Alpine Glow – Recipe from David Embury’s ‘The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks’

1 part Cointreau 

2 parts Lemon Juice 

4 parts Cognac 

4 parts Gold Label Rum

1 or 2 dashes Grenadine to each drink Shake with cracked or crushed ice.

The rum industry is a strange beast, Rum is made in at least 59 countries in the world and has no overriding governing body that sets rules and regulations regarding what rum can be, because of this it’s a little of a mongrel spirit and in all honesty, you don’t really know what your drinking. This adds to its charm to a certain extent, as it means you can discover wonderful things in unexpected places, the flip side being disappointing things in places that should know better.

One of the most recent ‘scandals’ surrounding rum is the very topical added sugar debate. Rum is essentially made from a by product of the sugar industry, traditionally from molasses, although French colonies tend to use sugar cane juice. Where the scandal starts is during distillation the majority of any sweetness is removed and your left with a fruity, dry light spirit, which then has its flavours concentrated and expanded by aging in wood, after which this unadulterated product should be put in a bottle and shipped. For years now there have been several prominent rums that have blown away the category by making an incredibly viscous, full flavoured and undeniably sweet rum, and this flavour profile has been attributed to aging and production methods, and when asked if any sugar has been added they’ve replied with a resounding no. Adding sugar or honey, has been done to spirits for as long as people have been making them, it makes it far more palatable, and is pretty ingrained in the industry. Where it gets frustrating as a consumer is that now that there’s equipment that allows us to lift the lid on this, these same rum companies are using new terms like ‘cane miel’ to tell us where the sweetness comes from. And yes, as far as I can tell cane miel (or cane honey) is sugar. Now this isn’t tobacco company bad, but that’s probably only because we’re not quite so righteous (yet) about the effects of sugar on our bodies.

Now, rant aside why is this relevant to this drink? A lot of Embury’s drinks, of the 8-2-1 ratio walk a fine line between being to sour or nicely balanced, its normally down to the sweetening agent, in this case Cointreau. Where I’ve used this before I tend to find Cointreau doesn’t quite carry enough sweetness to balance the citrus, but in this case its perfect, and I suspect that this is because of the rum, bringing an extra little touch of sweetness to balance the overall drink, or it could’ve been my heavy hand when it comes to adding the grenadine, either way this is a beautifully balanced Sour, and one of the things I enjoyed most about it was the marriage of the rum and the cognac, each being far more than a supporting player to the finished product. Well worth a try.