This blog post was written by Chris
The first time I had a dark and stormy, I was keen to impress the man who mixed it for me. He was my future father-in-law, Rick Tee, and I think he might’ve asked me if I’d had one before. I’m not sure if I told him the truth. Like I said—he was my future father-in-law, and he was passing me an exact copy of the drink he held in his other hand. Here’s a visual of a tad younger (but I’m sure equally as full-of-life and willing to offer strong pours) version of the man I speak of:
I loved it, of course. Rick was a good pilot for my first experience of ginger beer and rum. He knows quality. Like my own father, and to some extent myself, he can speak knowledgeably and at length about superior-to-inferior spectrums of a wide variety of products and processes, and is always interested to hear from experts their own opinions of the same. I come from, and have married into, male traditions of Armchair Enthusiasm, and what we are most enthusiastic about is “the best.” We like to buy the best boots, drink the best tequila, eat the best salmon, and so on.
The problem with that mindset is that it sort of de-values the tinkering and experimentation that often results in surprisingly awesome outcomes. When pressed to it because we were poor graduate students, for instance, my roommate Hans and I discovered that tonic-and-vermouth wasn’t prohibitively disgusting, allowing us to drink the vermouth that remained in our pantry after we’d drunk everything else.
Okay, maybe that was a bad example. A better example could be found at Vena’s Fizz House in Portland, Maine (named after the prohibitionist great grandmother of the owner). Mare and I drifted in on a date night to find an attractive bar above the retail half of the store where all the bitters and flavoring agents you enjoyed in your drinks are available to be purchased over the counter.
Johanna and Steve Corman started Vena’s as a place to experiment with, and serve, handcrafted soda. They didn’t have a liquor license, and from what I understood in talking to them, hadn’t intended to get one. At some point in the last year that business plan evolved.
Steve and Johanna make excellent, interesting drinks drawing from a huge assortment of flavors like nothing I’ve ever seen before. An expansive cabinet of different bitters and aromatics in tiny bottles and droppers is affixed to the wall behind the bar’s center. Other essences and oils, including essence of ghost pepper, are tucked in here and there and everywhere. The drink Steve made for me, the Lumbersexual, was lovely. The drink he made for Mary Catherine, the Elderflower Vodka Collins, was even better; “even better” being the best cocktail she’s ever had.
We bought Coastal Root Pine Bitters before we left, vowing to make our own drink and write about it. What followed was a process of tinkering and experimentation. As it turns out, making a new drink is hard. I really had no idea. It’s far easier to pay the experts to do it (ahem, Steve and Johanna).
Finally, though, Mare suggested that I try to make a play off the dark and stormy, and everything came together.
I decided to call it the Landfall because it takes the ginger spiciness of the traditional dark and stormy and mellows that out with the kind of earthy debris that, you could imagine, is dislodged by flooding during a storm. It isn’t as sweet as a traditional dark and stormy, but neither Mare nor I have especially strong sweet tooths. We used ginger kombucha from the Urban Farm Fermentory, also in Portland, also highly recommended—if you want more of the sweetness of a traditional dark and stormy you can add ginger beer. However, from what I understand, Landfall can be far from sweet.
- Five mint leaves
- Eight drops of Coastal Root Pine Bitters
- 2 oz dark, spiced rum
- ¼ to ½ cup ginger kombucha (or ginger beer for more sweetness)
- Sprig of mint leaves for decoration
- Muddle five mint leaves in the base of a glass tumbler
- Add bitters
- Fill the tumbler with ice
- Add rum
- Add ginger kombucha or ginger beer (adjust amount to taste)
- Stick sprig of mint leaves in to make it look awesome