Teeling Small Batch – whisky review

He has a whisky drink…

Teeling Small Batch Rum Cask whisky review

A long time ago Irish whisky outsold Scotch, Bourbon and Canadian whisky combined. No, really. Yet by the 1980s there remained just one company owning a tiny handful of Irish distilleries and sales were pretty dismal. How the mighty had fallen. Luckily the comeback is well under way with Irish whisky sales growing strongly year on year over the last three decades. What I find particularly interesting is that, just prior to the comeback, the Irish government allowed the struggling industry to rewrite the rules that defined their spirit. And in their desperation they decided on something along the lines of “feckin’ anything!” Now while I think that it’s all well and fine to have strict rules in making a spirit (for example American and Scotch whisky) I think there’s also a place for a kind of Wild West attitude along side of that. So let’s look at perhaps the perfect example of what happens when a distiller is unburdened by strict restrictions and decides to go freestyling. Enter Teeling Small Batch Rum Cask.

Teeling Small Batch Rum Cask is a relatively affordable whiskey coming in at around €25 in these parts – right in the mixing spirit zone in my opinion. Indeed I understand that is entirely Teeling’s target market for this whiskey. For such a moderate price it comes in an attractive bottle with a cork seal. The dark glass bottle is a nice traditional shape and the label is a combination of the modern and traditional that still works well. The label has a pretty decent amount of information which I always applaud. Let’s have a look at that. First up we see an ABV of 46% and anything above 40% is in my view always a good sign that the spirit has been treated with some respect and not simply diluted to the legal minimum. Likewise the label states that Small Batch is not chill filtered. For the uninitiated this means that the spirit hasn’t had all the taste filtered out just to stop it getting a little hazy in some fairly untypical situations. A completely pointless trade-off in my view. What I do have some beef with is the statement “Since 1782”. Teeling is a very new distillery and while there is certainly some history of whisky making in the Teeling family I’m inclined to label this statement as “misleading” and would prefer to see something more honest such as “Est. 2015” on there. However it’s a small quibble and there is no shortage of other brands up to the same shenanigans. Moving on we see, as expected, that this whisky is finished in rum casks. One of the new “rules” for Irish whisky is that it must be aged in wood. Any wood. This gives Irish distillers massive opportunities for creative ageing. In this case they’ve not gone nuts simply using bourbon casks prior to blending followed by a rum cask finish post-blending. Where they have gone a little left-field is their use of a corn/grain mash which is more of a new-world practice. While not stated on the label I can further inform you that the composition is about three parts grain whisky to one part malt whisky which I find pretty respectable at this price. Ageing duration goes unstated other than “an extra 6 months in rum barrels” so we can best assume it’s over the legal minimum of three years and less that the age of the distillery which is about five years. As it happens the Teeling brothers have some older spirit from their previous enterprises but you won’t find any of that in this whisky. Returning to the label we find a bottling date (2/2020 on mine) which is unusual on whisky but I feel the more information the better so why the heck not? Which is all very well but how does it taste and how does it mix, you ask.

Finally released into the glass from the almost opaque bottle we see that our whisky has a nice light golden colour. A swirl and sniff reveals how much influence the rum cask finishing has had with definite sweetness and an aroma that is about halfway between a rum and a whisky. This effect remains largely in the nose as once tasted though it’s abundantly clear that this is indeed a whisky thanks to a firm maltiness and a pleasing balance – it really doesn’t come over as too sweet which was definitely a concern I had. Furthermore there is a complexity and mouthfeel (a slight and pleasant oiliness) that is pretty impressive at this price-point, all of which is no-doubt helped by the relatively generous bottling strength. It’s unashamedly big and bold in its flavours (even if those are tricky to pin down) which is no mean feat for a blended product. I’m giving Small Batch some bonus points for how well integrated it is and its long warming finish – again quite impressive for a €25 bottle. Ultimately it’s not as quirky as we might have expected, tasting very much like a decent premium blended Scotch but whether that is a plus or minus might depend on what you are looking for in this whisky. If you are in search of a purely sipping whisky you could probably do better even at this price. I personally think it is actually perfectly sippable even if it lacks a little in terms of subtlety but, of course, the reason we’re all here is to see how good this stuff is at:


