One of the hardest things about learning to bartend is that the enterprise is a lot less like cooking and a lot more like baking. Making cocktails isn’t a Romantic enterprise that can be guided by a bartender’s whim. We don’t get to grab bottles indiscriminately and dash in however much of whatever we’d like to pour. In a lot of cases, the ratios of liquor in cocktails are set in stone — there’s only one way they work. Change the mix, and the resulting drink might still be good, but it will be a different cocktail.
Having said all that, here’s this week’s cocktail, which would change in character entirely if we weren’t measuring its ingredients precisely. The recipe comes from a 1936 bar book, and I’d have to guess it’s so named not because any actual naval types drank it, but because its inventor figured those were the ingredients that a quartermaster on a boat would most likely have available to him. (It would be sweetened considerably if the rum available to you were dark rum.) I found a similar cocktail listed in the Savoy Cocktail Book as a Quarter Deck cocktail — in that case, the recipe calls specifically for 1 tsp. of lime juice.
The Quartermaster’s Cocktail is a drier cocktail than the ingredients involved would suggest; there’s little enough sherry that the dash of lemon juice balances its sweetness, and the natural sweetness of the rum itself is a bit muted. (Speaking of lemon juice, as always, this drink will not be nearly as good if you use bottled lemon juice. That’s loaded with sulfides, and it will make the drink less bright and more bitter.) Most other times that sherry appears in a cocktail, it’s used as more of a mixer; here, it’s just a slight flavor adulterant. You could double it.
- 2 oz. rum
- 1 oz. sherry
- 2 tsp lime or lemon juice
- Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker over cracked ice, and stir to combine.
- Strain into a cocktail glass and serve.