Lime lightening dark ‘n stormy is a seasonal pickle lime twist on a classic dark and stormy Bermudan rum highball cocktail where the ginger beer is given a bespoke lime kick by infusion with kaffir lime leaves and lime zest and cold fermentation of raw lime juice. Kaffir lime and lime fermented ginger beer is paired with fresh lime juice and black Bermudan rum for a refreshing rum, ginger, lime highball cocktail served over ice in a tall glass garnished with a lime wheel and a flamed kaffir lime leaf representing the fire resulting from a strike of lime lightening. The idea of lightening works both with the sparking of tiny bubbles bursting on your tongue and is captured in the smoking of the kaffir lime leaf, to release the kaffir lime aroma through heat, also producing a visually enticing twist of kaffir lime smoke.
What is a dark & stormy or dark ‘n stormy cocktail? – Bermudan dark rum & ginger beer highball
A dark and stormy or dark ‘n stormy is an elegant two ingredient rum highball cocktail using Gosling’s Black Seal Bermudan Rum and ginger beer, served in a highball glass over ice, garnished with a lime wedge. For more highball cocktail history and recipes see my posts on La Paloma and Chilcano de pisco.
Dark and Stormy Bermudan Cocktail – Gosling’s Bermudan Rum & Ginger Beer – According to Sarah Rense (2019) writing for Esquire the Dark and Stormy recipe using Gosling’s Black Seal Bermudan rum dates to the 1800’s when Gosling’s Black Seal was paired with locally made ginger beer. Simon Difford of Difford’s Guide writes that the Dark ‘N’ Stormy is the ‘national drink of Bermuda’ while Gary Regan (2018: 3553-3558) in The Joy of Mixology indicates that the ‘Dark and Stormy’ is:
‘A Bermudan drink made with dark Bermudan rum and cloudy, if not quite stormy, ginger beer.’
A dark and stormy does not officially include lime juice, but there are many variations on this drink that add lime juice, syrups or bitters to achieve a complex and balanced drink.
Dark and Stormy Ingredients: I have referred to Gary Regan’s (2018: 3553) Joy of Mixology, Alex Day, Nick Fauchauld and David Kaplan’s (2018: 140) Cocktail Codex and Simon Difford’s (2020) Difford’s Guide for the basic Dark and Stormy recipe and additions to this including lime juice. A rum highball or dark and stormy, dark ‘n stormy, calls for the following base ingredients, variations/additions are provided below the basic formula:
- Goslings Black Seal Bermudan Rum
- Ginger beer
- Glassware: Collin’s glass or Highball glass
- Garnish: lime wedge
Additions: fresh lime juice (Rense 2019; Difford 2020; Day, Fauchauld & Kaplan 2018: 140), Simon Difford in his Dark ‘N’ Stormy (Difford’s recipe) adds bitters and sugar syrup in addition to lime juice (Difford 2020), Cocktail Codex replaces ginger beer with a house made ginger syrup and seltzer and garnishes with a lime wheel and crystallised ginger(Day, Fauchauld & Kaplan 2018: 140).
How to make a dark & stormy highball: Build in the glass: For detail on the method of making Highballs I have referred to Hugo Ensslin’s (1917: 44) How to mix drinks section on Highballs, Highballs by Simon Difford (2020) and How to make a highball by David Wondrich (2017). Hugo Ensslin (1917: 44) describes how to make Highballs including a rum highball in his How to mix drinks, he writes of this build in the glass method of making highballs:
“Use highball glass with cube of ice, add one drink of liquor desired, fill up with carbonated water or Ginger Ale. Serve with small bar spoon in glass and a piece of lemon peel if desired.”
