Category: pirate

International Talk Like a Pirate Day Supplies—Updated

Just a reminder, International Drink Like a Pirate Day is this Saturday, September 19th. Be ready. And by being ready, I mean: Ensure you have lots of different rums on hand, since what is pirate drinkin', wenchin', and talkin' without plenty of the old rumbullion, rumbustion, rhum, or even ron, as the pirates' chief prey would have it? But what kind of rum? As of this writing, I intend to do three pirate drinks on International (Drink) Like a Pirate Day, with distinctly different characters. First off, we'll need basic mixing rums, one light, one dark, and one nicely aged. Any good Basement Bar owner should really have these supplies in stock full time, not just on September 19th. My favorite day-to-day rum maker is Mount Gay. At only a buck or two more than the bat beverage, it offers, at least to me, a noticeable improvement. (Liquor Fairy disclaimer on Mount Gay, FWIW) For those scurvy dogs, the British Navy, and their fancy dan ways, lay in a bottle of good navy rum like Pusser's. But the main focus for this post is the brand which should just own International Talk Like a Pirate Day. If any brand, in any industry, should be talked of in the same breath with any silly internet-meme high holy day, it's this one. Captain-Morgan That's right, Captain Morgan should be all over ITLaPD like Mad Morty Rackham on a tavern wench after six months at sea. The fact that a Google search indicates that they are not so inclined will entirely fail to dissuade me from talking about them anyway. Now The Captain doesn't get a lot of respect from hoity-toity rum-o-philes, and that's pretty reasonable. Captain Morgan's is a mass-market product that offers little in the way of complexity or depth. But even said hoity-toity rum-o-philes admit that they once upon a time drank a lot of it, and enjoyed themselves along the way. I'd bet the good ship Buccaneer's Strumpet that any genuine pirate, modern or of yore, would vastly prefer the sweet and gently spicy taste o' the Cap'n to most premium rums today. Fact is, Captain Morgan's is designed for the mass-market, to provide some tasty, bawdy fun, and little else. All of which makes it perfect for ITLaPD. Sure, the success of the brand is certainly due as much to marketing as it is to product....
As much? Try almost entirely!
I thought you'd see I was talking about you. Still, the product has been plenty successful, even spawning such Talk Like a Pirate Day essentials as this:
I encourage you to pick up one of these for the First Mate right now.
Wait. Better up your life insurance first....
While the historical Captain Morgan was pretty cool on his own, his modern incarnation is practically the Mickey Mouse of hooch. A few months ago, I saw a dude in complete, letter-perfect Captain Morgan get-up wandering the aisles of a local liquor store. I don't know why, since whatever he was after, he wasn't buying rum! And yes, just like Coca-Cola, much of Captain Morgan's success over even similar brands can be laid to marketing. They push their brand at parties and sponsored events constantly. And they do this all over the United States, not just in New York and Los Angeles. Studies Sales have shown that consumers respond to marketing efforts like hot chicks (almost) wearing brand-labeled clothing while serving said brand in brand-labeled plastic cups. As Mad Morty Rackham would put it, Avast! A fine flagon of the ol' Cap'n tastes even finer if'n it be served up by a fine, proud beauty with a well-fashioned bowsprit. Arrrrrr! Drunk-DialingThe Captain Morgan folks also have a very cute little gimmick on their website right now, called Calling All Captains. While I (and I suppose Captain Morgan for that matter) encourage you to exercise restraint and wisdom when drinking, especially when drinking outside the home, the facts remain that occasionally drinkers find on the Morning After that they have misplaced several hours from the Night Before. The saintly friend who stayed sober and drove everyone home will fill in those hours for the hapless amnesiac. That's if your friend is saintly. Pirates don't have saintly friends. Pirates have friends who go to Calling All Captains. Since you are not a saintly friend either, go check it out. Fill in a short form about your friend's adventure the night before, including such info as your name, his name, the kind of place you were drinking the night before, etc. Then choose whether you want your inebriate friend to receive a voice mail on his cell from the bartender who is a trifle miffed about getting stiffed on the tab, or from some random chick who thinks he's single and wants to hook up, or even from the very large sounding boyfriend of the chick who supposedly did hook up with your buddy! This may not be the best pirate prank ever, but it does have the virtue of leaving fewer actual bruises than a good keel hauling. Now get out there and practice your vocabulary for this Saturday! UPDATE: Dr-Bamboo-Pirate-RumMy good friend and fellow cocktail blogger, Dr. Bamboo, the World's Foremost Cocktail Illustrator™ (creator of the Liquor Fairy) put up a post on spiced rums at the same time as this post originally ran. Aside from the totally awesome illustration shown at right (go to Doc's post to see it full sized), he develops a wonderful method of evaluating spiced rums that includes the following data points:
  • Pirate stuff on the label?
  • Overall packaging coolness.
  • (This is the coup de grace)Flamboyant Badass Quotient — Is the product something that can be envisioned being drunk by a Flamboyant Badass (i.e. a pirate)
In fact, the only two items I can find wrong with this post are that it does not mention International Talk Like a Pirate Day, and that it avoids actually reviewing Captain Morgan itself, or its two closest knockoffs, Admiral Nelson's and Sailor Jerry. Consider this rebuke fair warning, Doc! You still have two days until ITLaPD to do part two!abc
Tiki Month 2009

