Light Rum Described in 1907 (and Blended Rum)

Forever at war with the silly idea that the main way to categorize the types of rum is by color (light, gold and dark) instead of by flavor (traditional, light and blended), I post this excerpt from the eighth volume of the West Indian Bulletin, published in 1907, that makes clear that the term “light rum” before prohibition was used to refer to rum that was light in flavor due to distillation method and short fermentation.

West Indian Bulletin volume 8 page 122 excerpt

The source is describing the growing rarity of old (aged beyond 6 or 7 years) flavorful, pot-still rum.  To conceptualize what he means by “old rums of delicate softened flavour,” taste both Wray & Nephew White Overproof Jamaica rum and then Smith & Cross Traditional Jamaica Rum.  They both are clearly pot-still character, traditional rums, in that the flavor of molasses is clearly evident in a way unlike in any light rum.  The effects of the additional aging in the Smith & Cross are what the source means by “delicate softened flavour.”  This should not be taken as a description of light rum.  The source then states that most rums he now encounters in Jamaica are blended rums.

Note that the source also clearly understands that lighter rums take on the flavor of the barrel much faster (without the flavor of molasses to overcome).  The suggestion is that in pubs, a less-expensive rum that was mostly made of light rum and that tasted woody and expensive after a shorter time in the barrel was desired by the pub owners.

In order to make blended rum, light rum is needed and the source describes what production methods make light rum ‘light.’

This is not about color.  The wood-flavor added as a consequence of aging cannot transform light rum into traditional rum.  It just becomes light rum with a bit of woody flavor – not traditional rum with a bit of woody flavor.  Havana Club 7-year old Cuban rum does not taste like traditional rum – it tastes like old light rum.  El Dorado 15-year old Demerara rum tastes like old traditional rum.  The point in the excerpt from 1907 is that by doing a shorter fermentation and then distilling more efficiently – that is closer to pure ethanol than a pot still can achieve – rum is produced that is lighter in flavor.

I suppose it’s the fault of the English language that both old words léoht (as in sunlight) and liht or lith (as in ‘lithe’ or un-heavy) are now expressed in the same spelling: “light.”

American bartenders seem to have understood around 1910 that Cuban rum (even the aged, brown stuff) was called ‘light’ because it was produced to be lighter in flavor than the more traditional rums they were accustomed to.  But, the masses of suddenly-hired, completely-untrained post-repeal bartenders never seemed to have learned that the phrase “light Cuban rum” was not originally meant to refer to the color of the cheapest, colorless Bacardi bottling they all had at their fingertips in 1934.

For proof that Cuban rum-men still have the understanding that their rum is light, even the 7-year stuff, watch the “Hooray for Havana Rum!” episode of the Thirsty Traveler.  In that episode the master distiller of Havana Club tells Kevin Brauch, “All Cuban rums are light.”

Now, tell your friends to stop using their eyes to categorize rum, and to start using their taste buds for that purpose!

Some Drinks Just Aren’t There

I see a great deal of error by repetition that I have always wanted to address.  I will deal with them in chronological order, according to alleged year or decade.

1.  There is no civil war-era Sazerac Cocktail.  There is documentary evidence of Sazerac Cognac (and the Sazerac House in New Orleans that imported it) from the mid 1800’s, but that is just not the same thing as the mixed drink.  The oldest-known recipe for that is from 1908.  I have written more about the history of the drink here and here.  See #2 below for similarity.

2.  There is no Ramos Gin Fizz from the 1880’s.  The drink itself can be found as far back as the 1890’s – but always called the New Orleans Fizz.  Henry Ramos may have only convinced others (and himself) by around 1910 that he had created the drink in some long-lost Louisiana glory.  See #1 above for similarity.

3.  There is no Manhattan Cocktail in Harry Johnson’s 1882 book.  It is in his 1888 reprint.

4.  There is no Marguerite Cocktail that is the same as the Dewey Cocktail (or a Dry Martini, for the benighted) from Thomas Stuart’s 1896 book.  It is found in the addendum to his 1904 reprint

5.  There is no Zombie in Patrick Duffy’s 1934 book.  It is in Duffy’s 1940 reprint.

6.  There is no 1944 Mai Tai.  The oldest recipe for it doesn’t show up until the mid 1950’s.  Victor Bergeron published books with extensive coverage of drinks in 1946 and 1947.  He did not give the recipe, nor even mention the existence of the drink.  Finally, between a 1970 article and his 1972 book, he goes on a protest-too-much type rant about being the drink’s creator, and suggests that everyone else recently making the same claim is a liar.  Believing Victor Bergeron’s 1970’s claims (and the supporting claims of his friends) that he first made the drink in the 1940’s is gullibility in the extreme.  Come on, people.