It’s when we get down to some mixing that we see what Teeling Small Batch is really made of. Obviously my first stop has to be that drink with the cleverest name: the Michael Collins. And it makes a cracking one by any measure. It’s a bit of a mystery as to why some spirits mix well and others fall flat and, while there really is no guide book, I find spirits with big flavours do best. Perhaps then it should come as no surprise that Small Batch does so well. Encouraged, I experimented further and was not let down. I particularly enjoyed it in the Manhattan formula with Punt e Mes and a couple of dashes of Bogart’s Bitters. It turns out be be an excellent mixer and makes a nice counterpoint to the Monkey Shoulder that I might normally reach for. When I tested it head to head against the best known Irish mixing whiskey Teeling Small Batch ate it for breakfast. With black pudding. Although, to be fair Teeling is a little more expensive.

To be clear this is not a whisky that will set your world on fire but given the price it has oodles of character and mixes extremely well – which, as always, is what we are looking for on these pages. As a mixing Irish whisky Teeling Small Batch Rum Cask scores a pretty respectable:




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The Doctor + Swedish Punsch

Punsch up at the Doctor’s.

The Doctor + Swedish Punsch

There are a not insignificant number of older cocktail recipes that call for an ingredient called Swedish Punsch and that tend to bring the budding cocktailista to a shuddering halt. What is this exotic ingredient? Does it even still exist? It most certainly does and with a little help from regular reader Quiddity (credit where due) I shall attempt to explain. Swedish Punsch is a traditional Swedish (duh!) tipple that used to be an actual punch of Batavia Arrack, spices and sugar but has for some considerable time become available in bottled form and has thus evolved into more of a liqueur. In Sweden – according to my source Q – there are quite a number of different punsches which vary in flavour and sweetness. I have access to just one, which Q says is one of the sweeter types so I have to advise you to adjust any amounts to taste if you have a different one. The Finns also have a sweet spot for this stuff and make their own versions. The Carlshamns Flaggpunsch pictured very recently moved its production into Finland and I’m prepared to bet that raised some eyebrows on both sides of the border – especially given those blue and yellow flags on the label!

The Doctor

The problem with The Doctor cocktail is that there are a squillion-and-one different recipes that have little in common apart from the Swedish Punsch. Early versions were Punsch and lime juice but later (and I’m still talking 70-80 years ago!) Jamaica rum started to creep into many recipes. No matter. I’ve picked one that I like and that is also moderately typical of the later style. And then fucked with it. At heart this version is a Daiquiri that simply uses Punsch as a sweetening agent instead of sugar. But while sweet it’s still not as sweet as sugar syrup so it needs a little help. Now Myers’s rum can certainly lend a hand here being a touch on the sugary side itself while still being Jamaican (most are pretty dry). And if we’re using Jamaican rum there’s no way we’re leaving out the superbly funky Smith & Cross, especially as it even has another Doctor recipe on the back of the bottle. Our work here is done – other than to balance our drink. I like the proportions below but that still might be a touch tart for some, in which case cut back on the lime juice a little. Now I should warn you in advance that with a liqueur and two kinds of rum, one of them Navy strength, the Doctor packs quite a punsch (yeah, sorry) so sip with care. The name? Well as we know many early cocktails were supposed to be medicinal and it seems likely that this one hung on to that concept all this time. To your health!

The Doctor.

1oz / 30ml Myers’s dark Jamaican rum.

1oz / 30 ml Swedish Punsch (I used Carlshamns).

0.75oz / 22ml Smith & Cross Jamaican rum.

0.75oz Fresh lime juice.

Shake with ice and strain into a chilled Champagne coupé.

Garnish with a twist of lime peel.

Toast doctors, nurses and everyone else fighting the Covid-19 wars.


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Proof News – a change is in the wind.

Bag ’em ‘n’ tag ’em!


Proof News – a change is in the wind.

