Here’s another classic from the golden age of Tiki drinks, the goofily-named Navy Grog. It’s one of those great old recipes that shows how complex and versatile and unexpected Tiki drinks can be. Grog combines the expected – rum, lime, the usual suspects – with the unexpected (honey, in a tropical drink, what?). But it works the way Tiki should, building layers of flavors into something more than the sum of their parts. – Andrew
Illustration by Shauna Lynn for Oh So Beautiful Paper
Combine the rums, honey syrup, lime juice, and bitters in a cocktail shaker filled two-thirds with ice and shake well. Strain into a chilled tumbler and top with the grapefruit soda. Garnish with crushed ice (shaped into a cone if you have the time or energy) and some tropical flowers. Enjoy!
The rums and lime are pretty straightforward, but the honey syrup needs an explanation. Honey doesn’t blend well into drinks on its own, tending to settle to the bottom of a glass in a lump. But honey syrup blends beautifully. Just heat equal parts honey and water until the honey is fully melted. That’s it.
The classic recipe uses white grapefruit juice – something that shows up in more recipes than I would have expected when I first started learning about Tiki – and soda water. I skipped that step by going straight for an all-juice grapefruit soda, a handy way to add fruit and fizz to a drink without sugar or artificial ingredients. But that’s a bit sweeter than grapefruit juice, so in go a couple of dashes of bitters for balance. The result is wildly citrusy and wonderfully rich, with deep rum undertones and a subtle sweetness.
An ice cone with a straw stuck through it is the Navy Grog’s traditional garnish. To make one, fill a Pilsner glass with crushed ice, run a straw through the center of the glass, then cover the ice with water and then drain. Slide the resulting cone, very carefully, out of the glass, then let it sit in the freezer overnight to solidify. Or, you can just get this kit from Cocktail Kingdom.
Grog’s a funny word. It’s also an old one, in use at least since the 1750s, and its origins are probably lost. It has connotations now of rum, and improvised, messy drinks. But it got its start in the daily rum ration that sailors used to receive, cut with water to prevent too much drunkenness, preserved with a bit of citrus juice, and maybe jazzed up with a bit of sugar…sound familiar?
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Glassware by Liquorary
Photo Credits: Nole Garey for Oh So Beautiful Paper