Our fascination with Zombies has played out stories of nefarious intent in cinema for decades. Not the Rum Cocktail kind, but rather the brainless, emotionless carcasses of the undead kind.
The scene is set for a Hollywood nightmare; the rise of an army of vaccine jabbed people turned Zombies, preying on the last of humankind much like in the Will Smith Movie 'I am Legend'.
Whether it be bars closing down during lockdown or a total alcohol ban in some countries, the world is in some way or another feeling what it was like during the U.S Prohibition of 1919.
Scarily, the importance of the bartender has never been so realized. With bars closed, or with alcohol prohibited, the rise of home bartenders has seen failed attempts of all types of DIY booze resurfacing. From pineapple beer brewing, to bathtub gin distilling the curious disappearance of commercial yeast from convenience store shelves has surfaced a scary lost story of criminal proportions almost forgotten since the last Prohibition era. If you want to see how humans turned to Zombies before, look no further than the unfortunate story of 'Jake Walk'.
When darker times have gloomed humanity, people have notoriously turned to hit the bottle to find solace. For this reason alcohol has unfortunately always been linked to some of our worst social dis-endeavors. Gin's dark days hit a crescendo in the 1700's with the rise of the Gin Act, and the link of Gin to the social demise of Britain, most famously captured by artist William Hogarth in his etched artwork named ‘Gin Lane’. The artwork depicted all kinds of social discord, going even as far as imaging a mother criminally lobbing her child down a flight of stairs while afoot a man lies motionless in a stupor .
Rum too has had its fair share of ‘uncool-running’s’ with anti-humanitarian circumstance. Rum has wrestled with its link to colonialism for centuries, the booming industry of slave trade linked to the commercial propriety of sugar invariably looped in Rum as an unwilling sidekick.
It seems rather unfortunate that alcohol through the ages has always found a way of becoming the perennial antagonist in history's sad stories, very often carving itself out as the head figure felon rather than that of aider and abettor.
Paying in backward, both Rum and Gin are leading the charge in liquor trends today. Well Gin is certainly still driving the trends and Rum is making its biggest waves in years. I wouldn't say Rum is even riding shot gun yet, but it is at least out of the trunk and starting to push Cognac around in the back seat. However, if the journey of spirits is like that of a roller coaster, then the history of the cocktails incarnated from them is more of a merry go round. With trends coming and going, cocktails themselves have never been in any real danger other than going in and out of fashion. There has been no damaging potential of cocktails leaving a permanent mark on the human psyche, or physiology. Enter Jamaican Ginger. A medicine available under prescription, Jamaican Ginger was, at one point, the only alcoholic refuge for wannabe imbibers during the years of Prohibition. Widely dispensed in drug stores across the U.S as a tonic for headaches and intestinal grumpiness, Jamaican Ginger became a convenient and legal way of obtaining alcohol and was often mixed with a soda to improve the taste.
I think that most people will attest to the fact that the institution of Prohibition was a terrible idea. It opened up the door to illegal booze smuggling, it helped form organized crime rings, and possibly worst of all was the creation of illegal liquor and ungoverned distillates. In pursuit of supplying liquor demand in an illegal market, there was bound to be some kind of collateral damage taking effect, such is the tragic story of Jamaican Ginger.
As liquor was being poured out in the streets by the barrel load, people turned to pharmacy shelves lined with 'over the counter' medicines containing high proof alcohol. Jamaican Ginger as its name sake suggests, was made by steeping ginger root oil in 180 proof alcohol solution, a ginger oleoresin. When the taxes excised on castor oil went up, so did the price of Jamaican Ginger. President of Hub Products Corporation, Harry Gross, looked to solve this problem by replacing the castor oil with a substitute which would not only keep the costs down, but would also keep the amount of solids present in the medicine to keep it legal.
Simply Adding more Ginger wasn't an option as a straight substitute because the taste became overpowering, so another solution was sought and found in the form of TOPC (Tri-ortho Cresyl Phosphate). At the time it was considered safe for human consumption, even though it was a common ingredient in lacquer and plasticizer. No surprises then to discover that TOPC was in actual fact a neuro toxin, poisonous to the human body and detrimental to the spine and nervous system.
A truly poisonous drink it turned normal people into Zombies by the thousands, as sufferers became visibly crippled under the influence of neurotoxins in their bodies. Notably discerned by the 'toe to heel' gait of the Jamaican Ginger drinker, over exposure to the medicine affected people’s ability to walk normally, so much so that the term given to those who displayed the Quasimodo like stumble as Jake Walk!
In many cases people displaying ‘Jake Walk’ lost the natural use of their limbs bringing about the onset of paralysis akin to the very worst cases of arthritis in the hands and feet.
A scary story in history replaying itself out now in a Covid world where everyone thinks we are in the midst of a Zombie apocalypse in waiting. One only has to go back to Prohibition, during a time which also followed a global pandemic in 1918 to see how in actual fact, outlawed booze brought about the onset of a Zombie apocalypse 50 000 Zombies strong.
Inspired by this story of Jake Walk, and the obvious link to its ingredients here is a safer and more delicious rendition of a Jamaican and some Ginger, the Dark n’ Stormy.
Dark n' Stormy – However apt these two adjectives are lent to describe our global status quo right now, to the entire cocktail loving world, we have come to know this as a two part directory which, when punched into any search engine, refers to a simple spirit and sparkling mixed drink which has firmly set itself up as one of the trendiest Highballs around, the Rum and Ginger Beer.
Dark ‘n Stormy
60ml Goslings Dark Rum
20ml Ginger and Lime Peel Oleo Saccharum 20ml Lemon Juice
120ml Sparkling Water 5 Dashes Angostura Bitters