Time for a Drink: the 151 Swizzle

[Photograph: Jessica Leibowitz]

Following Wednesday's post on the appeal of higher-proof spirits in cocktails, here's a drink that may appear formidable at first glance, but if treated with due respect is as gentle as can be: the 151 Swizzle.

Developed at legendary tiki bar Don the Beachcomber's in the 1960s, the 151 Swizzle has as its base an ounce-and-a-half of dark, heavy, 151-proof demerara rum. Served on its own, such a high-proof rum is a threat not only to sobriety, but to safety. But when mixed with an abundance of crushed ice in a classic swizzle, the rum's strength is softened by the water from the slow-melting ice, but the spirit maintains its richness of flavor.

The result is a drink that's vibrant yet manageable, and drinkable without being watery. (And should you consider the alcohol level still fearsome, consider that a drink made with one-and-a-half ounces of 151-proof rum has less alcohol by volume than a martini made with a three-ounce-pour of 80-proof spirit—more than I usually use in a martini, but a quantity that's served in many bars and restaurants).

Respect the strength of the rum, and the 151 Swizzle will treat you right.

151 Swizzle

Adapted from Beachbum Berry Remixed, by Jeff Berry

About the author: Paul Clarke blogs about cocktails at The Cocktail Chronicles and writes regularly on spirits and cocktails for Imbibe magazine. He lives in Seattle, where he works as a writer and magazine editor.

Time for a Drink: the 151 Swizzle

About This Recipe


  • 1 1/2 ounces 151-proof Demerara rum (Lemon Hart and El Dorado are the standard brands)
  • 1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water, mixed until dissolved)
  • 6 drops Pernod (may substitute Ricard or another pastis, or Herbsaint)
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters
  • 1 cup crushed ice
  • Nutmeg and cinnamon stick, for garnish


  1. 1

    Combine ingredients (except nutmeg) in a blender, and blend at high speed for no more than 5 seconds. Pour into a pilsner glass (or other tall glass) and add crushed ice to fill. Dust with nutmeg; garnish with a cinnamon stick.


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