Needless to say, I’m a big fan of pirates. All my life, they’ve been there on some level and piracy in its various forms has had a larger influence on who I am than anything else I can think of. I am also a big film buff and these two worlds collide hard in the amount of my life spent with Yul Brynner, Charlotte Heston and many more in 1958’s The Buccaneer. This semi-accurate classic tells of the Battle of New Orleans and how my favorite pirate, Jean Lafitte, helped to save the fledgling United States. So it’s with a steady eye toward unhealthy anti-hero worship that I ask ask you to join me as we stand and make, The Curse of Jean Lafitte.
Why is it called a curse, I’m guessing romanticism. The movie version shows a Lafitte cursed with Yul Brynner’s dramatic poses and a crippling sense of honor. The honor was what always got me with this film. A man who did what he said he would, damn the consequences and who took responsibility for himself and what others did in his name. He saved himself, his men and his chosen country, only to walk away from it all, for honor. There is something to be said for that.
Perhaps it is that the drink is a curse to make? It’s complicated. We’ve got a lot of moving parts here and prep work before we can even start mixing. In drinks this can be a terrible thing, too much going on ruins many a glass, but not here. This is the tiki drink at its finest. Lots of exotic ingredients coming together for something delightfully drinkable, complex but not dense. I straight up love this drink. Which means I’ll have to leave it behind as I sail into the darkness just before the credits roll, but not yet.
So let’s get started, first off you need to make an ingredient. This drink calls for fassionola and you don’t have any on hand, so let’s make it together. Combine 2 cups of strawberries, 1 cup of chopped mango and simple syrup in a medium sauce pot. Simmer until the fruit begins to break down. Add 3 tablespoons of Hibiscus Tea, remove from heat and steep 10 minutes.Fine strain and add 1 cup of pineapple juice and 1 cup of passion fruit purée. Stir well and bottle. It should last 3-4 weeks in the fridge. It is an amazing fruity simple syrup, almost like red Kool-Aid. Not Flavor-aid, never line up and drink the flavor-aid, but Kool-Aid is fine.
Now that you have your fassionola ready we can get started, in earnest. So grab your tins and pop in 1 1/2 ounces of a nice aged blended rum, I opted for El Dorado 5 year; 1/2 an ounce of overproof white rum, Wray and Nephews 151 is the only way to go; 1/2 an ounce of 151 proof Demerara rum, I used Lemon & Hart; 1 ounce of Cognac, Hennessy naturally and 1 ounce of Velvet’s Falernum. That’s right 4.5 ounces of alcohol of various strengths. Let’s balance that with 1 ounce of that amazing fassionola, 1/2 ounce of orgeat, an ounce each of lemon, lime and pineapple juice and 4 stabs of Peychaud’s bitters. It’s a big drink for a big thirst. Pop in your tins and give it a good shake, you want a good chill here. Strain over some of that fancy pebble ice in a suitable vessel, I couldn’t resist this vintage pirate Toby jug. Oh and you’re gonna want garnish, lots of fun garnish. I picked the fresh mint and dusted the ice with cinnamon, but Laura went all out with her citrus pirate ship and Liam even donated a lego pirate flag. How cool is that?
So how is this alcohol rich homage to my favorite pirate? It is amazing. Seriously. Well balanced flavor and a potent kick. So damned good. Make this drink, it is worth the time to make the fassionola and acquire the rums. We made a couple of them and found our attitudes much improved. So improved that Laura is watching The Buccaneer with me now and even pretending to enjoy one of my “old movies”. So let’s lift our glass to Jean Lafitte, “He left a Corsair’s name to other times, Link’d with one virtue, and a thousand crimes.” Sometimes, I guess one virtue is enough. I hope so, anyway. Stay safe, stay hydrated and stay sane, my friends.