Wednesday, February 11, 2009

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Don’s Mix and the Wood Eye Cocktail

“Would I? Would I?”

~ punchline to a 2nd grade joke

The thing about making mixtures, tinctures, decoctions, and infusions for particular drinks at home is that doing so encumbers one with, frankly, an overabundance of mixtures, tinctures, decoctions, and infusions. In a bar, such things could well be consumed over the course of a single shift. Not so much at home—even my home.

This is not frustrating per se, but when the siren call of beverages calling for yet more homemade ingredients becomes irresistible, it seems a bit…excessive. Other than butter, ginger, a tin of Rougie foie gras, and tubes of Hungarian paprika paste, my refrigerator door is filled to capacity with such bottles. Simple syrup, palm syrup, mint syrup, syrups of ginger, black pepper, mango, and demerara.

But the one labeled Don’s Mix I keep refilling.

Don’s Mix, as revealed by tiki master Jeff Berry, is a 2:1 mix of freshly squeezed grapefruit juice to cinnamon syrup used by Donn “Don the Beachcomber” Beach in his seminal 1934 Zombie Punch. It is a disarmingly simple, but fantastic cocktail ingredient for mixing in a variety of rum drinks, but it’s best used within a day or so ~ a week at the very outside. My solution? I make a big batch and give some to folks I know will make quick use of it, then several little batches using additions of fresh grapefruit juice to the more stable cinnamon syrup.

After my friend Carlo hooked me up with a glut of grapefruit, I made a batch of cinnamon syrup, then started mixing. So far, we’ve made 1934 zombies, Donga Punch, and—among other trials—a potent little experiment I dubbed the Wood Eye Cocktail that brings together three different rums, a dose of lemon, and a few of those bottle contents. Careful, though: despite its diminutive size, too many of these will leave you feeling a little wood-eyed.

Eye Wood. Wooden Ewe?
Wood Eye Cocktail

1 ½ oz Jamaican rum (Appleton V/X)
¾ oz lemon juice, freshly squeezed
½ oz orgeat
½ oz Don’s Mix (see below)
½ oz Pusser’s rum
a float of Lemon Hart 151 rum

Shake all but the Lemon Hart over ice and strain into your favorite tiki mug or an old fashioned glass with fresh cubes. Carefully float enough Lemon Hart 151 on top to give it a discernable layer about as thick as two American quarters or, for our British friends, a one-pound coin. Sip the drink through the top layer and repeat as necessary.

Don’s Mix

2 parts grapefruit juice, freshly squeezed
1 part cinnamon syrup (below)

I like Dale DeGroff’s take on Don’s Mix in part because his recipe for the cinnamon syrup that goes into it yields an even liter (despite his note that the recipe yields 2 cups) that actually holds its own for several weeks under refrigeration.

Cinnamon Syrup

5 cinnamon sticks, each about 2 inches long
20 ounces bottle or filtered water
1 quart sugar

Break the cinnamon sticks into pieces to create more surface area. But the cinnamon, water, and sugar in a large saucepan over low heat. Stir until all the sugar is dissolved, and then returns the heat to very low simmer for 30 minutes. Let cool completely, then fossil; keep covered in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Oh, and, uh, bad ol' Cashmere.

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