Photographs by Tim Miner
I started with a Navy Strength Gin since this drink had to be strong. It also had to be Gin. “Navy Strength Gin” dates back to the British Navy’s spirits ration. All enlisted men and officers were supplied with a daily ration of spirits. Keep up moral, you know. The problem was that now these naval vessels were full (or at least partly full) of barrels of spirits. If one of those barrels were to break open and spill on the gunpowder during a battle then the crew and the ship could be lost. The British navy saw two ways to solve this potential dilemma. Get rid of the spirits (fat chance) or… distill the spirits to 57% alcohol by volume. This is the percentage at which the spirit soaked gunpowder would still ignite. Thus, “Navy Strength” spirits were born. “Navy Strength” is most commonly seen on rum and Gin labels.
But the reference to Chinese rice spirit left me thinking that it couldn’t be Gin alone. I chose Batavia-Arrack to balance the Gin. At 50% alcohol by volume, Arrack is still quite the hefty tipple. It is primarily a sugar cane distillate but it contains 2% red java rice which gives it a lovely starchy quality that really adds depth to a cocktail. Overall the drink averages out at 53.5 ABV (107 proof). You can’t light it on fire, but it’s close.
Lastly I tackled the matter of the pungent smell and oiliness. This is where the fish sauce comes in. I’ve employed it as I would normally use bitters. A few dashes leave a bit of a pungent nose and an added bit of umami on the palate. I wasn’t comfortable in going quite so far as to make a drink that wasn’t enjoyable so I’ve opted for challenging both on the palate and in the matter of alcohol content. This one will definitely leave you looking at things differently.
- 1.5 oz Plymouth Navy Strength Gin
- 1.5 oz Batavia-Arrack Van Oosten
- 3 Dashes Red Boat Fish Sauce
Strain into a chilled cocktail coupe.
Drink quickly to alter perspective on the world.