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Boat Drinks

Boat drinks are drinks that are drunk on a boat. Or near a boat. Or while wishing you were on a boat. Or near someone who is wishing they were on a boat. They tend to be colourful, sometimes too colourful. They tend to have fruit in them. The tend to taste almost, but not quite, booze-less and they tend to pack a hidden wallop.

As a general (but not infallible) rule boat drinks have two main ingredients:
  • Rum
  • A paper umbrella
My own contribution to boat drinks is as follows:

The Love Shack

This is probably the best boat drink ever. The ginger taste merges perfectly with the the orange-lime tastes and the rum. I have no idea why this drink is so named. I had one in a restaurant. I was able to get and ingredient list, but not the proportions. So if you don't like the proportions, change them.

Pour over ice:

  • 1.5 oz rum (Captain Morgan's Dark is best)
  • .75 oz Triple Sec (or other orange liqueur)
  • .75 oz Lime Juice
fill with ginger beer.

The Ganges Harbour

Named after Ganges Harbour, Saltspring Island, British Columbia, where it was invented. (Not Ganges Harbour, India, which you probably wouldn't want to drink.) The only things we had on board the boat were rum, ginger beer and OJ. so...

Pour over ice:

  • 1.5 oz rum (Captain Morgan's Dark is best) fill with half ginger beer (not ale) and half orange juice.
It kind of resembles the Love Shack, but doesn't quite achieve the perfect blend of ginger, citrus and rum.

The Rapinan

Invented by me, named by my son.

Assemble in a rocks glass, over some rocks. (Or ice, I almost always use ice)

  • 1 oz fresh lemon juice (usually means half a lemon)
  • 1 oz simple syrup
  • 3 oz medium rum (Mount Gay preferably)
  • 1/2 oz (about) sherry
  • 1/4 oz (about) maraschino liqueur (not the red stuff from the cherry jar)
  • 4-5 dashes of bitters.
I'm not quite sure about the exact amounts of sherry and maraschino. I kind give one glug of maraschino and two glugs of sherry. The one time I tried to calibrate my glugs it didn't taste as good. Kind of shake the glass a bit to swirl the drink around so it cools off. Or stir with your finger if you are just making it for yourself.

The Caribbean Non-martini

OK. One of my pet peeves is things being called Martinis when they aren't Martinis. If you have a drink in front of you with a small amount of vermouth mixed with a large amount of gin and/or vodka with an olive or three or a lemon peel then you have a Martini. Anything else, and you don't have a Martini. If it's green it isn't a Martini. If it's blue it isn't a Martini If it's yellow or red or brown some other non-transparent colour it isn't a Martini. If it has melon liqueur, orange liqueur or cherry liqueur in it, it isn't a Martini. It maybe called the "Pink lady Martini", but if it's actually pink then it isn't a Martini. It maybe good, it may be tasty, it may be in fact a boat drink, but IT ISN'T A MARTINI


Anyway, I've been ranting about this a while. Sadly, somebody (who shall remain nameless, but her web page is here) pointed out that I had the "The Carribbean Martini" on my webpage. I first wrote this webpage in the days of the old Mosaic browser long before pseudo-martini's had become in vogue and had completely forgotten. So if you want a Martini, go get yourself some vermouth and some gin or vodka (or both. the original 007 Martini as described in the James Bond books has both gin and vodka with a splash of vermouth. "Vodka Martini" used to mean "replace some the gin with vodka". But I digress.)
On the other hand, if you are bored with Martini's and want another tasty drink this: the Carribean Not-really-a-martini-at-all. It is particularly interesting because all the ingredients are disgusting on their own, but the combination is delicious

Pour into a cocktail shaker:

  • 2.5 oz Spiced rum (Captain Morgan or Bacardi)
  • .5 oz Creme de Banana
Shake with ice and strain into martini glass Garnish with marashino cherry or pineapple cube (or lemon twist) instead of olives

The Jade Monkey

"Jade" because of the colour, "monkey" because it sounded cool.
Pour over ice:
  • 1.5 oz white rum
  • .75 oz blue curaco
  • .5 oz Lime Juice
Fill with pineapple juice until the colour turns brillant green. Add a bit more blue curaco if it gets too yellow. Add a bit more lime juice if you find it too sweet. Thanks to Kathleen Labrie for the recipe.

Gin Pahit

In the novels of W. Somerset Maugham, the rubber plantation owners of Malaysia of the 1890's seem to have nothing better do but call for the gin wallah to mix them one of these. The recipe was phenomenally hard to track down. It seems the internet wasn't big in 19th century Malaysia. Go figure. Eventually, I had to send an e-mail to Raffles hotel in Singapore (which features in the novels) and they sent me this recipe.

  • 1.5 oz gin
  • .5 oz bitters
This is the recipe as it was given to me. As such, it wasn't very tasty. I suspect if it was shaken with ice and strained it would be better. I suspect it would be even better with a bit of fresh lemon juice and maybe a bit of sugar. It would almost certainly taste better if you were sitting on the verandah of the Raffles Hotel a 100 years ago.

Pisco sours

I now have an updated authentic recipe for pisco sours! I went to Chile a few years ago. There I drank several pisco sours and eventually asked for the recipe. The ratios of the ingredients are:

  • 1 lemon juice
  • 1 sugar
  • 3 pisco

Scale to taste. For each 15 oz of final product, add one egg white. Unfortunately, if you want just one, moderately size pisco sour, you will have to find a way to divide an egg white. One lemon contains about 1 to 1.5 ounces of lemon juice. This means 3 to 4.5 ounces of pisco in a single drink This means that making pisco sours by yourself can be a bit perilous.

