Did I ever tell you about the time I accidentally invented a cocktail? No? Well, I suppose I should!
Let me ask you this then: remember that old saying “alcohol is the mother of invention”? Wait, what do you mean that’s not how it goes? Anyway, it should go that way, many great ideas (and some not so great ones ) do come by after a few drinks. And in my case, one such idea came after I’d been out for a few pints with friends.
It had been a great night, laughs had been had, insults had been shared, spirits had been elevated but I’d hit home a little too early for my liking. “I’ll just have a wee night cap,” I thought and went on to put on some good, classic rock while pouring myself a glass of a curious old friend: Ron de Jeremy Adult Spiced – a funny and not at all unappealing little thing I’ve written about and reviewed in great length here.
Playing with Ron de Jeremy: Inventing the Weird But Wonderful
As I sat there sipping my rum, listening to a bit of music on an early spring night, I suddenly found myself snacking on a bit of fruit I found in the fridge, honeydew melon to be exact. Possibly and quite honestly not the most common of combinations, but as I said, drinks had been had. And as the flavors mingled in my mouth, I actually found myself going “hey, for whatever reason, this combination isn’t half bad!”
For reasons known only to the slightly intoxicated mind, I was hit with a jolt of inspiration and culinary creativity. I stopped what I was doing, put down my glass of rum, chopped up what remained of the melon, threw it in the rum glass with a pinch of sugar and a squeeze of lime (which I always keep around for emergency purposes). I grabbed a spoon and stirred my newfound mess into something that was 2/3 fruit salad, 1/3 punch and 3/3 weird. I then had a taste. It was good. Surprisingly so, I must admit.
But it needed, I figured, a little something. Spurred on by my unpredicted success, I poked around the house further. Eventually, I ventured into the urban garden of my kitchen windowsill and after some consideration picked a few leaves off my amazing Moroccan Mint, gave then a quick rub between my fingers and dunked them into my strange fruit salad-y drink.
And that somehow did the trick in a wonderfully strange way!
Feeling pretty well chuffed with myself and my late night culinary creativity, I sat down to enjoy the fruit of my labor (pun intended), but not before snapping a picture and posting it to Twitter:
— Johan Johansen (@johanjohansen) April 18, 2014
As proud as I was of my efforts at the time, the reaction was probably predictable.
Knowing that people sometimes need a bit of time and encouragement to appreciate the full extend of my creative genius (ahem, as well as my sense of humor), I valiantly ventured on to show the world that I was on to something. I laid some plans and the coming weekend, I got hold of another honeydew melon, some more limes and I set out to play, mixing and matching a better version until I was satisfied with the results.
As I worked my way through combinations, I noticed that there was indeed some interest on that there Internet in what this weirdo Dane was up as tweets such as this started emerging:
— RONdeJEREMY (@RondeJeremyRum) April 22, 2014
Naturally, being the poor Internet marketer that I am, I picked up on the hype and, and made the following bold statement:
Well, perfecting it has taken some time, but I am finally here today to present to you, the fruits of my labor: The Weird But Wonderful – a frozen treat of an exotic cocktail and my tribute to the man, the legend, Ron Jeremy and his weird but wonderful rum.
As with most of my experiments, there was a bit of trial and error involved here, but once again, this was trial and error of the fun (and not at all sobering) variety. I went through a watery drink, one of an interesting consistency and one or two weirdly proportioned ones, but I did it all in the name of research and mixology so it’s all good!
What I ended with was a sweet and refreshing frozen, exotic cocktail with a hint of herbs and spices. Quite weird sounding, I’m sure, but very, very wonderful. I share it now here for the world to see, possibly laugh at or maybe even experiment on with. As with almost anything I do, replicating my attempts won’t exactly be easy, but not exactly hard either – and it will be a nice, rewarding crash course in basic mixology and the art of frozen drinks.
If you feel inclined to copy my efforts which you should, if not for me then for your old buddy Ron, I’ve included the recipe below, but as with any good drink, there are some precautions and preparations before you can get to mixing. But fear not, they’re all part of the fun and I’ve included them here for your reading pleasure as a bit of background information on the drink. If you want the short version, go ahead, skip to the bottom, the details and instructions are all there.
But here, for the willing, are the steps that I went through when creating The Weird But Wonderful.
Step 1: Procuring some fruit, then freezing parts of it
My Ron de Jeremy cocktail did not start out as a frozen drink. As a matter of fact it didn’t even start out as a drink, but I digress. With summer on the rise, though, I for some reason thought of frozen drinks.
I’m actually not usually a fan of frozen drinks because they’re often times not only overly sweet, but also thin and diluted from the addition of ice. When making my drink, though, I could totally control the sugar level and after watching a little trick from the guys over at Master of Malts, I realized I could reduce the water content of my drink by using frozen fruit rather than fruit and ice and in that way both flavor and chill my drink, creating a much more flavorful slush.
So, my first order of business for my mixology project was to get hold of some honeydew melon, remove the rind, cut it up and stack it in the freezer for a few hours. Oh, and while I was at it, I got some nice, juicy organic limes as well.
Go organic, not just for the sake of the environment: Unless you really like the taste of pesticides, waxes and other fun chemicals, I’d really suggest you go ahead and use organic, untreated limes for applications that involves drink making, drink garnishing and muddling.
While the melon chilled in the freezer (get it?), I set out to contemplate sweeteners. I didn’t want an overly sweet drink, but I wanted some level of sweetness, so to an old bartender trick, I turned.
