It was gorgeous but warm on Saturday, and I felt like rum.
My turn to mix, and I was looking for something with rum, but something a bit different. Recalling Gary Regan’s excellent tome The Joy of Mixology, I tried to remember if there was a rum-based example of his drink category of New Orleans Sours (base spirit, orange-flavored liqueur, lemon or lime juice). I couldn’t, so I looked it up. Turns out that oddly enough, there was no classic cocktail fitting this description, so Gary created one in 2002 and called The Missing Link (heh). It features his favored Margarita proportion of 3:2:1, light rum, triple sec and lime juice.
Okay, but I was looking for something just as refreshing but a little more complex. I had just picked up a bottle of Rhum Clément‘s Créole Shrubb, a once-rare liqueur from Martinique that I had tasted at Dr. Cocktail’s house but which wasn’t readily available in the States until recently. It’s an orange liqueur in the same general category of Curaçaos or triple secs, but that’s where the similarity ends. This liqueur is drier than most of those, is based on a type of rum called rhum agricole (made from fresh pressed sugar cane juice, not molasses), is sweetened by just a touch of pure sugar cane syrup and has a blend of really interesting Caribbean spices. I had tasted some straight from my new bottle, and was eager to use it in some sort of cocktail. This seemed to be the time for it to make its début in our bar.
I thought of a light rum, perhaps, but decided to pair it with a fellow Martiniquan rum. I didn’t have any Rhum Clément on hand at the time, but I did have a Saint James Hors d’Age rhum agricole, which until then I’d only ever sipped and never used in a cocktail. It’s got the complexity of a Cognac, and while it might not let the Shrubb shine through quite as much as a white rum would, I thought I’d see what kind of cocktailian-alchemical witches’ brew of flavors might come forth.
What kind? A startling kind. Neither Wesly nor I had ever tasted anything quite like this. The best way to describe the flavor would be … exotic. We were both a bit taken aback at first, with all the flavors going on in here, but decided within two sips that we liked it. A lot.
This is different enough from a Missing Link that I thought we’d give it its own name. “Missing link” is a term given (sometimes inaccurately) to a transitional fossil in the evolutionary line. The first skeleton of Australopithecus afarensis was a key transitional fossil, and it (or rather, she) had a name, which I’ve lent to this drink. I’d be surprised if no one else thought of this before me, but here it is anyway.
1-1/2 ounces aged rhum agricole (St. James Hors d’Age or Clément VSOP).
1 ounce Clément Créole Shrubb.
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice.
Combine ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker; shake for 10-12 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Lime wheel garnish.
Next time I make this I’ll make it with a lighter rum, to get more of a sense of the Shrubb flavor on its own — probably with Clément’s Première Canne white rhum agricole. If not a Martiniquan rhum, then certainly 10 Cane from Trinidad, which has become our standard cane-juice rum these days.