There I was, a full hour into my drive from the North-East Bay to San Francisco, and I wasn't even on the Bay Bridge yet. I was sitting in traffic purgatory for having forgotten that 49ers were playing at Candlestick for Monday Night Football, and for the serious miscalculation of the number of early Thanksgiving travelers that would be on the road to the airports. Passing by an almost comedic number of stalled cars (I counted five on the bridge alone), it was another hour plus before I finally arrived to meet my group at Smuggler's Cove. I've never needed a cocktail more in my life.
Normally a shot would be in order, but I needed something with more conceptual-transportive power, rather than brute alcohol strength. Something with a little paper umbrella.
The tall and tropical Port Au Prince ($10, Rhum Barbancourt Five Star, lime, pineapple juice, Velvet Falernum, grenadine, Angostura Bitters) was the perfect antidote to too much time in slow traffic. A classic tiki drink from the 1930's named after the Haitian capital, Don the Beachcomber created it to showcase Haitian rum, a variety that can be made from either cane juice or molasses (though usually fresh cane).
Smuggler's Cove owner and tiki expert Martin Cate came across the recipe in Beachbum Berry's Sippin' Safari, and really liked how well it profiled the flavors of the rhum, though with his own modifications. "The original recipe called for equal parts aged Virgin Islands rum and Rhum Barbancourt," noted Cate, adding that, "at the Cove we make it with 100% Rhum Barbancourt Five Star."
The five-year-old rhum has just enough cane funk complimented with the oak barrel aging flavors of vanilla, spice and brown sugar. Cate also notes that by using the rhum, "in a very small way, I am helping out by buying a lot of Haitian Rhum and keeping people working at Rhum Barbancourt while they continue to struggle with earthquake recovery."
A cocktail that makes you feel good on the inside two ways, and undoes the tension of endlessly slow traffic? Pure tiki magic.
Port Au Prince (adapted by Smuggler's Cove)
1 ½ oz. Rhum Barbancourt Five Star
½ oz. Lime juice
½ oz. Pineapple juice
½ oz. Velvet Falernum
¼ oz. Simple syrup
Dash Angostura Bitters
Pulse all ingredients with crushed ice for two seconds in a blender (do not make slushy). Serve in a pilsner glass.
Martin Cate notes: "If you were looking for an alternative [to Rhum Barbancourt], I'd try an aged Rhum Agricole, such as Neisson Eleve Sous Bois or Clement VSOP."
Smuggler's Cove, 650 Gough (at McAllister), 869-1900