The subject of today's post is irony.Specifically, the irony of a cocktail with the nickname of a place where you can't buy alcohol. The irony of a cocktail--image of refinement and the subtle interplay of flavors--named after a country at war.
Specifically, Afghan saffron that my wife, who recently returned safely from a year deployed in Kabul, brought back. Beautiful saffron, grown in-country, of a lovely high quality. And in quantities that beggar description, especially if you know what a bitty little container of the stuff goes for here in the US. Enough that I've actually been struggling to figure out what to do with it all before it goes stale.
Rum is an inherently sweet alcohol, so it will play well with the simple syrup. Interestingly you get a good balance out of this... if not for the bitters, you'd need something else to balance out an otherwise over-sweet combination (which is why Daquiris are so heavy on the citrus, for example); with the bitters and the Campari, you get an interplay that's complex and nuanced enough to sit back and dwell on a bit.
If you aren't going through duty-free anytime soon, there are plenty of other options on the market to substitute for the Havana Club. Rum, needless to say, is also an appropriately colonial liquor. Just to reiterate, this isn't so much a drink to kick around at the pool with--it's a little more introspective than that. It has layers that reveal themselves over the course of a long finish, and since using saffron to make bitters out of is an expensive proposition, it's worth breaking out as a once-in-a-while thing.