Drink of the Week: The Take 9

Today’s Drink of the Week is not named the Take 9 because mixologist Jesse Card tried eight variations before settling on his final project. In fact, it is named for the rather tasty spiced rum that his employers at Cruzan Rum, yet another Jim Beam brand, were kind enough to send me to play with. To be specific, Cruzan 9 Spiced Rum brings the following to the flavor party: allspice, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, juniper berry, mace, nutmeg, pepper and, my favorite, vanilla. For the record, the spice mace has no relationship to the teargas but is actually a more delicate variation on nutmeg. And, yes, I had to look that up.

I’m happy to say that these spices do socialize well together in Cruzan 9, which tastes pretty good all on its own and would perhaps work nicely with Coke or your favorite ginger ale, though I haven’t had the chance to experiment in that way yet. Still, thanks to Cruzan and Card I do have a pretty decent little cocktail — not maybe a classic in the making, I think, but not bad — to bring you this week.

The Take 9

1 1/2 ounces Cruzan 9 Spiced Rum
3/4 ounce dry vermouth
1/4 ounce Curacao
1/2 teaspoon grenadine
orange twist (garnish, and optional in my opinion)

Combine your rum, vermouth, and Curacao. The original recipe calls for you to stir the mixture for thirty seconds but, as usual, you have my full permission to shake.

Whichever method of mixing you select, strain into our old buddy, the chilled cocktail glass. Sip and contemplate the special blend of nine herbs and spices and why Cruzan Rum is so much more transparent about their blend than either KFC or the late Colonel Harlan Sanders.


I don’t have any other spiced rums on hand, so it’s not so easy for me to try this drink with other brands. However, as usual, I promise no one will bring legal action against you if experiment with other rums, even non-spiced ones. Also, you have my permission to leave out the orange rind twist garnish. I’m actually not convinced it presents a major improvement. It’s possible that the Take 9 is just one of those mixed drinks that does better sans garnish.


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Drink of the Week: The Casino

Image ALT text goes here.As start to I write this, I’ve just finished watching the third presidential debate and I’m contemplating the power of the Etch-a-Sketch. Just as Mitt Romney somehow made a significant slice of the electorate forget everything that happened prior to debate #1, now left-leaners like your humble tippler are hoping debates #2 and #3 will make everyone forget that first one.

And what does this have to do with today’s Drink of the Week? Well, let’s just say that after what I’ve been through the last few weeks, it’s time to move on — from the bourbon drinks I’ve been promoting here week after week and lots of other things besides. Also, this week, I’ve personally paid for every single ingredient. For this week, at least, we’re freebie free.

Today’s drink features a base spirit so classic it had all but disappeared until a few years back, and it’s one I’ve been dying to try for ages: Old Tom gin. It’s London dry gin’s much sweeter cousin which apparently includes a bit of simple syrup in the mix. Original Old Tom gins were apparently mostly gins that had sugar added to them to cover up some nasty flavors. Today’s very nice version — which really isn’t bad on its own — is from Hayman’s Distillers.

I was also rather taken with the name of today’s cocktail. I’ve been feeling like it’s time for a long-delayed return trip to my one-time near-second home of Las Vegas. If things go badly at the 21 and craps tables for me, and well they might, this drink could certainly help remove some of the sting.

The Casino

2 ounces Old Tom gin
1/4 ounce maraschino liqueur
1/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
2 dashes orange bitters
1 lemon twist (garnisth)

Combine the liquid ingredients in a cocktail shaker or mixing glass with lots of ice and stir vigorously. (You can shake if you like, and you know I usually like to shake, but here I really don’t find it necessary.) Pour into a chilled cocktail/martini glass, add lemon twist, and drink a toast to the right kind of big changes and better luck.

First of all, since I haven’t seen it in too many other places, I pretty much followed the lead of a 2008 blog post on Old Tom gin by England’s Jay Hepburn, but it should be noted there are other versions of this drink, in fact it can be tinkered with quite a bit.

For example, I know from my own experiments that this drink can also work very nicely with regular gin (I was using Beefeater), though I’m not sure if you still want to use the bitters. On the other hand, there is a super dry version of this drink that uses only dashes of the lemon juice and maraschino but throws in a cherry as the garnish. I’m sure that could work too and I might try it that way sometime.

On the other hand, the first time I made this, I forgot to use bitters with both the Old Tom and my London dry gin version and found it extremely drinkable. The casino seems to be a drink that can take an awful lot of abuse and not really be harmed. More proof that the house always wins.