There are different methods recommended for making the dark and stormy, although in the examples I found at least part of the drink is built in the glass with ice as with Ensslin’s (1917: 44) description above:
- Build in the glass – add rum and lime juice, top with ginger beer, garnish with lime wedge – see Joy of Mixology (Regan 2018: 3558); How to make a Dark and Stormy (Rense 2019, in Esquire). Sometimes this build in the glass method is stirred to mix the drink – see Rense (2019, in Esquire), or the carbonation of the ginger beer is used to mix the drink without stirring, for more on this point see Simon Difford’s very helpful article on Highballs
- Short shake & strain – short shake lime juice, ginger syrup and rum, strain into highball glass filled with seltzer and ice, garnish with lime wheel and crystallised ginger – see Cocktail Codex (Day, Fauchauld & Kaplan 2018: 140)
- Dark rum float – Add ginger beer to a highball glass with ice, float dark rum on top, as in Simon Difford’s recipe for a Dark ‘N’ Stormy Highball.
How is the lime lightening dark ‘n stormy different?
The lime lightening dark ‘n stormy offers a seasonal pickle lime twist on the traditional dark and stormy recipe through a lime and kaffir lime leaf flavoured from scratch fermented ginger beer that is paired with fresh lime juice and Gosling’s Black Seal Bermudan Rum. The lime lightening dark ‘n stormy is garnished with a lime wheel and a flamed kaffir lime leaf representing a strike of lime lightening and resulting fire and smoke releasing an intense lime aroma. While I remain faithful to the original Dark and Stormy two ingredient formula in using Gosling’s Black Seal Bermudan Rum and ginger beer – in the lime lightening dark ‘n stormy I have added fresh lime juice and increased the lime flavour of the ginger beer by fermenting raw lime juice and infusing the ginger beer with kaffir lime leaves. The garnish of the lime lightening dark ‘n stormy has additional lime aroma in the form of a flamed kaffir lime leaf and uses a lime wheel rather than a wedge symbolising the strike of lime lightening.
Lime flavour with lightening bubbles: Using a homemade fermented ginger beer flavoured with lime and kaffir lime leaves offers a unique and intense lime flavour to this drink that complements the Bermudan rum. Cold process fermentation of fresh lime juice with a ginger tea infused with kaffir lime leaves adds a deep and spicy lime ginger flavour that is very fizzy when the fermentation is complete. The method used here for making fermented ginger beer and a ginger bug starter is that outlined by Holly Davis (2017) in her amazing book Ferment, the addition of kaffir lime leaves, lime juice and zest are my own contribution.
Ginger bug, ginger beer plant, starter – Firstly, a starter, ginger bug or ginger beer plant is made by fermenting grated ginger, sugar and water over a week, while feeding daily with grated ginger, sugar and water. This starter is maintained by daily feedings and can then be used to make ginger beer and fruit and tea sodas.
Ginger & lime tea – Next a ginger, lime and lime leaf tea flavoured with sugar is made using boiling water. The tea is cooled, strained and cold filtered water is added, along with the strained ginger bug starter.
Fermentation – The tea with the starter are fermented in a large crock or jug for 1-4 days covered with a clean tea towel and stirred with a wooden spoon two to three times a day. When bubbles appear, the beer is ready.
Second fermentation in Flip-top bottles to create more intense carbonation – To create increased carbonation a second fermentation is done in sealed flip-top glass bottles. I like to keep mine in an esky with a cooler brick to control temperature. They need to be burped daily or have the tops opened daily to allow carbon dioxide to escape – if this builds up, they can explode. After 1-4 days put the bottles in the fridge to slow down fermentation further and enjoy – still burp daily.
Tips for substitutions – Fermenting ginger to make your own ginger bug starter is a great project to take on if you’re are staying at home at the moment as it is a calming daily ritual and you can use the starter to make all manner of fruit and tea sodas and ginger beer. If you are not able to access ginger, Sandor Katz (2012: 150-151) in his amazing book The Art of Fermentation advises that you can substitute turmeric or galangal to create a starter or to make a tea for making beer or soda. I have made a ginger and turmeric tea with lemon and cinnamon to make ginger beer before and it was delicious – simply swap out some of the ginger in the recipe below for turmeric and change out the lime for lemon and kaffir lime leaves for cinnamon. If you do not have enough fresh ginger to make a strong ginger tea you can create a delicious soda using a tea base such as green tea or chai tea with some ginger. Fruit juices also make amazing fermented sodas – for more on how to make fruit sodas see my posts on strawberry ginger beer and grapefruit soda.
