Celebrate National Rum Day With This Take On A Cocktail Classic

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cocktail_column_slide_annaIllustrated by Anna Sudit.
We all know the Dark 'n' Stormy, and it's not a stretch to say it's universally beloved. Several years ago, the highball became my drink of choice, a mature alternative to my friends' so unsophisticated Jack and gingers or rum and Cokes. In my eyes, this cocktail was light, crisp, and incredibly exotic — because, really, Bermuda rum is no Bacardi Silver. That was all enough to get my city-girl heart when bellying up at a grimy dive in Madison, Wisconsin.

But, after a handful of semesters throwing back the beverage, I was done. No more Gosling's. Farewell, little, black seal. My palette just couldn't do that rum-and-ginger combo anymore. Until I met the Imperial Buck.

Courtesy of Sam Ross, formerly of New York City's Milk & Honey and now of Attaboy, this cocktail takes the Dark 'n' Stormy and turns it up to 11 by substituting Bermuda rum for molasses-y, maple-y black strap and adding fresh pineapple juice. Then, the drink hits next-level status with the use of real, sweetened ginger juice in the stead of ginger beer. Simple edits, sure, but they offer big payoffs: The result is a richer, spicier, fuller take on Bermuda's national cocktail.

Fortunately, like the D&S, this drink is incredibly easy to compose. The trickiest part here is the sweetened ginger juice. If you live near a juice bar, stop in to pick up the spicy stuff (as well as the pineapple — fresh juice is always better) and sweeten at home: Combine four parts ginger juice with three parts sugar, heating slightly to fully dissolve the sugar. How much you mix up obviously depends on how many Imperial Bucks you want to make — which is a lot. Just remember, this will keep best for about three days; after that, it will lose its potency.

If you want to avoid all the hassle (though, it's worth it), you can of course find ginger beer at any grocery store — Fever-Tree is a solid substitute. If you choose this option, simply forgo the ginger juice and club soda.

Here's how you can recreate the Imperial Buck at home.

Imperial Buck

Ingredients
2 oz Cruzan Black Strap rum
1 oz pineapple juice
1/2 oz lime juice
3/4 oz sweetened ginger juice
Club soda
Pineapple wedge (for garnish, optional)
Candied ginger (for garnish, optional)

Instructions
1. Add all ingredients to a shaker (except club soda), and shake quickly without ice.
2. Pour into iced Collins glass, and top with cold club soda.
3. Garnish with pineapple wedge or candied ginger.