Day 80: Myrtle Bank Spritz
"I don't normally join in with these, but I'm so happy to have you all here tonight. There's no way I could let you leave without a toast. While I was making these, I poured an extra drink, and I thought to myself 'I probably shouldn't do it, but I'm not throwing away my shot.' I just had to join you." It was cheesy, but I didn't care. It was such a fun night. This was the toast I gave for the cast of Hamilton, when they had dinner at the restaurant I managed in Manhattan. It's one of those memories nobody can take away, and I've been going back and drawing from those memories lately. We sure could use some happy thoughts after all.
Hello once again, my thirsty readers. I've found myself listening to the Hamilton soundtrack a lot lately. You could say things have been feeling a bit "revolutionary" at the moment. Yesterday, I mentioned the Boston Massacre and how the events around that time sparked revolution in the colonies. It's hard looking back at this time without noting the obvious though, especially when it comes to rum. Let's get uncomfortable.
I probably don't need to mention that the American colonies were built on the backs of slave labor. Most of you probably learned that in history class, but I'm going to talk about it anyways. Some people have apparently forgotten. The Southern states of America, in particular, thrived on their major cash crops, tobacco, cotton, and sugarcane, during the early years. Traveling just a bit further out to sea and a century back, slaves had been brought in from Africa in huge numbers, to work the ever-growing sugar plantations.
In the days of the American colonies, sugar was the preferred indulgence of the wealthy aristocrats of Europe. With the blood and sweat of these "involuntary-workers," sugar was pumping out of the Caribbean and being shipped around the world. On a side note, have any of you ever been in a sugarcane field? It's a hot maze of razor-sharp grass, sometimes towering about you. Do you think the slaves of the colonies were wearing much to cover their skin from the harsh cane? They worked hard, with no pay and under horrible living conditions, but that didn't matter much to those running the plantations, because their slaves harvested so much cane.
Where there's cane, there's eventually sugar, and with all that sugar being processed, there was a lot of molasses left over. Now, as it turns out, if you leave that sticky mess of molasses out in the Caribbean heat, with all of the wild yeast floating through the air, it begins to bubble and change. Take a taste of this, and you might start to feel a bit happy, possibly even forgetting about your current strife. Distill this down to a concentrated form, and you have kill devil, or as we call it today, rum.
Most tropical cocktails are loosely derived from an old formula, coming from the slave songs of those "forced-harvesting" days. We know it as Planter's Punch. "One of sour, two of sweet, three of strong, and four of weak." That's right, the basis for your favorite tiki drinks were first inspired by the work of a people, forced to make rum and sugar, against their will. You have slaves to thank, not only for the rum, but for everything else in that festive mug too.
Now, I'm not saying you shouldn't drink rum or tropical cocktails! I think you should most definitely drink those things, otherwise it would be an insult to the suffering which made it possible. I'm saying to know what you're drinking and where it came from. That way, we can have a better understanding of each other, and maybe you'll truly know who to thank for that umbrella-drink in your hand, because it's certainly not me.
Myrtle Bank Spritz
1oz Overproof Jamaican Rum
.5oz Honey Syrup
.5oz Lime Juice
1oz Pineapple Juice
(2oz Grapefruit Soda)
Combine in blender with 2.5 cups of crushed ice, and blend until smooth.
In snifter, add grapefruit soda, then pour in the cocktail, mixing them together.
Garnish with pineapple fronds, flower, and parasol.
*I wanted to combine two of my favorite refreshing summer flavors for this drink, the Planter's Punch-inspired Myrtle Bank Punch, and the Aperol Spritz.*
As a nation, America can never fully thank the black lives of the past for what they've given us. What we can do though, is fight to make sure their ancestors can enjoy the freedoms they never had. I think that's the absolute least we can do today. I know I want to be better, and I hope we can all be better at this, every single day. I know everybody doesn't feel this way. Some people seem to think the Emancipation Proclamation was enough to make things right. By the way, would you like to know how the restoration of the South was possible, when all the slaves had been freed? Maybe I'll just save that lesson for another day. Stay thirsty, stay angry, and keep shaking.