Tag Archives: Kraken Spiced Rum

10 Cocktails you should be drinking this summer… Part 1, 1-5

Summer is the time of cocktails and outdoor living, below are 5 cocktails you definitely should be drinking this summer...
Summer is the time of cocktails and outdoor living, below are 5 cocktails you definitely should be drinking this summer…

So you’re at a friends’ BBQ one summer’s evening and everyone is having a nice time, the sun is shining, there’s a gentle breeze rolling through the pine trees surrounding the pool, and although the kids are screaming, they’re having fun.

You’ve spoken to all your friends, caught up on gossip and everyone’s enjoyed the hosts’ BBQ skills. But now the temperature has chilled slightly and the sun has started to set. The Kids have gone home to the supervision of their child-minders and that leaves all you adults about with a choice: Lemonade and soft drinks… Or the hard stuff?

But that decision is made for you; out comes the hosts’ and their stash of liquor. Vodka, Tequila, Rum, Triple Sec & plenty of other obscure, highly alcoholic elixirs that do not look healthy at all…

So in come the dedicated spirit drinkers, taking their share of their designated poison, rum, vodka – it doesn’t matter there’s plenty for everyone. What really gathers your attention is not the boring spirit drinkers, they can keep their Bourbon, Neat; you want what’s in that glass on the opposite table: A tall mountain of a glass, with sweeping curves and a cool orange nectar, swirling with a red syrupy surprise… Of course I’m talking about a Tequila Sunrise – the epitome of pool-side tropical cocktails…

But did you know that the cocktails available to you for your summer evenings are not restricted to generic boring simple cocktails. Sure they look great and every now and then they’re great to enjoy but if you really want to impress everyone you know, why not give these few recipes a little tipple…

Recipe #1: Limoncello – Limoncello Citrus Cooler

Blending Sorbet with a stunning cocktail results in a sumptuously sweet treat perfect for the summer time...
Blending Sorbet with a stunning cocktail results in a sumptuously sweet treat perfect for the summer time…

20ml Limoncello

20ml Maraschino Liqueur

40ml Lemon Juice

1 scoop mandarin sorbet

1 teaspoon marmalade

2 dashes hibiscus bitters

Method:

  • Shake all the ingredients with ice.
  • Strain into a rocks glass containing a large ice cube (ice-balls work well here)
  • Garnish with a pair of maraschino cherries and an orange twist.

This cocktail blends sweet Limoncello with some other sweet, citrus flavours and creates a cocktail that is not as sweet as it looks to be. The ingredients blend well, as mentioned, but you can still separate the intricate flavours of a high quality limoncello and the maraschino liqueur. The hibiscus bitters lends a bitter, yet exotic fragrance to the drink. This is a great drink to have in your repertoire for a romantic evening date…

Recipe #2: Gin – Italian Collins

A classic Gin cocktail tweaked with some Italian twists...
A classic Gin cocktail tweaked with some Italian twists…

1 measure Sipsmith Gin

¾ measure Limoncello

¼ measure fresh lemon juice

4 measures Club Soda

Method:

  • Mix the first three ingredients together and shake well, over ice, for around 10-15 seconds.
  • Strain into a tall glass filled with ice.
  • Top up with club soda and garnish with a thin slice of lemon peel.

Recipe #3: Vodka – Wake County Cooler

From the USA this brilliant cocktail uses infused vodka, a trend gaining a lot traction...
From the USA this brilliant cocktail uses infused vodka, a trend gaining a lot traction…

Black Tea infused Vodka

Sugar Syrup

Lemon Juice

Club Soda

Method:

(Sweet) Black Tea Vodka:

  • Combine 750ml Vodka with 150ml loose-leaf black tea and allow to infuse (should take around 2 hours).
  • Then, separately: Combine 60ml water with 60g sugar and mix into a sugar syrup.
  • Combine the sugar syrup with the vodka and mix well.

Main Cocktail:

  • Half fill a Collins glass with crushed ice.
  • Add 50ml of the infused vodka to the glass.
  • Then add 12.5ml of lemon juice.
  • Top up with the club soda and garnish with a lemon wedge and mint sprig.

