Mixology Monday: Repeal Day & The Rum Runners

by Matt Robold on December 3, 2007

Well, I’ve decided to start taking part in the Mixology Monday (hosted by Jeffery Morgenthaler) bazaar of posts and articles, and this month’s is a topic near and dear to my heart: Repeal Day.

That’s right, December 5th is (in the USA) the anniversary of the day that the 18th Amendment was repealed, once again allowing alcohol to flow through the streets in people instead of from broken casks down the gutters and into the sewers where only the rats and cockroaches could enjoy a decent martini.

Drawing inspiration from the times and the fact that this blog is (mostly) concerned with rum, I thought I’d take the opportunity to review the drink known as the Rum Runner.

During Prohibition, people that illegally smuggled alcohol into the US were known either as bootleggers or rum runners.  The most famous rum runner of them all was one William McCoy, who was well known for not watering down his liquor when he delivered it (a dastardly and evil practice that was all-too-common amongst the other runners of his day).  The fact that his booze was never watered down actually led to the coining of the phrase “The Real McCoy”.

Inspired by McCoy’s profession, I decided to have a Repeal Day party and serve different Rum Runner recipes to friends.  Unfortunately my friends don’t seem to actually like me, and instead prefer to help their families move, recover from illness, or continue to sleep off hangovers from the previous evening.

Instead of a lot of people, I ended up having a quiet evening with my wife and brother.  So instead of writing up about a lot of Rum Runners, I offer this comparison of 2 recipes and even a slight tweak I made to one of them to make it more palatable.

Recipe #1: Tom’s Rum Runner

1 1/2 oz light rum
3/4 oz blackberry brandy
3/4 oz banana liqueur
1/4 oz grenadine syrup
1 1/2 oz orange juice
1 1/2 oz pineapple juice
fill with ice
1 oz Meyer’s® dark rum

This recipe was pretty good.  I don’t keep Meyers in the house, so I substituted Appleton Estate Extra (12yo).  For the white rum I used Oronoco (again, great cocktails require great ingredients).  It was somewhat fruity, but not too bad.  I didn’t personally care for the amount of banana liqueur that I could taste, but that could have been the liqueur I used, which was a small local brand from Papeete, Tahiti that my wife acquired during our trip in April.   My brother and I both agreed it “wasn’t bad”, and I finished it without too much trouble.

Recipe #2: Rum Runner Island Style (whatever that means)

1 oz Dark Rum (Meyer’s)
1 oz Light Rum (Bacardi)
1/2 oz Blackberry Brandy
1/4 oz Banana Liqueur
1 Splash Grenadine
1 Splash Rose’s Sweetened Lime Juice

Again, I substituted Appleton Extra for the Meyers, and Oronoco for the Bacardi.  I don’t use Rose’s sweetened lime juice – if you can help it you should ALWAYS use real, fresh limes.  If you’re not cutting the lime and squeezing the juice yourself, you’re making an inferior cocktail.  Bottled lime juice is only for use after enough cocktails render the use of a knife too dangerous to be tolerated.

This recipe called for all the ingredients to be mixed in the blender with ice and then served like a blended daiquiri or margarita.  I’m not the biggest fan of blended drinks.  This concept made me unhappy.  The drink was…well it was barely OK.  It really relies on the ice to provide some balance to the combating flavors, and in my opinion the ice was not up to the challenge.  This drink I couldn’t finish.  I’m sure that, had my wife not been busy experimenting with her own various drinks (she made a coffee-flavored rum drink that I should post here some time) to engage in my experiment.

There was potential here though.  I took this latter recipe and doubled the ingredients to better fill a shaker.  I then added ice and about 2 shots of pineapple juice (from a can, I’m big on getting fresh juice, but it’s rather difficult to keep pineapples sitting around the kitchen for drinks), shook the ingredients until frothy, and then poured into a tiki mug.  I took a sip and felt that I had a winner.

Brother’s reaction: “Whoa, this is good.  This is a LOT better than those other two.”  I heartily agreed.  The flavors all seemed to blend nicely.  While you could taste each of the flavors of the liqueurs and fruit juices and even still taste the rum, nothing seemed out of place.  I finished my drink, confident that this would become part of my summer repertoire.  Of course, after finishing the drink my confidence in my ability to successfully navigate our stairs was another matter.

Dood’s Rum Runner:

2 oz Dark Rum (Appleton Extra)
2 oz Light Rum (Oronoco)
1 oz Blackberry Brandy
1/2 oz Banana Liqueur
1 Splash Grenadine
Juice of 1 lime
2 oz Pineapple Juice


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