Wednesday, December 30, 2015

A Warm Rain from Louisiana

If you've ever been in Louisiana during a hot, humid tropical rainstorm, you know something of the richness and sticky sensuality of the deep south. The sweetness comes from the fruit, which thrives in the rich black marl of the delta country, and is expressed in the sugar of her bounty. 

Life slows in the wet heat.

Slowness, as Ezra Pound said, is beauty. And sweetness on the tongue is a languorous pleasure that makes most effort and striving seem superfluous. Were we put upon earth to labor and sweat, or to savor the luxury and sumptuous elegance of the good life? 

Sweetness seems it own justification, against the flintier attractions of denial and sacrifice. It may be simply a matter of mood, but even the most stubborn of ascetics cannot measure the extent of their own resignation without a taste of the nut. 

I recently purchased a bottle of a new dark rum, marketed as "Papa's Pilar". The Pilar, as Hemingway fans will recall, was the name the novelist gave to his fishing boat, harbored in the local port adjacent to his finca in Cuba. And, it was also the name given to the female Spanish heroine in his most ambitious novel, For Whom the Bell Tolls. Pilar. 

Imagine it as the inspiration for the spirit of the liquor, and you have some notion of the intention behind its flavor. It's a rich dark molasses taste, with notes of chocolate, coffee, cane, and any tropical fruit you could name (coconut, banana, pineapple, orange, etc.). 

The recipe below captures the essence of the rum's dominant quality, without distracting.  The banana and coconut enhance the rum's dark sugary heart. I guarantee it will knock your socks off. (I've always wondered how that saying came into use. According to an account I found on the internet, "kick your socks off" originated in the American South, where people liked to go barefoot, and the Coca-Cola company used the phrase to promote their soft-drink brand Mountain Dew, in ads which claimed the drink would "knock your socks off.") 

3 parts Papa's Pilar dark rum
1 part sweet French vermouth
1/2 part banana liqueur
1/2 part coconut syrup

1 part fresh lemon juice

Shaken and served up. 

I don't know whether Hemingway enjoyed going shoeless, but it was his habit to take a dip in his swimming pool each afternoon, before drinks and dinner (often with guests). 

Anyway, socks on or socks off, this drink should satisfy the most discriminating of tastes, unless of course you're the sort of person who likes their drinks very dry, and prefers to meditate on an entirely more sophisticated plane, where the pleasures of the body are regarded from a point above and beyond temptation and indulgence.   

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