Have you ever heard of the Green Rhum Thumb? If so it means you were probably present at the 2011 Bar Vs Chef competition in Montreal, Canada. If not, it means your the other 100% of the human population.
I've been on a cocktail kick lately. Maybe its trending, or maybe I just fell into it by way of a low carb (read no beer) diet. Either way, for the last few months, I've been reading, experimenting on my willing wife, and generally making a mess of the kitchen as I learn the ins and outs of classic cocktailing.
Its been fun, and I've learned a lot... and this is of course where I should have stopped. I seem to approach everything at 400mph though, so when I came across a blog post describing the Green Rhum Thumb
I knew it had to be recreated. For what better test of my mixology metal could there be than to recreate the worlds most complicated cocktail!?
Well actually, as it turns out, there's a lot of better tests. In fact, perfecting and learning about the more simple drinks turns out to be just as - if not more - difficult as concocting this monstrosity. After all, no one has a clue how this sucker should taste, but there's certain expectations when it comes to something like a mint julep
Nevertheless, the journey has been fun, and I wanted to share both the recipe, and how it tastes (something woefully left out of the original article). So here goes.
The Green Rhum Thumb:
- 1 oz Orange Infused Rum
- 1 oz Hops Infused Rum
- 1/4 oz Allspice Gastric
- 1/2 oz Caramelized Banana Syrup
- 2 tsp Blue Mountain Coffee Bitters
- *** Pour all ingredients into a shaker, add ice, and shake for 20 seconds. Carbonate and serve in a champagne flute. Decorate with a banana slice, a leaf and your all done!
Did I mention you can't buy most/any of this stuff? You have to make it all. Here's the breakdown:
Orange Infused Rum:
Hops Infused Rum:
- 750ml of Appleton Reserve Rum
- 2 Med/Large oranges
- *** Using a knife, peel the rinds from both oranges (try not to get too much pith) and put that long with the rum in a large mason jar. Store in a cool dark place (not a fridge) for about 3 weeks, shaking once a day for 10-15 seconds).
- 750ml of Appleton Reserve Rum
- 1/3 oz Columbus hops
- *** Using and electric hot plate or burner OUTSIDE - mix the hops into the rum and heat ~160 for at 5-10 minutes. Filter the the hops out first with a sieve, then with cheese cloth until there are no fine particles left.
Caramelized banana syrup:
- 1 1/4 cups of lemon juice (~6-8 med lemons)
- 1 1/4 cups of water
- 2 1/2 cups of sugar (aka 1 lb)
- 1/2 cup rice vinegar
- 1/4 cup allspice berries (crushed)
- 1 cup fresh pink grapefruit juice (~2 grapefruit)
- *** Melt the sugar on medium temperature with the water and lemon juice. Once melted, add the vinegar and allspice, then gradually put in the grapefruit juice. Keep heat on until most of the bubbles disappear. Chill and filter twice, once with a regular strainer, and then with a fine mesh tea strainer (or something similar).
Blue Mountain Coffee Bitters:
- 6 bananas, sliced
- 1 1/2 cup cane sugar
- 1 1/2 cup water
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- ***Put the butter and 1/4 cup of the sugar in a pan until it starts caramelizing. Add the bananas until they start to brown, then add the rest of the sugar along with the water. Let simmer until the bananas start to fall apart, then chill. Once cold, strain through a cheesecloth to get a somewhat particle free syrup.
Still with me????
- 1 750ml bottle Appleton Estate V/X Rum
- 3 teaspoons white cardamom
- 3 teaspoons coriander seeds
- 2 teaspoons angelic leaves
- 1 cinnamon stick, crushed
- 2 cloves, crushed
- 1 nutmeg, crushed
- 1 star anise, crushed
- 1 wormwood stick
- 1 Tonka bean, crushed
- 3 teaspoons Allspice
- 6 teaspoons Blue Mountain Coffee, crushed
- 6 teaspoons Blue Mountain Coffee, uncrushed
- Dried peels from one Mandarin, one orange, one lemon, one lime
- 3/4 cup simple syrup, made with equal parts sugar and water
- ***Dry the peels of the citrus for 4-5 days in the sun, then put it and the rest of the dry ingredients in a Mason jar with the rum. Shake at least once a day for 10-15 seconds and keep at room temperature in a dark place. After 3 weeks, add the simple syrup then refrigerate for a week, always shaking at least once a day.
I suppose I should mention a few things at this point - like the fact that the recipe originally called for cannabis infused rum, not hops infused rum. On the off chance that marijuana is legal where you live you'll find it adds about $150 to the already costly list of ingredients above. Meanwhile the hops will cost you only about a $1.99 and per the very excited, card carrying sales clerk who helped me pick out this exact strain of hops - the taste/smell is going to be pretty close.
Additionally, if you live in the good ol' U.S.A - you'll find that Tonka Beans
are illegal for non-ceremonial purposes. Fortunately there's a few wicka/shaman/spiritual stores on amazon that sell them. So yes, its going to require that you buy special beans over the internet from a witch doctor, but at least they aren't poisonous
Lastly, I had to make a few corrections (angelica root instead of angelic leaves), some minor modifications (the original banana syrup recipe came out nearly solid), and fill in a few gaps(there were no instructions on how to make the cannabis rum for example). I think the end result though should be pretty close to the original, and if you scour the various spice and liquor stores on the interwebs you should be able to find most of this stuff pretty cheap. In case it helps, I ordered from The Spice House
, The Great American Spice Co
, and The Monterey Bay Spice Co
So what does it taste like you ask?
Kinda like beer actually.
First off - let me say that most of the individual ingredients are fantastic. The orange rum is wonderfully aromatic, the banana syrup could go directly on top of pancakes, and the allspice gastric is totally unique. There's a whole pile of stuff I want to try making with that last one, and since you only need a half ounce per drink I have plenty left over to play with.
The bitters and the hops infused rum are a little more challenging, but each turned out well in their own right. While the rest of the ingredients are sweet, these both have a bitter edge to them. I'm still kind of amazed that it called for 2 teaspoons of bitters per drink. Its a little much in my opinion. This, however, is partly why the result ends up tasting beer like. Its some moderately sweet ingredients and some moderately bitter ones all tied together with carbonation that adds a breadiness to the mix.
I tried the drink out on my ever willing wife and my friends Veronica and McCoy. The only thing I could think of to pair this with was jerk chicken so I found a great recipe
and cooked up a batch. The verdict was unanimous: The chicken was fantastic - the drink was.... not bad. Its a really challenging beverage. The alcohol isn't entirely up-front but its in the 2nd row. Its well balanced from a sweet/bitter perspective, but the banana bread and coffee flavors don't mix all that well with the citrus. The bitterness also seems to kill off all that wonderful brown sugar flavor the rum brings to the table. Probably not something I would make again, but its an experience that filled my head with all sorts of neat ideas.
So if your thinking of giving this a try - I'd say go for it. I learned a lot and have all kinds of fun leftovers to play with. Not to mention that it finally gave me a good reason to buy a carbonator
! Now you'll have to excuse me - my liver needs a rest and I have to go carbonate a bunch of random things in the fridge.