…i tried to make the ice cone into the shape of a moai.

Juice of 1/2 lime, 0.75 oz grapefruit juice, dash simple syrup, 1/3 oz grog concentrate, 1 oz gold rum, 1 oz dark rum, 1/2-1/3 oz Lemon Hart 151.

In the 3 different Navy Grog`s where i compared the grog mixers i used 1/3 grog concentrate, 0.25 oz allspice dram and 0.5 oz homemade grog mix.

Shake together and strain into a rock`s glass with crushed ice, garnish with either a lime shell, a sugar swizzle stick or a ice cone.

I don´t have any gold rum so i used 2 oz dark rum (Appleton Extra) and then LH151.

Navy Grog Mix Recipe – Inspired by the Navy Grog mixed and served by David Chan, owner of the Late Great Honolulu Restaurant (posted on TC by WillTiki)

Mr Chan was a bartender at the DC Trader Vics before opening his own place. He made his own Navy Grog mix for use at his bar and it´s that mix that this recipe is trying to duplicate and NOT the Grog Concentrate.

But despite that i used it to compare with the concentrate along with the allspice dram just to see which one i liked the most.

Makes one 750ml bottle

Note, recipe can easily halved.

Ingredient List:

2 12oz cans Coca cola , preferably warm (no substitute)

1 thumb sized piece of fresh ginger root (you CANNOT substitute dried ground ginger powder for this, the only acceptable substitute is candied ginger, whole or puree)

12 whole cloves (very important that they be whole and not ground for clarity of the finished product, if you absolutely must use ground cloves, substitute a scant ¼ teaspoon and use a fine sieve with cheesecloth to strain later)

2 Whole Dried Allspice berries (no substitute, you cannot put in little enough of the powder to not dominate the taste)

1 teaspoon Orange Bitters (available from Fee Brothers or put in the peel of one orange)

1 Tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon “sour salt” (this is pure citric acid powder used in canning and pickling, it can often be found near Kosher for Passover products, it allows you to add sour without adding sweet and keeps fruit from darkening due to exposure to air, if unavailable, leave it out and add more lemon or lime juice when making the drink itself)

Traditional Bitters to taste- 1 or 2 dashes

Instructions:

Open cans of coke and pour into pot or saucepan.
Scrub ginger to remove loose peel segments and slice thinly (dime thickness). Slices can be further divided if they are larger than about dime sized. It is important, however, not to be tempted to dice or shred the ginger too finely since it will break apart some when cooked and make it harder to strain out later.
Add ginger to pan of coke.
Add orange peel (if using) to pan. (If using bitters, it gets added later)
Add cloves to pan.
Add Allspice to pan. (if using)
Allow this to steep at room temp while the coke goes flat. (This keeps it from foaming too much when heated)
Add honey and sour salt (if using) and simmer the contents of the pan for about 30 minutes.
Allow to cool.
Strain out all solids (ginger, peel, cloves)

Add Orange Bitters (if using)
Add Traditional Bitters (if using)
Put into empty clean 750 ml bottle
Add water to make up full volume
Note, some alcohol: grain, vodka or even rum, could also be added as a preservative.

To make one Honolulu Restaurant Style Navy Grog Drink:

1 oz Navy Grog Mix
1 oz bottled reconstituted lemon juice (ReaLemon or equivalent)
1 to 1 ½ oz Pink Grapefruit Juice (to taste)
1 oz Amber Rum
1 oz Light Rum
¼ Lime squeezed and shell left in
Combine all; shake with ice, garnish and serve.

PUSSER`S NAVY RUM

pussers

This awesome navy rum has been around for a long time..

The first thing i notice when i open a bottle of Pusser´s is that it smells demerara..but not only as this navy rum is a blend of rums. I have read that its five rums in the Pusser´s blend but if my taste buds aren´t lying there gotta be most of the demerara or the demerara is so powerful that it dominates.

As for what makes up the Pusser`s blend it is said to be a blend of rums from the old Brittish empire including Jamaican, Trinidad and Brittish Virgin Islands rums but i hear it being said (by some very good sources) that in today´s blend there isn´t any Jamaican anymore..

Well…there`s enough fine demerara in it to suit my taste..

WHAT IS A NAVY RUM?

Known as “Nelson’s Blood” rum was introduced to the service in the West Indies as a substitute for beer.

What defines a navy rum? well, it was a specific type of rum distilled for the Admiralty in wooden pot stills and a navy rum has to be distilled in wood.

As we know there are only two production-capacity wooden pot stills remaining in the world and these are the two 250 years old wooden pot stills in Guyana – one single and one double and the double pot still is the same still that used to produce the navy rums in the past.

