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  • Writer's pictureDrunk as Lords

Tahitian Grog

Grog....... refined
Not Your Imperialist Grandfather's Grog

Because I never really stop working, I couldn’t manage a week on the beach reading Hampton Sides’ epic The Wide Wide Sea without stumbling on a new cocktail. The book is an account of - per the book cover – “Imperial ambition, first contact and the fateful final voyage of Captain James Cook.” Which pretty much sums it up. I suppose that it’s not really a beach read, but I couldn’t put the thing down.

Cook set off from Plymouth on the HMS Resolution on 12 July 1776 – and communication being what it was, neither Cook nor the Americans on board had any idea that the colonies had just bolted for the door. The sister ship on the voyage, the HMS Discovery, would set sail later as its captain was languishing in a debtor’s prison in London because these things happened in the olden days. It wouldn’t be until August or September of 1777 that the pair reached Tahiti – amidst all those gals who were so “resort casual” about clothing and sex with unwashed English sailors that one of the greatest beach cocktails was created, and promptly forgotten.

I’ve seen old recipes for grog with a ratio of 1:1 water and grog, but that’s pretty strong and you have to assume that the Royal Navy found it hard to keep His Majesties’ property “shipshape and Bristol fashion” with the crew half in the bag. You can keep the algae out of the water barrels with about a 4:1 ratio. Plus lime juice. It’s still not a great cocktail, because the still water leaves it flat. The 4717 makes sparkling version with soda water.

It was on those perfect beaches, in agreeable company, that the sailors of the Resolution and Discovery began to mix their rum with coconut water. Again, the 4:1 grog ratio seems fair, but we won’t judge. And the wedge of lime, because scurvy never sleeps. It’s richer than a rum and soda, less sweet than tonic, but the coconut comes through without taking over. We used Black Sea or a Mount Gay Rum. And there you have a Tahitian Grog.

We can’t to a damned thing about the native ladies, though.


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