I could go on and on, but I tire of recounting self-promoting falsification, and the gullibility and feeble-mindedness of mankind.

P.S.  I have added a postscript about the “1926 Cosmo” not being found in 1926 here.

Drink of the Day – the Beach Blossom

Today’s drink is the Beach Blossom.  It is found in Arthur Moss’ appendix to Barflies and Cocktails, the 1927 re-publishing of Harry McElhone’s 1922 book, the A.B.C.’s of Mixing Cocktails.  It’s a Summer drink, but seems to me to be most-appropriate in late Summer.  It is also one of the rare blossoms that I really enjoy when made in the courses.  I hope that you enjoy it, too.

Drink of the Day 20130913 Beach Blossom

Drink of the Day – the Milo Cocktail

My drink of the day today is the Milo Cocktail.  It is found in the recipe book that Joseph Taylor put together while tending the Waldorf Hotel Bar between 1894 and 1920 – as transcribed by Albert Crockett and published in 1931.  In the benighted ‘mixology’ of today, it might be called some sort of ‘Martini’ with traditional (rosso/rouge) vermouth wine and grapefruit bitters.  But, I believe that confuting the names ‘Martini’ and ‘Milo’ is an insult to the unique glory of each drink.

The enlargeable image below is from my own book.  Make this drink and see if it doesn’t charm you, too!

Milo Cocktail

Tasting Plan for the Upcoming Liquor Course

This may change by a few bottles here and there, but it’s pretty much what you’ll be tasting if you’re in the Elemental Mixology Liquor Course starting in a few weeks.

Session 01: Spirits of Wine (and Fruit Wine) and Resulting Liquors

Raynal V.S.O.P. French Brandy

Marie Duffau Napoleon Armagnac Brandy

Chalfonte V.S.O.P. Cognac Brandy

Fussigny X.O. Cognac Brandy

Germain-Robin Fine/Craft-method California Alambic Brandy

Pedro Domecq ‘Fundador’ Solera Reserva Spanish Brandy

Gran Duque d’Alba Solera Gran Reserva Spanish Brandy

Campo de Encanto Acholado Pisco Brandy

Inga Grappa Moscato

El Maestro Sierra Fino Sherry Wine

Lustau Dry Oloroso Sherry Wine

Lustau Pedro Ximénez Sherry Wine

Blandy’s 5-year Verdelho Madeira Wine

Warre’s Warrior Reserve Port Wine

Vintage Port Wine (t.b.a.)

Laird’s Bonded Straight Apple Brandy (a.k.a. Straight Applejack)

Daron Fine Pays d’Auge Calvados Apple Brandy

Purkhart Blume Marillen (marillenwasser/true apricot brandy)

Schladerer Kirschwasser (true cherry brandy)

Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur (true marasca cherry liqueur)

Heering Cherry Liqueur (cherry ratafia liqueur)

Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge Liqueur (orange-flavored brandy liqueur)


Session 02: Spirits of Beer and Resulting Liquors

Balvenie 12-year Doublewood Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Laphroaig 10-year Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Highland Park 12-year Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Famous Grouse Blended Scotch Whisky

Chivas Regal 18-year Blended Scotch Whisky

Drambuie Liqueur (flavored Scotch whisky liqueur)

Suntory Yamazaki 12-year Single Malt Japanese Whisky

Redbreast 12-year Pot-still Irish Whiskey

Kilbeggan Irish Blended Whiskey

Bulleit Straight 95 Rye Whiskey

Rittenhouse Bonded Straight Rye Whiskey

Old-Fitzgerald Bonded Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Bulleit Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Breckenridge Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Jeremiah Weed Original Liqueur (flavored Bourbon whiskey liquer)

George Dickel #12 Tennessee Whiskey

Crown Royal Blended Canadian Whisky

Maple-flavored Canadian Whisky Liqueur (t.b.a.)


Session 03: Spirits of Toddy and Resulting Liquors

Rockland Ceylon Arrack

Havana Club Blanco (young light rum – from Cuba!)

