Say hello to the unofficial ‘official’ drink of Jamaica.
The essentials of a good day drinking cocktail are pretty straight forward. The drink needs to be refreshing and it has to go down easy. If you’re looking for something stiffer than brunch staples like the Mimosa or a Spritz, or something besides the tried and true Margarita, get to know the potent Wray & Ting cocktail.
Known as the unofficial ‘official’ cocktail of Jamaica, the Wray & Ting is a mix of Wray & Nephew overproof white rum and Ting grapefruit soda. A Jamaican highball cocktail, it is stiff but it is also extremely refreshing and does go down very easy.
Some may want to dismiss the drink as a simple rum and soda libation but that’s just not the case. Mix a different overproof rum, like Plantation O.F.T.D., and add a different grapefruit soda such as Jarritos and you won’t have the same drink in your hands.
Jesus Gomez, head barman at The Raymond 1886 in Pasadena, California, is a fan of the Wray & Ting and likes to introduce it to bar guests. He notes that the drink’s two simple ingredients are specifically paramount to the cocktail’s easygoing taste.
“Wray & Nephew has bold flavors of clove, grilled pineapple and a nice finish of overripe fruit, especially banana,” Gomez explains. “Plantation is a great Jamaican blended rum but some of the main notes you’ll get will be coffee and cocoa among others, adding Jarritos Toronja will make it much sweeter and potent.”
Ting is a Jamaican grapefruit soda that is actually more bitter than it is sweet. If you shake it a bit you can see small pieces of grapefruit peels that actually float in the bottle.
In true Jamaican fashion, the cocktail is jammin’ as it is the ideal marriage of two island products.
“Wray & Nephew is one of those spirits that you must know how to play with since it’s a high proof rum and has a lot of hogo as well,” Gomez points out.
“Hogo” by way is bar speak and it derives from the French term “haut gout,” which refers to slightly tainted meat as well as a strong yet desirable flavor. It’s what most imbibers refer to as “funky rum.”
“Back in the day,” Gomez notes, “people only wanted a product that had the perfect rum stink.”
And just as the rum is essential to the Wray & Ting, so is its carbonated component.
“Ting Soda is a crucial element for this cocktail as it really balances out all the flavors from Wray & Nephew, which is actually very sweet on its own,” Gomez says. “The bitterness from this grapefruit soda helps you forget that there’s high proof rum in this cocktail.”
With summer winding down, there are still some hot days ahead. And while the U.S. fall climate may not be as hot and humid as Jamaica or Puerto Rico or Cuba, a tall Wray & Ting cocktail is ideal in a sauna like setting where you can sweat out the booze in order to enjoy a few more of these cocktails. And if you’re by the beach, even better. It is also guaranteed to make time at your ‘work from home’ makeshift office fly by.
“It’s perfect while sitting in one of our nice patios at The Raymond 1886,” Gomez admits. “This could be a very dangerous morning cocktail since it’s such a balanced cocktail. I wouldn’t risk having more than four (laughs).”
WRAY & TING
- 2 oz Wray & Nephew
- Ting Grapefruit Soda
Preparation: Build in a Highball or Collins glass. Add a large ice or spear. Pour 2 oz of Wray & Nephew overproof white rum and top off with Ting grapefruit soda to the top of the glass. Garnish with a grapefruit halfmoon or lime wedge.