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  • Writer's pictureBamboo Sam

Kill Devyl Reef

A three rum variation on the Planter's Punch


Kill Devyl Reef Cocktail

The Planter's Punch is the template for many a Tiki drink. In fact, there are few Tiki drinks that can't be reduced back to the old rhyme of, "One of Sour, Two of Sweet, Three of Strong, and Four of Weak". In the case of the Kill Devyl Reef, the magic comes from using passion fruit syrup and honey for the sweet while blending three very different rum types for the strong. We'll follow the money and start with the rum choices!


This drink uses overproof Jamaican rum, Demerara rum, and Rhum Agricole. Most of us are familiar with Jamaican rums and their use of pot still distillation processes and higher ester counts. Over-proof simply means it has a higher alcohol content. Typically they are 120-151 proof but anything over 100 proof is considered overproof. Demerara rum is made in Guyana and just might be my favorite style of rum (at the moment). It tends to fall somewhere between Jamaicans and the column distilled standards form Puerto Rico or the Virgin Islands that we all seem to start out with. Lastly we have Rhum Agricole; probably the least well know of the group.


So, when we talk about rum, we tend to mention its origin (Jamaican, Puerto Rican, etc.). However, unlike a spirit such as wine where the origin provides taste information based upon terroir, with rums we are referring to the location as it relates to the style of distillation typical of a particular location. Because rums are typically made from processed materials like sugar crystals or molasses there are no terroir influences that reside in the raw materials used in distillation. However, there are a couple of outliers to the standard methods of rum production and one is Rhum Agricole.


Rhum Agricole is a designation similar to "Champagne" or "Parmesan Reggiano" in that only products made a certain way in a particular location can use the designation. For Rhum Agricole that place is Martinique and the method involves using fresh sugar cane instead of a processed sugar. As a result of using a fresh ingredient, terroir influences abound and can greatly influence the taste of Rhum Agricole. As such, varying the choice of Rhum Agricole can make a big difference in the overall flavor of the drink; despite there only being 1/2 an ounce used.


Of course, we can't forget the variations on sweet. Honey is listed in the ingredients I found for the Kill Devyl Reef in Tiki: Modern Tropical Cocktails, by Shannon Mustipher. However, I tend to fall in the Beachbum Berry camp when it comes to using honey in cocktails. Pouring it straight in results in a sticky mess that doesn't mix well. Add ice and you've got a sticky lump that fails to play well with others and clogs straws. So, I make a simple syrup using honey instead of sugar. This results in a mixable solution that still tastes of honey. As it is a 1:1 mix I simply double the amount of volume called for in the recipe. Passion fruit syrup is always a welcome addition. I highly recommend buying one as making it yourself is time consuming and generally cost prohibitive.


Kill Devyl Reef

Kill Devyl Reef

Source -Tiki: Modern Tropical Cocktails, Shannon Mustipher


  • 3/4 ounce fresh lime juice

  • 1 ounce passion fruit syrup*

  • 1/2 ounce honey*

  • 1/2 ounce allspice dram*

  • 2 ounces Demerara rum

  • 1/2 ounce Rhum Agricole

  • 1/2 ounce OP Jamaican



Add everything to a shaker with cubed ice. Shake and strain into brandy snifter or Tiki mug filled with pebble ice*. Garnish with mint sprigs and grated nutmeg.


*Bamboo Sam's customizations: For the passion fruit syrup I recommend BG Reynolds. As mentioned I make a honey simple syrup (1:1) and double the volume to 1 ounce in the mix. I prefer St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram. I know you can make your own but most drinks call for 1/2 ounce at most so a single bottle tends to last a long while. Lastly, I tend to use a spindle mixer on drinks like this and a gated pour. I feel like you lose a lot of the heavier syrups and honey in the discarded ice when you make these types of drinks. I'm sure that's why Shannon Mustipher shakes with cubed ice but she also shakes or stirs everything without ever using a spindle mixer. Why that is will be the 1st question I ask if I'm ever fortunate enough to meet her.

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