Revisiting the Twelve Mile Limit

by Matt Robold on February 10, 2014

You never know when or where inspiration may strike.

The Twelve Mile Limit is a drink I really love, but I have to confess that it’s not one that I often have. Keeping a mental Rolodex of drink recipes that I like in my head can sometimes lead to complete brain lock-up when ordering a cocktail. So in most bars I stick to their menus or default to something like a Daiquiri or Mai Tai.

Twelve Mile Limit

1 oz White Rum
.5 oz Brandy
.5 oz Rye
.5 oz Grenadine
.5 oz Lemon Juice

Shake ingredients with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.  Garnish with a lemon twist.

Not to mention the fact that the Twelve Mile Limit isn’t exactly a drink that most people – even bartenders – have heard of and know how to make. I try to avoid playing Stump The Bartender. It keeps the spittle portion of my cocktails much smaller.

While visiting The Little Sparrow in Santa Ana, I noticed the Twelve Mile Limit on their menu. I was so giddy that I immediately demanded that Seth – my barman for the evening – deliver one to my empty hand. As he turned to get his bottles, I noticed the bottle of Rhum JM Blanc (100 proof) on the back-bar and suddenly the room seemed to freeze as my taste-buds drew up a simulation of what a Twelve Mile Limit would be like with white rhum agricole instead of the usual molasses-based white rums. I waved Seth down and asked for an experiment.

The results? You should always make your Twelve Mile Limit with full proof rhum agricole blanc. Always.

Molasses expires at 11 miles

The play of the agricole against the brandy and rye is just too good. It gives the drink a certain funkiness that you don’t find if you use your usual white rums. Don’t get me wrong, make this drink with something like Caña Brava or El Dorado 3 year old or Plantation 3 Star and you will be in love with the drink. But make this with Rhum JM Blanc, Neisson Blanc, or a 100 proof Clement Blanc and you may find yourself infused with a lust that some would consider unnatural.

Part of the key to this, in my opinion, is that the agricole must be a full 100 proof. Some brands are selling both 100 proof and 80 proof editions of their rhums to make them more palatable to the wider American market. These heretical rhums are still quite good in the Twelve Mile Limit, but not nearly as pungently delicious, so stick to the strong stuff.


I’ve had some people tell me that they’ve tried this recipe and they’re losing the brandy and rye. I looked through my notes and realized that when we made this, we used bonded rye (100 proof/50% abv) and bonded apple brandy in the drink. Leave it to me to forget a key detail like that in my write-up. The higher proof ingredients all stand up to each other without getting crushed by the others, giving you a final recipe of:

Twelve Mile Limit

1 oz Rhum Agricole Blanc
.5 oz Bonded Apple Brandy
.5 oz Bonded Rye
.5 oz Grenadine
.5 oz Lemon Juice

Shake ingredients with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.  Garnish with a lemon twist.

I know there are some people who will insist this is a wholly new drink that needs a new name (cue Forrest, shaking his fist). Personally, I feel that it’s still pretty true to being just a Twelve Miler, just with all the dials turns to eleven.

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