09 April 2011
At least that's what I'm calling it. At the first sip tonight -- sweet, fruity and deceptively smooth -- I was transported back in time to our honeymoon in Turks & Caicos. Um, have you been? I've only been to a couple of places in the Caribbean, so maybe it's like this all over, but in T&C, our hotel picked us up at the airport with a magical cooler filled with the fixins for delicious fruity, strong rum punch. Like the above. Nice, huh?
No, life saving. (If I may be a tad dramatic.) Allow me to paint a picture.
It was January. We were married the previous October, but delayed the honeymoon due to work commitments. So, it was the dead of Winter... flying to T&C via New York. The only flights available required the dreaded short overnight layover: too long to hang in the airport, too short to get any real rest. So, we opted for an airport hotel room, near JFK. Our cab driver took an hour to FIND the on-grounds hotel (tick tock, sleepy time dwindling)... too many weird access roads none of us had ever been on. Finally checked in, got a tablespoon of sleep. Pried ourselves out of bed and got on the flight to T&C. Attire: east coast in winter. Boots, jeans, sweater. We'd change once we arrived, right? .... right? Nope, luggage lost in the ether, bogged down in island time. (i.e., no one knows, no huge rush to figure it out. you been there too?)
So, of course... we wait and wait in the tiny airport, and it finally sinks in. Yes, we heard luggage gets lost there all the time, and ours is gone. So... of course, I start to tear up. It's our honeymoon. I'm in leather boots in the tropics. It's all magical and romantic and balmy outside. I'm EXTREMELY sleep deprived. Suck-tastic. I'm trying not to, but I'm getting weepy. So, we mope outside to head to the hotel, to "figure it all out" -- and my new best friend, the pick-up/drop-off lady, is waiting for us with The Special Cooler. I had heard of this in advance, so when she offered a nice rum punch (probably wondering WHAT was wrong with these crazy Americans)... I'm sure I barely heard the question: it was just YES, yes, yes. Please. Ahhh. We were laughing about our predicament by half-way to the hotel.
Not to say that our stuff showed up any earlier than 3 days later. Because it didn't. We bought cheesy T&C tank tops and drank more punch. And learned: for goodness sake, pack some hot weather stuff in your carry on! So dumb.
Blood Orange Rum Punch
Adapted from La Cucina Italiana -- yup, the tropics via Italy.
Makes 1 drink.
Note: if you double it for two drinks, the big end of your cocktail jigger is 1.5 oz. I measured.
3/4 oz fresh blood orange juice
3/4 oz dark rum (I used some Cuban rum, a souvenir from the Caymans. Need more island time, now.)
3/4 oz light rum (ditto)
good squeeze of agave nectar (original recipe calls for 1/4 oz simple syrup, which I didn't have)
1 (1-inch) strip orange zest
Blood orange bitters -- we had some of this on hand, finally a use for it! You could use regular bitters.
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add juice, rums, agave nectar. Shake until your hand is so cold it hurts. Squeeze orange zest over a coupe or other cocktail glass, making sure the orange oils get inside the glass. Swipe the rim with the rind and discard. Add 1 dash of bitters to glass. Strain shaker's contents into the prepared glass.
Breathe deep, relax, and envision big, puffy trade wind clouds.