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Navy Grog recipes
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Apr 29, 2004
Posts: 56
Posted: 2005-04-29 08:32 am   Permalink

The recipe for the Trader Vic's Navy Grog was discussed here about a year ago (use search to find the thread) and on the Maryland DC Tiki Forum
pertaining to the recipe for Navy Grog from the now closed Honululu Restaurant in Alexandria VA where the owner was once a bartender at the DC Trader Vic's. I have copied here my posts on that subject:

I first tasted a Navy Grog at the Honululu and that spoiled me. I purchased some Trader Vics mix thinking it was the same thing and was sorely disappointed. I asked David Chan about the drink and he said it was a secret recipe of his (based upon the TV drink I wonder ?) and that he made his own mix. I now have a fine collection of new and vintage bar books after unsuccessfully searching for a recipe for Navy Grog. Since it was a Trader Vic drink, that spurred my collecting all of his books.
The drink does not appear at all in his earlier books. When it does appear in later editions, the recipe uses the mix as posted earlier. I suspect that it was one of the earlier mixes (versus syrups such as grenadine or Orgeat) in their product line due to more advanced prep time needed to make it for use behind the bar (hint: it is cooked).
David Chan, owner of the recently closed Honululu in Alexandria Va, makes a mean Navy Grog that is markedly different from the Trader Vic version. Now, remember, Mr Chan was a bartender at the DC Trader Vics before opening his own place. He made his own Navy Grog mix for use at his bar. He mentioned to me that he might make that mix available (along with the MaiTai mix) on their website. However, I heard from another regular that he said the MT mix would be the only one he kept for himself. Anyway, the last week they were open, I asked him to taste my homemade Navy Grog mix that I had been making based upon tasting his mixed drinks, and he allowed me to taste his NG mix stright (i.e. not diluted into a drink). His was very dark (like the MaiTai mix) and much more complex in flavor than the bottled Trader Vic stuff. He proclaimed mine very good and asked for my recipe which he said was very close and told me where I was off from his. I will share as soon as I determine if he is actually going to sell his commercially. Our discussion then ventured into Trader Vic's commercial mixes. Mr. Chan made some very interesting comments regarding them. He said that the drink recipies and the mixes had changed over the years. Now we know that the mixes and syrups were originated for and are still used in the restaurants (except in the case of the MaiTai if you ask for a San Francisco style).
This leads to some question as to what really is the recipie to their drinks? It would not surprise me if the old Trader changed the recipies for publication to make the in house drinks a little better than you could make at home and to delete hard to find ingredients while promoting his own line of mixes etc. Now back to David Chan. He took over the Honululu back in 1978. Prior to that, he had another place in Canada and before that worked at the DC Trader Vic's. That location opened in 1961. It stands to reason that there were original employees there when Mr. Chan worked there in the early 70's. It is entirely possible that what we were tasting was Mr Chan's version (changed a little and made his own perhaps) of 1961 vintage drinks.
Just look at the variations and use of esoteric ingedients (Van Der Hum, Parfait de Amour etc) in some of the other drink books including Don the Beachcomber and Grog Log compared to the relative simplicity of the published versions of T.V. drinks for further support to my theory that T.V. drinks may not be what they once were.
To close, the Navy Grog recipie from the Honululu use a homemade mix plus light and amber rums (cheap stuff: Ronrico), sour lemon (bar supply house bottled reconstituted unsweetened lemon juice), quarted of a lime squeezed in and shell left in and pink grapefruit juice. In other words, it is basically a MaiTai with the addition of grapefruit juice and the substitution of a different flavored sugar syrup.

So, is anyone else out there a Navy Grog fan and do you have your own recipie?

Okay, I think I finally have a workable recipie for replicating the Honolulu Navy Grog at home. Please try it out (cut the recipie in half if in doubt) and try it over the weekend.

Navy Grog Mix Recipe
Inspired by the Navy Grog mixed and served by David Chan, owner of the Late Great Honolulu Restaurant

Makes one 750ml bottle

Note, recipe can easily halved.

Ingredient List:
2 12oz cans Coca cola , preferably warm (no substitute)

1 thumb sized piece of fresh ginger root (you CANNOT substitute dried ground ginger powder for this, the only acceptable substitute is candied ginger, whole or puree)

12 whole cloves (very important that they be whole and not ground for clarity of the finished product, if you absolutely must use ground cloves, substitute a scant ¼ teaspoon and use a fine sieve with cheesecloth to strain later)

2 Whole Dried Allspice berries (no substitute, you cannot put in little enough of the powder to not dominate the taste)

1 teaspoon Orange Bitters (available from Fee Brothers or put in the peel of one orange)

1 Tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon “sour salt” (this is pure citric acid powder used in canning and pickling, it can often be found near Kosher for Passover products, it allows you to add sour without adding sweet and keeps fruit from darkening due to exposure to air, if unavailable, leave it out and add more lemon or lime juice when making the drink itself)

Traditional Bitters to taste- 1 or 2 dashes (I prefer Fee Brothers to Angostura brand for its more complex flavor)


Open cans of coke and pour into pot or saucepan.
Scrub ginger to remove loose peel segments and slice thinly (dime thickness). Slices can be further divided if they are larger than about dime sized. It is important, however, not to be tempted to dice or shred the ginger too finely since it will break apart some when cooked and make it harder to strain out later.
Add ginger to pan of coke.
Add orange peel (if using) to pan. (If using bitters, it gets added later)
Add cloves to pan.
Add Allspice to pan. (if using)
Allow this to steep at room temp while the coke goes flat. (This keeps it from foaming too much when heated)
Add honey and sour salt (if using) and simmer the contents of the pan for about 30 minutes.
Allow to cool.
Strain out all solids (ginger, peel, cloves)

Add Orange Bitters (if using)
Add Traditional Bitters (if using)
Put into empty clean 750 ml bottle
Add water to make up full volume
Note, some alcohol: grain, vodka or even rum, could also be added as a preservative.

To make one Honolulu Restaurant Style Navy Grog Drink:
1 oz Navy Grog Mix
1 oz bottled reconstituted lemon juice (ReaLemon or equivalent)
1 to 1 ½ oz Pink Grapefruit Juice (to taste)
1 oz Amber Rum
1 oz Light Rum
¼ Lime squeezed and shell left in
Combine all; shake with ice, garnish and serve.

I have had folks who taste tested this tell me that it is too gingery. If you are worried this might be the case, reduce the amount of ginger and the simmer time. Also, feel free to substitue fresh lemon or lime juice for the RealLemon; I was simply being true to the original I was trying to duplicate.

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