If you create the full amount above (750ml) you’ll have plenty to share (or keep for yourself). 

One of the best things about this cocktail is that you have to infuse your own Vodka. As a home-taught cocktail maker one of my favourite hobbies is the infusing of neutral alcohol. Not only do you end up with something delicious and flavour-fuelled, most of the time you improve the original drink (obviously you don’t want to use top end Vodka for this sort of infusion). If you have enough forethought to purchase some nice kilner-jars (think along the lines of pressure topped bottles – like Grolsch beer) you can share out your good infusions for family gifts and even age some spirits…

Give it a go, you’ll be surprised what you can come up with!

Recipe #4: Licor 43 – Carta Marina

Using 2 of my favourite spirits, this cocktail is quite literally the one you have to try...
Using 2 of my favourite spirits, this cocktail is quite literally the one you have to try…

1 ½ measures Kraken Black Spiced Rum

¾ measures Licor 43

¾ measures Lemon Juice

¼ measure Aperol

2 dashes Cardamom bitters

Garnish: Vanilla Bean & orange twist.

Method:

  • Shake all the ingredients together over ice for 15-20 seconds (or until the tin ices over).
  • Strain into a coupe cocktail glass and garnish with a vanilla bean wrapped inside the orange twist.

This cocktail mixes two of my favourite spirits in Kraken & Licor 43. And boy do they blend well! This looks like an odd mixture of spirits and bitters but if shaken well (and properly) this drink elevates you to another level. When a drink can supply you with a mix of refreshment, great taste and an almost bottomless depth in quality you know you’ve hit gold; with the Carta Marina you have some good old US/Mediterranean Gold. If you only drink one cocktail of this list: Pick this one!

Whilst Licor 43 is one of the lesser known liqueurs outside of Spain, it is also one of the best, at least in my opinion, in the world...
Whilst Licor 43 is one of the lesser known liqueurs outside of Spain, it is also one of the best, at least in my opinion, in the world…

Recipe #5: Rum – Daisy De Santiago

A funny little twist on the Mojito, the Daisy De Santiago is a fantastic blend of refreshing and crisp.
A funny little twist on the Mojito, the Daisy De Santiago is a fantastic blend of refreshing and crisp.

40ml Bacardi Superior White Rum

20ml fresh lime juice

5ml sugar syrup

15ml Yellow Chartreuse

Garnish:  fresh berries & a sprig of mint.

Method:

  • Add the rum, sugar syrup & lime juice to a shaker filled with ice and shake well – for around 20-30 seconds.
  • Fill a wine goblet with crushed ice and strain the mixed liquid into the glass.
  • Garnish with the sprig & berry bouquet and then float the yellow Chartreuse on top of the drink.

The Daisy de Santiago is possibly one of the freshest and most refreshing drinks I’ve had the pleasure of sipping in a long time. It’s got a lovely rum kick from the Bacardi yet it’s sweet and almost minty after taste compliments most summer evenings. A difficult drink to balance perfectly but one that is very much worthwhile mastering.

Black Tot Day: What do we do with a drunken wailer?

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Remember how sad you were when you saw this scene? Imagine how the sailors felt…

Ever heard the stories of sailors swabbing the puke off their decks? Or stories of drunken nights they don’t remember? No? Neither have I, and that’s for one reason: Sailors were well’ard. Back in the day Sailors were manly men. Men who had engines, internal combustion engines that run on the darkest of rums: BLACK RUM.

This fabled spirit is widely available nowadays but its humble beginnings are not lost on those who care…

On July 31st 1970 a tragic event befell the Royal British Navy: the very last ration of rum was given out to the sailors under the flag of her majesty’s fleet. This was a tragic and sad day for all those who would call themselves sailors, after all this day ended a 300 year old tradition.

“A mighty bowl on deck he drew

And filled it to the brink

Such drank the Burford’s gallant crew

And such the gods shall drink.

The Scared robe which Vernon wore

Was drenched within the same

And hence his virtues guard our shore

And Grog drives its name.”

