When we’re writing over here at Rated R Cocktails some of our best work gets done when my bro Dan is in town. It’s always nice to be able to make a drink and know if he hates it he won’t sugar coat it. It’s also nice to have someone contribute to the creative process. The last time I talked about this we brought you the Drunken Sailor and the Spice Trader, two drinks I’d serve at any bar. Now I bring you a drink that we fiddled with and argued about for about a month. Luckily it fits in perfectly with our month long look at amaro/unusual tiki creations.
Originally the Death at Sea was something my buddy made when he was in a rotten mood and breaking up with his girlfriend. I could tell because instead of 151 it was heaped with a goodly dose of PGA. Eventually I convinced him to tone it down a level and we settled for some nice Cruzan 151. I know plenty of cocktailians might not have a great opinion of Cruzan 151, but if you take the time to taste and compare it’s actually got some nice spicy flavors underneath that big burn. The key is to dilute it enough so other flavors can cover it’s rough edges. The same can’t be said for Bacardi, which really is little more than lighter fluid.
This drink contains a lot of flavor combinations we adore. Cinnamon and Campari is a match made in heaven. Lime and grapefruit pair so well it’s hard to keep them apart. The salt and bitters help to bind everything together in a way that really sells it’s nautical briny imagery. The Cruzan 151 and the more flavorful gold come in and manage to stand and deliver against all these big flavors. This is really a great drink that honestly doesn’t seem to follow many rules or conventions. That’s thanks to my buddy’s original build which we later grew this off of. In essence the lack of rules and conventional wisdom is really the theme I founded Rated R Cocktails around in the first place.
Death at Sea
1 ½ oz Cruzan 151
¾ oz Cruzan Gold
½ oz Campari
1 ¼ oz White Grapefruit
½ oz fresh Lime
¼ Pomegranate Syrup
½ oz Cinnamon Syrup
4 dashes Angostura Orange bitters
Pinch of salt in shaker
Combine into a shaker filled with ice and strain up into a larger coupe.
This drink is big and deep with a red ruby hue that seems to gleam like a jewel in it’s elevated coupe. There’s definitely a big bitter orange flavor from the Campari and bitters. It’s backed up by the grapefruit twang and the subtle sweetness and spiciness from the syrups. The middle is filled with these big molasses, apricot, nutmeg notes from the rums, and the finish is long, sour, and pleasantly bittersweet. The tiny pinch of salt gives this drink a nice briny quality that really brings out the green orange quality of the Angostura orange bitters we use.
Bitter about the holidays like we are? Come to the islands and drink your bitterness away. We’ll be here.
“You Get Hammered America” – JFL