No, not milk–coconut water.
This pleasing little cooler is a recent addition to my summer arsenal, thanks to a posting by David Wondrich on eGullet’s Fine Spirits & Cocktails forum.
Rum & Coconut Water
Fill a tall glass with ice; add 2 ounces rum–amber, aged rums are best–and top with coconut water. Relaaaaaax.
Without getting too detailed about something that I really know very little about, coconut water is the juice from a green coconut, and the flavor and appearance of this liquid are nothing at all like those of the more-familiar coconut milk.
The taste of this drink barely hints at coconut, so banish any prejudices against that flavor immediately. Instead, the water has a bright fragrance and a slightly sweet (depending on the brand) and ever-so-slightly salty taste to it. When paired with a nice aged rum–I’ve had excellent luck using Appleton V/X, Appleton Extra, and Mount Gay Eclipse–the effect on the palate is that of a nice, sweet, woody spirit reclining in a hammock. It’s so damn refreshing, and so damn easy, that my only regret is I didn’t know of it sooner.
The only challenge to this drink is finding the coconut water. Plan A, of course, is to find your own green coconut, grab a machete, then roll up your sleeves and get to work.
Fortunately, packaged varieties are available, but tracking it down may require some exploration of your nearby ethnic food stores (Mexican, Caribbean and Asian markets are good sources for this). Posters on the eGullet forum mentioned that Goya offers coconut water, and apparently a Brazilian company packages juice boxes of the stuff.
Of the two brands I’ve tried, I far preferred the Asian version, the name of which I of course can’t recall, but which was obtained at Uwajimaya, Seattle’s Asian food megamarket (it was in a blue can, if that helps). Another brand, that I’ve had more luck finding, is a Mexican brand called Del Valle. This version works ok, but it has more sugar added to it than did the Asian brand, and the chunks of coconut flesh they put in the can tend to clog up the straw in a most frustrating manner, so it’s necessary to strain the coconut water as you make the drink.
There are drinks I’m okay with, there are drinks I like, and then there are drinks I’m downright evangelical about. On certain late-summer days, when the thermometer creeps upward and I want to do nothing more than kick back and lower my internal thermostat, Rum & Coconut Water falls into the bartender’s bible-thumping category.
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