Drink of the Week: The Dominicana 1888

The Dominicana 1888. If you’re going to build a cocktail around a distinctive, high end spirit, I think it’s definitely better if you can still distinctly taste that spirit. Sure, a lot of cocktails benefit from a sort of alchemical reaction where flavors in various ingredients unite to create an entirely new experience, but it’s nice to leave room for the unique flavors of a particular product — especially if the drink was created largely to promote that product.

I raved here a few weeks ago about Brugal 1888, a high end darkish rum that mysteriously arrived at my house via the booze-promoting powers that be. It unites the appeal of a really good bourbon or Scotch with hints of the exotic sweetness of a more conventional quality rum. In some ways, though, I think I might like today’s recipe a bit more than the Old Fashioned variation we tried earlier. It’s a very simple drink that’s delicious and sweet, while letting the most intriguing aspects of this somewhat pricey-but-worth-it booze really come to the fore.

I did, however, rename today’s choice as there’s another rum-based cocktail called the Dominicana. I modified the name in honor of its outstanding base spirit. One more thing, I didn’t get quite the amount of froth you see on the picture — you probably need egg whites to get anything remotely like that in real life — but this is still a very delightful drink, presentation issues notwithstanding.

The Domincana 1888

2 ounces Brugal 1888 Rum
1/2 ounce fresh squeezed lime juice
1/2 ounce fresh squeezed orange juice
1/2 ounce pineapple juice
1 teaspoon turbinado or brown sugar
1 cocktail cherry (desirable garnish)

Add the three juices and, especially if you’re using turbinado sugar (aka, “raw sugar”), you can muddle it into the liquid to ensure it mixes properly. Next, add the Brugal and lots of ice. Shake very vigorously and strain it into a cocktail glass. Add the cocktail cherry, which really does seem to add a little extra something to this drink.

Sip and salute the power of sugar, both processed and naturally occurring. Rum might be the only drink made directly from sugar or it’s byproduct, molasses, but without some kind of sugar we’d have no liquor at all!

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I shared the brown sugar version of the Dominica 1888 with a couple of test subjects and I can tell you that, apart from the fact that I like it a lot myself, it’s possible that it’s one of your more sophisticated crowd pleasers. Certainly with the combination of three great fresh juices — I even used fresh pineapple juice this time around, which is not always the case with me — and just a little bit of additional brown sugar/turbinado sweetness, it mellows out the Brugal 1888 about as far as it can be mellowed. At the same time, it leaves plenty of room for the high end rum to have its say, and that’s a very good thing. You’re paying for this stuff; presumably, you want to taste it.

Re: brown sugar and turbinado. I basically stuck to the original recipe, created by some clever but unnamed mixologist at Brugal, on all of my successful attempts at this drink. The only variation I tried turned out to be something of a happy accident. The first time I made this, I didn’t have any actual brown sugar around but did have plenty of turbinado, aka raw sugar. Since both brown sugar and turbinado share the same basic trait — they contain the molasses which is usually removed from conventional, processed sugar — using it as a substitute made sense; the results bore me out.

The next night, I went out and bought some regular C&H Dark Brown sugar (it was either that or “golden brown” which seemed lighter than the, er, classic brown sugar I remember from a few years back). I used that version on my test subjects and it worked extremely well, don’t get me wrong. On the other hand, the overall effect, strangely enough, was to make the Brugal’s sharper, almost leathery edges just slightly more obvious. I thought the turbinado sugar gentled the booze in a way I found to be almost perfect. I tried it again and found I really liked my original version best, but purists especially might prefer the regular brown sugar version best. Try it both ways.

 

  

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