Welcome to Wonkette Happy Hour, With This Week's Cocktail, Tamarind Rum And Cola!

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Welcome to Wonkette Happy Hour, With This Week's Cocktail, Tamarind Rum And Cola!

I was halfway tempted to call this drink 'Remember The Maine.'

Matthew Hooper

Greetings, Wonketteers! Today, I’ve got a sweet, tart, complex variation on the classic rum and Coke. Once you taste this, you’ll never go back to a boring Cuba Libre. Let’s whip up some Tamarind Rum and Colas. Here’s the recipe.

Tamarind Rum and Cola

2 oz Gosling’s Black Rum

1 teaspoon tamarind paste

½ oz fresh lime juice

4 dashes orange bitters

Cane syrup cola

Fill a cold pint glass with ice cubes. Shake all ingredients but the cola. Double strain into the pint glass. Top with the cola. Garnish with a lime wedge.

Bacardi claims to have invented the rum and Coke back in the 1900s. The drink was born in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War. A seriously good rum and Coke (aka a “Cuba Libre”) demands a healthy dose of lime juice. The lime brings a badly needed sour note to a drink that’s far too sweet on its own. Most bartenders simply garnish a glass of rum and Coca-Cola with a lime wedge and call it good.

My wife suggested a different souring agent as I struggled to find a new riff on the Cuba Libre. Tamarind is intensely sour, slightly sweet, and not even remotely acidic. It’s a flavor that was born in Africa, but finds its way into candy and soda throughout India and Mexico. Adding it to cola brings an entirely different dimension to the beverage. The sourness of the tamarind blots out the sweetness of the soda. You can actually taste the cola nut and spice in the beverage. Once you try it, your opinions on the humble rum and Coke will change forever.

Let’s talk ingredients:

Ingredient shot. The cocktail vanished mysteriously shortly after this photo was taken.Matthew Hooper

Gosling’s Black Rum: Black rum is essential here. It’s the first mistake most bartenders make. You need something black with molasses content to stand up to the cola. Using a lightly aged rum, like Mount Gay, simply will not provide the depth you need to balance out the pop. I think that Cruzan’s blackstrap rum would work here as well. Meyer’s rum is garbage.

Tamarind paste: You can find this at ethnic grocery stores everywhere. It’s a staple of Indian cooking. It’s also available from Amazon. Tamarind is a pretty exotic ingredient to American palates. You won’t taste this cocktail and think, “mmm, tamarind.” But it is uniquely tasty in its own way. The idea of bringing tartness into a cocktail without increasing the acidity has a lot of appeal. Cola has a fair amount of citric acid all on its own. Changing that Ph level can sometimes work against you. A novel ingredient like tamarind is a welcome change of pace.

Lime juice: Citrus is still a relevant part of the cocktail. But now it’s a flavor, instead of a balancing element. Lime always cooperates with rum well. As always, the only lime juice you should use is the fresh stuff. Lime juice in plastic limes doesn’t taste like limes. It tastes like plastic.

Orange bitters
: Bitters generally smooth out harsh notes in a cocktail. This time, they bring complexity into a drink that needs more herbal notes to make it interesting. Angostura would also be a great choice here.

Cola: I’d prefer to avoid American Coca-Cola. Cane sugar and rum work together well. And there’s enough corn syrup in the world. We don’t need to drink more. At a minimum, Mexican Coca-Cola would be a good choice. I like looking for smaller brands of cola to see what’s out there. I’m using Boylan Cane Cola for this recipe. The sweetness in Boylan’s is muted enough that I can find other flavors in the cocktail. It’s startling when you can pick out actual cola nut in your cola.

Technique: Tamarind paste is a bit gritty. Filter the cocktail through a fine strainer as you pour it into the glass. We use small chinois strainers like this at the bar. In a pinch, use a coffee filter.

Garnishing a rum and cola with lime is a must. Always give the customer the option for adding more lime to the drink. I wanted to give this cocktail something extra, though. Edible flowers would be my first choice, but they don’t seem to be in season right now. I decided to use a trick I learned at Crafted Cocktail instead, and cut a super long thread of lemon zest to top the glass. It’s a little bit tricky to make these. The secret is to push down on your channel knife as you circumvent the lime. If you release pressure, the thread will snap. It’s a cute little garnish. It reminds me of good times at that bar.

Making this drink non-alcoholic is fairly easy. Omit the rum. You’ll be fine. It would be interesting to look for tamarind-flavored jarritos out of Mexico. Jarritos always have a ton of sugar in them, but with some real tamarind and lime they might turn out pretty tasty. When you look outside of the American palate, there are some fascinating choices for simple things like soda. It’s never too late to try something new.

In summary and conclusion, drink well, drink often, and tip your bartender — donate to Wonkette at the link below! And if you'd like to buy some bar gear or books from Amazon, please click here!


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Matthew Hooper
Matthew Hooper, aka Samurai Grog, turned 50 in 2021 and decided to have a midlife crisis by leaving a boring sales and marketing job to tend bar at the local country club. He's never been happier. He's also a fencer, a dad, a husband, and a punk music fan. Overall, he's way cooler than he ever thought he could be when he was 16. 

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