Drink of the Week: The Palmetto (Sweet Farewell to OC Version)

The PalmettoThere are, it appears, several Palmettos. All versions contain rum and vermouth in some proportion. However, some contain light rum and dry vermouth; some contain dark rum and sweet vermouth; some contain dark or aged rum and dry vermouth. Today, as I ready for the big move of Drink of the Week Central from Orange County, California to make the San Fernando Valley my home, we’ll be taking the sweet with the bitter on this light cocktail classic. One of these days, I’ll get around to one of the drier versions.

Today’s drink, by the way, comes courtesy of by far my favorite OC watering hole and grubbery, the outstanding Memphis, with two equally terrific locations in Costa Mesa and downtown Santa Ana. At the latter spot, you might see the occasional political or journalistic notable enjoying remarkably good booze and grub at a reasonable price — well, much more so during happy hour, which is when I was honored to enjoy this drink made by a soon to be departing barkeep whose name I failed to write down. He made a mean drink, whoever he was.

The Palmetto (sweet version)

2 ounces dark rum
1 ounce sweet vermouth
2 dashes orange bitters
Orange twist (garnish)

Combine rum, vermouth, and bitters in cocktail shaker with plenty of ice. Shake and pour into our old best friend in the world, a chilled cocktail glass. Sip and plan your next big move.

Now, if you really want to do this one up right, you should do as they at Memphis (the restaurant, not the city). Start with Zaya Grand Reserva Rum, a brand I admit is new to me. For your vermouth, you’ll want Carpano Antica, which really just might be the king of sweet vermouths and is delicious all on its own. This will render you a really amazing beverage.

However, I’m a cheapskate. Moreover, I had some booze to get rid of before my move. So, I used the remainder of my very decent Whalers dark rum and was forced — forced, I tell you — to buy a new bottle of Martini & Rossi red on the quick but also fortunately on the cheap. (BevMo taketh away my beloved red Noilly Pratt and they giveth a great price of $4.99 a bottle for the Martini.) When I put together my el cheapo version, the result was just fine, if considerably short of the delightful grandeur of the bottle I enjoyed on ____’s last night on the job.

Feel free to put together your own version based on what you’ve got sitting around…or invest in the Zaya Grand and Carpano. I doubt you’ll be disappointed.

And now we come to the end of an era. When next you’ll be reading this here blog, I’ll have moved some 50 miles north to a place that Mr. Bing Crosby rhapsodized about long before I — let alone you — was even born. See you on the other side.


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