Today I would like to break a little with the established convention to start my blog articles with the review of one or more bottles. Instead, I want to start directly with the cocktail and afterwards go into details about some of the spirits I’ve used. The reason is simply that the drink is something special and therefore needs or deserves a few words of explanation. Howsoever: the Dead Wid Laugh is more than it seems to be. (provided test products)*
In order to have an orientation about what it is all about and what is contained in this drink, the recipe is listed below:
Recipe “Dead Wid Laugh”:
3.5 cl Navy Island Jamaica Rum Navy Strength
2.25 cl Rinomato Bitter Scuro
2 cl Belsazar Red Vermouth
1.5 cl Hoos Cold Brew Cacao Coffee Liqueur
2 dashes Dr. Sours Papa Moi Bitters
8 drops of salt solution (see below)
Salt solution: Shake 20g of salt with 80ml of water in a container until the liquid has become clear and the salt has dissolved.
Preparation: Stir all ingredients in a mixing glass on ice until cold and finally strain into the pre-chilled glass. Sprinkle with the oil of an orange zest.
Garnish: orange zest
At first glance, you might appropriately think of a variation of the Boulevardier or Negroni – and in fact, I love both cocktails to pieces and wouldn’t mind such drinks at all. But in the end, the combination of Jamaican rum, this very coffee liqueur, the Rinomato bitters and the Dr. Sours bitters in combination with the salt solution makes for a taste picture that is quite far removed from the obvious.
The name of the drink comes from a Jamaican expression that describes something funny, or when something unexpectedly makes you laugh. And that’s exactly what happened to me when I first tasted the drink: although no liquorice-based ingredient is included, the drink creates a clear and very exciting liquorice experience on the palate. The finish in particular seems to bring out liquorice and ammonia notes that I myself had not expected to find in the original creation process. Along with a vinous, fruity and appealingly bitter character, I immediately fell in love with the drink. Navy Island Rum recognizably plays first fiddle, yet there is much more here in the glass than meets the eye or meets the mind. I suspect that the drink should really only work with these ingredients. Replacing the rum will certainly distort the core of the whole thing, nor should Campari be used instead of Rinomato Bitter Scuro under any circumstances, as the latter is without question very unique (see below). Heiko Hoos’ coffee liqueur is also very unique and contributes significantly to the liquorice illusion of the Dead Wid Laugh Cocktail with its bitter notes of cold-brewed coffee. So let’s take a closer look at the ingredients:
Navy Island Navy Strength Rum is a one hundred percent pot still distilled blend of eleven different rums of varying ages. Behind the rum is the Navy Island Rum Company from Amsterdam, which has been successfully selling its Navy Island Rum Blend (which is also available as XO Reserve) for several years. Unfortunately, you don’t really find out which Caribbean island distilleries are behind the rums in this blend, but at any rate, with its 57% vol. it promises to prepare the ground for a solid Jamaican experience.
Tasting Notes “Navy Island Rum Navy Strength”:
Aroma: Of course, this is not an exuberant single cask bottling from Hampden Distillery and those who are used to the higher priced segment of Jamaican ester bombs won’t be bludgeoned by those very ester notes here, but they are unquestionably and clearly there nonetheless. This rum tells you right from the start: I’m Jamaican. To whom this description now seems little euphoric, I can nevertheless assure that I really like the aroma of the Navy Island Rum Navy Strength. I mention this only because “ester bomb” or related terms have meanwhile experienced a small shift in meaning and one can quickly disappoint some rum friends with it. Or – to put it in whisky language: if you drink Octomore every day, you might not want to describe a Highland Park as “peaty.”
Well then, they are there, notes of glue and fermented fruits for which Jamaican rums are so appreciated, bananas, some pineapple, plums as well as honey and vanilla. With time, some caramel comes to the fore as well as subtle associations of cinnamon. A thoroughly complex and appealing Jamaican.
Taste: The palate initially shows less fruit, but much more barrel. Spicy notes with slight bitter notes dominate at first, but then immediately bring the vanilla and a little chocolate on board. Then fruit notes are also there, here it’s more plums and dried fruit that stand out to me. A very nice rum, the increased alcohol content transports intense flavor nuances and is still very pleasant to drink.
Finish: long, strong, spicy.
Rinomato Bitter Scuro is an Italian bitter from the Asti region of Piedmont. Giancarlo Mancino, who is a bartender himself and has also made a name for himself as the creator of the Mancino vermouth (I especially love the Mancino Chinato), created this bitter as a tribute to the tradition of Piedmontese aperitifs based on bitter liqueur. With an abv of 23% and with a presumed fruity-bitter flavor profile (more on that below), it promises to be a full-on alternative to Campari and can certainly be used innovatively in typical Campari drinks as an intentional substitute.
Tasting Notes “Rinomato Bitter Scuro”:
Aroma: A very interesting aroma and definitely clearly different from other comparable bitters. I initially find a very wine-like base characteristic with notes of red berries (raspberries, blackberries), rose hips, hibiscus and some clove. Distantly, one aspect of Rinomato Bitter Scuro is reminiscent of a mulled wine, but not entirely. Also in the mix are nice tones of orange peel and some tangerine.
Taste: The palate also has a lot of notes from the nose, there are berries, orange peel, cloves and definitely the hibiscus. Some sweetness shows up, but wrestles directly with the beautiful and deep bitter notes with associations of gentian roots and cinchona bark.
Finish: very nice and dry, with the aftertaste of spiced wine.
And then there’s Heiko Hoos’ Cold Brew Cacao Coffee Liqueur, or simply Hoos Coffee Liqueur. Only recently I reported here about the Hoos Sal Miakki and in the course of this I once again emphasized Hoos’ remarkable one-man activity. With his Coffee Liqueur he now jumps on the currently rolling train of new coffee liqueurs. An abv of 25% bestows a promising alcohol strength upon the liqueur.
Tasting Notes “Hoos Coffee Liqueur”:
Aroma: The nose is indeed already very reminiscent of a mocaccino, which is hardly surprising given the coffee-chocolate agenda. Nevertheless, one notices quite quickly that a somewhat fruitier Cold Brew was used as the basis here. The roasted aromas of the coffee are accentuated by a certain fruitiness, which is picked up nicely by the dark chocolate tones. A hint of sweetness is foreshadowed.
Taste: On the palate, that sweetness is there, though it’s not too prominent. We are dealing here with a liqueur that combines the appealing bitter tones of a roasted coffee with dark chocolate – and that is exactly what it does extremely well. Once again, mocaccino is the word that runs through my mind; Heiko Hoos could easily have named his liqueur “Hoos Mocaccino Liqueur”.
Finish: medium long with sweetness, roasted aromas and light hints of red berries.
Buying sources: At specialized retailers or online
*The fact that these products have been sent to me free of charge for editorial purposes does not – in any way – imply any influence on the content of this article or my rating. On the contrary, it is always an indispensable condition for me to be able to review without any external influence.