As for Pusser`s today its that same old and unique double wooden pot still from Port Morant (today in Diamond) that is used and this still is also used in the blends for El Dorado 8yo, 12yo, 15yo and 25yo. You can read about the demerara rum here.

I just got two bottles of Pusser`s, one 150  overproof and one 84 proof with a red label – but not the 15 yo red. Pusser`s is short for “purser”, distributor of the ration.

This can be read at the back of the Pusser´s bottles:

For more than 300 years, from before the days of Admiral Nelson, wooden ships and iron men, the sailors of Britain’s Royal Navy were issued a daily ration of rum by the ship’s Purser. This tradition, one of the longest and unbroken in the history of the sea, carried forward from the year 1655 to August 1st 1970.

The superb rum in this bottle is the same rum that was standard issue aboard Their Majesties’ ships at the time of the custom’s termination in 1970. For centuries, British Navy Jack Tars drank their Pusser’s Rum and appreciated this spirit’s exceptional quality. Its distinct character is still created from six of the world’s finest Caribbean rums which were discovered on their excursions at sea.

Pusser`s rum was sold to the public for the first time after it was purchased by Charles Tobias after the tot was officially stopped and the last tot was given at the Black Tot Day- 31 July 1970.

The nose of Pusser`s is like i said, it smells very much of demerara rum, rich, intense of roasted molasses, raisin, a bit smoky, leathery and then fruity.

The taste is very rich and aromatic, same as a good demerara rum to me. Its from those wooden stills where components have settled in the wood for over 200 years and even though they change out some of the wood pieces in order to maintain the still there are woods there that really are that old. The flavor is also slightly oaky and then it has something that i cannot define in the aftertaste.

That may be similar to what is called rancio –  something that occurs in certain aged stuff like in for example old singlemalt scotches or cognac and can be defined as earthy, overripe, sour and musty. So to me its without any doubt the demerara rums in it that comes with this type of flavor.

Pusser`s rum comes in different proofs, the original blue label is 84 proof (42%) and the red label is 80 proof. The one i have with a red label too but not aged 15 years is 84 proof and the overproof i have is 151 proof with a blue label.

Then we have the ignition strength proof as well – which is 108 proof (54%) Its called Ignition strength because when arriving in England the rum was 140 degrees overproof and that was taken down to 95.5 degrees underproof by adding water.

Then they added a small amount of it to grains of gunpowder and the whole thing was ignited with a magnifying glass. If the burning alcohol managed to stay alight then it was said to be “proof” – if not it was underproof – and if it exploded it was overproof.

Today the gunpowder test isn´t done anymore of course – unless – you happened to attend the “Full Sail Session” at Tales of the Cocktail this summer..

gunpowder-test-300x225

One more thing i want to mention here..the ceramic flagons…oh wow..Pusser´s sure knows how to market their product..

These ceramic flagons but slightly larger used to have a capacity of one-Imperial gallon, and were used to carry and store rum on board ships of Great Britain’s Royal Navy from the late 1800’s through July 31st, 1970 – they are awesome! i haven´t yet been able to get me one but i hope to..one day! The navy’s flagons were encased in a tightly hand-woven willow basket to reduce breakage.

The Royal Navy officers did before dinner each day,toast the reigning monarch and then offer the toast of the day. The toasts are as follows:

Monday:
Our ships at sea.
Tuesday: Our men.
Wednesday: Ourselves.
Thursday: A bloody war and quick promotion.
Friday: A willing soul and sea room.
Saturday: Sweethearts and wives, may they never meet.
Sunday: Absent friends and those at sea.

NAVY GROG (circa 1941 version)

navy-grog1

Navy Grog

* 3/4 ounce fresh lime juice
* 3/4 ounce white grapefruit juice (not pink or red!)
* 3/4 ounce soda water
* 1 ounce honey mix (1:1 honey and water, heat but do not boil, then cool it and bottle it; will keep 2 weeks in fridge)
* 1 ounce white Puerto Rican rum
* 1 ounce dark Jamaican rum
* 1 ounce Lemon Hart Demerara rum (El Dorado 8-year or 12-year Demerara OK to sub, but not the 5- or 15-year)

Shake vigorously with ice cubes. Strain into a double old-fashioned glass with ice-cone around straw.

Navy Grog Ice Cone

To make cone, pack a footed pilsner glass with finely shaved ice, run a chopstick through the middle to make a hole for the straw, and then gently remove cone from glass. Freeze cone overnight, or at least 4 hours till hardened).

When ready to serve, run straw through cone. Drink is sipped through straw. (NOTE: Cones will last 2 to 3 days in the freezer, after which they will start to evaporate.)

PUSSER`S GROG RECIPE

Over the rocks..

2 oz Pusser´s Rum

0.5 oz fresh lime juice

2 oz  soda water

1 tsp dark cane sugar