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The Only Summer Cocktail You’ll Ever Need

The presence of summery weather (and especially the recent inferno-like heat waves) has caused me to shift to summer drinking mode.  What is the perfect summer cocktail?  It’s light but powerful, smooth but complex, delightfully simple to make yet agonizingly difficult to assemble the perfect ingredients.  I am speaking, of course, of the Dark and Stormy (technically it’s a “Dark N Stormy” but that looks a little lowbrow in print).

There are only four ingredients, and two of them are commonly found in many households:

1 glass (to put the other ingredients into)
Several ice cubes (to cool the ingredients that are kept in the glass)
Gosling’s Black Seal Rum
Goya Ginger Beer (other Ginger Beers technically work, too)

If you are unfamiliar with Ginger Beer, it’s like root beer, but with a spicy kick and is non-alcoholic.  That may sound a little gross – although a huge fan of spicy food, I generally am not a fan of spicy beverages like Bloody Mary’s or Sweaty Lumberjacks – but trust me on this one.  The ginger beer is critical to the deliciousness level.  Ginger beer is also surprisingly refreshing by itself, too – just make sure it’s extremely cold.  The problem with ginger beer is that the quality varies wildly from brand to brand – about as wildly as the day-to-day quality of the chicken vindaloo at your local indian haunt.  That’s how I’m actually adding some value: I’ve tried basically every ginger beer already.  Most of them are too sweet, lacking the necessary bite to take the edge off of the rum, or are just bland overall.  Not so with Goya brand GB – that stuff packs a whallop.  It’s a bit hard to find, and, as benevolent as I am, I’m not about to tip off my source in NYC as availability is always sketchy.  Hint: if your local grocer has a substantial Goya section, take a look on the bottom shelves to see if they have a couple rows of ginger beer pushed back from view a little bit – sometimes sneaky folks like to obfuscate stock levels to enhance their own future availability.

Now, to the recipe.  Similar to my refusal to conform to accepted social norms regarding times to wake up, go to sleep, or eat pasta, I believe that proper cocktail ingredient ratios evolve over the course of an evening.  My preferred approach to the preparation of a dark and stormy is to have my girlfriend make the first round.  This batch is weaker and has the amber color of a fossilized mosquito pendant (translation: a little rum, a little more ginger beer).  I’ll make the next few rounds, eventually ending the evening with something that looks like a glass of tar with light orange highlights.

Drink more than 3 Dark and Stormies at your own risk, as they offer one of the worst hangover experiences out there.  But it’s worth it.  Here’s a recipe for a strong, dark evening: drink Dark and Stormies while watching The Dark Knight and eating dark meat chicken.  Maybe some dark chocolate for dessert.  I suppose you could read some of The Dark Phoenix Saga, too, if you’re into The Uncanny X-Men.

Science alert: when checking out ginger beers, the key ingredient is capsicum.  That’s what makes it hot.  Somehow they get the heat out of a chili pepper without the chili pepper flavor.  I would like to know how the level of Scoville units of the Goya ginger beer.  Hmmm….after reading the Wiki entry, I feel morally obligated to include the sentence below, lest I cause an anal leakage epidemic along the lines of the launch of WOW Doritos.

“The fruit of most species of Capsicum contains capsaicin (methyl vanillyl nonenamide), a lipophilic chemical that can produce a strong burning sensation in the mouth (and, if not properly digested, the anus) of the unaccustomed eater.”

That rarely happens with Dark and Stormies, though.  And they are totally worth it, too, if that were to happen.

Hennessy Campaign shot only with Light Painting (Long Version).

The Making of the 2010 ‘Liquid Light” Hennessy print campaign. By Photographer Atton Conrad and Time Zone one. Shot fully with Light painting techniques based on his original Editorial.