Memories of molasses

May 12, 2013

For his usual Friday cocktail blogging, Michael Ruhlman went with another drink that uses grenadine. This one also uses key lime, gin and applejack brandy. He’s calling it the Key Sunrise and in his recipe, he was nice enough to suggest using “Mister Sugar pomegranate syrup or other quality grenadine.” He links over to my 2008 post, In the mix, which I’d recently updated to include a howto paragraph about making the pomegranate syrup. And, the accompanying, awesome, photo by Donna Ruhlman features the bottle of grenadine I gave them at Christmas.

In an email exchange with Michael, I explained that I use the grenadine along with Cruzan rum to make the sunburned rum runners mentioned in that earlier post. As soon as I typed that to Michael, I was recalling the smell of molasses.

When I was 13 years old, I lived on the island of St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands. For the first few months there, we lived in Frederiksted, and to get to school each morning, we had to drive by a place where the Cruzan Rum distillery processed molasses. The pungent smell lingered in our car. When I visited the historic Annaberg Plantation on St. John later that year, I was sure I could smell molasses in the old sugar mill ruins.

In the St. Croix airport, in the corner of the arrivals terminal, Cruzan Rum kept a welcoming pitcher of rum punch. I recall walking up to the stand with my visiting grandfather (Frank the Beachcomber) and watching him enjoy a small cup.

Soon after I moved to North Carolina, I discovered that the ABC stores stock Cruzan Rum, and I always have a bottle on hand. Sometimes, I pay extra for the older single-barrel rum. I sip that neat, or with an ice cube. And when the bottle is getting low, I get a few vanilla beans, slit them, put them into a jar and cover them with the remaining rum. Four months later, I have vanilla extract, and when I use it for baking, I smell the vanilla and the rum, and I remember the smells of molasses and the Caribbean.

I’m surprised I never blogged about this, but I did find this definitive tweet:

Anton Zuiker

© 2000 Zuiker Chronicles Publishing, LLC