While the original recipe for Grog, a concoction served to British naval forces in the 18th century, was rum cut with water, the Navy Grog Cocktail is an ocean away. The Big Daddy of high-octane Tiki drinks, this cocktail dates back to the early days of legendary bartender Donn Beach, a pioneer of Tiki bartending. Like many early Tiki drinks, it was served at Don the Beachcomber bars in California, and was eventually adopted by Victor Jules Bergeron, Jr., aka “Trader Vic,” the other kingpin of early Tiki culture.
Much like Beach’s famous cocktail the Zombie, the Navy Grog is a boozy powerhouse with three ounces of rum, often higher-proof ones. Also like the Zombie, it’s occasionally limited to two per guest on cocktail menus. More than the volume, though, the drink demonstrates how well different styles of rum blend, with their various flavor profiles mixing to find a delicate and intoxicating balance. Jamaican rum brings earthy funk, gold demerara gives the drink a rich backbone and white rum lends it brightness and fruit notes.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Tiki drink without citrus and a flavored syrup. This particular one calls for a mix of lime juice and grapefruit juice, much like a Hemingway Daiquiri. And while some Tiki drinks call for elaborate flavored syrups, the honey syrup in the Navy Grog is a breeze to make. Given honey’s longevity, it keeps well and can also be used for drinks like the Bee’s Knees and Brown Derby.
The original recipe for the Navy Grog calls for an ice-cone garnish, a rare garnish to see in a drink these days. A small cone of ice with a straw through it rests on top of the drink, so the liquid allegedly becomes extra cold as you drink through the straw. The ice cone requires a bit of planning, and probably a cone mold, not to mention freezer space. It’s easier to opt for a large pile of crushed ice like is used for a Julep or Mai Tai. A few short straws, a lime wheel and sprig of mint, and the drink is sure to be a stunner.
- 1 ounce dark Jamaican rum
- 1 ounce gold demerara rum
- 1 ounce white Cuban or Puerto Rican rum
- 1 ounce honey syrup*
- 3/4 ounce club soda
- 3/4 ounce grapefruit juice
- 3/4 ounce lime juice
- Garnish: mint sprig
- Garnish: lime wheel
Add the dark rum, gold demerara rum, white rum, honey syrup, grapefruit juice, lime juice and club soda to a shaker filled with crushed ice and shake until well-chilled (about 30 seconds).
Strain into a chilled rocks glass with fresh crushed ice.
Garnish with a mint sprig.
*Honey syrup: Add 1/2 cup honey and 1/2 cup water to a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until blended, then pour into a jar and seal tightly with a lid. Will keep for 1 month in the refrigerator.