An excerpt from Mariners Mirror by L.G. Carr Laughton, 1919

Back in 1655 the rum ration started (unofficially – as if there’s any other way) and carried on until Vice-Admiral Edward Vernon of the West Indies fleet insisted the rum be watered down and served with lime: And thus became known as Grog (after his nickname: Old Grog).

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The ‘Old Grog’ himself: Vice-Admiral of the West Indies Fleet: Edward Vernon…

This sounds like a great rule to me. And it was a shame they stopped it. Apparently during the 1950’s there was concern caused that the rations supplied might impact the ability of the sailors to operate the more complex warships. Personally I think it would’ve created a much more interesting world. I mean imagine the crap that would float to shore from the abundant collisions and groundings? Not to mention the rather abundant plunder to be had for treasure hunters scouring the sea floor.

You see the choice by the British government to ban the rum rations has created a loss of jobs and slashed the dreams of all those kids who grew up wanting to be Indiana Jones or Lara Croft. Hell, I wanted to be a treasure hunter (I still do!) and they ruined my life. Kind of.

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Treasure hunters: Whichever one you preferred, they both lived great lives, I still wish I could be like Indy.

Anyway in all seriousness this day has been celebrated by rum lovers everywhere, with rum brands making the most of the day with offers, competitions and of course sales. On that fateful day many of the sailors held mock funerals, others poured their last ‘tot’ into the sea and various other events.

Finally, an ending thought:

Black Tot Day (BTD) is not without its positive notes… In 2010 a company called Speciality Drinks realised that the remaining stores of Naval rum were available for ‘procurement’… They purchased the remaining rum stores and on July 31st 2010 they (re)launched their plunder under the apt name: ‘Black Tot Rum’.

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One ot the most expensive rum’s on the market. I still want one…

This rum is unique as it has been preserved in its stoneware flagons for the four decades between Black Tot Day and the launch of possibly one most unique alcohol products ever sold. Whether you’re a naval history enthusiast, or if you just like rum this is something you just have to try /own. If you can afford it that is!

If not, settle for a bottle Kraken Spiced, a bag of limes and rather large bottle of cola.

Until the next time readers!

Planters Punch – Another great Caribbean delight…

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The Planters Punch cocktail is unmistakably Caribbean in heritage and like you would expect, its perfect for mild beach evenings.

The recipe for this is a very complicated mix of sweet, sour and tart. And in no way is that a bad thing…

Planters Punch Classic Recipe:

45ml Dark rum

35ml Orange Juice

35ml Pineapple juice

20ml Fresh Lemon Juice

10ml Grenadine

10ml Sugar Syrup

2-4 dashes Angostura Bitters

This is the classic version I took from the cocktail books in my library (a cupboard in the kitchen). However as some people find Dark Rum a bit overpowering, you can substitute any rum you are accustomed to (be it Bacardi’s standard white rum or a nice Havana club 7 Anejo or even Captain Morgan’s Spiced)…

However due to restrictions in my own cabinet, I could only make this the once. So I decided to tweak the recipe to suit my dwindling range of spirits…

My own tweaked Recipe:

45ml Kraken Black Spiced Rum (remember this bad boy?)

35ml Grapefruit Juice

35ml Pineapple Juice

20ml Fresh Lime Juice/lemon juice (personal taste)

10ml Grenadine

10ml Sugar (Vanilla flavoured)

2-4 dashes Angostura Bitters

My version was slightly tarter and a little brisker on the taste buds, but on a nice summers evening it’s just as thirst quenching as the original. Don’t get me wrong, the original is fantastic and I suggest you try that before mine, but my recipe is proof that experimenting to what you prefer is what mixology is all about (this point is a constant theme throughout my blog posts). The idea that not every cocktail is going to be liked by everyone, but with a small tweak (sometimes the addition of a mixer) even the most disliked drink can be made favourable.

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Mixing fruit into a planters punch is like mixing up a Pimms, add in what you like and dress it up as much as you want… Just make sure it tastes good first…

The Cuba Libre – A classic cocktail for the new era.

