Today’s Mixology Monday is all about rum, a spirit of which I know virtually nothing. Sure, I use it in an occasional Mojito, Cuba Libre, or Dark and Stormy, but I haven’t experimented with many different bottlings or with more adventurous flavor combinations. For this MxMo, then, I didn’t strive for anything original.
Instead I turned to The Art of the Bar, the fantastically inventive cocktail book from Absinthe Brasserie and Bar’s Jeff Hollinger and Rob Schwartz, and source of one of my favorite recipes of late: the Sangre de Fresca.
The Sangre de Fresca features cachaca. Some might say this doesn’t count as a rum, but it is distilled from sugar cane and rum has always played fast and loose with its definitions. I’m mixing with Leblon, which actually calls itself a Brazilian rum and is barrel aged, so I’m going to go with it. For the sticklers in the audience, I’ll shake one up with rum, too. It’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make; I drink to make you happy. Here’s the recipe:
2 hulled strawberries
4-5 basil leaves
.5 oz balsamic syrup*
1.5 oz cachaca
.25 oz Cointreau
.25 oz lime juice
Muddle the berries, syrup, and leaves. Add the spirits and lime juice and shake with ice, then strain over rocks and top with soda. This makes a nicely refreshing drink. The ripe, fruity smell of the cachaca pairs really well with the balsamic syrup, and of course strawberries and balsamic vinegar is a winning combination.
To tie this more perfectly to the rum theme, I’ve also tried this a few times with Rhum Barbancourt, a Haitian rum aged for four years, in place of the cachaca. This makes for a smoother drink, but the more powerful cachaca stands up better to the other strong flavors at play; the Brazilian spirit’s the way to go here.
*For the syrup, dissolve 1.5 cups of sugar into half a cup of water in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the water dissolves and the sugar caramelizes to an amber color. In a separate pan, simmer 1.5 cups of balsamic vinegar. Then take both off the heat and carefully add the vinegar to the caramelized sugar. Be careful, it will spatter messily. Heat the mix a few minutes longer until it thickens, cool it an ice bath (it retains heat very well), bottle, and store in the refrigerator. It’s a nice thing to have around and lasts a long time.
Update 5/13/08: Trader Tiki’s got your wrap-up right here.