As the weather heats up in the Foothills of Southern California, our Today’s Tipple turns to the tropical with this update of one of Trader Vic’s favorite Tiki Drinks.

If you find tropical drinks a bit cloying and heavy, this just may be the antidote.  Sort of like a Mai Tai but less sweet and considerably more complex – thanks to the addition of the Pimento Dram – this is one of our favorite summer time drinks.

Read on for the story and recipe…

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

When Coleridge’s sinister seaman slays the Albatross that lead his ship from certain death in Antarctica, he arouses the wrath of spirits who blow the ship into uncharted waters where it is trapped hopelessly in the doldrums…

460px-Rime_of_the_Ancient_Mariner-Albatross-DoreDay after day, day after day,
We stuck, nor breath nor motion;
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.

Water, water, every where,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.

It then goes from bad to worse for the Ancient Mariner and his crew as the ship encounters a ghost ship where Death and his crew play dice for the crew’s souls before the ship is eventually sucked down in a whirlpool.

Just how much laudanum Coleridge had consumed to spawn this nightmare, that even his buddy and neighbor William Wordsworth found to be seriously flawed, we’ll never know.

But we have the romantic poet to thank for providing the inspiration for Jeff “Beachbum” Berry to dig through the forgotten journals of Vic Bergeron, another famous mariner who was also known to consort with spirits, albeit of a different kind, to create one of our favorite summertime tipples.

(NOTE: The health department will not allow us to serve anyone wearing a penitential dead albatross around their neck.  We asked…)

The Tale of the Cocktail…

This summertime Tiki drink was created by Jeff “Beachbum” Berry, the unofficial historian of Tiki Cocktails, who spent years tracking down and sifting through the recipes of Trader Vic and Don the Beachcomber.   Here’s his story of the creation of this summertime beauty…

Ancient Mariner on the bar of the Flintridge Proper just prior to it becoming an empty glass...
Ancient Mariner on the bar of the Flintridge Proper just prior to it becoming an empty glass…

“I came up with this one back in 1994.  It started as my attempt to re-create the flavor of my favorite Trader Vic’s drink, Vic’s version of the Navy Grog — which, in turn, used Don The Beachcomber’s even earlier version as a starting point.  But since the recipe Vic printed in a sales pamphlet titled “Passport To Trader Vic’s Exotic Cocktails” listed only “Trader Vic Navy Grog Rum” and “Trader Vic Navy Grog Mix,” I pretty much had to start from scratch.  I called it the Ancient Mariner because by the time I finished with it, that’s how old I felt.”

As Berry mentions above, this cocktail is a variation on Trader Vic’s original Navy Grog and calls for, in addition to two kinds of rum, Pimento ( also known as Allspice) Dram which adds a complexity to the drink that you won’t find in many other Tiki Drinks (where the very sweet almond-flavored Orgeat is more commonly used).   The famous cocktail historian Ted Haigh writes, of this unique liqueur…

“Pimento Dram may bring to mind the flavorless, wadded-up thing beheld in many a martini olive, but trust me, this is a wholly different pimento…a peppercorn of sorts…The English christened it ‘allspice.’ The berry seemed to them to encapsulate the flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, and clove all in one little peppery wallop.”

This cocktail is particularly popular at the Proper because it’s one of those drinks with so many ingredients, including some unusual ones, that, unless you’ve devoted significant square footage to your spirits collection (like our friend Joe Brooks has with his Barage (Bar + Garage, get it?)) and have an orchard in the backyard, there’s a good chance you won’t have all six ingredients on hand at any one time.  Fortunately, the Proper does so you can enjoy them all summer long.

Ancient Mariner Cocktail

Jeff “The Beachbum” Berry

3/4 oz. Fresh Lime
1/2 oz. Simple Syrup
1/2 oz. Fresh Grapefruit Juice
1/4 oz. Pimento Dram (We like the Bitter Truth)
1 oz. Jamaican Rum – (We use Appleton)
1 oz. Demerara Rum – (We use El Dorado)

Shake and serve in a Double Old Fashioned glass with crushed ice.  Garnish with mint sprig.