In a change from our normal programme Proofcocktails.nl brings you news of some changes. Some of you may have noticed that my articles haven’t been quite as frequent over the last weeks. Sorry about that but I’ve got an excuse: I’ve been busy. Allow me to explain. I was hoping to make an announcement around now about my involvement in an exciting new bar/restaurant about to open here in Amsterdam. But then life Covid-19 got in the way. Just before we opened, we got locked down – along with the rest of the industry. Jammer (as we say here in nl). Looks like you’ll have to wait a little longer to try my cocktails for real. So, because of the sucky situation, we’re going to ride out the ‘rona by pivoting to an entirely unrelated delivery model. Our head chef Guillem is something of a BBQ nut and we reckon there’s a distinct shortage of frisky brisket in this city so we’ll be opening Jack’s BBQ Shack for take-away and delivery in the next few days. But y’all’re gonna need something to wash all that smoky goodness down and so it looks like I’m back in mixin’ business after all! I’ve morphed some Proof favourites into take-away jam jar cocktails for the thirsty masses and added a couple of new recipes I’ve been working on to the mix. As you can see the presentation is far from fancy but definitely right on-brand. These drinks might be at the other end of the spectrum from bespoke cocktails but, with a bit of tweaking, certain cocktails – and we’re really talking about sours and Collins’ here – can be pretty damn tasty in this format if you take care to boost the flavours to the max and pay close attention to your chilling and dilution. And as long as the deliverator pedals fast enough.

And then, when this Corona shit-storm has finally blown itself out, we’ll be back with plan A. Ah, ah – no clues! I’ve waited this long so I think I can keep the details safely in my back pocket for just a few more months…

Ridin’ out the storm with some BBQ.


So what does this all mean for Proofcocktails.nl? Well not too much as it happens. While the frequency of posting might become a bit more erratic (depending on how busy I am) I’ve no intention of stopping this blog since the noble war on sobriety is far from won. If anything you might see a bit more variety in future articles reflecting my re-insertion into the sharp end of the cocktail industry. Meanwhile you home cocktailistas should keep the faith and consider these difficult times the ideal opportunity to perfect your art.

Stay safe and happy mixin’


PS – If you’re in central Amsterdam click below to order some awesome BBQ and cocktails!

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Flying Dutchman + orange gin.

Oranje boven.

Flying Dutchman + orange gin.

Now it’s not very often that I come across a cocktail that was invented within walking distance of Proof HQ so when I saw this one in Ted Haigh’s Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails a few years back my interest was definitely piqued. The American Hotel which has been hanging out on Amsterdam’s Leidseplein since 1900 is a pretty striking edifice and is popular with touring rock ‘n’ roll musicians. Waaaay back when the hotel was not quite yet a centenarian I had a friend who used to work there and she was allowed to keep whatever they left behind. We had some splendid times drinking Keanu Reeves vodka and smoking his tabs and I’m still in possession of Patti Smith’s guitar picks as well as her magic die (don’t ask, but I still base my most important decisions on a roll of it). There might have been some other abandoned wares but my memory of those days is a little hazy…

American Hotel, Amsterdam 2020.

Anyway it was there in 1950 that a certain W. Slagter who held office at the bar of the American – which is still worth a visit – first wrote of this drink in his Internationale Cocktailgids. It took me a long time to get to making one because it contained a rather strange ingredient: orange gin. For a long time there was not such thing but now there are a few versions available from some of the bigger brands. However, being the tinkerer that I am I decided to make my own orange gin and it really is the easiest thing in the world. Take a bottle of decent but straightforward gin, my choice here being Bombay Dry*, and just add about 15 grams of dried orange peel. Leave it for 24 hours giving the odd shake and then strain it through an unbleached coffee filter. The choice of peel has quite an influence on the flavour so go for a decent one**. Orange gin in hand I proceeded to fix myself a Flying Dutchman (I mean what else was an Amsterdammer going to call his creation, right?) despite the downright weirdness of the recipe. You see the FD has a bunch of bitter and sour ingredients but little to balance them. No, fresh orange juice does not have enough sweetness and, as with pineapple juice, you really need to consider it as “neutral” when balancing a cocktail, counter-intuitive as that may seem. And indeed the FD is a rather bracing drink, which may have been fine in the 1950s but falls a little out-of-gamut to modern tastes. Thankfully this is easily fixed by the addition of a couple of teaspoons of simple syrup. While certainly no mind-blowing complex flavour bomb the Flying Dutchman is a pleasant and crisp cocktail that I particularly enjoy in the dog-days of Summer and as a bonus that orange gin also makes a rather wonderful gin and tonic.

