I’ve been wanting to make a cocktail with Sandman Rainwater Madeira for quite a while now. There’s a story behind it – of course! A number of years ago I was away for the weekend in St. Michaels, Maryland. It was a Saturday afternoon and we had reservations for 4 that night at an amazing restaurant in town. We were planning to stop by a bar for drinks when I suddenly began to not feel well, as if something didn’t agree with my stomach. I grabbed a few things from the drugstore that I thought would help, and headed to the bar along with everyone else, wanting to be a good sport. I told the bartender my troubles (isn’t that what bartenders are for?) and he said he had the perfect thing to help me. Actually what he said was “Ditch that drugstore crap, this is what you need!” and he poured me some Sandeman Rainwater Madeira in a small glass over an ice cube. I felt relief within 15 minutes or so, ordered another, and was completely cured within the half hour! It was like a miracle had happened. I’d been so uncomfortable and worried about ruining the night, and now here I was looking forward to dinner again. I knew that Rainwater Madeira would always have a special place in my heart from that point on. It had provided comfort to me at a time when I really needed it, just like chicken soup when you have a cold, your favorite blanket when you’re feeling chilly, or a friend’s shoulder when the world is falling apart.
Madeira starts out as a wine that gets fortified by brandy and then is repeatedly heated and cooled. This process develops unique flavors of caramel, roasted nuts, burnt sugar, vanilla, dried fruits, and toffee, none of which were present in the original wine. I needed another strong spirit to go along with the Madeira in this cocktail and so I decided on Gosling’s Black Seal rum. It’s deep and dark, with strong vanilla and caramel undertones. Grapefruit has such an affinity for vanilla that I knew I could definitely go in that direction next. I added in some Giffard Pamplemousse Rosé and some fresh squeezed grapefruit juice. The drink needed just a bit more sweetness so I made a vanilla bean simple syrup, and for my bitters I chose Black Cloud’s Charred Cedar flavor because it was such a great match for the madeira and rum. I topped the drink with some club soda, but you could just as easily serve it without. You’ll end up with a smoother, more complex version of this cocktail that takes itself just a bit more seriously.
Into Your Comfort Zone
1½ oz Sandeman Rainwater Madeira
1 oz Gosling’s Black Seal Rum
½ oz Giffard Pamplemousse Rosé
¾ oz fresh squeezed grapefruit juice
¼ oz vanilla bean simple syrup*
2 dashes of Black Cloud Charred Cedar bitters
2 oz club soda
Place all the ingredients except the club soda into the bottom half of a shaker tin. Add ice and shake vigorously until very cold. Double strain and pour into a double rocks glass filled with fresh ice. Top with the club soda and garnish with grapefruit slices. Enjoy!
*Combine 1 cup of sugar with 1 cup of just boiling water and heat gently until clear. Pour into a mason jar and add a split vanilla bean. Steep until the flavor is at the intensity you’re looking for. Store in the fridge for 2-3 weeks.