Thursday, May 30, 2013

Dark 'n' Stormier

My cocktail rotation changes all the time, depending on the season, the weather, and recent obsessions. But every summer, without fail, I always return to the Dark ‘n’ Stormy.

A spicy, sweet, and seductive cocktail of ginger beer and dark rum, it’s most at home on a small sailboat in the Caribbean. At the end of a hot, salty day near the equator, one needs a serious drink to revive the spirits. The zip of the ginger, the freshness of lime, and that long kick of rum does just that—a Stormy is the cure-all beverage to beat the heat (and any stomach ailments that may have plagued you during that ocean crossing).

My love of it started there, off some island dangerously close to the equator, but thanks to the relentless obsessions of the two men I love most, I've found that this classic summer cocktail can get even better. My father’s legendary Dark ‘n’ Stormy recipe calls for Cock and Bull Ginger Beer, Goslings Black Seal Rum, and Domaine de Canton Ginger Cognac for added bite. Then my boyfriend took the family recipe to the next level, making homemade ginger beer. Everything is stronger when the beer is homemade—the limes feel more significant, the ginger is piquant and fresh, and the subtle aromatics of the thyme play extraordinarily well with the rich molasses sweetness of the Rum.

While you may or may not be spending your summer on a boat bobbing next to St. Barth’s, a strong Dark ‘n’ Stormy will make you feel as though you’re there. Cue up some Lee Scratch Perry, put your feet up, and enjoy.  

Homemade Ginger Beer

If you’re a fan of home soda makers, you could make this quickly by combining all of the ingredients except for the yeast and carbonate it. I prefer doing it the old fashioned way, with yeast, because it gives the beer another flavor dimension due to the live cultures. It does require a little bit of care, though, and some vigilance so that the beer doesn't over-carbonate and blow out the bottles. I’ll describe how to keep it safe below.

Makes 16 ounces. To make more, simply multiply the proportions by the number of bottles you wish to prepare.

For the syrup:
3 ounces filtered water
3 ounces cane sugar

For the ginger beer:
10 ounces filtered water
3 ounces simple syrup
1.5 ounces fresh ginger, (2 tablespoons of fresh ginger juice).
2 ounces fresh lemon juice
1/16 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/16 teaspoon Champagne yeast
1 sprig thyme

Glass flip-top bottles

Make simple syrup: Bring the 3 ounces of water and sugar to a boil to dissolve. Let cool to room temperature.

Juice ginger: While your syrup is heating or cooling, peel the ginger by lightly scraping it with a spoon. Juice the ginger using either a juicer or grate it by hand with a very fine grater, ideally a Microplane.  ( If you chose to grate and juice by hand, it’s significantly easier to do when the ginger is frozen.) Squeeze the grated ginger hard in cheesecloth to extract juice. You should have about 2 tablespoons ginger juice.

Combine and let the yeast do its thing: Combine 10 ounces water, syrup, lemon juice, ginger juice, cream of tartar, and Champagne yeast into a pitcher and stir thoroughly. Funnel into bottles, and store in a cool, dark place for 24 to 48 hours. After 48 hours, immediately open to release a little bit of the gas and move to the refrigerator to stop the fermentation process. The Ginger Beer will keep for approximately one week in the refrigerator.

Warning to the Wise: do not let the Ginger Beer sit for longer than 48 hours, the bottles run the risk of exploding.  Do use the specified amount of sugar and yeast - too much yeast will increase fermentation and run more of a risk of explosion, and the sugar prevents fermentation, keeping those bottles in tact.  If you’re the nervous type, you can open the bottles every few hours to release the bubbles while the beer is fermenting.  I always store my ginger beer in a box or a covered container just in case something does go wrong, making clean-up significantly easier.  

Darker ‘n’ Stormier
Created by Gastronomista

The classic Dark and Stormy is simply a mix of dark rum and ginger beer. The addition of ginger-infused spirits and homemade ginger beer gives it more refreshing bite and zip. And the thyme adds a wonderful floral note.

Makes 1 cocktail

1 ounce Gosling’s Black Seal Rum
½ ounce Domaine de Canton Ginger Cognac
Ginger beer, to taste
Thyme leaves, for garnish
Lime wedge, for garnish

Mix: Fill a highball glass with ice. Add the rum and ginger cognac, stir, and top with ginger beer. Swipe the lip of the glass with the lime wedge. Garnish with thyme leaves and the lime wedge. 

Note: This story first ran on Gilt Taste in June 2012 - The site has since shuttered, so I've posted it here for your summery enjoyment.  

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