Matusalem Platino (young light rum)

Matusalem Clasico (mixed-age light rum)

Ron del Barrilito 3-star (old light rum)

Malibu Black (actually coconut-flavored light rum liqueur, unlike the cheaper ‘white’ product)

Wray & Nephew Overproof White Rum (young traditional rum)

Smith & Cross Traditional Jamaica Rum (young traditional rum – but older than Wray & Nephew)

El Dorado 15-year Demerara Rum (old traditional rum)

Mount Gay Silver (young blended rum)

Mount Gay Eclipse (mixed-age blended rum)

Stroh ‘60’ (inlander rum)

Mekhong Thai Arrack

La Favorite Couer de Canne Blanc (young agricole rum)

Rhum J.M. V.S.O.P. Agricole Rum (old agricole rum)

Barbancourt Estate Réserve 15-year Rum (old pseudo-agricole rum)

Clément Creole Shrubb (orange-flavored agricole rum liqueur)

Sagatiba Pura Cachaça (new cachaça)

Weber Haus Premium (old cachaça)

Van Oosten Batavia Arrack

Trader Joe’s Mezcal

Del Maguey Vida Mezcal

El Jimador Tequila Blanco (new Tequila mezcal)

Espolón Tequila Reposado (young Tequila mezcal)

Fortaleza Tequila Añejo (old tequila mezcal)


Session 04: Geists and Resulting Liquors

Schladerer Himbeergeist (geist of raspberries)

Schlichte Steinhäger (geist of juniper berries)

Boomsma Oude Genever (geist of juniper & other ingredients)

Hayman’s Old Tom Gin (London sweet gin) (geist of juniper & other ingredients)

Beefeater London Dry Gin (geist of juniper & other ingredients)

Number Three London Dry Gin (geist of juniper & other ingredients)

Hendrick’s Gin (geist of juniper & other ingredients)

Coates Plymouth Gin (geist of juniper & other ingredients)

Coates Plymouth Sloe Gin (sloe-flavored gin liqueur)

Pimm’s Liqueur Number One (proprietary flavored gin liqueur)

Kübler Absinthe (geist of wormwood & other ingredients)

Lyssholm Linie Aquavit (geist of caraway & other ingredients)

Achaia Clauss Ouzo (geist of anise)

Pernod Pastis Liqueur (liqueur of geist of anise & other ingredients)

Senior Curaçao of Curaçao Liqueur (liqueur of geist of bitter orange peel)

Briottet Curaçao Orange Liqueur (liqueur of geist of bitter orange peel)

Luxardo Triplum (triple-sec Curaçao liqueur) (liqueur of geist of bitter orange peel)

Cointreau (triple-sec Curaçao liqueur) (liqueur of geist of bitter orange peel)

Chartreuse Liqueur (original green) (liqueur of geist of proprietary blend of ingredients)

Chartreuse Liqueur (yellow) (liqueur of geist of proprietary blend of ingredients)

Bénédictine Liqueur (liqueur of geist of proprietary blend of ingredients)


Session 05: Aromatized Wines and Bitters (Grand and Petite)

Dolin Dry Vermouth (wormwood) Wine

Dolin Blanc Vermouth (wormwood) Wine

Dolin Rouge Vermouth (wormwood) Wine

Cocchi Rosso Vermouth (wormwood) Wine

Carpano Antica Formula Vermouth (wormwood) Wine

Dubonnet Rouge Quina (cinchona) Wine (the real thing from France, not Kentucky!)

Maurin Rouge Quina (cinchona) Wine

RinQuinQuin Blanc Quina (cinchona) Wine à la Pêche

Cocchi Americano Bianco Quina (cinchona) Wine

Bonal Gentiane (gentian) Wine

Campari Bitter (cinchona grand bitters)

Aperol Apperitivo (cinchona grand bitters)

Branca Fernet (fernet grand bitters)

Picon Amer (proprietary grand bitters)

Vallet Amargo (angostura bark grand bitters)

Angostura Aromatic Bitters (proprietary petite bitters)

Peychaud’s Aromatic Bitters (proprietary petite bitters)

Angostura Orange Bitters (petite bitters)

Bitter Truth Grapefruit Bitters (petite bitters)

Bitter Truth Cacao Bitters (petite bitters)


Session 06: Neutral Spirits and resulting Liquors – and Student Requests

Monopolowa Vodka

Ketel One Citroen (lemon-flavored vodka)

Saint Germain Delice de Sureau Liqueur (elderflower ratafia liqueur)

Domaine de Canton Liqueur (ginger ratafia liqueur)

Berentzen Apfel Korn (huile de pomme liqueur)

Brizard Anisette Liqueur (crème d’anis liqueur)

Brizard Crème de Cacao Liquer

Kahlua Crème de Café Liqueur

Briottet Crème de Cassis Liqueur

Brizard Crème de Menthe Liqueur

Rothman & Winter Crème de Violette Liqueur

Student Request_________________________________________

Student Request_________________________________________

Student Request_________________________________________

Student Request_________________________________________

Student Request_________________________________________

Student Request_________________________________________

Student Request_________________________________________

Student Request_________________________________________

Student Request_________________________________________