Houston Eaves, the beverage director at The Esquire Tavern in San Antonio, oversees the menu, crafting visually stunning drinks like the Sea of Confusion. This beauty is served tall over crushed ice and gets a layered effect from a float of Angostura bitters and Lemon Hart 151 rum. The funky goodness of Hamilton Jamaican pot-still gold rum takes a slightly fruity, floral and bitter turn when it mixes with Clear Creek pear brandy, yellow Chartreuse and Cappelletti amaro sfumato rabarbaro.
There’s a lot going on in the Sea of Confusion, and while it’s best made with the listed ingredients, even with substitutions it will come out well. For instance, Lemon Hart 151—an overproof demerara rum that is a darling of the Tiki fanatic community and rum obsessives everywhere—has the habit of disappearing from shelves for a while, and it’s not readily available everywhere. It’s also not the kind of thing that can be swapped out for a more commonplace 151-proof rum like Bacardi’s, but there are alternatives. The most obvious and suitable alternative is Hamilton 151, another highly regarded demerara rum, and one that can generally be found on liquor store shelves. The base of the drink is made with Hamilton’s Jamaican pot-still gold rum, so using the label for the overproof float makes a kind of sense.
Similarly, Clear Creek makes a lauded pear eau-de-vie. Made from 100% Bartlett pears picked just hours from the distillery in Hood River, Oregon, the pear brandy is packed with pear flavor without being overly sweet, and works beautifully in both cocktails and as a sipping brandy. However, there are some strong competitors out there, including St. George Spirits in Alameda, California and New Deal Distillery, just a short jaunt from Clear Creek in Portland, Oregon. Either can be used in place of the Clear Creek, if needed or desired.
The yellow Chartreuse and the Cappelletti amaro are less flexible. The first is the sibling to the famous green Chartreuse, though it’s a bit sweeter and has a different botanical blend. Similarly, the bold and assertively smoky rhubarb-based liqueur from Cappelletti doesn’t have a lot of analogues on the market.
With so many intense liquors going into the drink, it looks like it would be overbearing. However, everything is balanced out with passion fruit syrup and lemon juice for sweetness and tartness, making this a vaguely Tiki-oriented cocktail. Layering the drink over a mountain of crushed ice just adds to the tropical flair.
- 1 ounce Hamilton Jamaican pot-still gold rum
- 1/2 ounce Clear Creek pear brandy
- 1/4 ounce yellow Chartreuse
- 1/4 ounce Cappelletti amaro sfumato rabarbaro
- 1/2 ounce lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- 3/4 ounce passion fruit syrup
- 6 dashes Angostura bitters
- 1/2 ounce Lemon Hart 151 rum
- Garnish: mint sprig
Add the first six ingredients to a footed pilsner glass over pebble ice and swizzle.
Add the bitters and Lemon Hart 151 rum to top.
Garnish with a large mint sprig.