 “The Cuba Libre requires Bacardi rum and Coca Colatm with ice and a wedge of fresh lime. Why? Because that’s how an original Cuba Libre has always been made – at least since 1900, when American soldiers on Neptuno Street, Havana, first persuaded a barman to mix his precious Bacardi rum with their tasty new beverage called Coca Cola” – Bacardi’s description of the Cuba Libre on their website. (http://www.bacardi.com/uk/Cocktails/BACARDI-Cuba-Libre)

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Old Havana Skyline, taken by Wikimedia Commons/Flickr user Gabriel Rodríguez.

The Cuba Libre has all the mysterious history you need from a classic cocktail and then some. Now I’m not saying it’s because of this that it’s actually considered a ‘classic cocktail’ but you have to admit the uncanny similarities to some of the other classics (Mojito, Martini, Margarita etc…).

The one thing that the Cuba Libre has in its favour though is its base spirit: Rum. Rum, as any well-to-do person will tell you, has a mysterious history all to its own. It just so happens that the Caribbean (that’s the collection of islands that includes Cuba would you know) is arguably the best place for premium quality rums anywhere in the world. Whether it’s the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Trinidad or even the ‘Rum King’ Island known as Barbados, the rum used in Cuba Libre’s has traditionally been of the best quality full stop (little wonder it’s become a classic then eh?).

The Recipe:

So traditionally it was made using Coca Cola, a Premium quality Cuban Anejo Rum and a wedge of Lime to freshen the drink up a little. However recently (mainly due to the lack of any Cuban rum in my repertoire) I have been trying out different brands and styles of rum both to find my favourite, and also because it is a simple recipe to stick to and easy to tweak without destroying the original idea…

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As you can see it keeps to the simple and balanced nature of the classic cocktail, but also packs a great taste (just try it if you don’t believe me)…

Of course there are many variations, more variations than the time I have to write them down for you, and some include different types/brands of rum. From the classic white(light) rums  to the semi-aged golden and Aged ‘Dark’ rums of the Caribbean and even the spiced rums (Captain Morgan’s, Kraken etc.) which have become more and more popular over recent years here in the UK…

The last time I got paid (just after Christmas) I went out and stocked up on some quality rums that my local Sainsbury’s had on offer at the time (and I also got a bottle of Makers Mark, but that’s a story for another time)… The Rums purchased/received as presents were;

–          Brugal Ron Anejo Rum £20-25 (I got it on offer for £16.99)

A Golden (semi-aged/aged) rum from the Dominican Republic; considered to be of a very high quality.

–          Kraken Black Spiced Rum £18-23 (depending on store)

Imported from the USA, Kraken comes in a glorious pirate themed bottle and denotes a giant squid (hence the ‘Kraken’) on the label. It’s a high quality black spiced rum and it tastes magical, which is probably why it has gathered quite the cult following. This was a very well received present from my sister for Christmas.

–          Bacardi Oakheart  £18-19 (£12 – offer price when I got it)

My soul reason for buying this bottle of rum was the price. It was a mere £12 at the time (worked out around £10.80 after my discount) and I just could not pass that up (considering its usual RRP is around £18-19!!!)…

Also I was a little wary because whilst Bacardi is a quality product, I feared they had created something that might not work (needless to say I was very, very wrong!).

Anyway, back to the recipes;

                So I tried a Cuba Libre using a 2-1 (Rum-Lime) ratio and topped up with a cola (Pepsi as it’s my favourite but feel free to change that to your favourite). Needless to say you do get 3 very different tasting drinks.

The Brugal Anejo Cuba Libre is as close as a Classic Cuba Libre these recipes got, purely in the way of geographical accuracy (Dominican Rep. is as close to the Havana Club style Anejo I have) and I imagine it’s similar in tastes to a classic Cuba Libre too. Whilst not the best when mixed with Pepsi, if you use Coca Cola like the classic recipe requests, it becomes sublime. And as a classic Cuba Libre (if you don’t have any Cuban rum) then this is the recipe I suggest you use!

The Bacardi Oakheart Cuba Libre was a standout favourite among my friends and family, with its smooth taste blending with the lime and Pepsi better (in their opinion anyway) than the Brugal Ron Anejo. The Bacardi was obviously made for cocktail mixing; such is the way with their other rum products.

