Here in the United States, we have a day for everything. There’s a national pound cake day, national pecan day, and even something on a stick day.
August 16 particularly appeals to me because it’s National Rum Day. Just how this designation was set I haven’t been able to ascertain, but who cares? It’s an excuse to make a delicious rum cocktail!
One of my favorite rum-based drinks is the El Presidente. I first discovered it in Wayne Curtis’s article in Lost Magazine. I complete agree with him that this 1920’s classic should be remembered and brought back to popularity. It’s become a staple in my repetoire, and I love to experiment with different variations.
The original drink calls for a Cuban white or light rum, of course. As I cannot get Havana Club here in the US, I usually use Appleton white or Cruzan light. Everyone once in a while, I do splurge on 10 Cane. It’s made from the first pressing of sugar cane instead of molasses, and the result is a very different tasting rum. You can sense the grassy notes that are also found in rhum agricole and cachaça (also made from sugar cane directly and not molasses), but not in an unpleasant way. It’s sweeter that other light rums, and to my nose and throat, has less burn.
I finally splurged on a bottle of Vya extra dry vermouth (the sweet vermouth is a favorite). Lately, I’ve been enamoured of using Lillet Blanc in place of dry vermouth, but now I’m giving the Vya a try. I think it’s an excellent choice in the El Presidente. The complexity of the Vya was a nice combination with the 10 Cane; I think with Lillet this would just be too sweet.
I also tried using Pama pomegrante liqueur this time instead of grenadine. It’s less sweet than grenadine, and also adds less color. I can taste it in the background; I’m not sure it’s the right choice. In the future, when I finally make my own grenadine, I think I’ll go with that instead. Especially with the Vya, the drink needs the sweetness that grenadine brings.
1 1/2 oz light Cuban-style rum (10 Cane)
3/4 oz dry vermouth (Vya extra dry)
3/4 oz orange curaçao (Harlequin)
1/8 oz grenadine (Pama pomegrante liqueur)
Stir over ice for 30 seconds, strain into cocktail glass. No garnish necessary.
What’s your favorite El Presidente variation?