Lightly muddle mint in shaker, add remaining ingredients & ice, shake and double-strain into a chilled coupe.
Garnish with mint sprig and lime wheel.
In case Halloween costumes, school supplies, and (shudder) pumpkin spice hasn’t rubbed it in your face enough already, I’m here to inform you that the end of summer is upon us. But I shall not go quietly into the progressively longer nights. I’m going to throw my arm around Labor Day’s heirloom-tomato, sweet-corn, fresh-mint shoulders and say, “This is our last weekend together until next year. Let’s make it count.”
There will be swimming. There will be grilling, and, of course, there will be rum.
Earlier this summer, I had a nice chat and some cocktails with Steven Miller, one of the founders of Nauti Spirits Distillery in Cape May, New Jersey, who told me the story of the distillery and sent me some bottles to try.
Cape May is a charming seaside town with a collection of well-preserved Victorian homes second only to San Francisco. If you’re lucky enough to be headed there for Labor Day, check out the distillery. Not only is it situated on the peaceful, sixty-acre preserved farm dedicated to growing sweet potatoes and corn for its spirits, it also has a fun bar serving craft cocktails.
Since South Jersey is not South Louisiana, for their rum, they import the premium American southern molasses that head distiller Veronica Townsend ushers through fermentation and distillation. She finishes the distillate in second-use, 200-liter white oak barrels for 30 to 90 days before bottling on-site.
The brief aging transforms the white rum into what they term a “straw rum”, imparting a light golden hue while adding richness and notes of vanilla. It’s a confident rum that has no problems being alone but gets along well with others, making it perfect for my Labor Day cocktail.
Savoring my waning mint plant, I grab six big leaves, wash them, smack them, then lightly muddle them in the bottom of my shaker. I add 1 ounce of Nauti Spirits Rum and an ounce of Blackwell Jamaican Rum to inject a little funk. To tiki it up a bit, I add a 3/4 ounce of Maggie’s Farm Falernum Liqueur, a clove-forward, rum-based falernum with ginger and lime. Finally, I add 3/4 ounce of lime juice and, for a smoother mouthfeel, 3/4 teaspoon of gum syrup. I add ice, shake, then double-strain into a chilled coupe garnished with a lime wheel and mint sprig.
I tuck a flower and another sprig of mint behind my ear and head into the backyard so the cicadas can serenade me while I toast another luscious summer evening.