The Negroni Variations, Part 3: The Kingston Negroni

As we continue with The Negroni Variations … nope, it’s not a classical piece composed by the Italian equivalent of Johann Sebastian Bach featuring the Italian counterpart of Johann Gottlieb Goldberg. (Insert Woody Allen joke: “I-I-I don’t know anything about classical music … for years I thought The Goldberg Variations were something Mr. and Mrs. Goldberg tried on their wedding night.” ba-da-BUMP!)

This next one is the one that’s been killing me lately, and I mean in the best possible way. As with so many of us, I just can’t get enough Smith & Cross rum. This “traditional Jamaican” navy-strength rum (coming in at 100 English proof, i.e. 57% alcohol by volume) is so packed with flavor and funk and “hogo” that a bottle doesn’t last long on our shelf. I like it so much I briefly considered pouring a bottle into my humidifier so that I could breathe it. Eric Seed of Haus Alpenz, whoi imports this stuff, should be canonized for bringing this to us alone, not to mention all the other wonderful things he provides — Batavia arrack,Crème de Violette, allspice dram, Old Tom gin, Cocchi Americano … *boggle*

Oh, what’s “hogo,” you ask? From David Wondrich at the above link:

[B]ack when it was young, rum was possessed of a certain “hogo.” Derived from the French phrase for the “high taste” (haut goût) game meats develop when they’re hung up to mature before cooking — and by “mature,” we mean “rot” — hogo used to be a term of art in the rum trade to describe the sulfurous, funky tang that raw-sugarcane spirits throw off. For 300 years, rum distillers have sought ways first to tame and then to eliminate it: high-proof distillation (more alcohol equals less hogo), filtering, tweaking the fermentation, long aging in barrels — all very effective, particularly when used in combination. Perhaps too effective.

A lot of that hogo has been removed from smooth, easy-to-drink rums of today. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing — give me a glass of Zaya or Appleton Extra any day — but there’s something to be said about that funk, properly tamed. Smith & Cross doesn’t exactly tame it but makes for a delicious rum that won’t funk you to death, although it will funkify your life. (Ah, my stream of consciousness calls for a musical interlude …)



I had forgotten what this drink, first sight of which came from bartender Joaquin Simo at Death & Co. in New York was actually called and started calling it the “Funky Negroni” — fortunately Garret reminded me it’s really called …

THE KINGSTON NEGRONI
(adapted from Joaquin Simo, Death & Co., NYC)

1 ounce Smith & Cross Jamaican rum
1 ounce Campari
3/4 ounce sweet vermouth (Carpano)

Stir & strain, no garnish.

Joaquin takes the vermouth back to cut down on the sweetness, but feel free to kick it back up to 1 ounce if you like. The way I first heard about this was without a garnish, but sometimes I enjoy an orange twist with it.

This drink came into my house, mated with another one and begat a Devil’s Spawn … a most diabolical, wonderful one. Stay tuned!

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