The Dark ’n Stormy trifecta of dark rum, ginger beer and lime juice is icy, spicy perfection. But like many other drinks, it’s also a potential playground for experimentation, with bartenders switching up ingredients and playing with bitters, infusions, fruit juice or even other base spirits. The Phoenix Colada, from Matt Giarratano, pushes the concept of what defines a Dark ’n Stormy, with the addition of bourbon as well as pineapple juice and a coconut infusion.
Giarratano, the bar director at Bluebird Distilling in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, wanted to remove the endless sun-and-beach associations of his favorite tropical flavors—rum, coconut and pineapple—and add an element of what he calls everyday drinkability. “Introducing dryness through the bitters and ginger beer creates a balance that brings an everyday familiarity to the tropicality of the drink—something of an urban Tiki vibe,” he says. To that end he infuses rum with coconut, adds pineapple juice to the mix and spikes it with Tiki bitters and spicy ginger beer.
The name Phoenix Colada is an homage to the Pennsylvania town near Philadelphia where the distillery and its cocktail bar are located. And while officially a Dark ’n Stormy can only be called that if it’s made with Goslings Black Seal rum, Giarratano uses Bluebird Distilling’s own product—which he infuses with coconut—for his drink. If you’re recreating the Phoenix Colada at home and can’t find Bluebird’s rum, using another white, sugarcane-based rum like a rhum agricole would work best. Similarly Giarratano uses the distillery’s own Four Grain bourbon, and again you can substitute with another whiskey if you’re not in the Philadelphia area. The flavor is particular, but you’ll get closest with a high-rye bourbon, as the Four Grain has a prominent rye profile.
Finally, the drink is topped with Gosling’s ginger beer, which helps pull it back into the Dark ’n Stormy fold. The pineapple fronds add tropical imagery, but they’re not critical to the quality of the drink.
- 1 1/2 ounces coconut-infused Bluebird Distilling Sugarcane rum*
- 1/2 ounce Bluebird Distilling Four Grain bourbon
- 1 1/2 ounces pineapple juice
- 1/2 ounce demerara syrup
- 2 dashes Bittermens Elemakule Tiki bitters
- Gosling's Stormy ginger beer, to top
- Garnish: 2 pineapple fronds
- Garnish: grated nutmeg
Add the rum, bourbon, pineapple juice, demerara syrup and Tiki bitters into a shaker with ice, and shake until well-chilled.
Double-strain into a Collins glass over fresh ice.
Top with the ginger beer.
Garnish with 2 pineapple fronds and freshly grated nutmeg.
*Coconut-infused rum: Combine 1 750-milliliter bottle of Bluebird Distilling Sugarcane rum and 4 cups flaked coconut in a nonreactive container like a large Mason jar. Let it set for 4 days, then strain out solids through a fine-mesh sieve.