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

The Kahuna!

kalamug2

I just love the Tiki Central! it´s one of the places to go for everything tiki and it´s one of the places i go for inspiration to make drinks and you find something more often than not. Yesterday i was looking for something new to try that i could post up here as well if it was good.

And so i stumbled on Blue Kahuna´s experiment with the Trader Vic´s  Grog Concentrate (which i wrote about in my post “Navy Grog and Tiki Puka Puka – A taste test of grog mixers“)  – and found a drink that looked like way up my alley – made by Blue Kahuna and named “The Kahuna” by TropicDrinkBoy.

This is what got me before i looked at the recipe –

The Blue Kahuna – Try this . . . you’ll be in heaven . . . 

This is a part of a thread discussing the Trader Vic`s Grog Concentrate versus B.G Reynold´s Donn`s Spices #2. They found out that DS#2 is thicker and sweeter than the GC and that it has hints of vanilla while the GC has more allspice and is less sweet.

I guess they just fit to different drinks..

Anyway i went and made me a Kahuna and it was good! and pouring it into one this planets most beautiful tiki mugs makes it even better!

The mug is the Kala mug (woodgrain glaze) made by Rob Hawes aka Tiki Rob – Tiki mug artist living on Maui and here is his website, Maui Tiki Tours. He made 10 each of 4 different glazes, all fantastic work of art! i`m so very happy i got one.

Rob lives on the beautiful island of Maui with his wife and two children. He has been collecting Tiki mugs since 2002 and making mugs in his spare time since 2009. He is always excited to meet other Tiki mug collectors, so if you are ever on Maui be sure to look him up.

So here is the drink and the recipe:

The Kahuna

kahuna

Juice of half lime
1 oz pineapple gomme syrup (you can sub with pineapple syrup if don´t have gomme)
.5 oz Trader Vic Grog Concentrate
.5 oz Simple Syrup
1 oz El Dorado 3 yr White Demerara
1 oz El Dorado 5 yr Amber Demerara
1 oz LH151
2 dashes angostura bitters

There`s no instructions in the forum how the drink should be mixed so just shake the ingredients with ice, strain and serve in a tall tiki mug or tall glass fiilled with fresh ice…cubes or crushed as you like it.

Now the grog concentrate isn`t easy to get bec Trader Vic`s only sell them occasionally to the public, they use the concentrate at their restaurants. So what to sub with? well there´s a recipe for a home made mix in my post about the grog concentrate mentioned above – or you may use allspice dram – or reduce coke and mix with allspice dram…that´s the best i can think of….

The Kahuna is very near the Smuggler’s Rum Barrel . . .

kahuna 2

 The artwork on this mug is amazing! it looks like wood…but is a ceramic mug with a woodgrain glaze….And i love how the inside is bright red.

kala back

 The back of the Kala mug

Kala aloha sticker 2

SETTING THE MAI MAI STRAIGHT – A Mai Tai Rant

Aloooha everyone! –  it´s Mai Tai time…or rather – it´s Mai Tai rant time…

How many times does this need to be said??? – a Mai Tai is rum, orange curacao, lime, orgeat, simple or rock candy syrup and mint! and sometimes a spent lime shell in the shaker and glass. NOTHING MORE! really!!! PERIOD.

That said – it doesn`t mean you cannot make variations of it with say a Brazilian nut orgeat and call it a Brazilian Mai Tai – for example – but that`s the difference – a Mai Tai is a Mai Tai and a twist of it is another drink – like a cousin and a cousin needs a slightly different name. When making a twist, stick to the original recipe as your foundation and don`t change it so much that it´s not based on a Mai Tai anymore.

In my opinion you can NOT add amaretto, grenadine, pineapple or/ and orange juice and call it a Mai Tai – call them something + Mai Tai or give the drink an entirely new name. The point I try to make is, there´s for example the Sazerac, if you added pineapple juice to it, or vanilla syrup, would it still be a Sazerac?