Shake the lemon juice, the sugar and the pisco in a cocktail shaker until the sugar is fairly well dissolved. Add the egg white and several ice cubes or some crushed ice. Shake very vigoursly until the shaker is well frosted. Strain into glass.

About the ingredients:
Lemon juice should be fresh squeezed. Bottled lemon juice doesn't taste the same.

Sugar could be replaced with simple syrup (bar syrup) if you had some. I've never tried it.

Pisco is made in various South American countries and is readily and cheaply available there. It is hard to find here. It made from grapes: fermented and then distilled. Thus, it is technically the same as brandy and grapa. It tastes more like tequil. You could probably substitute white tequila. It might not taste the same but it would probably taste good. Or maybe you could use brandy.

Egg white is sort of optional. It imparts a certain smoothness to the taste of the drink, rounding off the sharpness of the booze and the lemon juice. It also gives the drink a smooth texture and an attractive, fluffy appearance. Those concerned about bacteria in the egg white should remember that pisco will disinfect just about anything.


My personal favourite. There are two kinds: the classy and the not-so-classy. The first, "the Margarita", is serious cocktail (if there is such a thing) on a par (almost) with the martini. The second, "Margs", is best made in large batches for several people.

A Margarita:

  • Juice of one lime
  • Triple Sec or other orange liqueur
  • Tequila

The proportions are 1 lime juice to 1 orange liqueur to 2 tequila. I start by squeezing the lime, measure the juice (not all limes have the same amount of juice). I then add the same amount of orange liqueur and twice that of tequila. Let us examine each of the ingredients in turn:

Use fresh lime juice. Much better than bottled. I've tried key limes. They're small and fiddly (you need 3-4 to make a decent sized margarita) but they aren't really much better.

I make my own orange liqueur. Take a bottle of good vodka. By "good" I mean "tasteless". What you're looking for is just water and ethanol. Absolut and other popular vodkas have crud in them left over from distillation. The crud can be filtered out with a Brita filter. Not that vodka doesn't have to be expensive to be good. I use a brand that's near the cheap end of the spectrum and tastes exactly like water. When I lived in France, I used a higher percentage alcohol made espeically for cordials. Anyway. Grate the peel from a dozen oranges. Just get the orange part, leave the white inner layer behind. Put the grated orange peel in the vodka and leave it there for 2 weeks or so. Put it somewhere out of direct sunlight and shake it up about once a day. Then filter out the peel with cheese cloth. It usually takes 3-4 tries to get all the solids out. Then make simple syrup by putting 2 cups sugar into 1 cup water and bringing it to a boil. Let the syrup cool. Add the syrup to the vodka. Most of the time this is the correct ratio. Try sipping a small amount before adding all the syrup. If it is sweet enough, stop. Sip only a small amount each time you test or you will wreck your ability to tell if the sweetness is right. I know, I know its good, but a small amount of restraint now pays off in the long run. The resulting orange liqueur is better than Grand Marnier and much cheaper. Don't have two weeks? Just use normal triple sec, or (better) Grand Marnier. It won't be quite as orangey or as sweet.

Now we come to the tequila. The better the tequila, the better the Margarita. Don't use Mezcal, regardless of quality. The smoky taste doesn't mix with the lime. I have used several tequilas over the years:

  • Hornitos: The best tequila for mnargaritas. Sipping the tequila straight makes you want to drink one. It has an excellent fresh agave taste, not harsh.
  • El Jimador: still pretty good, but the reposado doesn't have enough agave, and the silver has a residual alcohol profile. But they're a lot cheaper.
  • Cabo Wabo Reposado: It has the advantage of having a name that's fun to say (Cabo Wabo Reposado), but it's a bit pricey and produces a margarita that doesn't have quite enough agave. Tastes fantastic straight.
  • Olmeca anejo: Not great, but OK in a pinch.
  • Herradura reposado: A bit of a waste of the good stuff.
  • Several other tequilas I don't remember. All good, none as good as Hornitos.

Mix all the ingredients in a shaker. Taste. Sometimes the lime is too tart for the Triple Sec and the drink is too sour. Add a very small amount of sugar or simple syrup to correct if necessary. Add some crushed ice and shake vigorously until the shaker is quite cold to the touch. Rim a glass with salt by rubbing the rim with a lime wedge and then dipping in a saucer of salt. Serve Margarita straight up (not strained). Garnish with lime slice.

A batch of Margs:

  • half of a tin frozen concentrated limeade (Minute Maid brand usually).
  • third to half of a tin tequila
  • sixth of a tin triple sec (or other orange liqueur)
  • sixth of a tin bottled lime juice
Note that the measurements are relative to the can of limeade. You will have to eyeball the measurements on the first batch. The second batch is easier because you can measure with the tin. This is a good thing because you will have drunk the first batch when you make the second. Use limeade; don't use the extra expensive Bacardi mixers. They don't taste as good, they are about three times the price, and they're small. The quality of the tequila is largely irrelevant. You can put more good tequila into a marg (half a tin) than you can bad tequila (third of a tin), you will get a slightly better (and more potent) margarita that way, but only slightly. I have used Sauza Conmemorativo (yum), Cuervo "Gold" (OK), Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville brand tequila (can't tell the difference between it and Cuervo), Olmeca tequila (both the gold and the anejo) Two Fingers tequila and Montezuma tequila (in descending order of quality) to roughly equal effect. Mix all ingredients in a blender with a bit of ice until smooth. Taste to see if balance is correct. Remember, the reason a marg tastes so good is that it has all the primary flavours (sweet Triple Sec, sour lime, bitter tequila, salty rim on glass). Add a bit more ice and blend again. Pour into salt rimmed glasses and garnish with lime wedges. Makes several.

I've compiled a list of the sites that give recipes for (generally alcoholic) drinks with a special emphasis on "boat drinks" those that contain rum.
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