Editor's note: Duane Sylvestre is the head bartender at Bourbon Steak in Washington, D.C. and an active member of the DC Craft Bartenders Guild and the Masters Guild of Sommeliers. Follow him on Twitter @dcelixirmixer.
My family is from Trinidad where drinking rum is common all year round. While rum cocktails are generally associated with warm weather from tiki drinks to one of summer’s classic cocktails, the daiquiri, I’m of the belief that rum can and should be drunk all year.
One of the ways I enjoy drinking rum in the winter is by replicating the flavors of a classic daiquiri but with slight modifications edging it closer to a toddy (a category of drinks that pre-date the "cocktail") territory.
A regular daiquiri consists of three ingredients, rum, lime juice and sugar. In this spiced, steamed version, I take those flavors but use them in a way that’s more appropriate for winter.
For the syrup:
1. Start by making the star anise syrup. Add 1/2 cup of star anise pods to 2 1/2 cups of water. Cover and boil for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes uncover and add 2 cups of raw sugar to the mixture. Stir constantly until all the sugar dissolves. Let cool completely.
I personally love the flavor of star anise. I grew up drinking a refreshing drink called Mauby, which is a bitter bark flavored with anise and cinnamon.
Besides nostalgia, it’s a gentle introduction to a licorice flavor and by infusing the pods in syrup, you get the muted warmth of anise in the back of the drink instead of an aggressively anise-flavored cocktail.
2. Pick your rum. I like Mount Gay Black Barrel because it’s finished in charred American oak barrels and it has a robust, drier flavor that works well in this drink. Oak-finished rums lend themselves well to pairing with spices like star anise.
3. In a glass, add 2 oz of rum with 1/2 oz of the star anise syrup.
4. Pour hot water into the glass and stir to combine. This is where the drink mimics a rum version of a classic toddy, with its sweetener, base and warm water.
5. Finally, peel a long strip of a lime and garnish the drink with the peel and two star anise pods. The lime peel brings the drink back to its daiquiri roots but instead of lime juice we add lime flavoring with the peel.
The addition of the lime peel and hot water steer the drink from being a refreshing rum cocktail to a soothing rum cocktail.