Drink of the Week: The Captain’s Blood

the Captain's Blood.You’ve never heard of the Captain’s Blood and, until about 24 hours prior to when I began writing this, it didn’t register with me, either. I stumbled over this variation..I’m tempted to say “improvement”…on the classic daiquiri in Robert Hess’s trusty 2008 “The Essential Bartender’s Guide,” though this precise recipe is actually from Hess’s vlog.

It’s apparently a fairly old drink, and it’s name — quite probably drawn from the 1922 Rafael Sabatini pirate novel and/or its swashbuckling 1924 and 1935 film adaptations — suggests a prohibition or post-prohibition provenance. Yet, even among lost beverages, the Captain’s Blood is a bit of a dark horse. Among the better known cocktail tomes, it only appears to have shown up in David A. Embury’s 1948 “The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks.” The Embury recipe is severe indeed — the sweetest ingredient is dark rum. Fortunately, the Robert Hess version has just the right amount of sweetness.

The Captain’s Blood

1 1/2 ounces dark rum
1/4 ounce fresh lime juice
1/4 ounce simple syrup
1-2 dashes aromatic bitters
1 lemon twist (optional, but desirable, garnish)

Combine the rum, juice, syrup, and bitters in a cocktail shaker, add ice, and shake. (If you’re having a hard time measuring a mere quarter ounce, note that 1 and 1/2 teaspoons, i.e., half a tablespoon, is the sameĀ  as 1/4 ounce.) Strain into a chilled, smallish cocktail glass and add your lemon twist if you’ve got it. Try not to drink this one too quickly, as it has a lovely aroma, but it tastes good enough that you might find it gone in about 45 seconds anyway.


My first night out, I tried this drink with several different premium brands — Bacardi 8 (Robert Hess’s choice), Gosling’s Black Seal, and my old pal Brugal 1888, and the results were consistently very, very good. Later selections were a bit less stellar. Papa Pilar’s absolutely delicious dark rum seemed to overpower the thing while, conversely, Flor de Cana dark rum seemed a wee bit dry.

And there’s no getting around the seafaring connotations of this drink which has made it an occasional offering at tiki themed bars, though mostly in highly adulterated versions, I suspect. You can find recipes online that call for super-sweet Rose’s Lime Juice or maraschino. Who knows, they might not be bad. On the whole, however, I’m not in any mood to mess with the Captain’s Blood.