Flying Dutchman.

2oz / 60ml orange gin.

0.75oz / 22ml fresh orange juice (just squeezed, not carton).

0.5oz / 15ml fresh lemon juice.

2 dashes of Angostura bitters.

2 teaspoons of simple syrup (I like to use demerara).


Shake with ice and strain into a chilled champagne coupe.

Garnish with an orange twist because apparently double orange is not quite enough…

To try the original recipe simply skip the syrup. I double dog dare you.

Toast Snoop Dogg.

*While I normally suggest spirits north of 40%ABV for infusing this seems to work just fine with gin as low as 37.5%. If using a stronger gin (42%+) you could reduce the infusion time a little.

**I use a blend of bitter, sweet and Persian peels and it rocks!

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Ten Tiki Rums.

It’s a rum do.

Ten essential rums for the Tiki voyager.

The wonderful world of Tiki cocktails can be daunting at first – not least because of the wide array of rums that are called for in many recipes. Today I’m gonna try to break it down to ten essential Tiki rums that will allow you to make the widest possible array of tropical drinks as authentically – and tastily – as possible. I’ve tried (mostly) to pick those which are affordable and fairly widely available. You will notice that there are no spiced or flavoured rums listed below and that is because they are mostly a bit shit classic Tiki recipes predate those more modern inventions and add spices and other flavours in more natural ways. Without further ado let’s get stuck in to some fabulous rums!

1. Plantation OFTD. Going in heavy we’ll start with this modern rum which was custom blended to replace classic overproof demerara rum Lemon Hart 151 which is used in small but essential amounts in many classic recipes. Lemon Hart 151 has in recent years become difficult to source for many tiki-heads as well as becoming something of a shadow of its former glory at the same time. While OFTD stands for Old Fashioned Traditional Dark according to the label, everyone and his dog knows the “insider secret” that it was the exclamation “Oh, Fuck – That’s Delicious!” that was a reaction on the first expert tasting panel that gave it the name. Myth or excellent marketing? Who can say for sure. Now, while OFTD is a mere 69% to LH151’s 75.5% (yeah, I know) it does the job more than acceptably well. If you can get Hamilton 151 you’re doing better than me otherwise consider this to be your go-to overproof demerara rum, even if technically it isn’t.

2. Havana Club 3 Años. Available and affordable everywhere (except the USA*) HC3, is the quintessential white Cuban rum for Daiquiris, Mojitos and any other situation where a white Cuban is called for. It’s got a ton more flavour than most other white rums due to those three years in oak barrels in a hot climate. There are few alternatives but I’ve recently found Botran Blanca Reserva to be a good ‘un so that might be a good way to go if you find yourself on the wrong side of an embargo/copyright dispute.

3. Myers’s rum. Controversial! Some may say this dark Jamaican rum is only good for cooking but I beg to differ. Sure, it’s a touch sweet but if a recipe calls for a dark Jamaican I have absolutely no problem reaching for the Myers’s. It lacks the funk of many other Jamaican rums but you do get a rich molasses flavour instead. Coruba dark is a viable alternative for those in the USA and a few other countries.

4. Wray & Nephew Overproof white rum. Staying in Jamaica we’ll be needing some of the funk that Myers’s lacks and where better to find it than in Jamaica’s favourite rocket fuel. At 63% W&N is packed with those funky over-ripe fruit flavours that are so hard to describe. The only game in own until recently you will get a similar experience from any other Jamaican white that is of the same strength (Rum-Bar and Rum Fire being two good examples). Essential ingredient in the Wray and Ting and my own Trenchtown Grog.

5. Mount Gay Eclipse. A Barbados rum that has become my gold standard as a base mixing rum. Dry, flavourful, available and affordable Mount Gay Eclipse is the ideal foundation that many a great drink can be built from. I find it to be pretty interchangeable with a gold Cuban rum even though it has some pot-still content and is theoretically a completely different type of rum. So there.

