Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Rivière: A planeflight to paradise in a glass

Last Tuesday Atlantico Rum launched in Los Angeles with a party at Havana-themed rum den La Descarga.  Manager and cocktail maestro Steve Livigni created several cocktails for the occasion.  For me the standout was the Rivière, a tropical beverage with pineapple and lime juices.  A sip of the cocktail transported me to a beach on vacation somewhere with ocean breezes, warm water and an endless supply of these cocktails.  I wish the drinks on my recent trip to Hawaii had been half as delicious as this.

Livigni stated he was seeking to make “a more fruit-forward cocktail with the Atlantico and since the other drinks were more masculine it seemed appropriate to do something with a softer flavor and mouthfeel.  Pineapple and rum are natural compliments to one another, especially given the nice toffee, marshmallow flavor I get from the rum.  I decided to use mezcal to give the drink some backbone and an unexpected smokiness.”  He tried the drink with several combinations and ratios and after several iterations he finally had a cocktail that worked.  With rum and pineapple juice there is the danger and stereotype of just a sweet one note drink but the Rivière is well balanced, “tropical but not foo-foo,” as Livigni described it.

La Descarga is known for the quality of its ingredients and its fresh juices.  According to Livigni, one of the keys to the success of the Rivière is using real pineapple juice made from pineapple in the blender, which is significantly different than using anything that comes from a can or a syrup (sorry Dole).  In his words, “it should taste like fruit not pineapple candy.  The fresh juice makes anything taste tropical, the key is to not use too much and balance it with a citrus, lime in this case, which doesn't just add acidity but really just brightens the flavor.”

Atlantico Rum is a blend of sugar can juice and molasses based rums.  It is a solera rum meaning that it has been aged in a solera system where the rum is aged in casks and the younger rum is progressively moved to “older” casks as part of the contents of the casks containing the oldest product are ready to be sold, meaning that each barrel, and consequently each bottle contains rum that has aged a variety of years.  The average for Atlantico is 15 years of aging in the solera system.

As Livigni was developing his recipe for the Riviere, he wanted to highlight the flavors of the Atlantico rum while offering a fresh juice based cocktail.  Livigni noted, “Atlantico is much leaner than other solera rums like Zacapa so it works better in the sour format.  I get toffee and marshmallow from the rum, which are delicate flavors that can get covered up easily with citrus, liqueurs, sweeteners, so I wanted to use soft ingredients that would allow those flavors to still exist after shaking.”

The Rivière incorporates the essential components of a sour: the liquor (rum in this case), citrus (lime juice), egg white and a sweetener (pineapple juice and sugar).  The The egg white provides a bit of froth/foam at the top of the cocktail and a creaminess in the consistency.  The mezcal helps to make it a more well rounded cocktail and elevates it above a traditional sour.  Kiss that cocktail with an umbrella in it goodbye and say hello to the Rivière.

If you’d like to make the Rivière at home, here's the recipe:

1.5 oz   Atlantico Rum
.75 oz   Fresh Lime Juice
1 oz      Fresh Pineapple Juice
2          Barspoons of Super Fine Sugar
.5 oz     Vida Mezcal
.5 oz     Egg White

Dry shake all the ingredients until you get a nice froth in the shaker.  Add ice and re-shake the ingredients for about 10 seconds.  Strain into a coupe or cocktail glass.  Garnish with a spear of pineapple leaf.


  1. Liked this drink a lot. But I LOVED the Boccino. Maybe the Seattle-ite in me is coming out.

  2. I also loved the Old Fashioned but then again I do love a solid Old Fashioned.

  3. The Atlantico Old fashioned is simplicity and perfection in a glass. PERIOD. Although this cocktail was FANTAAAASTIC.