12 Drinks of Christmas: Grapefruit & Honey Old Cuban
For the second drink of Christmas we serve to you the Grapefruit and Honey Old Cuban. It’s our second of 12 drink ideas to make your holiday parties and quiet nights by the fire merry and bright.
We were introduced to the Old Cuban by one of our current favorite cocktail books, Paul Clarke’s Cocktail Chronicles. Despite its name, the Old Cuban is a modern creation of famous New York bartender Audrey Saunders. As created by Saunders, the Old Cuban is the very best version of what you expect from a Caribbean cocktail. It’s rummy, and sweet, and fruity, with lots of easy to love flavors; but the unusual addition (to an island cocktail) of sparkling wine brings in brightness and sophistication. It’s both a tiki drink and a champagne drink–both often signs of a drink for cocktail novices–but somehow the blend makes it something that a ‘serious’ cocktail drinker can love.
Despite its tropical origins, we think that aged rum, with it’s mellow sweetness and spiciness, makes a good winter spirit. So, we decided to try to winterize the Old Cuban. We swapped lime for grapefruit, which somehow seems to suit winter better for us; and we replaced simple syrup with a dark honey, to deepen the flavors a bit. In a rare move for us, though, we kept the sparkling wine. What we ended up with was a cocktail we’re happy to drink in winter, because it suits the season while also whispering of warmer times.
- 1.5 oz aged rum (Saunders uses Bacardi 8. We used Hamilton Ministry of Rum, which we liked quite a bit; but we had no Bacardi 8 for comparison)
- .75 oz grapefruit juice
- 1 oz dark honey (or molasses if you can’t find dark honey)
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters
- 6-8 mint leaves
- 2 oz. sparkling wine
- small sprig of mint (for garnish)
- gently muddle mint and honey in the bottom of a cocktail shaker;
- add ice and all other ingredients except the sparkling wine (unless you like sticky explosions);
- shake for twenty seconds
- strain into a cocktail glass and float the sparkling wine on top
- garnish with sprig of mint