Monday, July 13, 2009

When Summer Sizzles, It's Time for Swizzles!

Swizzles are fast becoming a favorite drink of mine. Refreshing, with lots of crushed ice, swizzles are notable for being fairly simple mixtures of rum or other spirits, juices and sweeteners, which are then "swizzled" (stirred) until frost forms on the outside of the glass or pitcher.

Traditionally, swizzles are mixed by using a branch of the Swizzlestick tree, Quararibea turbinata, which is spun between the palms of one's hands (picture to the left). Swizzle sticks like this are generally not found in the US, so unless you or a good friend have a trip to Martinique planned in the near future, you'll have to settle for a bar spoon (which works fine, but is certainly less "authentic" feeling)

A good swizzle has a high-ish proof rum/spirit balanced by a nice citrus tang. The use of lots of cracked ice makes it refreshing and makes the drink last a long time. OK, so "a long time" may be an exaggeration, but it certainly lasts longer and delivers substantially more hydration than your typical "up" cocktail.

Swizzling gave me a good opportunity to sample some interesting rums from around the world. It seems as if each Carribbean destination has their own signature brand of swizzle and at least one excellent rum to go along with it. The Rhum Agricole of Martinique, in particular, have piqued my interest and will no doubt be the subject of further exploration in the future.

For this post I'm using Scarlet Ibis (Trinidad) for the Swedizzle, Mount Gay Sugar Cane Rum (Barbados) for the Barbados Red Rum Swizzle, Gosling's Black Seal (Bermuda) for the Bermuda Rum Swizzle, Lemon Hart (Guyana) for the Queen's Park Swizzle and Clément VSOP (Martinique) for the Martinique Swizzle.

Below are recipes for some favorite swizzled tipples including a rare drink of my own invention, the Swedizzle.

1.5 oz rum (used Scarlet Ibis, Appleton V/X would be second choice)
3/4 oz Swedish Punsch
1/2 oz lemon juice
Swizzle with crushed ice (stir until frost forms) in a tall glass.

Chartreuse Swizzle
1¼ oz green Chartreuse
½ oz falernum (Taylor's Velvet)
1 oz pineapple juice
¾ oz lime juice
Swizzle with crushed ice (stir until frost forms) in a tall glass. Garnish with a spring of mint. As an option, add 1/2 oz. Bacardi or J Wray Overproof white rum to kick things up a notch (or two with the J Wray)

Barbados Red Rum Swizzle
2 ounces Barbados rum
1/2 lime
1 dash Angostura bitters
1/4 ounce simple syrup
Swizzle with crushed ice (stir until frost forms) in a tall glass. Recipe from Trader Vic's Bartender's Guide.

Bermuda Rum Swizzle
2 ounce dark rum (Gosling's Black Seal)
1 ounce lime juice
1 ounce pineapple juice
1 ounce orange juice
1/4 ounce falernum
Swizzle with crushed ice (stir until frost forms) in a tall glass. Recipe from Robert Hess.

Queen's Park Swizzle
3 oz Demerara rum (Lemon Hart)
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1/2 oz rich sugar syrup (demerara or turbinado sugar)
juice of 1/2 lime
8-10 mint leaves
Muddle mint leaves in the bottom of the glass. Add remaining ingredients and swizzle with crushed ice (stir until frost forms) in a tall glass. Recipe from Imbibe Magazine.

Apple Swizzle
1.5 oz. Apple Brandy (Laird's Bonded)
0.75 oz. white rum
1 oz. lime juice
1 tsp sugar
5 dashes Angostura bitters
Swizzle with crushed ice (stir until frost forms) in a tall glass. Recipe from CocktailDB.

Martinique Swizzle
2 oz. Martinique rum
1/2 lime
1 dash Angostura bitters
1/2 oz. simple syrup
scant tsp pastis or Herbsaint
Swizzle with crushed ice (stir until frost forms) in a tall glass. Recipe adapted from Trader Vic's Bartender's Guide.

Notes: My favorite of the Carribbean swizzles has to be the Queen's Park Swizzle. While it originated in Trinidad, Demerara rum is traditional as Trinidad did not really ramp up rum production until after WWII (according to cocktail guru Dale Wondrich).

All of these swizzles make a damn fine drink. I had to tweak the Martinique swizzle a bit to downplay the pastis, balance the sweetness and allow the rum flavor to be noticed. The Bermuda rum swizzle is the fruitiest of the bunch, but definitely a worthwile pursuit. The Swedizzle, Chartreuse Swizzle and Apple Swizzle are all variations on the Carribbean theme, using interesting, if non-standard ingredients, that come together well.

But don't just take my word for it, get to swizzling!


  1. Curses, Matt! I'm dying to try all these but I find every recipe to have one ingredient that I've never heard of before. You're like the McGyver of the mix drink world, leaving out or adding in something crucial so that the Average Joe cannot copy your material. I'm off to purchase a mixed drink dictionary now. Going to make the Queen's Park tonight. Sounds yummy.

  2. Beky, When you run across this type of situation in the future, please follow these steps (in exact order):

    1) Stop on by our house and pick up ingredient
    2) Repeat as necessary

  3. Off now to inquire whether or not the Huntington has a Quararibea turbinata tree...stay tuned.

  4. Rachel, I'm excited to find out. Am I allowed into the Huntington with Felcos in-hand?

  5. Great blog, I believe you mean David Wondrich!