OK, when in Puerto Rico. Wherever you are on the planet, isn’t it just courteous to politely partake in the local culture? The fresh papaya, avocado, mango, Mahi Mahi, coconut, lime, cashew fruit (who knew?), plantains, tamarind, hot and hot hot sauce. . . and so on. Just living local.
There’s also rum. Not exactly a cocktail maven am I, but decided to make several classics while here and asked my husband, brother and sister-in-law (who live here now and with whom we’re having a wonderful, long family visit) to suffer through taste tests along with me. They agreed, and not that reluctantly.
So here’s what we tried, based on some internet research, a couple of local bartenders, Charlie’s influence (lots of fresh squeezed lime!), whatever fruit we had, and our own tastes and intuition: a classic Daiquiri, Rum tonic, Mojitos and Pina Colada. Thanks to Pirulo for his fresh basil and mint.
We four gathered beachside in comfy chairs and tasted. And tasted, and tasted. Four different cocktails exchanged, sipped and then curtain calls for a couple of them. Pina Colada’s are delicious and rich like a desert. We could have sipped them all night long, but refrained. Less is more wins again: the Daiquiri and Rum Tonic, in their utter simplicity, allowed the good rum to shine through and are a cinch to make. We tried Mojitos with mint and with basil, both were delicious. Actually, we couldn’t sway Jeana from the Mojitos.
One caveat. Cocktail recipes tend to be explicit on paper, but I’m pretty sure in real life there’s plenty of winging it going on. I’ll give an exact recipe here, but please, make it your own. Sweeter, sourer, juicier, rummier. However.
First of all, if you have a good rum, and you’ll probably know it if you do, just sip it plain or over ice. After that, fruit is its classic companion. One story is that European sailors in Caribbean port ran out of whiskey and gin and decided to try the local liquor, which was rum – made from sugarcane. Fruit was abundant and the marriage was made and has lasted. Our good fortune.
FYI, for conversion: 6 t = 1 oz., 3 t = 1/2 oz. 3 teaspoons = 1 tablespoon.
Ingredients for one cocktail: 1 1/2 oz light rum/ 3/4 oz lime juice/ 1/4 oz sugar syrup
Preparation: Pour the light rum, lime juice and sugar syrup into a cocktail shaker with ice cubes/ Shake well/ Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Rum Tonic Recipe
Thanks to Charlie and Poppy who introduced me to this cocktail – no one makes it better.
Ingredients for one cocktail: 1 – 2 oz. dark rum/ 3/4 oz lime juice or more/ Tonic to taste
Preparation: Fill glass with ice, add rum and lime/ Add tonic to taste/ Garnish with thin slice of lime.
Ingredients for one cocktail: 6-8 mint leaves/ Club soda/ 1 lime, halved/ 2 oz light rum/ Mint sprig for garnish
Preparation: Place the sugar, the mint leaves, and a little club soda into a glass/ Muddle well to dissolve the sugar and to release the mint flavor/ Squeeze the juice from both halves of the lime into the glass/ Drop one half of the lime into the glass/ Add the rum/ Stir well/ Fill the glass with ice cubes/ Add the rest of the club soda/ Garnish with the mint sprig.
Pina Colada Recipe
Ingredients for one cocktail: 2 oz white rum/ 6 oz pineapple juice/1 1/2 oz Coconut Cream/ 1 oz heavy cream/ Pineapple wedge for garnish.
Preparation: Blend all ingredients with approximately 2 cups of ice until nice and smooth/ Pour into a chilled hurricane glass/ Garnish with the pineapple wedge.