Tips to avoid explosions – Store your flip-tops in an esky with a cooler brick to control temperature. When burping, place the bottles in your sink and cover the top with a clean tea towel so that if there is a lot of pressure and the top flies off it does not hit you in the face and any overflowing bottles are caught in the sink. This build-up of pressure usually only occurs when there are high temperatures which increase the rate of fermentation. You can control the temperature by adding an ice brick to your esky or storing your ginger beer in the fridge if it is very hot.
Ginger beer Mocktails – Ginger beer is such a refreshing drink and it is wonderful with fresh lime juice – you can make it as a delicious non-alcoholic mocktail without any alcohol if you like. My kids love making lime ginger beer spiders with a spoonful of coconut or other ice cream.
How to make a Lime lightening dark ‘n stormy highball: short shake & top with ginger beer
Following Cocktail Codex (Day, Fauchauld & Kaplan 2018: 140) the lime lightening dark ‘n stormy is made by short shaking the rum and lime juice before adding to an ice filled highball glass. The method for the lime lightening dark ‘n stormy differs in that the rum and lime are strained into the highball and topped with ginger beer, rather than being added to a glass already containing seltzer and ice. The carbonation of the fermented ginger beer does a good job of mixing the lime lightening dark ‘n stormy – for more on this point see Simon Difford’s amazingly helpful article Highballs.
Styling the lime lightening dark ‘n stormy highball
I used a flamed dry kaffir lime leaf and a lime wheel to garnish the lime lightening dark ‘n stormy to symbolise the effect of a bolt of lime lightening striking, with the flame and smoke from the dried kaffir lime leaf releasing a pungent lime aroma that is followed by the fizzy bubbles of lime and kaffir lime infused ginger beer that work well with the spiciness of the dark Bermudan rum. In these times of uncertainty when we are self-isolating and staying at home everything feels a little bit like being at sea in a storm and this lime lightening is a flash of light on the horizon – it’s only with small everyday rituals such as maintaining and creating new ferments that I feel connected with the world and those around me – even if this is a virtual connection – if I am able to bring a tiny lime flavoured light into your home with my recipe and photos then we are not alone in this.
Tips for adapting & modifying this lime and kaffir lime ginger beer recipe
If you do not have ginger you can use turmeric or galangal, if you do not have limes you can use lemons or oranges or grapefruits, or a tea base such as green tea or chai tea, if you do not have kaffir lime leaves, use whatever spices you have to hand, I like cinnamon but have also used coriander. One other useful tip is to use less ginger if you cannot come by it – a tea base allows for intense flavour but requires less ginger, you can halve the amount used in the recipe below when using a tea base.
Make use of what is to hand and find your own creativity in what you are fermenting. I offer this lime and kaffir lime ginger beer recipe as a starting point – I had begun working on it before I started self-isolating but I wanted to make use of what I have and share my experience of modifying the recipe as the situation has evolved and as perhaps you will adapt and change it to suit your situation. I take heart from the words of Sandor Katz in his Ferment yourself wild pickling workshop I attended just before the situation changed remarkably in Australia – he encouraged us to experiment as:
“Fermentation is infinite.”
