January 26 is a big day in Australia, enough to make us mix up the Tasmanian Twister cocktail. It’s the anniversary of two big events: the first permanent European settlement in Australia and the outbreak of the Rum Rebellion. Any day that lets us pay honor to penal convicts establishing a new land followed by a rebellion that names rum catches our attention here at The Drunkard’s Almanac. It’s a twofer, and all in one place.
So we’ve got Australia Day and the Rum Rebellion. As you might expect we looked for a rum-based drink appropriate for the Rum Rebellion that met our editorial standards. We were unable to find one, the only Down Under-ish rum drinks we unearthed were not worth drinking. So we turned directly to an Australia Day drink. The Tasmanian Twister fits the bill. It’s a gin-based cocktail, a variation on the Negroni, and passes our strict quality review.
Australia Day and the Rum Rebellion
The indigenous people may have preferred to be left alone, but the British government planned to use what became Australia as a penal colony. Arthur Phillip was appointed as captain of the HMS Sirius and commissioned to create a big work camp for British convicts. It was a mysterious, faraway land. Nobody knew what to expect and he had a hard time recruiting experienced farmers to help. After all, they had to feed themselves.
Nonetheless, he managed to lead a party of about 1,000 people, of which more than 700 were convicts, on an eight-month voyage. They landed on January 26, 1788. January 26 became Australia Day, to celebrate the founding. So an Australia Day drink is called for.
Things weren’t so easy. An unfamiliar climate and ignorance of farming led to near starvation. But Phillips appointed convicts to positions of responsibility and said, “in a new country there will be no slavery and hence no slaves.”
That sounds like a good start, but the place was still a large open prison. Entrepreneurial human nature finally took over, and twenty years after the founding, on January 26, 1808 the Rum Rebellion began. It was Australia’s one and only coup d’etat. The Governor, William Bligh, had already been the victim of the mutiny on the Bounty we covered when we mixed up Ti Punch. He hadn’t exactly endeared himself to the locals and jailed a leading entrepreneur over a violation of port regulations. Other prosperous settlers, many of them officers of the New South Wales Corps (a British Army regiment) were not amused. So they arrested Bligh and took over the colony until a new governor was appointed. Sure, it’s known as the Rum Rebellion but rum was hardly a part of it.
The Tasmanian Twister Cocktail
It seems to us that taking over a continent and followed by a military coup exactly 20 years later is good cause for a drink. Finding something that met our standards was tough. We already covered Grog so we don’t want to rely on Captain Bligh’s alma mater, the British Navy. Instead we turn to Tasmania, an island state of Australia located just south of the Australian mainland.
The Tasmanian Twister cocktail is an original recipe from the Ultimate Bar Book by Mittie Hellmich. She’s an established drinks writer, previously penning the Liquid Assets column for The Oregonian.
You’ll immediately note that the Tasmanian Twister recipe is a one-step variation on a Negroni. Proportions are changed a bit, but then an ounce of pink grapefruit juice is added. This was a shrewd move – Campari and grapefruit go together like Vegemite and buttered toast.
The Negroni and its many variations are some of our favorite drinks. They’re the foundation of Negroni Week and you can choose from a wide variety as you’ll see here.
- 1½ oz Gin
- ½ oz Campari
- ½ pz Sweet Vermouth
- 1 oz Fresh grapefruit juice Pink or red grapefruit here.
- Garnish: Orange twist. But go ahead and use grapefruit if you like.
- Add all ingredients to your trusty shaker.
- Add ice and shake until frosty cold.
- Strain into pre-chilled coupe glass.
- Garnish with orange twist.