MxMo XVIII: Exotic Evolution

Mixology MondayIt’s Mixology Monday again, and this round is hosted by Gwen at Intoxicated Zodiac; working with the concept “Leo,” Gwen has chosen Orange as the theme for tonight’s event. Being absolutely certain that no matter what orange juice / orange liqueur / orange bitters containing drink I chose from the classic cocktail repertoire, I’d find another person blogging about it the same evening, I instead decided to strike out on my own and use a relatively new drink that has greatly evolved over the past six or so months, and the final incarnation of which is only known to one other person: the Swordfighter Swizzle.

Last summer, one of my favorite drinks on a hot evening was the Prince Parker Swizzle, a tall, frosty mix of rums, lime juice and demerara syrup, flavored with fresh mint and perfumed with bitters. A variation on the Queen’s Park Swizzle, the Prince Parker appeared on eGullet sometime previously, and during the heat of late June, I mixed one and fell in love.

Fast forward to this past winter, when swizzles would ordinarily be the very last thing on my mind, but then Darcy and I were tasked with putting together a cocktail menu for a Tales of the Cocktail dinner at the Delachaise, prepared by chef Chris DeBarr. Sponsoring the event was Absolut, parent company of Cruzan, and I knew right away that one thing that would be perfect on a steamy July night in New Orleans is a cold, soothing swizzle.

But to suit our needs, the PPS needed a little adjustment. For one thing, Chris had chosen as our dinner theme the life of Lafcadio Hearn, so we were trying to think of ingredients and flavor themes that would somehow mesh with the writer’s biography. Furthermore, since we needed to use the sponsor’s rum for the event, that meant making the drink with Cruzan — now, I think Cruzan’s rums are wonderful, and I keep many of them on hand, but the darker rums lack the kind of delicate, brooding depth I was looking for in this particular drink; some sort of tinkering had to be done.

So, we did a couple of things: first, I tapered down the demerara syrup in the PPS, and introduced another ingredient: Rhum Clement Creole Shrubb. Considering that Hearn had lived in New Orleans for ten years, then moved to Martinique, it made sense to me to use this remarkable orange liqueur (that’s where the MxMo theme comes in) as a flavoring agent in the drink. Flavored with bitter orange peels and Caribbean spices, the Shrubb is similar to an orange curacao, except as its base spirit, it uses Martinique rum, which gives the liqueur this peppery, serrated aspect that really brings it to life.

For the depth, I recalled something Jeff Berry had once said about how Donn Beach added complexity to his original faux-tropical drinks by using a dash of Herbsaint paired with Angostura bitters. If it was good enough for Donn, it’s good enough for me, so into the drink it went.

…And then I went through about a dozen different versions before settling on the recipe for the meal. We dubbed it the “Pepe Llulla Swizzle,” named for the subject of a lengthy Hearn essay entitled “The Last of the New Orleans Fencing Masters,” about a Spanish inhabitant of the city who was the most renowned swordsman and all-around duellist of his day. We used the swizzle as our dessert cocktail for our Spirited Dinner, and Neal and the bar staff at the Delachaise did an incredible job with the recipe, as much a pain in the ass as it was to prepare.

The recipe that follows is not for this drink.

Here’s why: after returning home, in an e-mail exchange with the Bum, I sent him the recipe. With all sponsor constraints behind us, the recipe could be altered into a final state, which would be the defining recipe for this drink. Jeff went Rainman with the drink, effortlessly dissecting its flavor and recommending useful tweakages. This is the resulting drink; with the changes made in the past month, and with the difficulty of getting anyone to remember a name as clunky as Pepe Llulla Swizzle, I felt it necessary to change the name as well, while keeping the spirit of Hearn’s subject.

Swordfighter Swizzle

Swordfighter Swizzle

In a tall, 10-ounce glass, lightly muddle 6-8 fresh mint leaves, swabbing the sides of the glass with the oil.

Add:

  • 1 ounce Cruzan Light rum
  • 1 ounce Demerara rum
  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 ounce rich demerara syrup (2 parts demerara sugar dissolved in 1 part water)
  • 1/2 ounce Rhum Clement Creole Shrubb
  • 1/4 teaspoon Herbsaint

Fill glass with crushed ice; swizzle with bar spoon until sides of glass are coated in frost. Pack glass with more crushed ice. Bathe the top of the ice with:

  • 2-3 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
  • 1-2 dashes Angostura bitters

Smack a mint sprig to release the fragrance, and sink it into the ice, along with a slice of fresh peach skewered on a cocktail sword. Insert a short straw, and go to town.

Humorous conclusion: While sipping this drink and finishing this post, I started wondering if I’d made a bad move — the drink didn’t taste quite the way it did when I last tried it several days ago. Then, when placing the above image, I noticed the little red triangle on the Lemon Hart label — somehow I’d accidentally picked up the Lemon Hart 151-proof rum instead of the standard 80 proof, and didn’t clue into it until I saw the photo, even though the freakin’ bottle is sitting about six inches from my elbow. Note: don’t try making this with the 151-proof. I’m not quite halfway through the drink and it’s still kicking my ass.

11 Responses to MxMo XVIII: Exotic Evolution

  1. Yowza! That would certainly put the hurt on one’s bum, hope you got through it alright. Like the concept behind the drink and it sounds delicious.

  2. Wowawowwow! That sounds fabulous!

    Funny you should mention the Lemon Hart 151º—that’s the only demerara I have in the house at the moment. I’m going to have to pick up the 80º and get cracking on this. It should go nicely with the peach upside-down cake I’m making…

  3. that looks like my kind of cocktail. i’ll be sure to try it…

    i cut the 151 in half with clayton’s non alc. kola nut tonic… so much fun. get ahold of some to use up the rest of that bottle…

  4. Anita — sorry, the drink falls more into the brown category — though, once you hit the top of the ice with the Peychaud’s, it looks really lovely on the surface, which is probably what you’re seeing.

    Blair — the Shrubb is an out-of-state acquisition, I’m afraid; WA doesn’t carry it, though you may be able to find it during a swing through BevMo the next time you’re making a trip to Forbidden Island.

    Stephen — hmmm, I’ve got a bunch of kola tonic hanging around, not doing anything; I’m gonna have to look into this.

  5. That sounded so good, and Seattle was having such nice weather, that I made a couple last night! I actually made a slightly-imperfect versions of your drink; I only have the Lemon Hart 151º (as you know, strangely much easier to find in Washington than the 80º). So I did 1/2 oz of that and 1/2 oz of Myers, in order to keep some of the richness of the Demerara without getting totally smashed (in retrospect, Rhum St. James may have been a better choice than the Myers to make up the difference). I did have a nice Cruzan Single-Barrel for the light rum, though.

    I also don’t have any Herbsaint; I subbed in Ricard. To make up for dissing New Orleans, I added a Cafe Adelaide swizzle stick! Result is here: http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1177/1122062163_c1aa60601a.jpg?v=0

    A fantastic drink! Next time I’ll try to be more true to the recipe to see what the real thing tastes like.

  6. Idle question, are the Lemon-Hart 80 and 151 different blends of rum? Do they taste different?

    Or is they the same rum with different amounts of water?

    I’ve just got the 151 currently, and am wondering if I need to also buy the 80.

  7. Finally! It was my turn to mix tonight, so this was Wes’ and my cocktail of the day. Mighty, mighty fine. This definitely belongs in the pantheon of New Orleans cocktails. Let’s see if we can get the Delachaise to keep making ‘em, or maybe the Swizzle Stick.

    Speaking of having your ass kicked by a cocktail, try a Manhattan with George T. Stagg sometime. That’s what we had last night, and I was very, um …relaxed by the end of the evening.

  8. Paul, unfortunately BevMo doesn’t carry Creole Shrubb, but this post inspired me to head down to Wiemax on the peninsula and pick up bottles of that & Lemon Hart 80º (already had the 151º, both also not stocked at BevMo).

    Anyway, great recipe! Cheers to you & da Bum!

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