In my ongoing quest to learn to love Campari (shudder), this week I whipped up a Jungle Bird (pictured above). I figured that, seeing as it contained numerous other ingredients that I like – rum, citrus, pineapple – there was a good chance I’d appreciate what the Campari added to the mix, and wouldn’t reject the drink simply because I could taste, well, Campari in it.
As usual I was partly right and partly wrong. I did appreciate the way Campari added a bitter complexity and notes of burnt orange to the cocktail.
But that didn’t mean I liked it.
For me, the Campari flavour overrode the nuances of the rum, though perhaps that’s because I was seeking it out, the way a beautiful person will look for a flaw in their appearance. The CTO said he liked the way it balanced out the rum’s sweetness, and that it was an interesting and well-rounded drink. I thought the drink might be better without it, and so I made another one, omitting the Campari.
It was much more approachable – a refreshing, if a bit run-of-the-mill (rum of the mill?), sweet-sour concoction, with notes of Christmas spice and vanilla courtesy of the rum. I called it a Jungle Boogie (pictured below) and it was only when I was halfway through it that I realised I’d made something akin to a Pisco Sour, but with rum instead of pisco. No wonder I liked it – I love Pisco Sours. Did I love the Jungle Boogie enough to start making it instead of Pisco Sours, though? Would it be on high rotation at my bar, like its very distant Peruvian cousin? Would I start offering it to all and sundry? Er…
It just didn’t have enough ‘wow’ factor for me.
So in the end, the best thing I can say about this experiment is that it gave me an excuse to open my first bottle of Kraken black spiced rum, which I’ve been wanting to try for ages simply because of the label (yes, I’m a sucker for packaging). I’m no rum aficionado, but it’s delicious. And hey, I got to try out two new cocktails – can’t complain about that. If you want to try them out, the recipes are below.
45ml black spiced rum
25ml Campari (include this if you are making a Jungle Bird; omit if you are making a Jungle Boogie)
45ml pineapple juice
15ml fresh lime juice
15ml sugar syrup
Tumbler or old-fashioned
Add all ingredients to a shaker that’s half-full of ice, and shake hard. Strain into a tumbler that’s half-full of ice and garnish with pineapple pieces and pineapple leaves (failing that, use mint, as I’ve done…or don’t garnish at all!)
The Jungle Bird recipe is in Dan Murphy’s Cocktail Discovery Guide – edition 2.