We can’t resist tiki drinks for long here at the farm, and Memorial Day provides a good excuse, so here we go again. Although for this tiki drink, we need no excuse. The Ancient Mariner is one of our favorite cocktails, period. And unlike most tiki drinks, the Ancient Mariner is a recent creation from a mixologist in his prime, Jeff “Beachbum” Berry. We’ve mentioned Berry’s books on tiki drinks and culture and his excellent iPhone app. Berry is well-known for chronicling the world-famous tiki bartenders “Trader Vic” Bergeron and Don the Beachcomber, but he also makes his own recipes and the Ancient Mariner is his creation. And it is a great drink.
A mix of dark rum, light Demerara rum, allspice dram, lime juice, grapefruit juice and simple syrup, the Ancient Mariner has all the fruit and sugar flavors of a classic tiki drink, but with a dry, spicy finish from the allspice dram. Mixologists like to talk about “balance” a lot, and it is often hard to define. (Often I think balance means “what I like”). But whatever balance is, the Ancient Mariner has it. Sweet, sour, tangy and spicy with just a touch of boozy heat, the Ancient Mariner is a lovely sip. The only downside we see is that it might be tempting to have
way a few too many.
But there is one part of this drink that kept us from posting it sooner, the allspice dram. We try to avoid more obscure cocktail ingredients in the blog, but this one is worth finding. Allspice dram (also known as pimento dram) is an allspice and rum-based liqueur from Jamaica. It is a low-alcohol (45 proof) ingredient used to add spice and a touch of almost tannic dryness to cocktails. Widely used in tiki drinks, allspice dram is also used in regular cocktails like The Lion’s Tail and the Balm Cocktail. But about 25 years ago the Jamaican importer stopped bringing allspice dram to the States. So unless you wanted to make your own (and many a mixologist did) you were out of luck.
Happily, allspice dram is back in the US and we can make some cocktails. Haus Alpenz, a Minnesota-based (go figure) importer/distiller of “adventurous” spirits brought St. Elizabeth’s Allspice Dram to market a few years ago. You can find it in most good liquor stores, and it is worth ordering online if hard to find in your area. Like most “bitters” or accents, a little goes a long way, the allspice dram will last you for a while.
As for the rest of the drink, we use Appleton’s 12-year-old as the dark Jamaican rum, but Myers or other dark rums will work. For the Demerara rum, we use El Dorado 3-year-old. The El Dorado is light, tasty and cheap, good stuff. But we think any good light (or even golden) rum will do. Have fun and play around with the rums, you will see real differences, but the drink will still be good. The final flourish of the Ancient Mariner is a garnish of lime and mint. These add a lovely aroma and are a worthwhile last step. We hope you enjoy the Ancient Mariner as much as we do, try it out this weekend.
Ancient Mariner Cocktail:
- 3/4 oz. fresh lime juice
- 1/2 oz. fresh grapefruit juice
- 1/2 oz. simple syrup
- 1/4 oz. allspice dram
- 1 oz Demerara rum
- 1 oz. dark Jamaican rum
- Lime wedge for garnish
- Mint for garnish
- Combine the ingredients with lots of crushed ice in a cocktail shaker and shake thoroughly. Pour, unstrained, into a large glass or tiki mug. Garnish with lime wedge and sprig of mint. Serve