Lime lightening dark 'n stormyPrint Recipe
- Ginger bug starter: 1 tablespoon ginger with skin on, washed and grated
- 1 tablespoon dark muscovado sugar
- 100mls water
- Ginger bug daily feed for 1 week: 1 tablespoon ginger with skin on, washed and grated
- 1 tablespoon dark muscovado sugar
- 50mls water
- Lime and kaffir lime ginger beer: 4 litres water (2 litres boiling water, 2 litres cold filtered water)
- 440 grams low GI cane sugar
- 440 grams sliced ginger
- 4 kaffir lime leaves
- Grated zest and juice of 2 limes
- 1 cup active (bubbling) strained ginger bug starter
- Lime lightening dark 'n stormy: 2 shots Goslings Black Seal Bermudan Rum
- ½ shot fresh lime juice
- Lime and kaffir lime ginger beer to top
- Ice, 2-3 ice cubes
- Glassware: Highball/Collins
- Garnish: lime wheel, flamed dry kaffir lime leaf
Ginger bug starter: Add grated ginger, sugar and water to a clean mason jar and stir with a wooden spoon to dissolved sugar
Cover with a clean cloth and store in a cool dark place
Maintain ginger bug: Remove the ginger bug from storage daily and feed 1 tablespoon of grated ginger and sugar and 50mls of water and stir with wooden spoon for approximately 1 week – it is ready when bubbles appear.
If keeping and maintaining the ginger bug for further use, you can either continue to feed as above daily and store at room temperature or arrest the fermentation process by refrigerating the bug and feeding once per week with the same daily feed then placing back in the fridge.
When ready to use a refrigerated bug simply begin the daily feeding process and store at room temperature until bubbles form.
Lime and kaffir lime ginger beer: Add the sliced ginger, kaffir lime leaves, along with the sugar and lime zest to a saucepan and add 2 litres of boiling water
Stir to dissolve the sugar and allow the ginger tea mixture to infuse and cool for at least 2 hours
When cool add the lime juice
Add 2 litres of cool filtered water
Strain the ginger tea through a fine mesh sieve to remove the ginger slices, lime leaves and citrus zest and any small pieces of fruit, into a clean bowl or fermenting crock
Add the strained active ginger bug to the crock
Stir with a wooden spoon in one direction and then the other to create a vortex to encourage aeration and fermentation
Cover the crock with a clean tea towel
Stir 2-3 times daily with a wooden spoon as above for 1-4 days or until bubbles appear
Decant the strained ginger beer into clean swing top bottles
Allow to process in the bottles for a second ferment of up to 4 days – burp the bottles daily by opening the tops to ensure they do not explode
Store in the fridge and open the tops or ‘burp’ to release carbonation daily
Use within 2 weeks
Lime lightening dark 'n stormy: Add a handful of ice cubes to a tall glass (Collins/Highball)
Add rum and lime juice to a cocktail shaker with ice and short shake
Strain over the ice into your prepared highball glass
Top with lime and kaffir lime ginger beer
Garnish with a lime wheel and kaffir lime leaf
Flame the kaffir lime leaf to release the lime aroma and create a twist of smoke by lighting with a match
Holly Davis (2017). Ferment: A guide to the art of making ancient cultured goods. Murdoch Books: Crows Nest, Sydney.
Sandor Katz (2012). The Art of Fermentation. Chelsea Green Publishing: Vermont.
Sandor Katz (2020). Ferment yourself wild: 2020 Tour. Presented by the Fermentary: Carriageworks Farmers Markets, Sydney.
Alex Day, Nick Fauchauld & David Kaplan (2018). Cocktail Codex. Ten Speed Press: New York.
Hugo Ensslin (1916-1917). Recipes for mixed drinks. Second Edition. Hugo Ensslin: New York.
Gary Regan (2018). Joy of Mixology: The consummate guide to the bartender’s craft. Revised Edition. Clarkson Potter: New York.
Online dark and stormy and highball recipes
Simon Difford (2020). Dark ‘N’ Stormy (Difford’s recipe). In Difford’s Guide.
Simon Difford (2020). Dark ‘N’ Stormy Highball. In Difford’s Guide.
Simon Difford (2020). Highballs. In Difford’s Guide.
Sarah Rense (2019). How to make a dark and stormy. In Esquire.
David Wondrich (2017). How to make a highball. In Esquire.