The Blackbeard

Guest post by Sean Lorre, PhoBlograpHusband.

Hello Readers! It's been quite a while since I last guest posted. As a matter of fact exactly four months, or in other words one semester of grad school. To my dismay, my writing and research of late has more to do with the Blues Brothers, Randy Weston and Fred Astaire than bars and cocktails. OK, it's not such a bad gig, but I did miss the rigorous mixological testing required to write a post!

Today I bring you the Blackbeard, a cocktail I've only found in one bar, once, more than fifteen years ago. Picture it if you will: My 21-year-old self, along with a certain friend I will only identify by his initials (TMO) are whiling the Spring 1997 semester away in London as part of the Syracuse University International Live Abroad and Pretend to Study Program. Spring break comes and we're off to Edinburgh, Scotland to meet up with my friend Andy, a true Scotsman -- gregarious, burly (former national U-19 rugby player), and generous to a fault -- who I met while working as a camp counselor the year before.

After a long evening of carousing and paradin' about the city, Andy suggests that we drive out to his hometown of Musselburgh for a nightcap at his local pub. TMO and I have never passed up a free drink in our lives, so we consent to the 10km trek in search of the perfect end to the evening. And found it we did! It was on this night that I was introduced to the Blackbeard, perhaps the most perfect last drink I've ever had.

The Blackbeard

1 1/2 ounces Kraken Black Spiced Rum

5 ounces homemade cola

about 2 ounces Guinness Stout

Mix Kraken and cola in a Imperial half-pint glass (or whatever 10 ounce-ish glass you happen to have on hand), top with Guinness (from a tap if you can, if not the draft cans/bottles will do fine).

Tasting notes

The original Blackbeard calls for Captain Morgan, Coke and Guinness, but we just couldn't resist trying a few substitutions. We found the Kraken added a depth to the flavor that the Capt. couldn't muster (while keeping the pirate theme in place) and the homemade cola... well, that stuff makes everything better!

So just why is this fairly odd-sounding, Frankencocktail a great way to end a night of drinking? Why have I been bugging bartenders for years to recreate this for me? I've never really been able to really pick apart just what it is... I think perhaps it has just the right mix of creamy texture (from the Guinness), sweetness (from the Coke) and kick (from the rum) that has something to do with it. What I do know is, that when made right, the Blackbeard leaves you with a warm, content, time-to-take-the-last-train-home feeling.

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The Kraken Old Fashioned (a.k.a Caribbean Christmas)

Guest post by Sean Lorre, PhoBlograpHusband.

While stocking up on booze in New Jersey over the holidays, this interesting little gem caught my eye...

I can't say particularly what drew me to The Kraken, if it was my childhood love of the original The Clash of the Titans (1981), my college-age infatuation with Captain Morgan Spiced Rum (we all make mistakes), or the $15.99 price tag; perhaps all of the above. Whatever the attraction, we needed a dark rum and the Kraken seemed like a fun little toy to experiment with. It promised the type of dark, molasses-y qualities of Myers or Goslings Black Seal at half the price and with a hint of spice that can be quite lovely when not overdone. I'm looking at you, Cap'n...

After reading the label, checking out the website and tasting it, I have to admit, I'm still a little confused by this product. Although it's not what you would consider a craft liquor -- it contains caramel color and "natural flavors" -- I found The Kraken rather enjoyable.  It has an interesting nose, similar to Captain Morgan but more subtle and complex. It has little of the depth I associate with black rum but is robust enough to hold up to most anything you want to throw at it -- or more accurately, into it. It calls itself imported (via Jersey City, I might add...) but is bottled and, I guess, blended in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, which I imagine is across the border from Johnsburg, Illinois. But I digress...

As Rose and I set out to concoct a few cocktails on New Year's Eve, I tasked myself with putting the Kraken to good use. As this was not the first project I took on for the night, and as my cocktail creativity usually declines as evenings wear on and inebriation mounts, and as I am finally aware of the fact that my late-night creations are usually not particularly inspired or even palatable, I opted to go with a variation on a theme. We had talked about Old Fashioneds earlier in the evening so I figured I would mine that particular vein for inspiration. Since I wasn't working with authentic ingredients, I went for the least old-school Old Fashioned recipe I knew. I have to say, for the booze in question, even though it would make Don Draper roll over in his grave, it worked really well.

The Kraken Old Fashioned

2 1/2 ounces Kraken Black Spiced Rum

1 ounce club soda

4 dashes Fee Brothers Old Fashioned Bitters

2 half wheel orange slices

2 maraschino cherries

Muddle an orange slice, cherry and bitters at the bottom of an old fashioned glass. Fill glass with ice and add Kraken rum. Toss between the glass and a shaker tin to mix. Top with club soda and garnish with the other orange slice and cherry.

Tasting Notes

Although the recipe is based on the classic, the end result is closer to the Caribbean islands than a Manhattan speakeasy. I got a real tropical sense from the drink, while my cousin Chris said it "tasted like Christmas."  This could be a fun recipe to try with an assortment of aged and black rums and a variety of bitters as well. If you get to experimenting with the recipe, or with the Kraken, let us know!

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