Step 2: Making Simple syrup, a bartender’s best friend
Ever had a drink that was sweetened with sugar? I have and at pretty upscale places too. It’s usually a less than pleasant experience. Sugar doesn’t’ dissolve properly in cold liquid, instead it just sorta floats to the bottom and makes the last few gulps not only uncomfortably sweet, but also uncomfortably crunchy. Liquids shouldn’t come with a crunch. As far as I’m concerned, this is not only wrong, it’s pretty much a cardinal sin of bartending!
Any real bartender worth his salt, or in this case his sugar, gets around this by ditching the sugar and instead using a liquid sweetener known simply (pun intended) as simple syrup. What is simple syrup? It’s simply (I’m killing myself here!) sugar dissolved in water over heat to produce a liquid syrup ideal for sweetening cold drinks.
Making simple syrup is dead simple (teehee!) and requires only three steps:
- Combine two parts of sugar with one part of water in a pot over low heat and stir until sugar has completely dissolved.
- Allow the simple syrup to cool.
- Pour into a bottle, either regular or the squeeze bottle variety for easy dispensing.
The stuff will technically keep forever in the fridge, but with me and my friends it’s usually gone in a single good night. Still, I always try to keep some at hand, should I suddenly get the urge to mix up a drink – or seven.
Simple syrup can be used for sweetness as well as for flavor and depending on the type of sugar you use, you’ll get different flavors. If you use granulated, white sugar you’ll have a clear, very sweet and neutral syrup. Light brown sugar gives you a murkier result with a little more character, dark brown sugar a honeyed almost brown concoction with a slightly roasted/burnt note.
For my new signature drink, I wanted something entirely special and ended up using a bit of Palm sugar (available at your local Thai market) for a brightly golden and attractive syrup with a unique, deep, sweet, exotic, almost caramelized taste. This, I figured, would lend a unique, exotic, dare I say strangely weird, edge to my Weird But Wonderful cocktail.
Step 3: Bringing it all together
Aside from some fresh fruit and a weird but wonderful sweetener, my finished drink needed very little. A few sprigs of my wonderfully fragrant Moroccan and wildly growing mint from my friends at Growing Home were added as an exotic herbal undertone. And then, of course, the star player, the rum: Ron de Jeremy Adult Spiced – a nicely sweet spiced rum with prominent vanilla notes.
Now, then, it was only a matter of bringing it all together. And that’s where the fun began, how does one properly mix a cocktail that hasn’t really been mixed before? The answer: through guesstimation, trial and error!
It took probably two nights and four drinks (some more pleasing than others, others again more interesting than pleasing) to get everything right and it all ended up as a two-step process involving both a cocktail shaker and a blender. Oh, the things we do for drinks. The things we do in the name of mixology. It wasn’t easy, but look at the end result. He’s a beauty!
And here’s exactly how he eventually came to be…
- One fourth of a ripe honeydew melon, seeds and rind removed
- ¾ of a ripe, organic lime, cut into slivers
- One large sprig of Moroccan Mint
- One tablespoon of Palm sugar syrup (see blog post) or plain simple syrup
- 5 centiliters of Ron De Jeremy Adult Spiced rum
- A small pinch of salt
- Cut honeydew melon into somewhat similarly sized chunks and stash in the freezer for 2-3 hours till somewhat frozen but not solid.
- Put lime wedges in a cocktail shaker or large glass
- Using a muddler or similar, enthusiastically muddle the lime wedges for a good minute or so to release the juices and essential oils.
- Add in the entire sprig of mint and muddle for a few more seconds, more carefully now as to release the flavor and essential oils without turning everything to mush.
- Add rum and give everything a couple of stirs to make sure all the flavors mingle.
- Set aside for a few moments.
- Grab your favorite blender (immersion blender won't work here) and add the frozen honeydew melon to the work bowl.
- Carefully strain contents of cocktail shaker into blender, then add palm sugar syrup and a pinch of salt.
- Clamp on the lid, pulse a few times to get things going, then blend well and thoroughly until everything has turned to a uniform slush.
- Taste and add more sugar and/or rum according to your liking - you are the boss of your cocktail.
- Serve immediately in a chilled Martini glass or similar.
Tasting The Weird But Wonderful
Now, I bet you’re wondering how this all tasted. Well, if you’re not going to whip one up yourself, allow me to try to explain. In some ways, my newfound and oddly named drink lives up to its name, it does in fact sound weird, it also looks wonderful, but upon tasting, my friend Tina probably said it best: “this is really lacking in the weird department!” – because, well, as odd as it sounds, it’s just great!
[blockquote text='”This is indeed wonderful, but quite lacking in the weird department. It just seems right!” – Tina, friend, blogger and willing test subject.’ text_color=” width=” line_height=’undefined’ background_color=” border_color=” show_quote_icon=’yes’ quote_icon_color=”]
Sweet, slightly exotic, melon-y with a touch of acidic twang from the limes, a hint of herbal goodness from the mint and a wonderful warming spicy prickling on the tongue from the rum. I knew I was on to something when I first put these ingredients together by sheer accident, but I didn’t know I was on to something this interesting. This just may be a new favorite thing for summer evenings. I wouldn’t drink them during the day, that shit’d be dangerous!
Fresh out of Ron de Jeremy? Well, go get some! Or use another spiced rum that’s sweet with a prominent vanilla note. You’d probably want to steer clear of anything that’s prominent on the cinnamon and clove front, but I wouldn’t know, I haven’t tried it.
How do you like YOUR rum?