The garnishes of tiki drinks are often just as important…
When we first tasted St George California Rhum Agricole, we were blown away. The rum is very intense, with a super funky and earthy character to it, with savory black olive and truffle overtones. It is quite unique – so unique that it is a slightly challenging rum to work with in cocktails because it can easily overpower other flavors. You could drink it straight, of course, but we certainly couldn’t resist the challenge to come up with a drink that paid tribute to it.
Smelling the rum reminded us of a flower that we saw at the Huntington Library this summer: the Corpse Flower. It is a giant flowering plant that is native to Sumatra and blooms but once every couple of years. Watching a flower that is roughly six feet tall bloom is an amazing thing, but what is even more amazing about this particular flower is that it smells like rotten flesh – hence its unusual name. It’s a strong, meaty-sweet scent that attracts pollinators from all over the jungle in which it grows – and it is not unlike the aroma of the St George rum, so we decided to use the rum as a base for a Corpse Flower cocktail.
If the corpse flower were a drink, it would definitely look like this. The bulk of the drink is greenish yellow, that is similar to the color of the flower’s bud, with a pink grenadine base to represent the center of the flower, and it is served in a champagne flute to evoke the shape of the flower. You get a very interesting – and addictive – mixture of vegetal, herbal and funky fruit notes in the cocktail. The green tint comes from herbal green chartreuse, which pairs up with pineapple juice to tame the stronger flavors in the rum. A splash of lime brightens up the drink and a bit of velvet falernum adds a touch of sweetness without making the drink cloying. Be sure to use real pomegranate grenadine, as it has a naturally earthy quality that works extremely well in the drink.
The drink is fairly think, thanks to the chartreuse and the falernum, but there is enough acidity to cut through it and make the drink go down as smooth as velvet. It’s complex and beautiful to look at – much like the corpse flower – and, of course, it tastes delicious.
The Corpse Flower
1 oz St George
1 oz Green Chartreuse
1 1/4 oz pineapple juice
3/4 oz lime juice
1/2 oz Velvet Falernum
1 tsp pomegranate grenadine
Combine all ingredients except the pomegranate grenadine in a mixing glass, fill with ice and shake vigorously. Strain into champagne flute. Drizzle in grenadine.