Vizzini once said, “You clearly subscribe to classic adages. The most famous of which is “make hay while the sun is shining,” but only slightly less well-known is this “once the cork is popped, enjoy that champagne””. I am sure it was something like that, though I sometimes misremember quotes as needed for the sake of the narrative, so you’ll have to take that statement with a grain of pepper. The point is, since, I had already cracked a bottle of bubbly, I figured we might as well go again with the sparkling wines. So, if it all feels familiar, there’s a reason. Won’t you join me now as we stand and make the Old Jamaican.
As I looked for my recipe for the Seelbach, I stumbled across this one and since I was looking for an excuse to muddle something, here we are. I could not find a history of this drink, but it felt familiar. You know how that is, right? It kept nagging at me. Right there at the edge of my consciousness, but stubbornly refusing to step forward. I knew it had to be a riff on something, but none of my usual references were helping out, then I hit upon the idea to do a search for champagne cocktails right here at Monkeybrad.com and there it was. This drink is familiar because I had essentially made it before, only with Cuban rum in the aptly named Old Cuban. So either this is a riff on the Old Cuban or that was a riff on this, either way that was an excellent drink and I bet this one matches it. This one has a muddling step and the different origin of the rum sets it apart, plus we changed the bubbles, but honestly, we know this is going to be good, so I am only going through the motions here.
Grab your tins and pop in a big sprig of fresh mint from the garden with 1 ounce of freshly squeezed lime juice and muddle gently, but firmly. I was extra excited about this, because it gave me an opportunity to use my newly crafted muddler for the first time. Yeah, I made my own muddler, I am both fancy and crafty, and a bit pretentious, if we’re honest. I couldn’t find a muddler I really liked, so I made one, what of it? To your muddled mixture add 1 1/2 ounces of rum, I chose Appleton Signature; 3/4 of an ounce of simple syrup and 1 stab of angostura bitters. Add ice and give it a good shake to the beat of “Do it Again” by the always apropos, Steely Dan. When well chilled, strain over some artisanal ice cubes into a highball glass and top with champagne or any other sparkling wine not lucky enough to have been produced in the Champagne region of France, I chose Aldi’s second best sparkling wine, Burlwood Cellars Brut. Garnish with a lime wheel and a fresh sprig of mint and you are ready to serve.
I guess I have to acknowledge that it is light and airy. That is sort of the point of adding champagne, isn’t it? Does it make me think of Jamaica? Not particularly. I already have drinks that do that for me. Obviously, anytime you mix rum and mint you are gong to get a bit of a mojito thing going on and that is definitely there. Honestly, if you want to go back and read my review for the Old Cuban, it would be appropriate and spot on, this is the same drink, only you get to use your muddler and some much easier to acquire rum, so this one is more accessible, allegedly. That said, if I were to set the two glasses side by side and have you sample them, you would agree they are different drinks. Beyond the presentations, these feature very different rums. Jamaican rum has a different feel and funk from Cuban rum and the old Cuban featured a sweet prosecco for its bubbles, while this one has a nice dry brut. Still, on paper, these are essentially the same drink.
To be fair, it was only about halfway through writing this that I realized this was the same build as the Old Cuban, which was why it felt so familiar. We get that a lot in life though. Suddenly realizing that we have been there before, doing those same old things, just going through the motions, that wheel turning round and round. It is never quite the same is it, though? Like I said, on paper these two “old” favorites are the same drink. Some mint, some rum, simple syrup, toss in some bitters and top with sparkling wine, one goes in a highball glass with ice, one goes in a chilled coupe. While they may be subtle, there are differences. Muddling that mint with the lime juice has a different effect than just shaking it all together, the rums have significant differences as do the sparkling wines, so even though you are doing the same thing, you get a different result. Not wildly different, but enough to make you realize you are making progress. Kind of like your work or hobbies or parenting. You do the same thing, over and over, ad infinitum or at least that’s what it feels like. In reality, you are becoming better at things, making those incremental steps toward a more perfect version of whatever it is you wanted to be. There is something to be said for that. So, when you find yourself doing the same thing again, think of it as practice. Yeah, we talking about practice, because as Ted would say, “training makes perfect”. Stay safe, stay hydrated and stay sane, my friends.