Goodbye, Hamilton 86

Sent off this bottle of Hamilton 86 rum from Guyana in style with a modified Ancient Mariner cocktail. The Ancient Mariner is a Navy Grog riff from Jeff “Beachbum” Berry that appeared in the original Grog Log back in 1998. Modified by me due to the lack of grapefruit juice and a heavier pour of the Hamilton Demerara rum just so I could finish the bottle.

Ancient Mariner (modified)
½ oz Cara Cara Orange Juice
1 oz Lime Juice
¼ oz Simple Syrup
¼ oz St. Elizabeth Allspice Liqueur
1¾ oz Hamilton 86 rum from the Demerara River
¼ oz Wray & Nephew Overproof
Shake with ice, garnish with mint

The orange came through in this and so it didn’t quite have that classic Grog taste, but otherwise this was plenty good.

Ancient Mariner by Jeff “Beachbum” Berry
½ oz White Grapefruit Juice
¾ oz Lime Juice
½ oz Simple Syru
¼ oz Pimento Dram (Allspice Liqueur)
1 oz Demerara Rum
1 oz Dark Jamaican Rum
Shake with ice, garnish with mint and lime wedge

Sippin’ Santa at 55 South / Miracle on 1st in Downtown San Jose

The holiday season continues in downtown San Jose where two holiday cocktail pop-ups are still pulling in revelers. Both Sippin’ Santa and Miracle offer a variety of festive cocktails along with interesting and fun glassware that’s available for sale.

Sippin’ Santa at 55 South

We started at 55 South for Sippin’ Santa, the tiki-themed holiday pop-up produced with Jeff “Beachbum” Berry. The new cocktail and mug this year is Sharkey’s First Christmas, featuring vodka, aquavit, melon and walnut liqueur, lime and pineapple juices. Mrs. Mai Tai thought this was pretty good and I have to agree it was a nice twist and the mug is pretty good too. I had Sippin’ Santa cocktail that has Demerara rum, amaro, lemon, orange, and gingerbread mix – an all time favorite mug and the cocktail is always great too.

The team at 55 South did a good job with the drinks and decor again this year, though the music for our experience was a Sade playlist followed by mid-1950s rock ‘n roll hits. So, not really the holiday vibe. We arrived early and the crowd was sparse, but grew later in the evening.

55 South

Miracle on 1st is at Paper Plane across the street and continues to impress. The decor is elaborate here, and we found the service at the bar to be quite efficient and super friendly. I was driving and asked for something non-alcoholic and received a very nice juicy highball that was fantastic. Mrs. Mai Tai had the excellent Marshmallows & Unicorns, the complex cocktail with gin, several liqueurs, lemon, egg white, bitters, and cardamon. Our friends really liked their Carol Barrel and Hot Buttered Rum, two Miracle standouts. Crowds grew during our visit and there was a line when we left, so go early if you can.

Miracle on 1st at Paper Plane

Miracle has a larger cocktail menu than Sippin’ Santa and the more varied options seem offer something for everyone. Sippin’ Santa added a holiday spritz this year but we think the smaller menu is a deterrent for many potential patrons. Adding a couple more cocktails would help for 2024.

The Castaway

Appropriate for the finale of Survivor tonight, a show I still watch and like. I love the tropical island eye candy, the dramatic challenges, and all the castaway twists. This is a cocktail from the original Grog Log, circa 1994.

The Castaway by Beachbum Berry
3 oz Pineapple Juice
¾ oz Kahlua
1½ oz Gold Puerto Rican Rum (Bacardi 8)
Shake with crushed ice and serve in a Pilsner glass.

The Trader Vic’s glass seems right on point for the castaway theme and I enjoyed this cocktail. Pineapple and Kahlua make a good pair, and this cocktail still has plenty of booze. That Beachbum did it all right.

Tiki Tom’s Cocktail Deep Dive

We had a pre-dinner visit to Tiki Tom’s on Wednesday. We were surprised it wasn’t overflowing busy like it always seems to be but was quite mellow and about halfway full during the 5:00 hour when we rolled in. We ordered some coconut shrimp and enjoyed fast service and knowledgeable suggestions from the bartender.

You can’t always have the Ultimate Mai Tai at Tiki Tom’s (well, you could, but..) so I went deeper into the menu and had a Captain Cleo from the Beachbum Berry section. This is a Rum Runner variant that’s shaken rather than blended and leans more into the blackberry than banana, a good choice in my view. Rather delicious.

Meanwhile they were out of Mrs. Mai Tai’s favorite, the Ohana Punch, so she went for the Banana Hammock with light rum, banana liqueur, falernum, and juices. Definitely a lighter style drink that’s pretty good with only subtle banana notes.

I finished with a Tropical Itch, Harry Yee’s all-time classic dating back to the Hawaiian Village in the 1950s. This version was pretty good and even comes with a backscratcher with the Tiki Tom’s logo!

On the way home around 9:30 it was totally packed at Tiki Tom’s, just like we usually experience. Seemed like the place to be in Walnut Creek on Thanksgiving Eve.

Ultimate-ish Zombie

I was really happy with the recipe for the Ultimate Mai Tai, using my Ultimate Mai Tai Rum Blend. And I was super happy with the Ultimate Navy Grog which used that rum in combo. But I’ve never been able to come up with a Zombie recipe that I liked using that rum. But after some experimentation and tinkering I’m pretty happy with how this came out.

Now, don’t get me wrong, this isn’t as good as a 1934. All hail Donn Beach for developing it and to Jeff Berry for rediscovering and decoding the recipe decades later. So, it is only ultimate-ish. But if you’re looking for a little twist on the Zombie I’d suggest giving this a try.

Thanks to Ed Hamilton and the aforementioned Jeff Berry for developing a Zombie rum to give this the necessary flavor profile and kick.

Ultimate-ish Zombie
1 oz Ruby Grapefruit Juice (strained)
½ oz Lime Juice
½ oz Passionfruit Syrup
¼ oz Molasses Syrup
½ oz Velvet Falernum
⅛ oz Cinnamon Syrup
1 oz Hamilton Beachbum Berry Zombie Blend
1 oz Ultimate Mai Tai Blend
4 drop Pernod
4 dash Angostura Bitters
Shake with crushed ice
Garnish with mint

1990s Vintage Recipe: Planet of the Apes

Had to kill an orange and a lime and looked for a recipe that uses both, so ended up with this cocktail adapted by Jeff “Beachbum” Berry in 1995. I found the banana isn’t as strong as you might hope or want. Making a second version I upped the banana and dropped the pineapple juice but it didn’t really change the character too much. Nonetheless, this was plenty refreshing and obviously very juicy.

Planet of the Apes by Jeff Berry
½ oz Lime Juice
1 oz Pineapple Juice
1 oz Orange Juice
¾ oz Creme de Banana (Tempus Fugit)
1 oz Dark Jamaican Rum (Worthy Park 109)
½ oz 151 Proof Puerto Rican Rum (Cruzan)
Shake with ice.