Explorations in Mixology Cocktails Drinking

Death in the Gulf Stream

Something we often admire about classic cocktails is their simplicity. We suppose early recipes had the advantage of being first to attempt basic combinations. Such is the case, for instance, with the Daiquiri: rum, lime and sugar—a favorite of rum lovers everywhere, including at least one famous writer from the Florida Keys. It shouldn’t surprise you to know that in addition to his reputation for enjoying such drinks, Ernest Hemingway also had a hand in creating a few. One of them is called Death in the Gulf Stream, and it is both easy and efficient.

Cocktail construction efficiency isn’t something we think about very often. In a typical setting, one has plenty of ice, a sink to rinse tools and glassware, and just a general concern for making the best use of every step and ingredient—it’s the end result that counts. Need to shake a drink over ice, then strain over fresh new ice? No problem: Shake, strain, dump and rinse.

Now, imagine you are on a boat, pleasure-cruising off the coast of Cuba (pre-Castro era). Stowage may be at a premium aboard a small ocean vessel and chances are that the galley (if there is one) is pretty tight. Ice, for example, would be a precious commodity and not something you would want to toss overboard after shaking a drink. In fact, you may not even have the tools for shaking drinks in the first place. What do you do? Well, you could build a cocktail right in the glass using what ice you have without wasting it. And what about other ingredients? You might also be tempted to use more of the fruit—peel and all—beyond just a simple garnish. It’s not about being fancy. The zest has flavor, by golly! And with all of the sloshing around, exact measurements won’t be easy.

Death in the Gulf Stream by Ernest Hemingway
3 oz genever (Holland gin)
.5 oz lime juice
peel of 1 lime
1 bar spoon simple syrup (optional)
about 4 dashes of Angostura bitters

Peel an entire lime in one large piece or spiral. Add it to a tall chimney-style glass nearly full of crushed ice. Pour in the lime juice, dash the bitters, and add the simple syrup (if using). Top with Genever and stir. Serve immediately.

This drink has a thrown-together feel to it, and that’s why we like it. It takes a little time to carefully peel a lime, but the rest of the cocktail comes together quickly. We do think it needs the optional simple syrup to keep the acid in check with so little else to tame the spirit, but despite it being mostly genever, this is a refreshing beverage. We love the fact that nothing goes to waste—something you’ll think about the next time you strain a drink over fresh ice and dump the shaker contents down the drain. And when your drink is gone, just add more ice and ingredients for the second round. Oh, by the way, who’s steering the boat?

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