The Perfect Stormy

Johnny Autry
by Francine Maroukian - Florida - Aug/Sept 2009

Batten down the hatches. This seafarer's cocktail packs a flavorful punch

It all comes together so quickly: ice, rum, ginger beer, and maybe a little lime, stirred with the blade of a knife, a kebab skewer—whatever’s handy. Then even after you’ve had a few, the Dark and Stormy is still a breeze to navigate, darker when you’re generous with the rum, stormier when the peppery ginger beer bubbles over the brim.

The drink flows from a nautical past. During the mid-nineteenth-century rum runs between the UK and the British Virgin Islands, the British Royal Navy had a daily ration: two ounces of the local dark rum, typically richly complex with hints of molasses and licorice. It was only natural to mix the spicy rum with ginger beer, a locally bottled British specialty and a traditional remedy for seasickness.

Christened Bermuda’s national drink, the Dark and Stormy is “officially” made with the territory’s largest export, Gosling’s Black Seal Rum—the two-century-old family business actually holds the drink’s trademark—and Gosling’s Stormy Ginger Beer. But when Michael Schwartz, chef/owner of Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink in Miami, came up with his own version using homemade syrup in place of the ginger beer, our curiosity was piqued. “I wanted to stay true to the Dark and Stormy’s classic flavors while giving it a handcrafted element that makes the drink unique,” he says.

The syrup affords a fresher taste: nice and gingery, with some kick thanks to added jalapeño. “We use Myers’s Dark Rum because it is a tad lighter than the traditional Gosling’s, allowing the spice and flavor of the syrup to really shine through.” So we’ll admit, our new favorite Dark and Stormy isn’t exactly authentic. But we can assure you it’s smooth sailing.

Michael’s Genuine Dark and Stormy

2½ oz. Myers’s Dark Rum
2 oz. homemade ginger/lemongrass syrup (see below)
Club soda or sparkling water
Garnish: candied ginger

Fill a Tom Collins glass with ice. Add rum and syrup, and top with club soda or sparkling water, stirring to mix. Garnish with candied ginger.

Ginger / Lemongrass Syrup
1 large piece fresh ginger (4-–5 oz.), peeled
1 large stalk lemongrass, lower bulb end and tough outer leaves removed (this will give you a 4- to
5-inch piece)
1 cup water (8 oz.)
½ cup white
granulated sugar
½ jalapeño (split but with seeds)

Coarse-chop ginger and lemongrass in a food processor. In a saucepan over moderate heat, dissolve sugar in water. Add chopped ginger/lemongrass mixture and jalapeño, and raise heat to bring to boil. Reduce heat to low, and simmer until syrup is infused with flavors, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat, and strain through fine-mesh sieve. Discard solids. Cool before using.

YIELD: about 8 oz., enough for 4 drinks

For a Southern twist on the traditional Dark and Stormy, try using any of these Dixie ginger brews

Ale-8-One: a family-secret
recipe, bottled in Winchester,
KY, since 1926

Blenheim: founded in the
Marlboro County village of
Blenheim, SC, in 1903

Buffalo Rock: first formulated
in 1901 in Birmingham, AL