Monday, September 10, 2012

Back 2 School Booze: Captain Morgan and Diet Coke

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Being a student at Oregon State University was a transformative time for me. I met the woman I'm going to marry, became the first person in my family to graduate from college, gained the skills needed to be successful in graduate school and my career, and I started drinking. That last part is especially important because had that never happened, I wouldn't be a somewhat respected online beverage journalist.

You see, before coming to OSU, I had never really drank. There was one time in high school (fuck you, HRD vodka), but other than that I really had no interest in it. Everything I had drank up until that point pretty much tasted like crap and I wasn't much into suffering through cheap vodka or light beer just to get drunk. That all changed when I turned 21 and the entire world of alcohol became accessible.

That's totally me in the middle on a typical night in college
So what was my drink of choice? Captain Morgan and Diet Coke from a Nalgene bottle. I honestly can't remember why or when I got hooked on Captain Morgan, but the Captain became my first liquor-based BFF.  I also have no idea why I thought it tasted so good because I can't stand the stuff now.  Before we go any further, let's consult Wikipedia about my previously-favorite spiced rum:
In 1984, Captain Morgan Original Spiced rum was introduced to the United States. Captain Morgan is, by volume, the second largest brand of spirits in the United States, and the seventh largest worldwide. In 2007, 7.6 million 9-liter cases were sold. Most Captain Morgan rum is sold in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, South Africa, and Global Travel

Although the pirate Henry Morgan is a figure of Jamaican culture, the Seagram's Captain Morgan Rum is labeled as a product of Puerto Rico, whereas the Captain Morgan Rum produced by J. Wray and Nephew Ltd. is labeled as a "product of Jamaica."

Captain Morgan's Rum is distilled from sugar cane. The combination of the type of yeasts employed for fermentation, distillation method, aging conditions, and blending determines the characteristic flavor of rum. Made with molasses, water, mash and yeast, Captain Morgan Original Spiced rum is distilled in a continuous still. Once distilled, the clear spirit is aged in oak barrels for up to a year, adding a golden color and character to the rum before the flavors and spices are added. The brand’s taste is achieved through a proprietary recipe, which is blended into the rum mixture at the final stages of production, making use of spices indigenous to the Caribbean Islands.
The Diet Coke served two purposes. The first, albeit least important purpose, is that Diet Coke is my all time favorite beverage. I'd exclusively drink Diet Coke if I didn't think I'd die of cancer the next day. The most important reason is that 21-year-old Rick was convinced that mixing booze with diet soda meant that you wouldn't get hung over. While I still believe there is an ounce of truth to this, there were still definitely a few hung over mornings involved.

Don't even act like you wouldn't get thirsty walking across all four blocks
Why a Nalgene? Being a college student in Corvallis meant you'd often be on the move, so why not take the party with you? A Nalgene meant that cops wouldn't think twice about me carrying a container of alcohol around and since it had a lid, it meant it wasn't an open container (or so was my logic at the time). I wouldn't have to worry about dropping my drink either since you can run a Nalgene over with a car! The BPA may have added a little kick as well, but that has yet to be tested.

So how do you make this monstrosity?  Behold:

Official Recipe
  • Get a Nalgene bottle
  • Fill half way with ice
  • Pour in Captain Morgan until ice is completely covered
  • Fill to rim with Diet Coke
  • Close Nalgene and enjoy your party on-the-go
I'm going to do this review a couple of ways. I'll cover Captain Morgan by itself and then in cocktail form.

I probably should have worn the helmet when drinking this stuff
Captain Morgan
You know you're in for a treat when something you're imbibing has a pirate on the label. The spirit itself comes in a light golden color, which is very similar to tequila. Hues of 70 proof rubbing alcohol and faint sugary coconut exude when poured by itself with little or no hint of spices. Perhaps that's the "other natural flavors"? Heed this as a warning as each sip tastes exactly as it smells. After being greeted with a dose of what tastes like fire, sugar and molasses flavors float across your inflamed taste buds. After the sweetness subsides, the fire taste sticks around for a bit longer.

Why am I doing this?
Since I don't have my old OSU Nalgene anymore, I had to improvise. Alyssa won't let me make cocktails in her orange Nalgene, so instead I'll be using an OSU stadium cup. The cheap plastic probably has BPA too, so I'm really hoping I get a genuine experience out of this. Unbeknownst to me, a horrifying fact about this experiment is that the entire half pint I bought is exactly what was needed to cover the ice. Ugh.

The smell of this cocktail is actually quite pleasant. The Diet Coke completely cuts out the rubbing alcohol fumes and only sweet notes of sugary deliciousness come through. Like a shark, the Captain waits below the surface for an opportune time to attack. Turns out, that time is exactly when you decide to drink it. While not as awful as I remember it being last time I tried, I just can't get past how boozy this drink is. The Captain hits you full force while surfing the Diet Coke like a goddam wave. The same flavors exist, although this time they kind of get stuck to the roof of your mouth. Even worse is when the carbonation leads to fire-laced burps that remind you of your mistake all over again.

Final Thoughts
The best part about getting older is that most of us actually get wiser. I feel like this is actually the case for me. Not only do I no longer make cocktails that can kill me, but I drink much better offerings at a more responsible pace.  While I will always cherish those precious moments between the Captain and I, that ship has sailed. Well, it probably sank, which is most likely why I don't have that Nalgene anymore.

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