In the mood for something tropical? Here’s one of Trinidad’s greatest exports, the Queen’s Park Swizzle – an enormously complex drink Trader Vic called “the most delightful form of anesthesia given out today.” The Queen’s Park Swizzle is one of the most complex drinks – flavor-wise – I’ve ever tasted. It’s sweet and sour, deliciously minty, earthy, and spicy all at the same time. And wonderfully cold from a generous portion of crushed ice. Even though its ingredients resemble those of many other drinks, especially the more effervescent Mojito, this Swizzle has a taste like nothing else, and it’s very, very good. – Andrew
Read below for the full recipe!
Queen’s Park Swizzle
3 oz Clear Rum (Demerara Rum is best)
1 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Simple Syrup (again, Demerara sugar is best)
1/2 oz Velvet Falernum
Cover the bottom of a highball glass with mint leaves. Don’t muddle: since the mint is staying in the glass, bruising it will turn the mint bitter, so just slap the leaves a few times in your palm. Cover with lots of crushed ice. Add the rum, lime juice, sugar, and falernum. Cover with more crushed ice. Swizzle (more on that in just a moment). Add the bitters, and don’t skimp – a dozen dashes isn’t out of the question. Top with more crushed ice, garnish with a bunch of mint, plunk in a straw, and enjoy!
Now: swizzling. You’re not shaking this drink, and you’re not stirring it, you’re swizzling. Take a bar spoon or, better yet, an actual swizzle stick, and insert it into the ice (not so far down that you disturb the mint). Twirl the stick between your palms, back and forth, blending and cooling the drink until a nice film of ice forms on the outside of the glass. Real swizzle sticks are made from actual sticks, stems from the quararibea turbinata, grown on Martinique and nearby islands and known to locals as the swizzle stick tree. In some places, people make medicinal teas from the bark of the tree, so it’s not hard to imagine it making the leap to rustic blender. It blends a Swizzle subtly but well and makes for quite a show. If you use a real one, make sure to wash it and let it try after each use.
The Queen’s Park Swizzle was invented at the Queen’s Park Hotel in Trinidad’s capital, Port-of-Spain, in the 1920s. Swizzles were around for over a century before that, and may descend from switchels – much older drinks, an early form of today’s energy drinks made from sweetened vinegar and water – but the Queen’s Park may be the first of the modern family of Swizzles. (The oldest recipe in print, from 1788, lists spruce beer, rum, and sugar as its ingredients.) Oh, and Velvet Falernum? This isn’t part of the original recipe, but was included in the version I learned from Derek Brown, DC’s cocktail king, and trust me, it’s worth it. Falernum is a sweet syrup from the Caribbean, somewhat like orgeat syrup. Velvet Falernum is a liqueur version, imported from Barbados and made from rum, sugar cane syrup, lime juice, and plenty of spices – cloves, allspice, ginger, cinnamon, and maybe a hint of almond. Yum.
Oh, and be careful: that’s a lot of booze in one drink. The Queen’s Park Swizzle’s saving grace is that it takes a long time to build one properly. Take your time, sip slowly, and savor.
Photo Credits: Nole Garey for Oh So Beautiful Paper