Up until a few months ago, I hadn't ventured into the realm of tiki cocktails. This was unfortunate because I tend to really enjoy all of the contributing components: fresh fruit, herbs, aromatic bitters and rum. My interests were first peaked by a delicious cocktail at the local CH Distillery - the Sexy Tiki Goddess. The mix of tropical fruit, ginger, almond and mint flavors was refreshingly sweet and beautifully presented. I had never previously considered pairing those ingredients but was inspired to give it a try with my own spin. As a sidenote, I'm so thankful to the vibrant cocktail scene of Chicago for endless new ideas regarding both flavor and presentation.
The final push I needed was from Mixology Monday - a monthly online cocktail party where bloggers submit recipes for a given theme. The April theme was (conveniently) swizzles.
So apart from being a really fun word to say out loud, what is a swizzle?
This category of cocktail hails from the Caribbean, is often served over crushed ice, and gets its name from the stirring device that is used to blend the cocktail ingredients with the ice (the swizzle stick). They tend to be extremely refreshing, slightly sweet and wonderfully bright. Given that this weekend brought beautiful weather and abundant sunshine to Chicago, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to craft and enjoy a swizzle on the rooftop (hence my creative name).
I started with one of the more well known swizzle recipes - the Queens Park Swizzle - consisting of muddled mint, lime, sugar, rum and bitters. I happened to have some small batch barrel aged rum from Old Sugar Distillery in Madison, WI so I chose to work with that rather than the traditionally used white rum. To complement the heavy oaked flavors of the rum, I made a simple syrup using brown sugar (with a 1:4 sugar:water ratio). I was also lucky to find some perfectly fresh pineapple at the grocery store so I added that to the mix by blending it with the rum.
The result was basically summer in a glass.
I expect to do a lot more experimentation with variations of this recipe in the future (you should too)! It's a bit of work if you don't have a crushed ice machine on hand and need to pound the ice with a hammer in a ziplock bag (classy) but trust me, it is so so worth it. If you appreciate cocktail aesthetics, you'll also love the beautiful ombre color that results from topping the swizzle with Angostura bitters.
The Rooftop Swizzle
- 2 oz barrel aged rum
- 1/2 lime
- 1 oz brown sugar simple syrup*
- 8-10 dashes of Angostura bitters
- Handful of diced, ripe pineapple (set aside 1 piece for garnish)
- Handful of mint (set aside one sprig for garnish)
- Crushed ice
Add juice of 1/2 lime, brown sugar simple syrup and mint to a tall, narrow glass (such as a collins glass). Muddle mint leaves into the liquid until the mixture is aromatic. Blend pineapple chunks with rum and add to the glass. Top 1/2 of the way to the top of the glass with crushed ice. Now for the swizzling! Use a barspoon or, if you happen to have it, a swizzle stick to carefully stir the mixture until blended and chilled. Basically, you want to put your stirring device in the glass and rotate it with one or two hands (as you need to keep the glass steady). Once the liquid is chilled and well mixed with the ice, cover with more crushed ice up to the top of the glass. Top with 8-10 dashes of Angostura bitters and garnish with a a chunk of fresh pineapple, a sprig of mint and a (preferably colorful) straw. Enjoy on a rooftop while basking in the summer sun.
*To make brown sugar simple syrup, heat 1 cup water with 1/4 cup brown sugar in a small pot, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Allow to cool and store any excess in the fridge for up to 3-4 weeks.
~A special thanks to Mixology Mondays and CocktailVirgin for hosting this month's online cocktail party!~