Let’s get this straight: I came for the bacon-wrapped frog legs, the Andouille sausage gumbo and the adobo pork “bunhugger.” Not for the cocktail list. The last thing I expected to find at The Parish, the north side’s gourmet Southern restaurant and gastropub, was a Caribbean version of the Moscow mule.
But holy moly, is this one somethin’! The drink takes its cues from one of the darlings of the Tucson cocktail scene of late, a gingery vodka mix with closer origins than its name suggests. (The story goes that the Moscow Mule was invented in Los Angeles as a ploy to get Americans to drink more vodka.) But interestingly, Parish’s version is not made with vodka, but with rum.
The restaurant, 6453 N. Oracle Road, really gets into its infusions: To give the rum that extra something, it adds whole vanilla beans and sliced ginger that’s been steeped in hot water to enhance its flavor. A few days later, once the ingredients have married, the vanilla-ginger rum becomes a base for the Caribbean Mule, $8.
The rum goes down surprisingly smooth, stirred in with the tangy lime juice and bubbly Gosling’s ginger beer. Instead of simple syrup, the bartender sweetens the drink up with some Luxardo maraschino liqueur, lending a pleasing hint of cherries into the mix.
Before the drink comes to your table, it’s also literally set on fire. The bartender ignites a lime slice on the top with a spray mixture of bitters and Bacardi 151, letting the natural oils seep out from the peel to give the drink an assertive citrusy flavor.
But of course, the drink is nothing without that iconic copper mug, in this case, amusingly provided by the Russian vodka distributor. As Shakespeare said, “all’s well that ends well.”