The Kraken Black Spiced Cuba Libre, after a few tries, was my personal standout recipe. Purely for the thick, almost syrupy taste it brings to the drink. The Lime juice, when freshly squeezed, cuts through the nasty aftertaste of the alcohol (that horrible kick you get that can spoil a drink) allowing you to pile in 2 measures without thought, and the Pepsi brought out the Spiced notes perfectly and made sure they were there in the background, but not too overpowering.

In my opinion the Kraken Rum brought something extra to the Pepsi recipes that the others simply did not have: a thick almost syrupy, spice texture that when cut with the fresh lime juice created this sensation of pure bliss; that something a little bit special.

Now don’t mistake my gushing for naivety. I know that the classic Cuban rum recipe will always be the classic Cuba Libre, I wouldn’t have it any other way, but what I am saying is that If you want something a little special and a bit of a taste-treat in the disguise of a Cuba Libre; then Kraken Black Spiced Rum is your poison of choice. Trust me you will not regret it.

Footnotes:

–          Always use freshly squeezed lime juice. Lime cordial is never a replacement at the best of times, and especially not here. It is too sweet and doesn’t help balance out the rum. Don’t expect the taste to be that good if you do use it. Having said that, if you have no choice try to use a little less rum so you don’t overpower the drink.

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Always use fresh lime juice where possible. It is far superior to any lime cordial in every way.

–          These rums were used purely because they were accessible at the time I tried them. So whilst I am raving about the Kraken Rum here, it is very likely you will disagree. Please don’t hate me for ignoring your favourite rum; that is not the intention. It was simply MY favourite of the 3!

Recipes:

Brugal Ron Anejo Cuba Libre (Coke)

2 measures Brugal Ron Anejo Rum

1 measure freshly squeezed lime juice*

Top up Coca Cola

Brugal Ron Anejo Cuba Libre (Pepsi)

2 measures Brugal Ron Anejo Rum

1 measure freshly squeezed lime juice

Top up Pepsi

Bacardi Oakheart Cuba Libre

2 measures Bacardi Oakheart

1 measure freshly squeezed lime juice*

Top up Pepsi

Kraken Black Spiced Cuba Libre

2 measures Kraken Black Spiced Rum

1 measure freshly squeezed lime Juice*

Top up Pepsi

*this is equivalent to around 1 small lime being around 25ml

Now as a slight addition to this post, one I did not intend I might add, will be in relation to the fact that whilst in the process of writing this post; I was again paid.

This payday I invested in a rather well-known brand of Cuban Rum, mainly to test out the theory of ‘Cuban rum for a Cuba Libre is better’ and also because I love it. That’s right ladies and gents; Havana Club 3yo white rum.

Now normally I would keep this sort of information to myself, but seeing as it was mainly to try a proper Cuba Libre Recipe out, I thought it best to add. The recipe I used was a 2:1 ratio (the same as the above recipes) only I added the lime juice to the glass first (following Havana Club guidelines).

And can I just say, from the above recipes, Brugal & Coca Cola was my favourite (not including the Kraken & Pepsi recipe), but this Havana Libre I made up, was on another level… It is very strange, but the flavour of the Havana Club comes through the cola perfectly, so you taste the rums flavour, but without the painful bite of the alcohol (thank the lime juice for that).

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Havana Nights: Cuba is the birthplace of the Cuba Libre and Cuban Rum should always be your first stop…

So I suppose to summarise I just have to leave you with this bit of advice: Cocktail recipes can be fluid. You make them to your own tastes. And sometimes you may want a spiced rum, sometimes you want a white. But if you ever have a Cuba Libre, try it first with the Havana Club 3yo, create a Cuba Libre the way it was intended and then, if you want to, experiment with other rums. You’ll find that this classic recipe is just that: a classic. You may find you prefer a spiced version, or even the taste of black rum. But no matter what you try you cannot beat the Cuban Anejo rum recipe. It’s just one of those things… Like gravity or the short life of a turkey; it’s inevitable.