Knickerbocker Cocktail, or You never know how much tart 1/2 lime will get you!

by Stevi on July 15, 2008

in Liqueurs,Rum

The Knickerbocker is one of those cocktails you must first clarify which you mean. In this case, I’m referring to the rum-based version that David Wondrich lists in both Killer Cocktails and Imbibe!. Knickerbocker Cocktail

The more common recipe I see online (including the CocktailDB) is for a semi-perfect martini – gin, dry vermouth and a dash of sweet vermouth. Naturally, Wondrich’s appears to have greater claim to the name by sheer weight of history. In Imbibe!, he says the recipe first appeared in newspapers in 1852 or 1853 as part of a list of cocktails available at some of Boston’s finer saloons. He points out it could be seen as a distant ancestor of tiki drinks, given the presence of rum and fruit juices.

I’d wanted to make this for a while, and when I saw a nice looking basket of raspberries in the local coop grocery today, realized I could finally make it. Granted, I still don’t have raspberry syrup, but I do have Chambord.

For the first round, I started with the Killer Cocktails version. OK, I confess, it completely slipped my mind that it was also in Imbibe!. I used 2 1/2 ounces Cruzan Estate Aged Rum, half a small lime, 1/2 tablespoon Chambord, and 1/2 teaspoon Citronge. I took a first taste before shaking and, WOW was it tart. I was somewhat expecting it, but the lime just muscled out everything else. I added another 1/2 tablespoon of Chambord, which got it to just about drinkable. I shook it up, garnished, sipped, and pondered where to go next.

That’s when I finally remembered it was in Imbibe! as well. Where there was a much more informative writeup, and the warning that the recipe as written was a tad tart. Oh, really? He also suggested upping the Grand Marnier in favor of the raspberry to sweeten to taste. Now, I think Citronge is closer to Cointreau than Grand Marnier (as it has a grain spirit base, not brandy), but I think the sweetness is on par.

Wanting to give this lesser punch one more try, I went back to the kitchen. That’s then I noticed that my brand new bottle of Pusser’s Rum is made in the Virgin Islands. Well, Pusser’s would certain stand up to that lime more aggressively. Just smelling it next to the Cruzan made that evident.

This time I opted to measure my lime juice. Using a Mexican-style lime juicer, I managed to get an entire ounce of lime juice out of the remaining half of the lime. I used only 1/2 ounce this time, and 2 ounces of the Pusser’s. Still with the original amounts of Chambord and Citronge, it was a tad sour. I doubled the Chambord, quadrupled the Citronge, and was getting close, but needed a little something. That’s when I decided to muddle some fresh raspberries right in there.

That really made the difference. It’s still a tart drink, but with the Pusser’s rum and the addition of the fresh raspberries, there’s a much broader layer of flavors that balance the lime juice. This is quite enjoyable to sip on a hot evening. It stays quite tasty even as the crushed ice melts, letting you drink it at a pleasant pace.

I’ll probably keep tinkering, but for now, this is my base recipe:

Knickerbocker Cocktail
2 ounces aged Virgin Islands rum (Pusser’s)
1 tablespoon Chambord
2 teaspoons Grand Marnier (or Citronge)
1/2 ounce lime juice (reserve shell for garnish)
3-4 raspberries for shaker
3-4 raspberries for garnish

muddle 3-4 raspberries with chambord. shake all but garnish and strain into glass filled with crushed ice; add lime shell and reserved raspberries for garnish

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