There I was, a full hour into my drive from the northeast Bay to San Francisco, and I wasn't even on the Bay Bridge yet. I was sitting in traffic purgatory, having forgotten that 49ers were playing at Candlestick for Monday Night Football, and seriously miscalculated the number of early Thanksgiving travelers that would be on the road to the airports. Passing an almost comedic number of stalled cars, it was another hour before I finally arrived to meet my group at Smuggler's Cove. I've never needed a cocktail more in my life.
Normally a shot would be in order, but I wanted something with more transportive power, rather than brute alcohol strength. Something with a little paper umbrella.
The tall and tropical Port Au Prince ($10, Rhum Barbancourt Five Star, lime, pineapple juice, Velvet Falernum, grenadine, Angostura bitters) was the perfect cure for what ailed me. A classic 1930s tiki drink named after the Haitian capital, Don the Beachcomber created it to showcase Haitian rum, a variety that can be made from either cane juice or molasses (though usually fresh cane).
Smuggler's Cove owner and tiki expert Martin Cate came across the recipe in Beachbum Berry's Sippin' Safari, and really liked how well it profiled the flavors of the rhum, though with his own modifications. "The original recipe called for equal parts aged Virgin Islands rum and Rhum Barbancourt," noted Cate, adding that "at the Cove we make it with 100 percent Rhum Barbancourt Five Star."
The 5-year-old rhum has just enough cane funk complemented by the oak barrel-aging flavors of vanilla, spice, and brown sugar. Cate says that by using the liquor, "in a very small way, I am helping out by buying a lot of Haitian rhum and keeping people working at Rhum Barbancourt while they continue to struggle with earthquake recovery."
A cocktail that makes you feel good two ways, and undoes the tension of endlessly slow traffic? Pure tiki magic.