Unlike last month, I am being a responsible blogger and participating in the newest installment of Mixology Monday. Generally I procrastinate pretty much up to the last minute but, given the creativity of Rick’s “Limit One” theme I had to break some of my bad habits and actually do my homework beforehand. As I have already mentioned here, the weather has been turning toward spring breezes and sunny days—a phenomenon which always brings rum to the forefront of my thoughts. As such (and considering Rick’s love of tiki cocktails), I aimed for tropical themes when searching for an appropriately boozy drink.
I picked up Trader Vic’s Bartender’s Guide, Revised mostly for inspiration. I wasn’t expecting to find the drink in it, but I felt that some of his heartier rum concoctions would help me along the path to enlightenment. Being an orderly sort of person, I went A-Z, marking interesting ideas as I went, until my eye fell upon the Tiki Puka Puka. It appealed to me right away because the name itself is subtly warning you—too many of these and you’ll be praying to the porcelain tiki god.
So it was the Tiki Puka Puka I wanted…except that I didn’t have Navy Grog mix. Damn! I don’t generally keep mixes of any sort on hand, and I find the constant need for Mai Tai mix or Navy Grog mix to be one of the most consistently irritating things about Trader Vic’s recipes. Granted, they do still sell the stuff, but I don’t make enough Mai Tais or Navy Grogs to warrant making space for yet more bottles in my fridge. As such, I hit up the Tiki Central Forums looking for a recipe that remotely resembled Trader Vic’s Navy Grog mix. I hit pay dirt and, per the discussion in the thread, fiddled with things until I came up with the mixture I’ve included below. I can’t vouch for its authenticity (oh, the horror!) but it is tasty, regardless.
1 oz light Puerto Rican rum
1 oz dark Jamaican rum
1 oz 151º Demerara rum
1 oz blood orange juice
3 oz Trader Vic’s Navy Grog mix (see below)
orange flower water
Blend all ingredients except orange flower water with crushed ice for fifteen seconds. Pour over ice cubes in a grapefruit supreme glass (or a brandy snifter). Garnish with a gardenia and sprinkle the orange flower water over the bloom.
Sloshed! Navy Grog Mix
makes enough for two drinks
⅓ cup spice syrup*
⅓ cup lime juice
1½ oz grapefruit juice
Mix all three ingredients together until well blended.
*After reading that Trader Vic most likely came up with the name “grog” through his fondness for glögg, I used a more heavily spiced, Swedish-influenced spice mix to come up with this syrup. Using a hammer or other blunt object, break up 3 sticks of cinnamon, 2 whole cloves, ¼ teaspoon cardamom seeds and 2 generous tablespoons allspice berries. Add the broken up (but not completely pulverized) spices to 3 cups of water in a small saucepan. Boil vigorously until reduced by half, then strain out the spices. Return the spiced water to the pan and add 1½ cups of sugar. Simmer over low heat until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture has thickened slightly. Cool before using.
Even though I took quite a few liberties with this drink I maintained the original name—despite completely winging the Navy Grog mix and omitting a dash of grenadine and using blood orange juice in the place of regular to emulate the color—because I think this maintains the spirit of the original. The drink is, in most of its particulars, a Navy Grog with 151º and orange juice. That aside, this reaches a new level of complexity, particularly thanks to the aromatic kick of the orange flower water. It is drier than you might expect from the rich red color, but with lovely spicy notes and the bite of citrus. Oh, and it has the kick of about four shots of 80º liquor. Buckle up, kids!