While summer doesn’t officially start until, what, a month or thereabout from now, I’m always in my (very old) brain beginning to think “summer” in force on Memorial Day weekend, which is to say, right now! Summer only has a short “lease” (to bring us all together to the all together of this drink’s name), so I like to stretch it out longer than the calendar specifics. I’d say you can disagree, but, really, I doubt many would as it’s a fairly innocuous or unmemorable thought. This drink, however, is very memorable (if I may be so bold and not blush, as I created it), thanks to a double shot of rum – both white rum and the fancy Stiggins’ Fancy Pineapple rum, which is a delight to nature – a splash of herbally-but-approachably-awesome Montenegro amaro (most popular amaro in Italy by-the-way), pineapple juice (the juice epitome of summer), Scrappy’s Lime bitters (which if it would have been around during the first tiki wave, that wave would have never stopped), soda (for cooling and bubbly purposes), and fresh mint. It’s a treat all summer long, no matter how many days you want to celebrate the season.
Summer proper (first day of summer and all that) is still over a month away, but I can feel it creeping up with every sunny day, temperature rising, refreshing fruity drinks bubbling, flowers blooming, gardens growing, sweat sweating, outdoor meals aromatizing evenings, and did I mention the drinks? We had a precursor summer day recently, one of those days that provides a preview of all that sun and such just described, and I just had to make up a new drink to accompany said day, and had to name it after summer, and had to transport my mind into a summer mindset, and between us, I (humbly), think I did a fairly decent job, and that Theros would approve. Oh, what’s in the drink? I started with rum (a summer favorite), white rum, that is, and then upped the rummy-ness with a little Stiggins’ Fancy rum, which is a referred to as “pineapple rum,” but for summer’s sakes don’t take that to mean chemically-induced or saccharin-y or against nature, as (if you haven’t had it), Stiggins’ is none of those, instead, wafting a perfectly roasted pineapple aroma over a dark flavorful rum. If you haven’t had it, try it now. Then, to round out those rummy siblings and to underline with citrus, herbs, caramel, sweetness, and lushness, I added some Montenegro amaro – one might not think of amari as summer standbys, but one also might be foolish, as these flavor-packed pals can bring just the right layers to hot weather treats, when mixed with the right partners. Like rums! And, like pineapple juice, our next ingredient. And, like Scrappy’s Lime bitters, which delights with lime and lighter herbal notes (remember kids: bitters makes it better). Finally, ice, club soda, mint, and here we are, summer, a month or so early. Enjoy it now, and then.
I’m what you might call a creamtooth. What’s that, you ask? Well, you’ve heard of a sweettooth naturally, and a creamtooth is like that, but someone who’s pretty fond of cream things – like drinks with cream, or parfaits made with cream, or cream scones. But especially drinks made with cream things. I know, I know, creamy drinks are sort-of frownie with some of the toughies that make up the modern cocktail scene. But the mighty Alexander is one of my all-time favs, and well, that kicked it off. Which leads to this drink right here, the Shipboard Moon, made with a new cream liqueur that showed up at the house recently (I know, a bit lucky is me), specifically SomruS Alphonso mango cream liqueur.
That’s right – mango cream liqueur. If anyone was going to pull off a good mango cream liqueur, it’d be SomruS, whose flagship cream liqueur blends five Indian spices and nuts to give it a memorable flavor – well, that and the pure milk and run base. For the mango extension, they were inspired by the traditional Mango Lassi, also from India. To get to a mango flavor that made folks smile, they use the Alphonso mango, the king of mango, as it’s called. End result? A creamy treat that has a natural, smooth, mango flavor, much different from the normal chemically-mango’d booze bottles. Served chilled, it’s a treat all on its own.
But also one that pairs perfectly with other boozes in cocktails, especially those (as you might expect) with a bit of a tropical bent. At least I felt that way when picking a few other ingredients to play with. After a little experimenting, I went with Cruzan’s nice and dry aged light rum, which has some vanilla notes that go well with the cream, and the amazing Stiggins’ Fancy pineapple rum from Plantation. If you haven’t had the latter, you’re in for a treat, as it has a plentiful pineapple aroma and strong-but-tropical flavor that’ll have you dreaming of beaches. Altogether, this trio combines into a drink that’s creamy, sure, but also with backbone and layers of flavor. I topped with a sprinkle of cocoa powder, because, well, it seemed right, and because Valentine’s Day is around the corner.
Just two short weeks ago (which can seem a lifetime during the savorable days of late summer) I had a drink here on the Spike Punch called the SPF – Silver Port Fizz. It featured Sandeman 10-year-old Tawny Porto, in what may have been an odd move for some, port not being a sunshine-y drink companion for many. But this Sandeman Tawny! It’s so fruity, and so full of flavor that it begs (not literally, as wine, spirits, and liqueurs shouldn’t really be talking to you) to be used in summer drinks, fruit being such a key element of the season’s liquid fare.
It’s so worthy that I couldn’t help myself dreaming up other drinks utilizing Sandeman Tawny Porto 10 to be had when the Mercury has risen and ol’ sol is beating down. And that leads us to Summer’s Charm and Courtesy. Less obviously a summer drink then our last refreshing port number, this drink bring out summer through a wave of fruit notes, all subtle separately but coming together in a rapturous (well, drinks can be rapturous, too, right?) layered lush sip after sip. It starts with the Sandeman, which delivers fruit and jam and a hint of nutty and oak, then moves into Plantation Stiggins’ Fancy pineapple rum (a nice note also between all the recent Dickens’ posts), which is a dream, Pierre Ferrand orange curaçao, Fee Brothers West Indian orange bitters, and a little lime. Then, as the last act of courtesy (and in my mind, one can’t be too courteous), a little fresh mint.
It’s just so darn fruity! And so darn good! Darn, give this a try before another sunrise and sunset pass along past us. You’ll be happy, I’ll be happy, the sun will be happy, and all will be well.
The Man Behind the Evening's PlansA.J. Rathbun is a freelance food and entertainment writer, poet and author, a frequent guest on the Everyday Food program (Martha Stewart Living/Sirius satellite radio), and is a contributor to culinary & entertainment magazines such as Every Day with Rachael Ray, The Food Network Magazine, Real Simple, Wine Enthusiast, and many others. Of course, there's so much more to it than that...Read More