Who Were the Elders of Tiki: Don the Beachcomber

{NOTE: This is part of a three part series of posts. The other Elder of Tiki, Trader Vic, is profiled here. And my examination of which of these two really invented the Mai Tai can be read here.} don the beachcomberIf Trader Vic was the Henry Ford of Tikidom, Don the Beachcomber was its Francis Drake. As Tiki month winds up here at the Pegu Blog, I am examining the two great Elders of Tiki. Last post profiled the Trader, and now it is Don's turn. Of the two, Don was the first into the game, both into the restaurant business and into the tropical theme. He led a life of high adventure, before and after becoming a restauranteur, and dabbled throughout his life in fiefdom building, the society pages, diplomacy, war, and the occasional act of good-natured piratical behavior. Don was born saddled with the impressive name of Ernest Raymond Beaumont Gantt. At age seven, he went to live with his colorful grandfather in Louisiana. From the old man, he learned the art and power of charm. He also learned the art and power of the con. It is likely quite fortuitous for a lot of people that throughout his life, Don generally used those powers for good. As he grew up, he bummed around the world on tramp steamers and by other means, learning as he went the technical skills of cooking and making drinks. In 1933, he found himself in Los Angeles with a few bucks in his pocket and he decided to meld his powers of mixology, hospitality, and the art of illusion to open a restaurant in an abandoned Hollywood tailor shop. He called the place Don's Beachcomber, and soon thereafter he came to be called Don the Beachcomber by his clientele. He changed the name of the restaurant to fit the usage, and a legend was born made. He continued to change his name throughout his life, wandering through Donn Beach-Comber, to Donn Beachcomber, and finally coming to rest as Don Beach (I think). He created a true illusion for his customers, taking caribbean rum mixology, presenting it in a polynesian environment, and ensuring everyone had a great time. And if the register receipts were insufficient for his tastes for the evening, Don would turn a sprinkler on over the front door and roof. He'd point out it was raining and convince everyone to wait it out inside and have another round or three. When the cuban embargo began, Don's chief reaction was disgust that it interrupted his supply of cigars. Treating the law as he often did when it inconvenienced him, Don took the long way round. Using his extensive import/export connections, he had cigars shipped from Cuba to the Far East. There he had them relabeled and repackaged as Philippine product and he breezed back into the states with them. He may have been the man who invented this dodge, but many have followed. Or so I hear. During the Second World War, Captain Beach-Comber was detailed to manage the R&R for General Jimmy Doolittle's air force. He followed (or occasionally preceded) the allied advance up Italy and into southern France, requisitioning anything that wasn't nailed down in the name of making things comfortable for Our Boys, and occasionally himself. This part of his life was really pretty fascinating, and you can read about it, as I did, in Scrounging the Islands with the Legendary Don the Beachcomber: Host to Diplomat, Beachcomber, Prince and Pirate It was written by and for a family member, and is a choppy, though pleasurable read. After the war, Don moved the base of his operations to Hawaii. There he built a new palatial restaurant, and expanded to a wide variety of hospitality initiatives. He had a treehouse private dining room, and he created the commercial luau. Thank or curse him for that. He fought his fellow magnates who were developing too fast to suit his tastes, and he fought the local government for not allowing him personally to develop faster. He fought to preserve the pristine beauty of Hawaii, but imported non-native species of flora whenever it suited him to "improve" an area. He tried building a floating casino in the Far East, but when various mob figures and British governors foiled him, he made the ship work anyway, as a restaurant. don-mixHe was a genius in promoting ideas, and fearless in executing them by hook or by crook. But underpinning it all was his skill with drinks. He invented madly, producing a huge body of work, including a bunch of the bedrock classics. Many of them are lost in their original form today, because he guarded his recipes so jealously. He even went so far as to pour his liquors into unlabeled bottles, and kept his various syrups and mixes, as well as their ingredients, secret. His bartenders were just trained to make a Zombie, for instance, with 1 shot of bottle #7, 2 of bottle #2, 1 of bottle #47, and a splash of #17.... The mystery surrounding his drinks was part of the magic of drinking with Don. The man was a savant, with a true commitment to his vision, and to his customers. But while he built a vast array of bars and restaurants and resorts, and was clearly a brilliant businessman, his commercial works did not survive the demise of either himself or of the Tiki era. I imagine so much of the success of all his ideas rested on the personal touch of Don himself. The greatest elements of his ventures rested upon regular performances by the man himself. Many of his businesses were high-wire acts to begin with, and such ventures cannot long survive without the risk taker-in-chief around from day to day. Today, there is but one spot on the map where Don the Beachcomber's direct legacy remains; a single ember of the flame burns on the Big Island of Hawaii. Lift a glass with me to his memory, and to the flame rising again! don-the-beachcomber-map abc
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