As to the question of mixing rum-based cocktails, my default response tends to be, “no.” The typical tiki-style concoction is larded up with too many hassles, if you ask me, from having to squeeze all those limes to hunting down the bottle of coconut schnapps hiding in the back of the top shelf of the bar. Oh, rum mixes well enough with tonic water, I suppose. But in that case, why not drop it altogether and go instead with a high-octane gin like Tanqueray to boost the drink’s wattage? A few years ago when the family was having dinner at Mexican restaurant here in town called Tequila Mockingbird—it’s famous for its selection of (duh!) tequilas–I can’t say I was entirely unhappy when the waitress declined to put in my daughter’s order for a mojito. “This is a tequila place,” she told her, by way of excuse. That seemed reasonable enough. But I think the girl just wanted to give her bartender a break. Any drink recipe that starts out, “place mint leaves and lime wedge into a sturdy glass and muddle” is, nearly by definition, not worth the trouble.
Not that my bar inventory doesn’t have its share of rum bottles scattered around. Some of them, like the Mount Gay, are there for the benefit of the rum partisans among my more active-drinking friends. Others are gifts (or re-gifts), usually on the occasion of our annual Christmas party. Almost all are unopened, even the ones from places like Ecuador. There’s a half-full bottle of Gosling’s, from a brief fling Mrs. Banks and I had with Dark ‘n Stormies a few summers back. However, one bottle—and, it’s a handle—sees regular use, especially in the summertime. That would be the Meyers’s. I use it to mix Planter’s Punches.
No one in the family seems to know where exactly our family’s Planter’s Punch recipe came from or, for that matter, when we realized we even had one. Even so, this recipe presents none of the problems that made me such an anti-tiki-ite in the first place. All its ingredients are easily at hand can be used in other cocktails. There is no special juice prep, or (thank heaven) blender to haul out. More to the point, the cocktail is a perennial favorite among guests and family. It’s delicious and refreshing without the cloying sweetness that bedevils so many beach drinks. And it’s magnificent to look at. So without further ado:
Pour a shot of Meyers’s rum (none other) into a highball glass filled with ice.
Fill three-quarters of the way up with orange juice.
Top off with club soda.
Drizzle on a splash and a half of grenadine.
Do not stir! The sight of the rum, orange juice, and grenadine swirling around together is what gives the drink its visual appeal.
My pal Chris Bartlett goes one step further and pours a thin layer of rum on top as a final flourish. But Chris’s hands are way steadier than mine, so I don’t dare try the move. Either way, you’ll surely enjoy.