The Macuá - the official cocktail of Nicaragua

Brian Rung

    Nicaragua has been home to some of the finest rum producers in the world for more than a century, but the country was without an official cocktail until 2006.
    The folks at the Nicaragua-based Flor de Cana rum distillery recognized that among the international spirits community Nicaragua was not as highly regarded as other rum producing nations.
    To remedy the lack of notoriety, the distillery sponsored a cocktail contest to name an “official” cocktail of Nicaragua. The winner of the contest was the Macuá, a delightfully different cocktail using Nicaraguan rum and juice from the native guava fruit.
    Nicaraguan rum is similar in character to Puerto Rican and Cuban rums and can be substituted for either in a recipe.
    I am a huge fan of Flor de Cana Nicaraguan rum and believe it to be one of the finest rums in the world. Don't take my word for it, Flor de Cana has won more than 150 international awards since 2000 making it the most award-winning rum of the era.
    The Flor de Cana line of rum includes everything from quality mixers all the way up to some of the highest-rated aged rums on the market. Over the last decade the company has secured excellent United States distribution making the brand widely available stateside.
    For the Macuá, and pretty much any other cocktail that calls for light rum, I recommend the Flor de Cana four-year-old rum. It is labeled “extra seco”, or extra dry, and is one of the only light rums on the market that is aged four years.
    It is incredibly smooth and is right at home in a Daiquiri, Mojito or Pina Colada. Their four-year offering is inexpensive as well, making it one of the best values in the spirits world.
    Put it side by side with whatever light rum that you happen to have in your bar. You won't be disappointed.
    In the quest to name the official cocktail of Nicaragua, the organizers mandated that the drink feature ingredients native to Nicaragua. Entries included cocktails made from pineapple, tamarind, mamoncillo and coffee beans, but in the end it was the guava-based Macuá that took the title.
    Over 20 cocktails were presented to the panel of judges which included the French ambassador and cocktail connoisseurs from around the globe.
    I would be shocked if your local bar serves the Macuá. You will have to make this one on your own, and to do that you are going to need to get ahold of some guava juice.
    What is guava? It is a tropical fruit native to Mexico, Central America and South America. There are several types of guava, the most commonly consumed is the apple guava. The apple guava looks similar to an apple on the exterior but with a bright pink interior.
    If you have access to fresh guava, simply squeeze and strain the juice into your cocktail. If not, you are going to have to settle for bottled juice.
    Guava juice will work better than guava nectar in cocktails, provided that the juice is 100 percent juice and not a blend of tropical fruit juices.  
    If you are fortunate enough to have access to a Latin-American or Mexican import grocery store you will have several options. Check the international section of your local store for guava juice, the most common brands in the United States are Fast Fruit, Sun Berry Farms and Goya.
    Bear in mind that this cocktail is going to be on the sweet side. Rum is sugar-based, fruit juices contain natural sugars and simple syrup is literally liquid sugar.
    If after some experimentation you find the drink to be too sweet, you can back off the simple syrup a bit and increase the lemon by the same amount.
    This sweet/sour adjustment can be used in any rum cocktail containing a simple syrup and a sour citrus to achieve the proper balance. The proper balance, by the way, is the one that works for you.
    Simple syrup is always best when made from scratch. Never buy pre-made simple syrup. I prefer a 1:1 sugar to water ratio, though some recipes call for 2:1 sugar to water.  
    Whichever ratio you decide to use, use heated, filtered water. Bring the water to a boil and allow to slightly cool, dissolving the sugar into the water while the water is warm to hot.
    Do not add the sugar while the water is boiling. Mix a cup or two if you are expecting company. It will keep for a week in the refrigerator.
    Summer is right around the corner and you are going to be thirsty. Pick up a bottle of the Flor de Cana four-year-old and give this one a shot. I'll bet you and/or the rum fan in your crowd will take a liking to it.
    The Macuá is built in a shaker and served in a highball glass.
    Fill shaker with ice.
    Add 1 1/2 oz Flor de Cana four-year-old rum.
    Add 1 oz guava juice.
    Add 1 oz orange juice.
    Add 1/2 oz fresh lemon juce.
    Add 1/3 oz simple syrup
    Shake and strain over fresh ice into highball glass.
    Garnish with slice of orange.
    Until next week, enjoy responsibly.