Drink of the Week: The Road Warrior (a work in progress) (updated)

The Road Warrior.For roughly the same period of time as I’ve been doing Drink of the Week, I’ve been attending a series of soirees held about twice every summer and hosted by the Southern California Drive-In Movie Society and ol’ blogging chum, Dennis Cozzalio of the noted cinephile hang, Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule. Don’t tell anyone but, against the rules of drive-ins everywhere, I’ve been smuggling hooch into every single event that I’ve attended.

Now, since I prefer my booze in cocktail form, this presents a bit of a problem. Yes, you can try to make a Manhattan at a drive-in, if you’re prepared for messing around with a cocktail shaker out of the back of a car. Even if you do, however — and I was once crazy enough to give it a go — how are you going to properly serve them to several people? Since my definition of “proper” includes a chilled glass made of actual glass, it doesn’t really come together.

Instead, I’ve mostly preferred to find a drink that can be easily transported in a thermos or other container and then enjoyed from a plastic cup, with maybe just an the addition of ice or perhaps some canned or bottled soda water. The Cliquet was one such drink, but this year I decided to try something new. And so we have a creation, for better or worse, of my very own. It borrows the American title, circa 1981, of George Miller’s hugely popular second entry in the “Mad Max” series because, well, movies and portability. (Also, I first contemplated the drink when I thought I’d be watching “Mad Max: Fury Road” at this summer’s earlier get together, which I tragically was forced to miss.)

I’m still perfecting the Road Warrior, which is definitely tiki influenced, but still perhaps a bit too heavy on the sweet. It’s a work in progress, but enough excuses. Let’s see what I can do to make this thing work.

The Road Warrior

1 ounce white rum
1/2 ounce 151 rum
1 ounce pineapple juice
1 ounce apple juice
1/2 teaspoon maraschino liqueur
1/2 teaspoon cassis
1/2 teaspoon limoncello
1/2 teaspoon grenadine or raspberry syrup
Soda water to top (optional)

Combine all the ingredients in a glass. You can also, of course, multiply the ingredients many times over and prepare the thing in a large thermos or other container and later pour it into whatever sort of cups or glasses are available. Next, stir with plenty of ice and maybe keep stirring. If it’s still too sweet for you, add a few splashes of club soda or seltzer. Prepare for a drink that may or may not taste good, but which should at least improve you enjoyment of an evening of drive-in movie entertainment.

In terms of my hard liquors this week, I pretty much stuck to the basics. My 80 proof white rum was Bacardi; my 151 was Trader Vic’s. (So cheap on sale!) The other ingredients were pretty much what I had on hand. Luxardo for the maraschino and limoncello (switching over to Maraska’s maraschino made no real difference). Similarly, using higher end Myers light rum didn’t make a big dent one way or the other. What did make for a very significant improvement was trading up from Dole’s canned pineapple juice to Trader Joe’s extremely tasty not-from-concentrate in a carton.

In a very real sense I won’t consider this week’s drink anywhere near completion until I try it out on the friendly folks at this week’s event at the Mission Tiki Drive-In. I will say that I’ve been dosing a willing guinea pig who is not, however, a dyed-in-the-wool cocktail person. The test subject prefers the drink sans soda and enjoys both the sweetness and the undeniable kick-assyness that the 151 adds, but at this point I still find that adding a bit time seltzer/club soda spritz helps a great deal.

Stay tuned. On Sunday I promise to report back with a brief update on the reaction and my semi-final verdict on the Road Warrior.

UPDATE: It’s Sunday early afternoon as I write this. And, while I insist that Dennis Cozzalio’s delicious home made breaded chicken and cous-cous was much tastier than the Road Warrior, Dennis and few other people seemed very happy with the drink indeed. Notably, however, they all took my advice and had it with a few splashes of soda water. I’m still unconvinced the drink is a flat-out success but who am I to argue?

I will say that I found myself enjoying “American Ultra” more than I might have expected, I did find myself nodding off during “The Man from UNCLE,” despite some obviously gorgeous filmmaking (from Guy Ritchie???) and crackerjack performances.  Alcohol and cinema make great companions, but there can be a price!