French Caribbean Martini – Tropical Twist on a Trendy 90’s Fave
What is a martini? This seemingly simple question is, in reality, anything but. At least not when you delve into the cocktail’s muddled history and myriad variations. There are, indeed, many different styles of martinis. Some say 50+! My favorite: the French Caribbean Martini.
Martini History in Brief
As with many of the best cocktails, the martini’s origin story is shrouded in mystery and very much disputed. What seems certain, though, is that the cocktail was born of serendipitous invention in the mid-1800s. The location: Northern California.
Some believe that the first martini was mixed and enjoyed in San Francisco. Others say it was nearby Martinez, CA. Either way, the California Gold Rush was in high-gear in the area at the time. So yeah, tall tales, exaggerations, and outright lies were the norm.
You can easily imagine a lucky miner bursting into a saloon and ordering Champagne to celebrate his gold strike. As the Martinez legend goes, though, said saloon was bereft of bubbly. Undeterred, an enterprising barkeep cobbled together the first martini with what he had – gin, vermouth, maraschino liqueur, lemon, and bitters. The resulting cocktail, originally known as The Martinez Special, was so loved that the miner asked for it again later at a bar in San Francisco. Nobody at bar #2, though, knew what the miner was talking about, so he taught them the mix. Thus, the global proliferation of the martini began.
Many (Perhaps Too Many) Types of Martinis
Fast forward a little more than a century to the 1990s. From its humble beginnings, the martini grew to become an icon of American mixology. At the same time, though, it also became one of the world’s most eclectic cocktails.
Initially straightforward designations like dirty, dry, shaken, and wet expanded to include, well, just about anything.
Cosmopolitan, mint, pomegranate, smoked, spicy, golf, fuzzy, bikini… It seems there’s no end to the various ways you can mix a martini.
According to our friends at Liquor.com, the French Martini spurred much of the flavored martini madness. The craze hit its zenith in the early-1990s, a time when all the trendy cocktails ended in ‘Tini – Appletini, Saketini, etc.
This fruity French fave features vodka, pineapple juice, and Chambord, a black raspberry liqueur that dates back to 17th century France.
It’s the Chambord that makes a French Martini, well, French.
A French Caribbean Martini, though, is actually even more French than that!
Rhum Agricole Makes it Right
As any faithful UC reader would’ve already guessed, my favorite martini isn’t made with gin or vodka. The main sizzle here, of course, is rum. Actually, rhum agricole. Most specifically, Rhum Clément Agricole Blanc.
As noted in several previous cocktail recipe posts, Rhum Clément Agricole Blanc makes a fabulous companion on most any mixology adventure. The smooth sweetness and aromatic grassy notes elevate all kinds of cocktail expressions, breathing new life into everything from the mojito to your favorite Tiki tipple.
The French Caribbean Martini is no exception.
Building upon a foundation of Rhum Clément Agricole Blanc, the French Caribbean Martini mirrors its French Martini cousin in its use of pineapple juice.
One difference: there’s also a tad bit of lemon juice thrown in.
Another: Crème de Cassis replaces the Chambord.
- 1.5 oz Rhum Clément Agricole Blanc
- 1.5 oz Pineapple Juice
- .5 oz Crème de Cassis
- .5 oz Lemon Juice
A blackcurrant liqueur, Crème de Cassis is sweet and blood-red in color. Like Chambord, though, it’s also a product of France. It was introduced in Burgundy in 1841.
With Martinican rhum agricole and Crème de Cassis in the mix, then, a French Caribbean Martini is actually more French than a French Martini! Here’s how you make it…
French Caribbean Martini Recipe
Grab your shaker and load it with ice. Throw in your Rhum Clément Agricole Blanc, Crème de Cassis, pineapple juice, and lemon juice. Now, shake, shake, shake as hard as you can! Next, shake some more really, really hard! This is important to really agitate your pineapple juice so that you end up with a nice, frothy consistency in the end.
So, once you’ve shaken your mix fully, strain it into a fancy coupe and enjoy!