6. Navy Rum. Ah, I’m not going to go for a single rum in this category. For this British style of dark, rich blended rum from different sources the obvious choice is Pusser’s, which, to be fair, fits the bill perfectly and is very nice. But I like to go a bit left-field here and plump for Wood’s 100 which is a 57% navy strength demerara rum that can cover a few different roles at the same time. Pity it’s pretty much only available in the UK. Sigh, OK, for most of you we’re really talking Pusser’s here and they also have a 54.5% version.

7. Clement Select Barrel. While you might get by without one, you’ll be missing out if you don’t have a rhum agricole. Made from cane juice rather than molasses agricoles can be tricky territory for the beginner with their unfamiliar grassy/earthy flavours. I find that the moderately priced Clement Select Barrel has an approachable but punchy flavour without being overly smoothed out like the more popular Clement VSOP. Essential ingredient in the ‘Ti Punch and very nice in a Mai Tai.

8. El Dorado 8 year old. To do Tiki right you’re gonna need a demerara rum and here’s where things can get spotty as I don’t think there’s one that is universally available. If you’re in the UK (or Guyana, duh) you are likely to be spoiled for choice – and indeed Woods 100 mentioned above does double duty here – but in other countries the pickings might be slim. Luckily one that’s at least fairly widespread is also one of the best and most versatile. El Dorado 8 year old is reasonably dry, mixable, sipable, rich and smoky although some of their other offerings are a bit too sweet.

9. Smith & Cross. Damn but this one’s tough for me to justify. Yes, it’s another funky Jamaican rum and not toooo far away from Wray & Nephew Overproof but this is just such a good mixing rum I couldn’t bear to leave it out. This, as far as anyone can tell, is the closest thing to what rum used to taste like and therefore what rum should taste like. Funky, strong (57%) flavourful and utterly unrepentant this is a rum that leaves it’s mark on every cocktail it touches – almost always for the better.

10. Plantation Original Dark. Not to be confused with our first option, this entry level rum is a great jack-of-all trades multi-island blended rum that also has a certain old world honesty to it. If you’re not sure what to use in a Tiki drink Original Dark will rarely let you down as a catch-all dark rum. Try it in a Queen’s Park Swizzle to see what I’m talking about.

With the above rum palate you will be ready to start getting deeper into the world of Tiki where combinations of two or three of the above are typical. To find what to do with them just type in the the above rums – or categories – into the search box on proofcocktails.nl.

*Those of you there beware of iffy imitations from Bacardi. No green seal of guarantee from the Cuban government = no Cuban rum in the bottle. Warned.

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Bitters review – Bogart’s Bitters.

Don’t Bogart them bitters, my friend. Pass ’em over to me.

Bogart’s Bitters.

The very first celebrity bartender in the very first cocktail book made much use of the enigmatic “Bogart’s bitters”. The legendary status of Jerry Thomas and The Bar-tenders Guide (1862) has made the acquisition of these bitters something of a Quest for the Holy Grail for modern day cocktail archaeologists. The first hurdle was that for reasons unclear Thomas had written “Bogart’s” instead of Boker’s in his first edition and it remained uncorrected until the 1887 edition which was published after his death. The second problem is that Boker’s Bitters, like so many others, were killed off by prohibition in the 1920s making Johann Böker’s much loved bitters a mere 100 year flash-in-the-pan. Attempts to recreate Boker’s have been many and varied but largely hindered by a lack of any surviving (potable) samples or (reliable) recipes. At least until German bitters manufacturers The Bitter Truth managed to acquire an unopened bottle dating from around 1900. After much scientific analysis and tasting they reverse engineered a new version which they believe is as close to the original as is possible. They chose to go with the name Jerry T mistakenly used (which I imagine is just to head off any potential copyright challenge) but chose a bottle and packaging that pays homage to the original product. Nicely played fellas! But did they nail it? Let’s find out:

The Bitter Truth’s Bogart’s Bitters come in an elegant 350ml bottle that closely resembles the one they dug up from God-knows-where which makes it almost twice the size of their normal range, which at 200ml are already larger than much of the competition. Therefore you are getting lot of bitters for your €24. It has a cork closure which is classy but unusual and therefore requires decanting into your own dasher bottle which may be an inconvenience for some but leads me to conclude that the product is largely intended for sale to cocktail bars. I’d like to see a smaller (dasher) bottle for the home bartender who doesn’t need a 5 year supply but perhaps that will come with time. The Truth boys have done a spiffing job on the paper labels which look thoroughly Victorian whilst sneaking in the necessary modern data. The packaging also includes a fun little booklet with some recipes from Mr Thomas’ original tome which, of course, is handily well out of copyright. At 42.1% ABV we have a bitters in the right alcohol range for this type of aromatic bitters. Once freed from the confines of the very dark reddish-brown bottle we find the bitters to be even darker: something akin to the very darkest kind of chocolate – that 99% cocoa solids stuff that’s almost too bitter even for your advanced palate. Now, when we taste it – a drop on the back of the hand being the way to go with bitters – we do actually get a very deep chocolatey lingering bitterness as our first impression. There’s some spices in there too: cinnamon certainly, a little clove and more that are difficult to put a finger on. This is very nice, deep, warming, dark and with a long finish where the chocolate fades to leave the spices dancing on your tongue. While some modern bitters are more like flavourings that true bitters there is no such problem here; I sense immediately that Bogart’s will excel in the task of countering the sweetness of the teaspoon of sugar in an Old Fashioned. There’s a lot to like here and the feeling of authenticity is, while almost impossible to prove, rather convincing. Put to the test in an Old Fashioned three dashes of Bogart’s delivered a deep, rich and balanced drink, easily countering the teaspoon of simple syrup and the slight inherent sweetness of the Buffalo Trace. No better or worse than using Angostura just different. Woodier, darker, less familiar.

While firmly in the aromatic bitters category I do have to make clear that, in my option, Bogart’s bitters can never be a direct replacement for Angostura bitters which have become unshakably installed in a wide range of (comparatively) modern cocktails. Angostura, which even predate the original Boker’s by a few years have simply gained too much ground in the 100 years since prohibition purged almost all the competition and are, by any measure, a superb product. However I highly recommend Bitter Truth Bogart’s to those who are not averse to having a few different bitters on hand and it is now my belief that the serious cocktailista should have Angostura, Regan’s orange, Peychaud’s and Bogart’s on their shelf, using the other’s where called for by name or tradition but reaching for the Bogart’s the rest of the time. Therefore, with a few marks deducted for the large bottle and (understandable) inability to supplant Angostura, The Bitter Truth Bogart’s Bitters scores a straight:



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Good Evening Rosemary.

Pretty in pink.

Good Evening Rosemary.

A wonderful and yet simple Gin & Tonic variation the Good Evening Rosemary was invented in the summer of 2017 by my good friend and Gin & Tonic aficionado Sive* Cassidy at a villa somewhere in Galicia. I was rustling up a round of Mezcal Negronis when she grabbed my Campari and a few sprigs of rosemary from the garden and asked me “D’ya think if I added these to a G&T it might be tasty?”

“Nah,” quoth I, “That’d be nasty.” The Good Evening Rosemary is a delicious drink where all those bitter and sweet flavours meld perfectly and then the taste and aroma of the rosemary elevate it to a further level of sublimosity. Genius.

Good Evening Rosemary

1.5oz / 45ml dry gin of choice.

0.5oz / 15ml Campari.

200ml of tonic (I like Fever Tree).

Pour above over ice in a Collins or balloon glass and stir gently.

Insert a nice fresh sprig of rosemary.

Toast Sive Cassidy.

*Rhymes with “five”.

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Three Dots & a Dash + Pimento dram.



Three Dots & a Dash.

One of TikiWorld’s finest delights, the Three Dots and a Dash was created by the great Don the Beachcomber to celebrate the end of the second world war. You see the strange name of this drink is the morse code for the letter V, which in turn stands for Victory. Which then enters into the drinks garnish in the form of three Maraschino cherries as dots and a skewer or pineapple stick as the dash. I suppose a dash two dots and another dash for Peace was just too tricky? Now if it’s so great why have I been holding out on you guys for so long? The simple answer is that the Three Dots uses a few tricky ingredients. While we’ve talked about Falernum and Rhum Agricole before we’ll have to add Pimento Dram to that list. So as usual let’s take a time out to get up to speed:

Pimento Dram.


