We’re deep into harvest season — although some people might say we’re heading into the holiday season, since it now seems to start with Halloween rather than Thanksgiving. Either way, there are pumpkins everywhere. And where you find pumpkins, it seems, there is “pumpkin spice.”
A quick internet search for “pumpkin spiced cocktails” yielded a vast number of drink variations containing some sort of pumpkin spice: pumpkin spice martinis, pumpkin spice Moscow mules, pumpkin spice “shooters,” and so on ad nauseam. Sweet drinks have been a part of mixology forever. But these are a more recent — and regrettable — development IMO. It seems to me a cocktail should be bracing and refreshing rather than sweet and cloying. Can’t we just leave the sweets for the dessert table?
That has gotten me thinking about drinks that have a bit of spice but are not otherwise sugar bombs. There are many options out there, from mulled wines to hard ciders to bourbons and ryes. Then I recalled an excellent drink that is actually a variation on a warm weather, tropical tipple. I was introduced to this cocktail by my dear friend Dianna. When we worked together, years ago, this was her favorite “shift drink,” extra enjoyable after a busy night of waiting tables. In short order, she taught me how to make it and I put it on our drink list at the restaurant where we worked. I was so inspired that I named it after her: Dianna’s Dark Rum Daiquiri.
Daiquiris? Really? Yes! A traditional daiquiri is made from white rum, lime juice, and simple syrup. To say “that’s just a mojito without mint” is a disservice to a drink with an interesting history. It was invented in Cuba in the late 19th century and popularized in the bars and nightclubs of Havana. There is even a version made with grapefruit juice named after one-time island resident Ernest Hemingway. It’s called a Hemingway Daiquiri or, in Spanish, a Papa Doble. The drink was introduced stateside at the Army Navy Club in Washington D.C.
The daiquiri enjoyed its heyday in the 1950s and ’60s but waned in the ’70s, victim to Piña Coladas and other such concoctions. I do remember my stepmother used to make a frozen version by the barrelful for holiday parties.
While the original daiquiri is simple, fresh, and gets right to the point, the dark rum version is a bit more mysterious and layered. At the restaurant, I added my own twist to it: a dash of aged dark rum to get just that much more depth of flavor. Revisiting the drink recently was like visiting an old, good friend. I wondered though if there was some way to spice it up for the fall and the holiday season. It would have to be a way that did not involve adding pumpkin spice.
It dawned on me that I could try replacing the aged rum with a spiced one. I decided to give this revised cocktail a local angle by using Truro’s own Twenty Boat Cape Cod Spiced Rum. A hint of cardamom gives the drink just the right touch for this time of year. The recipe is below. After taking your first sip, remember to say “yumma yumma,” just like dear Dianna used to do when having her shift drink.
Spiced Dark Rum Daiquiri
3 ounces dark rum (like Goslings or similar)
A dash spiced dark rum (preferably Twenty Boat)
1 ounce simple syrup (made from equal parts fine sugar and water)
1 1/2 ounces fresh lime juice
Shake with ice in a cocktail shaker and strain into chilled martini glass. Garnish with a lime wedge.
Please enjoy responsibly!