Last Call

How to Make the Best Rum Runner

I've had it.

I'm sick of fellow bartenders who turn up their nose at frozen drinks. Most mixologists in town get a disgusted sneer at the mere mention of the word "blender". Countless bar blenders have found themselves victim to horrible "accidents" wrought by bartenders who find blended drinks beneath them. And let's not get started with the booze-loaded slushie machines like you find at Fat Tuesday. Yes, blenders are loud, and they're a pain in the ass to clean. But, ya know what? We live in Phoenix. It's freaking hot here, and nothing quells the sting of summer heat like an icy frozen drink. So, for the next month, rev up your blenders for enough frozen drinks to get you through summer.

We're starting out with a trip down to the Florida Keys. Specifically, we're going to the Holiday Isle Resort on Islamorada. Back in the 1970s, guests were welcome to pour their own cocktails from bottles left on the bar. (Boy, those were the days, huh?) Thanks to some odd ordering, the bar found itself with tons of three ingredients: Blackberry brandy, banana liqueur, and 151-proof rum.

The bar manager, "Tiki John" Ebert, came up with a tasty drink to use up the stockpile. He called it the Rum Runner, an homage to Prohibition-era bootleggers that once populated the area. But, the drink had a problem: It was ugly. Someone came up with the idea to use grenadine to tint it pink. The idea turned into a smash hit, and the Rum Runner became the drink that launched a thousand blenders.

The Rum Runner illustrates a prime tenet of frozen drinks: The cold numbs your palate, so you have to compensate by adding extra tart and sweet ingredients. If you don't, the drink will just taste like ice and alcohol. For this reason, you don't want to just throw an on-the-rocks drink in the blender. Likewise, a recipe designed to be frozen is ghastly when served on the rocks.

The amount of ice to add for any given drink takes a little bit of trial and error. As a rule of thumb, you want it to be pourable, but still thick enough to stand up and salute once it's in the glass. For the Rum Runner, the magic amount is a pint glass heaping full of ice.

Rum Runner This drink begs for dark 151-proof Demerara rum. Alas, Demerara is impossible to find in Arizona. Gosling's 151 does a splendid job in a pinch. If all you have is Bacardi, reduce the amount to ½ ounce, and add ½ ounce of dark Jamaican rum. I don't blame you one bit if you round up on the odd amounts; the drink still comes out fine. Or, just make two at the same time.

1½ ounces fresh squeezed lime juice ⅝ ounce grenadine ⅞ ounce blackberry brandy ⅞ ounce crème de banane (banana liqueur) ¾ ounce 151-proof Demerara rum (see note)

Blend at high speed with 2 heaping cups of ice until smooth. Pour into a Tiki mug or pint glass.

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JK Grence
Contact: JK Grence