The drammed don’t cry.


This typically Tiki liqueur – sometimes also called Allspice Dram/Liqueur – is based on the pungent flavour of the allspice berry which, confusingly is also known as the pimento berry despite having nothing to do with that little red pepper that lives inside a cocktail olive. Allspice gets its name because it contains flavour elements similar to clove, nutmeg and cinnamon in one handy package. It is heavily used in Jamaican cuisine (such as jerk chicken) which is also where it originates. When transformed into a boozy liquid form the  St. Elizabeth and Bitter Truth versions are perfectly good but it’s also fairly easy to make your own. A little goes a long way and it keeps particularly well so it’s not an exercise you need to repeat very often. My recipe goes like this: Fill a 2oz jigger with dried allspice berries acquired from any decent spice shop. Crack them open in a mortar and pestle (not into a powder!) and add them to a jar containing 400ml of white (or gold) Jamaican rum of at least 40%ABV*. Leave for a week shaking daily. Add a broken up Ceylon (this being the crumbly kind rather than the harder cassia type) cinnamon stick and leave for a further week, agitating daily. Strain through an unbleached coffee filter and discard the solids. Mix 250g of demerara sugar with 125ml of boiling water until dissolved and add to the spiced rum mixture. Bottle in a clean and sterilised bottle. As it’s used in small quantities – typically 0.25oz / 7.5ml per drink you could easily make a half sized portion.


This dotty drink is heavily dependent on the quality of the rhum agricole you use and I strongly recommend the excellent Clement select barrel if available to you. I found standard Clement agricole a bit meh and the more expensive Clement VSOP a bit too smooth. The smaller amount of demerara rum is less crucial but my top pick in the Three Dots is El Dorado 8 year old – a superb mixing rum with somewhat less sugar content than its siblings**. Furthermore, while the tiny amount of orange juice might seem insignificant, it most certainly is not and must be squeezed from a fresh fruit immediately prior to use. Now at this point you may be starting to think “Upon my word, this be a most persnickety beverage to concoct!” But trust me – it’s worth it. The reality is this: If you can perfect the Three Dots with all its peculiarities and esoteric ingredients you have truly reached the high plateau of Tiki excellence.

Three Dots and a Dash.

1.5oz / 45ml Rhum agricole (preferably Clement Select Barrel).

0.5oz / 15ml Demerara rum (El Dorado 8 is ideal).

0.5oz / 15ml fresh lime juice.

0.5oz / 15ml (very) fresh orange juice.

0.5oz / 15ml honey syrup (1:1 honey/water) slightly less if using 3:1

0.25oz / 7.5ml falernum.

0.25oz / 7.5ml Pimento dram (see text).

One dash of Angostura bitters.

Pulse blend (5 or 6 pulses) with about 6oz / 180ml of crushed ice. Do not fully liquidise.

Garnish with three maraschino cherries on a stick. A pineapple “dash” can also be added, but I went for a pineapple leaf “V” instead. Serve with a bamboo straw – yes, I forgot to.

– — .- … – / -.. — -. / – …. . / -… . .- -.-. …. -.-. — — -… . .-.

*I like to boost the alcohol content by including some overproof Jamaican rum which helps the extraction of the flavours. If you do the same you can cut the two weeks down to around ten days (2×5).

**Although I hear El Dorado are gradually reducing the sugar content of all their rums which is very welcome news.

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Bin & Gitters.

Ducking  felicious!

Bin & Gitters.