And i`m not saying that you cannot add a piece of pineapple or cherry in the garnish either – i like cherries…But if you wanna be really a purist, it´s only mint and a spent lime shell – but NEVER go astray from the original recipe if you wanna call it a Mai Tai.

There`s the Trader Vic´s Mai Tai and there`s Donn the Beachcomber`s Mai Tai which is a quite different drink to Vic´s containing grapefruit juice, falernum, pernod and angostura bitters. I`m not gonna go into the never ending debate about Vic`s versus Donn`s and there´s an excellent article on that topic in Beachbum Berry´s Remixed. But my conclusion is that Vic´s recipe is THE Mai Tai.

It`s clear that too many bars still serves various crap they call a Mai Tai, on the upside is that over the past years there´s many good bars now that actually serves the traditional Trader Vic´s Mai Tai. But the battle is still  on!

Just look at this parody on a Mai Tai…looking like strawberry lemonade fully dressed with sparkling fireworks – it´s a friend of mine, John Gibbons over at Cocktailcloister (thanks for the picture) who was served this one in Istanbul while desperatly searching for decent cocktails…

This is NOT how a Mai Tai should be…and if you read the menu you`ll see they have no clue what a Mai Tai is…


Wanna read the history of the Mai Tai? go here. Wanna read about rum combos? go here. And wanna read about even more rum combos? go here. Wanna read what Jeff says? go here. Not enough yet? well go here…:-)

THE ORIGINAL TRADER VIC`S MAI TAI  (as it used to be)

2 oz. Wray & nephew 17-year-old Jamaican rum
0.25 oz. French Garnier Orgeat
0.5 oz. Holland DeKuyper orange Curacao
0.25 oz. Rock Candy Syrup
Juice from one fresh lime

Shake everything with ice and strain into a double old-fashioned glass full of crushed ice. Garnish with half the spent lime shell inside the drink and a sprig of fresh mint at the edge of the glass. Place a straw or two near the mint – short straws..we want some mint fragrance up the nose don´t we? and don´t forget to spank the mint first to release the fragrance like perfume..

We all know there´s no 17 yo Jwray available anymore so instead we use different rum combos, and one common combo is 1 oz. Appleton Extra and 1 oz. Clemént VSOP or St. James Hors d`age. Equal parts jamaican and martinique rums approximates the character and flavor of the long-gone 17-year old Wray & Nephew.

Another combo i like to use is with demerara rum, either a demerara and a jamaican or only demerara, to me that is heaven in a glass and the Silver Seal 15 yo makes the ultimate Mai Tai i think.

The goal here is not to try to get as close as you can to the 17 yo Jwray & Nephew but to punch it up a notch with that distinctive smoky and heavy demerara flavor. El Dorado 12 and 15 yo are perfect examples of good demerara rum.

Yet another perfectly tasty combo is the “made for Mai Tai`s” Jamaican rum Smith and Cross…paired with Rhum JM VSOP. Also Coruba dark works well.

As for the orange curacao i`d recommend orange curacao from curacao or if you can´t get the original curacao use cointreau and cut it just a little bit since it´s stronger and will easily mess up the Mai Tai if too much is used. It`s not an original Mai Tai with cointreau though so try get the orange curacao if you can.

Trader Vic first used DuKuyper but did actually change to Bols because he liked it better, but the original recipe always had orange curacao. More sweet and less dry and bitter and also cheap is Triple sec, but that´s not what i prefer. Also Clement Creole Shrubb works well.

MAI TAI


1 oz Smith & Cross

1 oz Clemènt VSOP

0.25 oz orgeat

0.5 oz orange curacao

0.25 oz simple syrup

1 oz fresh lime juice

Mint sprig and lime shell for garnish. And in my case a cherry too since i love to snack on them when the drink is finished…preferably fresh brandied cherries that is – not the red abominations you find in a jar.

