Alleia's Isola (Italian for "island") cocktail, an Italian riff on the mai tai, is no longer on the restaurant's menu, but, lucky for you, we had bar manager Jared Padovani let us in on the recipe.
This refreshing and versatile cocktail easily transitions from beachside fall break beverage to liquid team spirit at Tennessee tailgate parties during football season. Keep the recipe around till the end of the month, when you can repurpose the orange-hued libation as a Halloween party punch.
The Jamaican pot-still rum used gives the drink an oaky richness and fresh berry flavor, which blends well with the citrus of the lemon juice, the zesty orange liqueur and the nutty flavor of the pistachio orgeat. While Padovani makes Alleia's orgeat in-house with salted pistachios over the stove, you can substitute store-bought almond orgeat to save time. He tops the drink with a -ounce float of Amaro Meletti to provide a bitterness to balance the sweetness.
"It's a great punch for outside, sunny day get-togethers," Padovani says of the Isola, adding that it also pairs well with spicy and citrus-flavored snacks and seafood.
What you need:
» 2 ounces Smith & Cross Rum
» 3/4 ounce pistachio orgeat (can sub store-bought almond orgeat)
» 3/4 ounce orange liqueur (Alleia uses Naranja)
» 1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
» 1/2 ounce bittersweet liqueur or Italian amaro (optional, though Alleia uses Amaro Meletti)
» Maraschino cherry and orange peel for garnish
What you do:
» Put first four ingredients into a cocktail shaker.
» Shake and double-strain into a rocks glass, then top with ice, cherry and orange peel.
» Float with favorite bittersweet liqueur or Italian amaro, if desired.
Cheers to History
Smith & Cross’ Jamaican rum carries another cultural designation as well, as it is also a “Navy” spirit. Traditionally a blend of West Indian rums, Navy rums are at least 57 percent alcohol — the point at which sailors in the British Royal Navy believed their rum rations would ignite gunpowder, a test they often performed to prove the quality upon receiving. (Compare that with traditional vodka’s routine 40 percent.) The term “alcohol proof” is derived from this common historical practice, though science has now proven that there are many variables to a spirit’s flash point.