The best drink you’ll ever have in Haiti is at Hotel Florita in Jacmel. It’s just a simple Rum Sour made with clairin (a rum-like spirit), lime and sugar that is shaken and served on the rocks. With a complex spirit like clairin, you don’t need to add much else.
Clairin originated in the Haiti countryside and it remains a fixture in local households and at ceremonies. It’s made from sugar cane juice, which is fermented using indigenous yeast strains before being pot-distilled. The result is a raw, funky and rustic spirit with distinctive grassiness, and it’s closer in nature to rhum agricole than molasses-based rum.
The Clairin Regal Sour features Clairin Vaval from Distillerie Arawaks, located just a little more than half a mile off the southern coast of Haiti. The cane and yeast live in the salty coastal air, and you can taste it in the spirit.
This drink was created by Kate Perry. Before becoming the brand manager for The Spirit of Haiti, she was the general manager of and a bartender at Rumba in Seattle. She highlights the clairin’s salty roundness with sea salt, key lime juice, honey and grapefruit bitters.
- 1 1/2 ounces Clairin Vaval
- 3/4 ounce key lime juice (or lemon juice), freshly squeezed
- 3/4 ounce raw honey syrup*
- 2 dashes Scrappy’s grapefruit bitters
- 1 pinch sea salt
- Garnish: grapefruit twist
Add the clairin, key lime juice, raw honey syrup, grapefruit bitters and sea salt into a shaker with ice and shake until well-chilled.
Pour into a rocks glass over fresh ice.
Express the oil from a grapefruit twist over the drink, then drop it in to garnish.
*Raw honey syrup: Combine 2 parts raw honey with 1 part hot water and stir briskly until dissolved evenly. Bring to room temperature. Strain into a container and store refrigerated for up to one month.