That`s it – Mai Tai. This drink is a bullet proof drink, even people who doesn´t like rum usually like this because it´s balanced, simple  and good – you can’t improve on perfection…

DON THE BEACHCOMER

Don Beach or Ernest Raymond Beaumont Gantt did invent a drink that he called Mai Tai but it never reached that fame and shortly disappeared from his menu.

Don Beach is the man who invented many of the classsic tikidrinks like the Zombie, the Navy Grog and Missionary`s downfall, (one of my fav tiki drinks) as well as the whole concept of exotic polynesian style restaurants, known as tiki bars.

DON THE BEACHCOMBER`S MAI TAI

1.5 oz Myer’s plantation rum (you may sub Appleton)

1 oz Cuban rum ( sub British navy-style rum)

0.75 oz fresh lime juice

1 oz fresh grapefruit juice

0.25 oz falernum

0.5 oz cointreau

2 dashes angostura bitters

1 dash pernod

Shell of squeezed lime

1 cup of cracked ice

Shake for 1 minute. Serve in a double old-fashioned glass. Garnish with four sprigs of mint. Add a spear of pineapple. Sip slowly through mint sprigs until desired effect results.

I find this drink just a tad sour so i add 1/4 oz simple syrup to it, but that can also have something to do with how tart your grapefruits and limes are.

But among the two Mai Tais i really prefer Vic`s Mai Tai, there is a reason why it was the one that gained such popularity and now is one of the classics. It has such a balance and yet is very simple. That doesn`t mean that i consider Don Beach Mai Tai a bad drink, oh no, its tasty too.

I close this topic now and move on to another… in my next post i will make a few Mai Tai twists that you can make without ruining the drink by transforming it into a cloingly sweet and/or slushy “tropical” abomination.

My dream job? judging a Mai Tai contest…

 

Sugarcane bar

 

MIXING THROUGH GROG LOG 21 – Eastern Sour

Here`s and old favorite…the Eastern Sour. Orange and lemon juices, sugarcane syrup, orgeat and then rye or bourbon.

It´s drink number 20 in Grog Log and is also featured in Remixed where i also found the Western Sour which contains grapefruit juice and falernum. I find yellow grapefruit juice much tastier in mixed drinks than the pink one, it´s simply fresher and has that sourness which balances so well with sweeteners yet still contains that sour freshness.

The Eastern Sour was made sometimes in the 50s by Trader Vic. He also made the London Sour (sub scotch for the bourbon) and Munich Sour ( cognac) These sours were made for the various Trader Vic`s restaurants.

The Western Sour was featured at Steve Crane`s Kon-Tiki restaurant chain operating in Sheraton hotels across the U.S. Steve Crane and Trader Vic did really compete and in the end Vic did outlast Steve and the Kon_Tiki`s.

So…bourbon or rye?

I like both..but shame on me! –  i`m out of bourbon…so it´s rye to go in both drinks, and i`m using Rittenhouse bonded.  Also i found a few fresh kalamansi limes so i`m gonna use them in both drinks to see what happens.

EASTERN SOUR

Juice of 1/2 orange

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1/4 oz orgeat syrup

1/4 oz rock candy syrup (well, i didn´t have that, so i used Petit Canne´s sugarcane syrup)

2 oz rye or bourbon

Now i added: juice of 1 kalamansi lime and garnished also with a sugared rim

Shake well with plenty of crushed ice. Pour unstrained into a double old fashioned glass or short stemmed goblet. Sink spent orange and lemon shells into the drink.

Since the kalamansi is both sweet and sour but a bit more on the sour side i decided to make a sugared rim on the glass to add some extra sweetness. I think it was very tasty with some tangy kalamansi juice in the Eastern Sour even though it doesn´t make itself very much noticed in this drink – just subtle. That said it was very very tasty.

WESTERN SOUR


1 oz white grapefruit juice

0.5 oz fresh lime juice

0.5 oz falernum

0.25 oz sugarcane syrup

2 oz Bourbon (or rye)

Shake well with ice cubes and por unstrained into a double old fashioned glass.

