My birthday was last weekend, and after dropping hints on a daily basis for the past few months, my wife eventually picked up on the idea that an ice crusher would make a good gift. Now, with my spiffy new Metrokane on the counter, I can tackle a whole series of drinks in Grog Log and Intoxica! that I’d mostly had to avoid up to now.
Sure, you can make the drinks with ice cubes–but it’s just not the same, temperature-, flavor- or presentation-wise. And since I have small children — meaning cocktail time is typically an after-bedtime sort of event — the noisy smashing up of ice cubes with a rolling pin or blasting them in the Cuisinart is usually a no-go; plus, neither of those methods really give you a good, consistent result. But it’s summer, the time when mint juleps, mojitos and Prince Parker Swizzles are in order, so an ice crusher came to seem like an indispensable addition to my home bar (as did a couple of bottles of French absinthe, which were my present to myself and were delivered by the flying monkeys from Liqueurs de France too late to enjoy on my birthday, but should be a lot of fun to play around with in the coming months).
My first go round was with a Noa Noa, which Rick recently wrote about and graced with such a beautiful photo that I’m afraid to even venture down that path. Though, it really is a fantastic drink.
The Navy Grog wasn’t far behind — I’d tried this drink using cubes, and had excellent results, but I really wanted to try it the way Don the Beachcomber intended, in a glass filled with crushed ice. I did, however, take the license of slightly altering the recipe (based on the recommendation of Ted Haigh), adding just a dab of pimento dram to the mix.
Now this is what a tiki drink is about — mixtures of juices, sweeteners and different rums that create an entirely new balance of flavors. The crushed ice does its job here, cooling the mix more effectively than cubes or even cracked ice, while stretching out the drink so you don’t wind up tossing it back too quickly — a necessary feature, given the three ounces of rum in the glass.
At some point, of course, I’ll have to go all out and prepare a Navy Grog Ice Cone, per Jeff Berry’s suggestion, though that would require a set of Pilsener glasses … time to start dropping hints for next year.
Navy Grog (from Beachbum Berry’s Grog Log)
- 3/4 ounce lime juice
- 3/4 ounce grapefruit juice
- 3/4 ounce honey
- 1 ounce light Puerto Rican rum (I used Cruzan white rum)
- 1 ounce dark Jamaican rum (I used Appleton VX)
- 1 ounce Demerara rum (Lemon Hart)
- 1 ounce chilled club soda
- 1/4 ounce pimento dram (optional)
Heat honey until liquid, then mix with juices. Stir in rums and soda. Pour into double old-fashioned glass filled with crushed ice, or sip drink through ice cone.
Navy Grog Ice Cone: pack ten ounce Pilsener glass with finely shaved ice. Run a hole through center with a chopstick to make a passage for straw. Gently remove cone from glass and freeze overnight.
And, for the record, here’s a Noa Noa:
- 1 ounce fresh lime juice
- Tablespoon brown sugar
- dash angostura bitters
- 4 to 6 mint leaves
- 3 ounces Demerara rum
Dissolve sugar in lime juice, then swizzle everything in double old-fashioned glass partially filled with crushed ice. Add more crushed ice to fill. Swizzle again until glass frosts. Garnish with mint sprig and lime shell.
This is one I have actually not tried due to the lack of pimento liqueur. Would you consider it a clutch ingredient?
Thanks again for the kind words. I’d be interested to see if you agree with my recommendation on the Noa Noa’s ability to accept a wide variety of rums and ratios. You’ll get a lot of interesting tastes, but the background of the other ingredients always remains strong and tasty.
Also, congrats on the birthday present. Having crushed ice at your disposal will surely enhance your tiki experience (and also potentially give you colder martinis).
The Flying Monkeys landed here recently. You certainly won’t be disapointed with your first Sazerac of the season. I’ve tried all three of Ted’s and Nouvelle is my clear favorite for the task, though a friend prefers the Berger clone. Happy tippling.
No, the Navy Grog is quite good even without the pimento dram–though, it does add a certain something, so pursue that track, if you were considering it.
Also on the Navy Grog, I realized (after trying several over the past couple of months) that the type of honey really matters–for these, you actually want one of the milder, mass-marketed honeys, as opposed to the high-quality stuff you find in fine food stores. I mixed one recently with an excellent wildflower honey from New Zealand, and the taste of the honey overpowered the drink.
With the Noa Noa, I’ve been so pleased with how the Lemon Hart works in it, I haven’t branched out to other rums. I’ll try it with something like Appleton VX at some point and report back.