The Queen’s Park Swizzle

The Queen’s Park Swizzle is a variation, and perhaps first incarnation of the standard rum swizzle, originating from Trinidad in the earlier part of the 20th century.  It is fairly similar to a Mojito in terms of ingredients, but has a flavor that sets it completely apart.
The beverage is well balanced, and features a strong aroma of mint, but also cinnamon and other beautiful flavors from the bitters, while simultaneously gathering up the dense, thick viscous smell of demerara rum. It has a wonderful depth of flavor, aroma, tactile sensation with the cool frosty glass, and a beautiful visual appeal when topped with the angostura bitters, creating a layering effect of color.
The Queen’s Park Swizzle originated in the 1920s from the Queen’s Park Hotel, Trinidad (Berry 54).  As far as I can tell, it seems to be the forefather of the modern swizzle; while swizzles have appeared in literature and other documents over a hundred years earlier, most make note of only a drink which is mixed with rum, spruce beer, sugar and water, thus lacking components such as the lime juice or mint (Grose).  While the Swizzle has a long standing history even prior to this specific drink, it does not seemingly include the addition of citrus fruit anywhere, something which is common to Swizzles currently.  Perhaps this is a change of taste in the imbiber over the years, or perhaps it is because the cocktail has become formulated and refined from various avatars of taste, such as the Queen’s Park Swizzle.  On some level, we can even state and pull out that the Mojito in a sense, especially with the use of crushed ice, pulls directly from the same common ancestor of the Swizzle.

Rum wise, you could probably get away with not using a deep rich rum, and use just a dark rum instead, but demerara is where it is at in this cocktail.  Lemon Hart or something such as El Dorado work exceedingly well.  Personally, I prefer the El Dorado 12 year old, since the aging process helps bring out a unique experience with the drink.  The 12 year old is aged in bourbon barrels, imparting sweet notes juxtaposed against tobacco and pepper, making the rum both savory and smoky at the same time.  Furthermore, such complexity of notes assists in the acidity of the lime, which cuts against the sharp harshness and cloyingly rich sweetness of the rum, while giving the mint a place to work and bring about a reviving fresh feeling to the flavor of the cocktail.

For the syrup, you can use simple syrup, but a even richer depth of flavor, try using demerara or turbinado syrup; it adds a depth of complexity which complements a deep demerara rum.  Though, on some level this also augments the flavor of the molasses and hides any nuances the rum might have; but the citrus and other flavors, which turn this from an abundance of liquor into a punch, works wonderfully together. 

Concerning the bitters and aesthetics, the color of the mint offsets the entire drink, and topping the drink with further ice helps to bring together a sense of chill visually that is overly emphasized by an abundance of ice, reminiscent of a sea of icebergs.  The mint contributes to the aroma, but so do the bitters; by adding the bitters in heavy handed dashes over the crushed ice and into the already swizzled drink, you create a layering effect.  Swizzling a little bit on top to help bring the color thoroughly infused in a layer assists in creating a new dimension of aesthetic to a simplistic and refreshing punch.  Furthermore, since most people are going to use a straw to consume it, they are exposed to the changing flavor as the drink gradually decreases, augmenting the overall dimension of flavor within the beverage; however, likewise, consuming it without a straw does the same effect.  Through, one has to be weary of not over using the bitters, since it will harm the balance of the drink as a whole.

Swizzling is an interesting phenomenon, and is one we have not yet discussed.  It is a way of stirring a drink, while not necessarily stirring a drink.  The best example of a swizzle so far, has got to be the mint julep, which sees the use of crushed ice as a way to chill the cocktail, through gently moving the ice throughout the chilled pewter or silver cup.  However, it does not feature the use of a swizzle stick, a product of the tree  Quararibea turbinata, which can be found on Caribbean islands (Robold).  These trees produce branches that have twigs diverging at unified angles, thus allowing a somewhat uniformity in the tool.  Piercing the ice, you can see the stick moving aside the little pebbles of ice, and then moving the branch of the stick by holding it between the palms of your hands and rubbing them together, you can see the beverage move and swizzle.  By moving the stick up and down, you create an effect not unlike an immersion blender, giving the drink a very unique dimension of preparation.  When I said you are not necessarily stirring the drink, this is true, since the liquor, while it moves, does not move fully: the mobility of the flow of the beverage is controlled and micromanaged, unlike with a traditional barspoon and rotary motion.

Personally, I think this cocktail works wonderfully, and is a way to deliver a large amount of liquor, without making it unbearable.  Plus, it is a great alternative to the light and effervescent beast known as the Mojito.

The Queen’s Park Swizzle:
3 ounces demerara rum
3/4 ounce lime juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup
Angostura bitters

 Take half the shell of a lime and the mint and add to the bottom of a tall glass; add then remaining ingredients, then add crushed ice; swizzle the liquid mix with the ice so that the glass becomes cold and frosts over, then top with more ice while garnishing with a sprig of mint.

Berry, Jeff.  2010.  Beachbum Berry Remixed: A Gallery of Tiki Drinks.  San Jose: SLG Publishing.

Grose, Francis. 1788.  A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.  Printed for S. Hooper. (accessed August 31, 2010).

Morphy, J.  1863.  Recollections of a Visit to Great Britain and Ireland in the Summer of 1862.  Publisher: W. Palmer. (accessed August 31, 2010).
Robold, Matt.  2010.  “Cocktail Recipe: Queen’s Park Swizzle.”  Originally published April 14, 2010. (accessed August 31, 2010).  
Wondrich, David.  Esquire Magazine.  “Queen’s Park Swizzle.” (accessed August 31, 2010).