Thursday, September 3, 2009

Airmail Cocktail

Some cocktails have rock solid recipes which can not be deviated from if they are truly to be called a correct version of that cocktail (for instance, a Dark and Stormy HAS to have Gosling's Black Seal rum in it, otherwise it must be called something else). Others are left open to wide interpretation - ingredients in some cocktails may vary by quantity, composition, proportion, and sometimes even base spirit. Looking up how to make the Airmail, I saw a pretty wide variation in the suggested recipe. All were rum based, but after that it got a little dicey - recipe for the honey syrup? Lot of different honey/water proportions. Garnish? some, none, and gray areas in between. Champagne or prosecco? Simple syrup or no? And appropriate glassware? All over the place - highball, champagne flute, champagne coupe, cocktail glass. I'm surprised there wasn't one which called for drinking out of a shrunken monkey head.

Given the defacto wide latitude being granted to me in creating this cocktail, I cobbled together a recipe from a number of sources. Although I couldn't find a history of the origin of this cocktail, given the call for "rhum" and champagne in most recipes I found, I would imagine it had its origins in the French-speaking Carribbean countries. Rhum agricole, or "agricultural rum," made from straight sugar cane as opposed to mollasses, is most popular in these countries. Given that, options such a Italian prosecco don't seem to make as much thematic sense as French champagne.

The results were just pretty good - I can see why this cocktail made it on Anvil's list, but I think the lime proportion I used was a little too high (recipe below reflects downward adjustment). Refreshing, sophisticated, not overly sweet - I would imagine that this would be fantastic sipped on the beaches of Martinique (since it was pretty good sipped in my kitchen.)


1 1/2 oz. rhum agricole
1/2 oz. fresh lime juice
1 oz. honey syrup (1 part honey/2 parts water)
1 oz. champagne
2-3 drops Angostura bitters
mint leaf for garnish

Combine rum, lime juice, and syrup in shaker. Add ice, shake vigorously. Strain into glass and top with champagne. Gently drop 2 drops of bitters on top of cocktail. Garnish by dragging mint leaf through bitters to create an attractive design, then laying mint leaf on top.

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