Despite its bizarre name the Bin & Gitters is a cracking drink both in its simplicity and its deliciousity. Apparently the drink first appears in Charles Baker’s 1951 The South American Gentleman’s Companion, Being an exotic drinking Book or up & down the Andes with Jigger, Beaker & Flask, Vol. 1. I say “apparently” because I only have Baker’s earlier tome – which we dipped into recently. Largely neglected for the rest of the 20th century the Bin & Gitters next was resurrected by Sasha Petraske and shows up in his posthumous Regarding Cocktails in 2016. The B&G is a simple drink but so, so rewarding. Just pack a tumbler with crushed ice (this is one of those cases where there’s no need to use a chilled glass) and while it’s chillaxing make yourself a standard Gimlet. Strain the Gimlet into the iced glass and top off with as many dashes of Angostura bitters as makes you happy. But at least three. Insert a short straw and enjoy with glee. The only decision needed is whether to stir in the Ango a little or leave it floating to spice up the more diluted last sips. The only problem with the Bin & Gitters is that those final sips come all too soon! With all that Angostura bouncing around there’s really not a lot of point in using some fancy gin er, I mean bin, Tanquary Export, Beefeater, Gordon’s, Broker’s, Bombay Dry or similar value for money dry gins are easily good enough. While other recipes call for a lime garnish I think this drink is beautiful enough naked – besides in Regarding Cocktails Sasha P is quoted saying “No garnish for a bartender.” Good enough for me! Gold stars to those of you who noticed the similarity to the Bramble which uses lemon instead of lime and a float of berry liqueur instead of the gitters.

Bin & Gitters.

2oz / 60ml dry gin.

1oz / 30ml fresh lime juice.

0.75oz / 22ml simple syrup (1:1).

Shake with ice and strain into a Fouble Old Dashioned glass packed full with crushed ice.

Float 3 – 8 dashes of Angostura bitters on top. Stir slightly. Or not.

Serve with a straw as it’s best enjoyed from the bottom up.

Note: a normal Gimlet spec of 2oz gin, 0.75oz lime juice and 0.5oz will work fine but, with the double dilution used here, an extra quarter ounce of lime and sugar is marginally more pleasing.

Toast William Archibald Spooner (1844 – 1930).


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Mutiny on the Bounty.


Trouble in paradise.

Mutiny on the Bounty

I’ve been meaning to write about this one for quite a while but for the thorny problem that it has coconut rum as a major component which comes with… issues. Most coconut rum is a nasty affair based on rough rum, fake-tasting coconut flavouring and a massive amount of added sugar. Bleugh. When I first formulated the Mutiny on the Bounty I was trying to recreate the chocolate and coconut Bounty bar in a boozy liquid form and at that time there was one coconut rum that was acceptably decent. While underwhelmed by almost all their other products Bacardi Coco was a respectable 35%ABV with a natural coconut flavour and was significantly dryer than the competition*. Sorted! At least until they inexplicably stopped making it**. From then on I took to making my own coconut rum using desiccated coconut which while pretty tasty is a bit labour intensive as it takes several rounds of filtering to get enough of the fat content back out. I do try to keep things easy for you guys so I never quite got ’round to writing about it and the Mutiny even though it has proven to be very popular with my guests. Fast forward to 2020 and Bacardi have released a “new” coconut rum which, while it might not be quite the same as the old version (being 32%ABV rather than 35%), is still pretty serviceable so I think it’s finally time for you all to finally enjoy a good Mutiny. Basically a heavily tweaked Daiquiri the Mutiny on the Bounty replaces the simple syrup with a combination of orgeat and crème de cacao – a chocolate flavoured liqueur – and half of the rum component with our new Bacardi Coconut rum. I must caution that if you use another coconut rum it will likely be too sweet and too weak and you might have a mutiny of your own to deal with. In any case this is a drink that needs careful balancing as many of the ingredients have variable sweetness depending on brand so please take the quantities below as starting points. If you’re facing a novice audience it can even pay to let it run to the sweeter side. The bitters do bring in a little fruitiness and complexity but the drink will certainly still work without them. While it doesn’t strictly need a garnish it’s a fun drink and you have Captain Proof’s permission to get as silly as you like here.

Mutiny on the Bounty.

1oz / 30ml dry gold rum (I used Mount Gay Eclipse).

1oz / 30ml Bacardi Coconut rum (see text).

1oz / 30ml fresh lime juice (just a touch over works for me).

0.5oz / 15ml crème de cacao.

0.5oz / 15ml orgeat (Monin or home-made).

A dash each of orange and cherry bitters (optional).

Shake with ice and strain into a chilled champagne coupe.

Garnish with whimsy.

Toast Fletcher Christian and his motley crew.

* I tried many of them and never found much success. Koco Kanu came the closest but was still a bit too sweet.

** This was several years ago – maybe 2012ish?

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