Let’s look an example of making a new cocktail by taking an established classic and modifying the crap out of it. The Calico Jack is a Daiquiri derived cocktail I came up with many years ago and hadn’t made in a long time. I suppose I thought that because it was an early experiment that it probably wasn’t all that great. Not so – it turns out I got lucky with this one. As you recall a Daiquiri is an 8:3:2 ratio cocktail (2oz rum, 0.75oz lime, 0.5oz syrup) but if you want to use it as a base for experimentation – which it is superbly well suited to – I suggest rounding it out to 2:1:1. This is not just for simplicity but also because most liqueurs are somewhat less sweet than sugar syrup. Our “strong 2” is rum but I’m using a home-made spiced rum instead of the usual white rum. More on that later. The “sour 1” stays the same; lime juice. The “sweet 1” we split between two liqueurs; falernum and an orange liqueur. In this case I used the superb Clement Creole Shrub but this could just as easily be any triple sec or (non-blue) curacao. Each of these components apart from the lime juice has a little spice that it brings to the party and we round it all off with a dash of Peychaud’s bitters which has a pronounced anise profile. In short we built a spice bomb. But you could just as easily construct a flower bomb or even an umami bomb. The possibilities become almost endless if you also change the base spirit and/or sour part. If you follow the base formula you will almost always come up with something somewhat drinkable – so go for it. The Calico Jack bears some similarity to the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club cocktail which I was unaware of at the time of creation but, in retrospect, the use of spiced rum, Peychaud’s and different proportions probably lets me off the hook on any plagiarism accusations. The Calico Jack is named for a famous pirate who was eventually captured because he was too full of rum to fight. Sound about right.
2oz / 60ml spiced rum.*
1oz / 30ml fresh lime juice.
0.5oz / 15ml falernum (preferably home-made).
0.5oz / 15ml orange liqueur (see text above).
2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters.
Shake with ice. Strain into a chilled champagne coupé. Float one whole star anise on the surface (optional).
Toast “Calico” Jack Rackham. Because; pirates!
*Very preferably home-made as detailed below or, if you must, Captain Morgan’s or Bacardi Oakheart but it won’t be nearly as good and might be too sweet. Warned.
Home-made spiced rum.
Spiced rum is a pretty new creation – which is why you won’t find it in any classic Tiki recipes. And it’s not really that “spiced” more like sweetened and vanilla’d. Which is fine if you like that kind of thing. But we can do better. Do I say that too much? I do, don’t I? Anyway it’s true, we can. The first trick is to use some decent rum as a base – any good gold rum that you would be happy to drink on its own and is at least 40%ABV will fit the bill. I like to use Havana Club Anejo or the funky Coruba NPU but a Barbados gold rum would be another good choice. Combine 700ml of such with 12 crushed allspice berries, 2 ounces by volume of dried orange peel (thinly shredded) and a teaspoon of crushed caraway seeds. If you want some vanilla flavour either add 10ml (2 teaspoons) of vanilla extract or add a vanilla bean at the end of the process. Leave the mixture to infuse for one week, shaking a couple of times a day. After a week strain it out through a unbleached coffee filter. Transfer the infused rum into a clean sterilised 1 litre bottle. Add 2oz of rich (2:1) demerara sugar syrup and top up the bottle with dark rum and give a good shake. My preference here is Myers’s. If you want to you can add a whole vanilla bean too. Give it another week to settle and then make yourself a couple of Calico Jacks. Arrrrr.