The Clipper Cocktail


Sometimes I get sooo sick of myself. Me and my “ooh, me likey bourbon cocktails, egg white, Licor 43, bourbon meow meow.” (You have to imagine Miss Piggy saying it to get the full effect.)

A good remedy for a cocktail rut is How’s Your Drink? Cocktails, Culture, and the Art of Drinking Well, by Eric Felten, an impresario equal parts food/drink/culture critic and jazz trombonist/crooner/bandleader. The book is a sort of loosely chaptered collection of drinking vignettes throughout history, with recipes here and there. It’s a great read to keep on the shelf and just flip through. Today, I flipped to the Clipper Cocktail.

This drink called for "golden rum," which, on a slushy Monday Tuesday, sounded exactly like what I needed. Off I trudged to the liquor store, where I found a plethora of anejo rums but only one labeled "gold."

My understanding of rums is that white ones are fermented in steel and unaged, goldens are aged in oak and darks are aged in charred oak; anejo (which literally means "aged") falls somewhere between the latter two. For rhetorical purposes alone, I was really looking forward to a golden rum, but the only one in stock was Bacardi Gold. I've made tons of mojitos with Bacardi (white, not gold) and always found it up to the task; when you're bombing that base liquor with so much mint, lime and sugar, a high-quality rum (like 10 Cane, my old upsell) would probably just go to waste, anyawy. But in the Clipper, the rum's got less to hide behind.

So when I saw a sale on Pampero rum ($6.99 for a fifth!), I figured I'd grab that too. Thank goodness I did. The Bacardi Gold was noxious, sweaty-tasting and harsh as all get out. The Pampero, on the other hand, had a little of that shoe-polish taste that reminds me of Fernet Branca, but please trust me when I tell you that it is eminently better, and suits this drink quite nicely.

The Clipper Cocktail

(Adapted from How's Your Drink?)

1 1/2 ounces  Pampero Ron Anejo Especial

1/2 ounce Cinzano extra dry vermouth

1/2 teaspoon Giroux grenadine syrup

Pour all ingredients into an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Cap and shake vigorously; strain into cocktail glass.

Tasting Notes:

Quantitatively, the only tweak I made on Felten's recipe was to cut the grenadine down from one teaspoon to half a teaspoon. Whether it's merited or not, I tend to regard my Giroux grenadine syrup as thicker than average.

For some reason, I really felt like drinking this on the rocks out of a highball glass; I wanted to wrap my paw around it rather than pinch it by a stem. My compromise was to enjoy it out of my martini bowl.

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