You’d be forgiven if you haven’t heard of The Ideal Bartender, a 1917 cocktail tome by Tom Bullock that’s considered the first drinks book published by a Black author/bartender (or at least, from what drinks historians can gather).
Inspired by this influential but rare cocktail guide, the Caribbean rum brand Ten To One Rum and Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey just announced both a collaborative bourbon cask-finish rum and a spiritual sequel to Bullock’s drinks book called, natch, Kindred Spirits, available now just as Black History Month begins.
“What Uncle Nearest and [their CEO/founder] Fawn Weaver have done is nothing short of remarkable,” says Ten To One founder Marc-Kwesi Farrell. “When she and I have connected recently, we’re thinking about Black History Month and how we could honor the heritage and foundation of the folks who came before us in this space.
The new illustrated cocktail manual features recipes and stories from 28 BIPOC bartenders and mixologists across the U.S., who utilized both Ten To One and other Black-owned spirits in their creations. (BTW, if you want the original Tom Bullock cocktail book, you can buy it here).
Farrell, born and raised in the Caribbean (and, at one point, the youngest VP at Starbucks ever), has already been using Ten To One as a platform to “elevate consumers’ perception of the rum category,” as he tells InsideHook. Both the rum collaboration and the book seem like natural extensions of the rum brand (now co-owned by Ciara), which launched in 2019.
“Tom Bullock was a pioneer in the category, creating the first known cocktail book by a person of color,” says Farrell. “And you wish more people had a chance to see and read these kinds of books. So fast forward to today — we wanted to get innovative Black bartenders to tell their stories and recipes. There’s 28 of them in the book, one for every day of the month, and each one we have the bartender relate their personal journey and story. The drinks may involve ingredients they had growing up, or something that has to do with their heritage. But we gave everyone a fair amount of latitude.”
One of the contributors is spirits educator, mixologist and author Shannon Mustipher, who released the excellent cocktail book Tiki: Modern Tropical Cocktails a few years back and certainly knows how to use a good rum for a drink. “Over the years, I’ve gotten to know the Ten to One better, and it’s been great to see the brand grow,” as Mustipher tells us. “There’s still a lot of work to continue to bring more attention to the contribution of Black mixologists of today and the past, so I was happy to be a part of the project. It’ll hopefully inspire others to follow in our footsteps.”
The rum collab itself is fantastic — it’s Ten To One’s dark rum given a finish in Uncle Nearest 1856 barrels. You’ll get honey, walnut, creme brûlée, vanilla, black currant and charred oak notes, with the overall product something that’s likely to appeal to both bourbon lovers and rum aficionados.
It’s certainly a versatile expression, which helps account for the unique recipes available in Kindred Spirits — which, side note, is also one of the most readable cocktail books I’ve seen (the layout is uncluttered and thoughtful, and all the syrups and washes are given attention in a separate part of the book). Below, we present a recipe from Kindred Spirits, the Crismus Breeze by Andra “AJ” Johnson (Managing Partner of D.C.’s Serenata, among other places).
“Being able to create cocktails with spirits that are Black-owned has been integral to me finding my voice as a cocktail creator,” says Johnson. “Telling my story through cocktails becomes much easier to do when the product represents my heritage wholly, and with Ten To One I have been able to do that. Contributing my cocktail to this project was an honor and another way for me to continue to express myself in an industry that hasn’t always been so accepting of people of color.”
Johnson describes her cocktail thusly: “With darkness comes clarity. Despite being raised a Jamaican-American, I didn’t grow up knowing a lot about my Jamaican heritage. My late father never spoke much about it. It wasn’t until his father, my Papa Doey passed away that I first met any of my Jamaican relatives. Since then it’s been a dream of mine to travel to Jamaica and spend ‘Crismus’ there. The Crismus Breeze is a direct representation and celebration of my heritage while honoring the journey of discovery we undertake to constantly learn more about who we are and where we come from.”
Expect these types of Ten To One collaborations to become an annual tradition. As Farrell notes: “There aren’t just 28 stories to be told or 28 cocktails to be made.”.
By Andra “AJ” Johnson
- 1.5 oz Ten To One Dark Rum
- .5 oz Pineapple Rum
- .5 oz Allspice Dram
- .5 oz Pineapple Juice
- .5 oz Averna Amaro
- .25 oz Tempus Fugit Creme de Banane
- Garnish: Grated Nutmeg, Dehydrated Pineapple
Add all ingredients to a shaker tin with ice and shake vigorously for 15 to 20 seconds. Strain into a rocks glass over ice. Garnish and serve.
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