It’s about time we got back to Tiki and what better way to get there than with a Navy Grog. The Grog has a fair number of variations but, in my option, to call it a Navy Grog it needs to have the following ingredients: Two or more different rums one of which must be in the dark British style, white grapefruit juice, lime juice and honey. While the Navy Grog references the drink of British Navy sailors it seems unlikely the recipe matches what they were really drinking in the golden age of sail. It wasn’t so golden if you actually had to do the sailing but at least you got plenty of rum to drink, or gin if you were an officer. A mug of rum with water, a squeeze of lime and a lump of sugar – if you were lucky – all drunk warm was your lot. Several times per day. I suppose it’s not inconceivable that a bit of grapefruit juice or honey found its way in there from time to time but more likely it was the invention of Don the Beachcomber when he single-handedly circumnavigated the cocktail world in the early ’30’s and invented Tiki. If Tiki revolves around one drink it’s this one. Even though it lacks the more exotic ingredients of some of the others it’s the Navy Grog that I always seem to return to when I’m not quite sure what to make. It’s a drink that loves to be tinkered with, and tinkered with it I have, but first things first. Although not strictly essential the Navy Grog should really be served with an ice cone. That’s the thing sticking out the top of the drink in the picture with a straw through the middle of it. The old way to make an ice cone was a bit of a pain involving shaved ice, beer glasses and chopsticks and I’ve been messing around looking for a more elegant solution for a while now. And I think I might have cracked it. Go here to see my article on making a 21st century ice cone. Anyway, on to the original Don the Beachcomber Navy Grog. Note there are two alternate ways to make this depending on whether you have a blender and have made some ice cones or not. The blender method is more authentic.
Navy Grog (classic Don the Beachcomber recipe)
0.75oz fresh lime juice
0.75oz white grapefruit juice
1oz honey mix (this is 1 part honey to 1 part water, you can use 3:1 honey syrup but use less – just over 0.5oz)
1oz white Spanish style rum (eg. Havana Club 3 años)
1oz gold rum (ideally Barbados or Jamaican)
1oz dark British style dark rum (ideally Demerara or Jamaican)
[0.75oz soda water only if shaking]
Blend for about 10 seconds with 2-3oz of crushed ice (until the ice has almost vanished). Pour unstrained into a DOF glass containing an ice cone.
Shake well with 6-8oz of crushed ice and pour unstrained into a DOF glass.
Toast The Grogfather – Don the Beachcomber – and prepare to have your timbers shivered!
While the original Navy Grop is good I think it benefits from a Proof Cocktails upgrade. My version follows the same formula but uses stronger more flavourful rums of the overproof variety. I reduced the quantites in order to avoid instant death but even so it’s somewhat stronger than the original so please take care.
Follow the above instructions exactly but for the rum substitute:
0.75oz Smith and Cross rum (57%)
0.75oz Wray & Nephew overproof white rum (63%)
0.5oz Lemon Hart 151 Demerara rum (75.5%)* or Plantation OFTD (69%)
This makes for a more flavourful, fuller bodied grog. The use of two strong Jamaican rums really lets you taste that “funk”. Feel free to make your own substitutions based on what is available to you.
*or alternatives during the European LH151 drought of 2017 such as 0.25oz Plantation Original Dark Overproof and 0.25oz Wood’s 100 Navy Strength.