It is no secret that SLOSHED! HQ has a deep and abiding love for Beachbum Berry; his books are practically a religion around here, and we make drinks from them more than any others on our shelves (except possibly Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails, the book that started it all). But for those of you who are unaware, the Bum also keeps a very neat blog wherein he chronicles his adventures and many previously uncharted recipes like this one.
The Ghost Ship comes from a fella named Dave “Basement Kahuna” Wolfe, a tikiphile and accomplished carver of Oceanic art. As the Bum recounts it, Mr. Kahuna “spent a restless night ‘screwing around looking for a spicy, creamy alternative to the Deep Sea Diver or the Painkiller.’” The result is a surprisingly delicious treat based on pot-stilled rum, a style which presents not a few challenges to a mixologist working with it. For Halloween, it offers a sweet and not especially boozy option for the menu—with the added bonus of a stellar garnish that takes the presentation of this drink over the top.
1 oz Smith & Cross Jamaican rum
¾ oz Trader Tiki Don’s Mix
¼ oz Barenjäger
½ oz Licor 43
½ oz fresh lime juice
½ oz orange juice
½ oz half & half
¼ oz orange bitters
Pour all ingredients into a blender with with ¾ cup (6 oz) crushed ice. Blend for 5 seconds and pour into a double old-fashioned glass. Garnish with a “ghost ship” and serve.
To make the garnish: put a toothpick through half of a spent lime shell, making a ship-like shape. Spear two circles of lemon or orange peel with a toothpick through the top and bottom, making a double bow shape. Repeat with a second toothpick, and secure both into the bottom of the lime “hull,” with the “sails” sticking out above the lime shell. Orange peel pirate colors optional.
The original recipe calls for a ½ oz of Stirring’s Blood Orange Bitters; though we have about eight different kinds of orange bitters in the house, none of them are by Stirring’s. If you haven’t tried their Blood Orange Bitters, they aren’t especially bitter—they’re more of a blood orange tincture than what we commonly use as cocktail bitters, so I used The Bitter Truth’s orange bitters and cut the portion back to ¼ oz. With that caveat, this drink is surprisingly delicious. I had a hard time anticipating what the flavor would be like with so many ingredients, but the overall effect is sweet, rich and mellow, very much like the Painkiller would be. There is more depth of flavor here, thanks to the Smith & Cross, but the citrus brightens it up while the liqueurs add sweetness and even out the rum’s characteristic funkiness. The Don’s Mix adds the spiciness usually accomplished by a grating of nutmeg or cinnamon, bringing all the flavors together into a rich, sweet treat.
And that garnish! I’m not much on garnishing in general; if it is more complicated than a sprig of mint or a citrus peel or it isn’t strictly necessary to the flavor of the drink, it ain’t happening. But I couldn’t resist the lure of building a ship out of citrus peels—call it my inner child, yearning for arts and crafts time. Making the garnish is a bit time-consuming but not so much so that it should deter you from giving it a try. Yo-ho-ho, and happy trick-or-treating!