As i suspected, white grapefruit juice and kalamansi limes like each other and plays together very well..and here the two together is da bomb! this drink is so tasty!

The kalamansi transforms the drink from quite average to one step higher. Otherwise the Eastern Sour is in my opinion better than the Western but when kalamansi is in the game it`s slightly the contrary.

Interesting how the addition of just one thing can change things around!

I think i need to go and get me a kalamansi plant so i can have fresh kalamansi limes and make these  drinks all summer!

THE Q.B. COOLER AND THE MAI TAI

killer-mai-tai

This is not a new topic…but If there´s a drink that fascinates me its this one, tthe QB Cooler and the reason is as many of you can guess – it tastes much like a Trader Vic´s Mai Tai – but does only have two ingredients in common, rum and lime and not even the same rums either – or proportions. Of course it doesn´t taste exactly like a Mai Tai but actually close enough to be a mystery to many.

And not only is the drink tasty and tastes like Mai Tai it also has an interesting story that dates back to the time of the Mai Tai war between Donn the Beachcomber and Trader Vic, a topic that has been discussed for over half a century now and will probably never stop being discussed..

In ca 1937 Donn the Beachcomber created the Q.B. Cooler and it is said – that Trader Vic took that recipe and reformulated it to what we know as the Trader Vic´s Mai Tai – but there`s is no proof of that though – and it is also said that it was Donn who created the Mai Tai…and also that Trader Vic created the Mai Tai… and actually both did – just not the same Mai Tai..

Donn Beach Mai Tai is entirely different from Vic`s and to me and most others, what is the real Mai Tai – is Trader Vic`s and it`s also the one that made commercial success and became a living legend. It simply is THE Mai Tai and it has a perfect balance and layers of flavors.

That said, just because Vic has won the Mai Tai war doesn´t mean Donn Beach wasn`t an awesome bartender – he was! he was Mr awesome! – and so was Vic.

Whether or not Trader Vic`s Mai Tai evolved from Donn`s Q.B.Cooler or not and which really is just speculations is really not important but nevertheless its a fascinating topic and i guess since we really never will know for sure the Mai Tai conflict will never end.

In any case what puzzles me is how these two drinks can taste so similar, even though we can see the flavor profile goes towards dark rums, lime and orange. But there`s no falernum or ginger syrup in the Mai Tai.

And i haven´t gotten to the rums yet – we know that the Mai Tai originally contained one rum, the 17 yo Wray & Nephew and later on a blend of Jamaican and Martinique rum while the Q.B. Cooler contains Jamaican and light Puerto Rican rum. And still they manage to taste quite similar.

Isn`t it fascinating? anyway, even though very close, the Mai Tai is more intense in my opinion. So go get your shakers and mix up these two drinks and taste them side by side, you´ll be surprised.

Hopefully pleasantly so..and its never wrong to have two awesomely tasty drinks on hand..

The recipe for the Mai Tai is once again as follows:

mai-tai-2011

1 oz Dark Jamaican Rum
1 oz Martinique Rhum
1 oz Lime Juice
0.5 oz Orange Curacao
0.25 oz Simple Syrup
0.25 oz Orgeat

Shake with crushed ice, pour into a double old fashioned, garnish with a mint sprig

Q.B. COOLER

qb-cooler

1 oz fresh orange juice
1 oz  club soda
1 oz Jamaican rum
1 oz light Puerto Rican rum
0.5  oz fresh lime juice
0.5 oz honey mix (equal parts honey/water)
0.5 oz Demerara rum
0.25 oz  Falernum
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
1/2 teaspoon ginger syrup

Blend with 4 ounces crushed ice for 5 seconds; top up with more crushed ice and garnish with mint (Julep style)

I really enjoy this drink, here´s a range and depth of flavors that we can thank the cocktail-genius Donn Beach for. a

Do you think these two drinks tastes the same?