Sesquicentennial Bitches

150 years is a long time to have been doing anything.  As such, hat tip to the familia Bacardi and their efforts in the distillation, distribution and consumption of rum. Their rum is sold in more than 150 countries around the globe these days. Here’s a bit of brand wank which puts some ridiculously large numbers around what the brand has achieved:


The family has chosen to mark this auspicious day with the limited release of Ron Bacardi de Maestros de Ron MMXII.

It’s $2,000 a bottle, and there are only 400 of them going on sale around the world, plus whatever they keep back for family occasions and to keep the brand’s ambassadors motivated. For your hard earned cash you’ll get just 500mls of a maple coloured liquid that represents the finest Bacardi production in existence.

Aged up to 20yrs and then finished in 60yr old ex-Cognac barrels, the resulting liquid expertly crafted by eight family blenders.

Tasting notes, and further details just seem a wee bit hard to come by at present but a 20+ year aging the heat of the Caribbean is sure to have delivered an epic result. Update: a few quiet drinks with Enrique Comas has yielded that the heart of the 600 litres of this spirit that were produced were one 12 yr old barrel that had been mistakenly left in the Solera and a mystery barrel that used the old numbering system but was improperly dated and, as such, must be at least 10 years old, maybe more. This then is a true vintage product. As its inputs were a mystery, it can never be reproduced.

Anyone who hasn’t had enough Bacardi from this article can go here, and drink from the fire hydrant.

Cocktail, MixMarch

MixMarch #2: The Saratoga Cocktail

The Saratoga cocktail is the sweeter cousin of one of my favourite drinks in the whole, wide world; The Manhattan. I first found the recipe reading through David Wondrich’s fantastic investigation of the drinks and times of Jerry Thomas, Imbibe!

The springs at Saratoga made it one of the escapes from New York in the days of Jerry Thomas, and it’s probably no surprise that a drink named for a resort is appreciably sweeter than its urban relation. This is achieved by swapping out half of the rye whiskey normally present in the drink for cognac or brandy at a push.

The Saratoga Cocktail.

3omls Rye Whiskey, 30mls Cognac, 30mls Sweet Vermouth, a couple of dashes of bitters. Combine over ice in a tin and stir until cold and sufficiently diluted. Strain up, garnish with the peel of an orange and a healthy dose of disgust for urban mores.

Best served with a newspaper and a back massage.


The Old Fashioned

Picture 4

On May 13, 1806, The Balance and Colombia Repository printed the first known definition of the word “cocktail”

`Cocktail, then, is a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water and bitters it is vulgarly called a bittered sling`

This somewhat unsavoury sounding mix is what we today call the Old Fashioned. 

Like almost all things alcohol related, there are disputes as to who coined the name instead of it just remaining ‘Cocktail,’ the members of the Pendennis Club claimed for some time in their blustery Colonel Sanders way that the name belonged to a Bourbon Cocktail made in the club. David Wondrich, who looks not dissimilar to a member of the Pendennis Club, discounted this theory by uncovering a wealth of examples of the use of the word prior to the Club’s foundation in 1880.

But I digress.

The Old Fashioned Cocktail

Take a sugar cube* and douse it in three or four belts from a bottle of Angostura Bitters, slide this into the bottom of an Old Fashioned glass. I use at least 60 of good quality Bourbon in my version, Maker’s Mark would be a fine choice. Add a little of the Bourbon, with a couple of pieces of ice and start stirring. Keep adding a little more Bourbon, a little more ice and perhaps around 15 mls water. 

The result is an amazingly balanced, rich and seductive elixir. 

*I prefer to use a cube of sugar as the time it takes to get it to dissolve is around the same time it take to mellow this drink to a superior level.


This cocktail is amazingly adaptable, you can change out the spirit for a Rye Whiskey, Brandy, Cognac or Rum.

At Toko on Crown St they do a Old Fashioned with Junipero Gin and there is a fashionable trend for Tequila Old Fashioneds around the world right now.

Once you’ve tried a variety of spirits, perhaps making a move on to changing out the bitters. Peychaud’s, Fee Brothers Peach or Orange Bitters, even Aperol or Campari. I’ll post an article later in the week about the process of homemaking bitters as well, to really change things up.

This really is a drink for the ages, we’ll be putting this up against the Trans-Galactic GargleBlaster when we make it to the restaurant at the end of time.

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