Coconut rum

September 29, 2010

I read a lot of cocktail blogs. Most days, this involves slogging through typically unremarkable drink recipes, enthusiastic odes to ridiculous methods, and prompts to buy said book, go to said bar, or sample said liquor.  But every once in a while, there comes inspiration. This one I must fully attribute to Cocktail Virgin Slut, as the mere mention of coconut rum brings to mind Malibu along with consequent shudders of revulsion.  What better reason to make my own though?  And really, what girl can resist the thought of a corked coconut in her closet?

So, as Frederic glossed over the labor involved, I shall go through a play-by-play of my adventure.  First step, of course, was to go buy a coconut and a white rum worth imbuing with coconutty goodness.  I chose Wray and Nephew Overproof, as I love that Jamaican funk and I had to buy some for a batch of falernum anyway.  Next step:  harassing the friend endowed with a drill to loan it to me, with the risk of destroying a drill bit.  And then, after scrubbing all my tools thoroughly, the fun begins!

I made sure to select a man-made cork from my used cork collection – one from a white, so there was no residual stain or scent.  I traced around the cork over one eye of the coconut, where the husk is thinner, then proceeded to drill a series of holes just inside that circle with a 1/8″ bit (remember, better to drill too small and trim than drill too big and leak).  Using a small bit rather than a large one such as 1/2″ or 5/8″ does seem slower, but I am a fan of drilling multiple times over spending a lot of time trimming to fit.  The drilling process is easier if you have a firm support for the coconut – a spare hand or a snugger bowl would have helped me out, and I will make sure to have a better system next time.

Once you have a fair number of holes drilled, drain the coconut water out.  My coconut yielded a little over 8 ounces of water, which I then filtered with a coffee filter to remove any scraps of husk and meat.  I see some delicious cocktails in the near future!

Next, I used a chisel and mallet to break out the center bit of husk left, making sure not to damage the meat as much as possible, since it helps keep scraps out of the nut.  I tidied the edges as much as possible with the chisel and moved on to a utility knife, which allowed me good control whittling away the remaining rough bits.  During all this, I continually checked the cork against the opening to make sure it would be a snug fit.  Finally, when I felt the husk was trimmed sufficiently, I found a knife with a narrow blade and cut out the meat still plugging the hole.  Notice that the hole in the meat is slightly smaller than that in the husk – I plan to rely on the meat to seal up the nut against air.  One last check to make sure all the coconut water is out, a final check on the cork fit, then time for a rinse.

After rinsing all the random scraps out of the nut, it’s time to fill ‘er up.  I first started with the same quantity of water that I dumped out – 8 ounces.  However, it’s a waste to have air space, as I want my rum to be in contact with as much meat as possible and soak up all those delicious oils, so after pouring in the initial cup of rum, I removed the funnel, pulled out a flashlight, and free-poured in 1/2 ounce increments.  Doing this, I fit another 5 1/2 ounces of rum before the level got uncomfortably close to the bottom of the meat at the hole edge.  And now, to cork!

First, I measured the thickness of the husk and the coconut meat and marked it on the cork, so I could be sure that I got the cork in at least the full thickness of the coconut meat.  Then I aligned the cork and pounded it in part way.  Once it is partially in, it becomes easier to push it in by hand, as the meat yields much better to steady pressure.  Some of the liquid soaked into the meat starts to escape a bit around the cork at this point, but have faith, and get it in all the way either by pushing it in, or pounding it in with a mallet.  And here’s the magic – dry up that bit of escaped liquid, turn it upside down, and admire the results – no leakage!  The moisture in the coconut meat helps to seal it up around the cork, so it should be just about set now.  For good measure (and because I hate losing that angel’s share), I wrapped it all up in plastic wrap, with a rubber band right at the cork seal, and another at the circumference to help prevent the seal drying out.  And now, to tuck it in my nice, dark, temperature-stable closet, and wait 6 months!I have decided that, should this experiment work, I will find a friend with a yard that can be dug up annually, and every September 19th we shall all dig up buried treasure, bury more, and carouse with fresh coconut rum in a truly piratical nature.