How to Make a Navy Grog
In 1993 the Bum was living on the beach at Playa Del Rey, California, and hanging out at a place called the Sampan. Once a posh Chinese restaurant frequented by flush suburbanites, its clientele had dwindled to a trickle of bikers, surfers, and the occasional displaced tourist. The owner, a grouchy old guy named Dennis Quan, had little time for them or us, but one afternoon he made a Navy Grog that was so good, by the time we finished it we could swear there was a halo over his head. Quan wouldn’t tell us his secret, but when we watched him make our next one, we saw him heat a teacup full of honey in his toaster oven, then pour a measure of the honey -- now in a more cocktail-friendly liquid state -- into his blender.
Aha! We’d seen drink recipes calling for honey, but none of them explained how to use it without leaving a sticky, undissolved clump in your glass. So we happily applied Quan’s method to drinks in the 1998 Grog Log, even though having to heat the stuff was inconvenient -- as was having to pre-mix it with other ingredients before blending, to avoid it solidifying again on contact with ice. Four years later, we found a 1950 U.S. Navy charity cookbook to which Don The Beachcomber had donated this formula: heat equal parts honey and water till the honey dissolves, then cool it, bottle it, and store it in the fridge, where it will remain in a liquid state. Voila: easy-to-use honey, available at a moment’s notice. We revised the Log’s Navy Grog recipe to take advantage of this syrup; now you can quickly shake up your honeyed Grog, instead of having to use heat and a blender.
To make a Navy Grog, place in your shaker 3/4 ounce each fresh lime juice, white grapefruit juice, and club soda; 1 ounce each gold Demerara rum, dark Jamaican rum, and white Cuban or Puerto Rican rum; and 1 ounce honey mix (see above). Shake with ice, then strain into a glass containing your ice cone.
“Ice cone,” you say? This was the signature garnish for the Navy Grog in Tiki bars and restaurants around the country for many years, but no one ever bothered to publish how it’s done. In the mid-1990s, an ex-Don The Beachcomber bartender named Tony Ramos told the Bum to pack a pilsner glass with finely shaved ice, run a chopstick through the middle to make a hole for the straw, gently remove the cone from the glass, and then freeze the cone overnight. Almost a decade later, another veteran Tiki bartender named Bob Esmino revealed that the Kon-Tiki restaurant chain had a metal cone-mold made specifically for the Navy Grog, to make a perfect cone every time -- one that fit perfectly in to a double old-fashioned glass, which the pilsner cone did not do. The Bum passed this secret along to the folks at Cocktail Kingdom, who have now faithfully re-created the bespoke mold.
For more on the Cocktail Kingdom Navy Grog ice-cone mold: