America is on a coconut craze. It’s a nice change from the 1980s propaganda that “coconut milk and oil are bad for you.” Talk about unfairly mischaracterizing major components of South Asian and Southeast Asian cuisine. Not cool.
Presently, there’s an insatiable necessity for all-things-coconut: coconut water, coconut butter (organic varieties), and coconut oil for shimmering locks, youthful skin and for use in cooking. Coconut milk is flying off the shelves at supermarkets – the vegans love it. There are even coconut oil vitamins. Everyone (including me) is going cuckoo for coconuts!! It’s about time people.
But wait! I have another fabulous coconut gem to add to your list… I bring you (ta-daaaaaaa!) coconut arrack. Have you heard of arrack? It is distinct from arak, the Middle East and North Africa spirit distilled from grapes and with anise notes.
Coconut arrack is distilled from the nectar harvested from unopened coconut flowers. After the toddy tapping, fermentation and distillation, the floral spirit with a smooth aftertaste of coconut (and perhaps a bit of almond essence flavor) is a rum-like liquor, only elevated. Men sip it (hmmm that’s questionable!) neat or on the rocks, sometimes with a splash of ginger ale, soda water or Coke, while most women just drink something else. At 80 proof it’s not like sipping a summer rosé.
If you have not heard, Sri Lankan arrack has FINALLY been introduced to the USA by White Lion VSOA. It is available for retail purchase in only a few states so far. None are close to DC, but you can still order some online. Yay!! Thank goodness, as a liquor run across the globe is not exactly convenient.
While in Sri Lanka I was looking for the perfect, summertime, girly cocktail that exuded hints of arrack, fruit, perfume, fizz, color, contrast and – of course – coconut. My quest led me to fabulous cocktails made and imbibed beside the Indian Ocean, but my perfect drink still eluded me.
Naturally, I continued to crave my elusive drink of Colombo so I put on my mixologist cap and created a sort of “arracktini.” This spirit captures the growing cosmopolitan feel of Colombo: the sophisticated rose essence that a lady wants; the posh scene of locals and travelers mingling on the rooftop bars in Colombo; the poignant taste of coconut with the heady buzz we love.
Men: don’t let the gorgeous clementine hue and floating rose petal fool you – it has bite!
The Colombo 7
1 Tbsp Mendis coconut arrack (or your preferred brand)
1.5 oz Ketel One vodka
1 oz Malibu coconut rum
2 oz raspberry simple syrup
3 drops red rose water
Prosecco (to finish)
Raspberry Simple Syrup: Combine 1 cup of water, 1/3 cup sugar and approximately 15 raspberries in small pan and bring to a boil. Simmer mixture for 5 minutes, remove from heat and let cool. Mash berries in mixture and pour through a sieve. Use 2 ounces of syrup for each cocktail.
Chill a martini glass. In a shaker, combine ice with all of the ingredients and shake well. Pour in chilled glass and finish off with Prosecco. Accent with rose petal.