An earlier version of this post was one of the first blog posts I wrote back in October 2014. I’ve edited it and focused the writing a bit but the cocktail and general gist are the same. The original is still available for your reading pleasure here.
Like many non-Mennos out there, my first mixed drink was the classic Rum and Coke. Easy to mix, easy to drink and easy to order in a bar. It was also the perfect form of rebellion against my upbringing.
The Rum and Coke was my adolescent rebellion drink but not because of the alcohol. My parents didn’t drink much when I was growing up but they weren’t morally opposed to alcohol. They weren’t in favour of drunkenness (sorry, Mom) but had nothing against people drinking in moderation.
Coke was another matter. Coca-cola was never in my house when I was growing up. Admittedly, this was partly because my mother just didn’t care for the taste. My father did. He remembered drinking cherry Coke and playing Sioux City Sue over and over again on the juke box in the late 40s or early 50s when he was a young man in Southern Manitoba. By the 1970s when I was on the scene, however, Cherry Coke was no longer in the market (it may have been a soda shop drink back in the day) and, more importantly, he would already have learned about the evils of multinationals like Coca-Cola. We weren’t huge into food activism in those days; but we knew enough to stay away from Nestle and Coke.
So drinking a rum and Coke had an extra wordliness to it, that another mixed drink couldn’t match. I guess it’s not surprising that a first drink should have a guilty conscience attached to it. Rebelling against a family devoted to a life of integrity involves a certain lack of integrity. I’m not sure if feeling I was drinking something evil (again, I’m not talking about the alcohol here) was part of the appeal.
At any rate, I grew up and stopped drinking Coke again because my conscience came back and I decided I didn’t want to destroy the lives and water supply of people who live in Northern India. Ethical consumerism has its price.
Happily, I have recently found a work-around in a craft-brewed Cola. I could, in fact, go whole hog and make my own. The recipe’s all over the internet since it was featured on NPR in the US in 2011. Making something from scratch is a highly esteemed Mennonite value so I was sorely tempted. Especially because of how smug I could feel afterwards! But I am lazier and less frugal than most self-respecting Mennonites so I hoofed it to my local artisanal health food store instead. Not bad.
Of course, if we spend this much time thinking about the cola used in this cocktail, you may be wondering about the provenance of the rum. Good for you! Such overthinking is entirely to your credit; you are on your way to honorary Mennonite status. The rum I used is from a bottle of Bacardi’s that’s been in my liquor cabinet/old bookcase in the basement since before my conscience came back to life. It is only frugal of me to use it up. However, if you don’t have a bottle that needs finishing, by all means search out some fair trade rum. I haven’t tried it but expect that the sense of superiority that will come with drinking it would be delicious enough.
I found a couple of recipes online that suggested adding Amaretto to bring out the cherry flavour. Sure enough, it’s pretty good. Though the Cherry Coke taste does make me a little maudlin over my Dad, who died a couple of years ago. You probably won’t have that problem. Amaretto’s not labeled fair trade but it’s made in Italy and as far as I can make out none of their human rights issues relate to the almond harvest or treatment of Amaretto distillers. I think we have the all clear.
- Fill your glass about a quarter of the way up with Fair Traded rum or whatever rum you have lying around the house. White or dark, spiced or plain — it doesn’t really matter that much.
- Add a good schlop of Amaretto.
- Fill the glass about 3/4 full with artisanal, locally-made or homemade cola.
- Add ice.