Polynesian-themed sippers known as “Tiki drinks” charmed much of the US (and the world) in the mid-20th century, before falling from favor. They’re staging a revival now, and why not? Many feature rum + fruit juice — one of the best cocktail combos we know.
The Ancient Mariner is a delightful example. Its rich, soothing flavor makes for a perfect afternoon sipper.
So why not beat the heat with a beach-themed treat?
Recipe: The Ancient Mariner Cocktail
“Tiki” was a fictionalized take on the culture of the South Pacific and Oceania (with nods to the Caribbean and later Southeast Asia). It started with Don’s Beachcomber bar, which opened in 1933 in Hollywood, California (fittingly, since that was also home to the US movie industry, which has made a fortune from fantasy). Then came Trader Vic’s restaurant in Oakland, California. Donn Beach and Trader Vic (as they called themselves), plus the bartenders who worked for them, created the majority of Tiki cocktails.
The Ancient Mariner is a newer take on Tiki. It was developed in 1994 by Jeff “Beachbum” Berry, the world’s preeminent Tiki cocktail historian. He was trying to recreate Trader Vic’s version of Donn Beach’s Navy Grog Cocktail. What he instead came up with was this. Kudos.
This recipe serves 1 and takes about 5 minutes to prepare.
- 1 ounce Demerara Rum (see Notes)
- 1 ounce dark Jamaican rum (see Notes)
- ¾ ounce fresh-squeezed lime juice
- ½ ounce unsweetened white grapefruit juice (bottled is OK; see Notes)
- ½ ounce simple syrup (or to taste)
- ¼ ounce allspice dram (aka pimento dram; see Notes)
- garnish of a lime wedge or slice and/or a mint sprig (optional)
- Add all ingredients (except garnish) to a cocktail shaker half filled with ice. Shake vigorously until the contents are well chilled.
- Strain into a double rocks (old-fashioned) glass filled with crushed or chipped ice. Add garnish, if desired, and serve.
- The original version of this drink calls for shaking with crushed ice, then pouring the drink unstrained into a double rocks glass. We prefer fresh ice in the glass, but suit yourself.
- The original also calls for scoring the lime-wedge garnish. Too fiddly for us, but it looks attractive. BTW, as you can see in the pictures, we opted for a lime slice rather than a wedge.
- Crushed or chipped ice is ideal for drinks like this. It melts faster than cubes, helping dilute the alcohol (Tiki drinks tend to be heavy on booze). But use ice cubes if you prefer.
- When it comes to dark Jamaican rum, Myers’s is our favorite. But use any brand you like.
- Demerara rum is a smoky amber rum from Guyana. Its flavor is unique, so there really is no substitute. El Dorado 8-year-old rum is our standard for mixed drinks (though even longer-aged versions are always welcome). BTW, you may see some 151-proof Demerara rums. Those are not appropriate for this drink.
- Allspice dram (aka pimento dram) includes a mix of spices. It adds terrific flavor to drinks, and we’ve used it for several cocktails over the years. The brand we see most often (and use) is St. Elizabeth. But your liquor store may have another recommendation.
- If you don’t have allspice dram on hand, you could substitute a few pinches each of ground nutmeg, ground cinnamon, and allspice. It won’t taste quite the same, but it’ll do in a pinch (heh, heh).
- Our usual disclaimer: We’re noncommercial and are not compensated for mentioning brand names. We suggest only what we use and buy with our own money.
- Always use unsweetened white grapefruit juice when making this drink. The pink stuff is too sweet (and it’s the wrong color). We use bottled juice because it’s convenient, but you can always buy a fresh white grapefruit (not pink or ruby) and squeeze your own.
- BTW, it can be hard to find white grapefruit juice in stores these days (most people seem to prefer pink). We finally found some, but had to shop around. It’s worth getting for Tiki drinks – and our next couple of drinks will also feature it – so stock up!
- Some medications (like statins) don’t mix well with grapefruit juice (the juice intensifies the drug’s effects). The amount called for in one of these drinks (or even two) isn’t a problem for most people, but if in doubt consult your doctor or pharmacist.
“’Eftsoons his hand dropt he,’” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs.
“Guess this drink is a bit strong,” I said. “Are you OK?”
“Just quoting a line from ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,’” said Mrs K R.
“Oh, right,” I said. “By noted drug addict Samuel Taylor Coleridge.”
“’With my cross-bow, I shot the ALBATROSS,’” said Mrs K R.
“Dang, wouldn’t want that hanging around my neck,” I said.
“Don’t worry, after another one of these, you won’t be able to hit anything,” said Mrs K R.
“’Four times fifty living men . . . . They dropped down one by one.’” Just another night at Tiki Town.
You may also enjoy reading about: