05.20.11

Film-Inspired Cocktails: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

X still marks the spot, but bitters, a touch of spice, and Flor de Caña Gold are the treasures in this Pirates of the Caribbean-inspired drink from Seattle chefs Brian McCracken and Dana Tough.

Typically, some of the most popular rides at Disney’s amusement parks are inspired by movies that do remarkably well at the box-office or hold a particularly important place in the filmic canon. Think “Peter Pan’s Flight,” the “Dumbo the Flying Elephant” ride, or “Snow White’s Scary Adventures.”

Other times they are rides that riff on elements from a Disney film, like the whirling tea cups from the Mad Hatter’s party in Alice in Wonderland, or Disneyland’s “Matterhorn Bobsleds” ride, which was created after the lesser-known 1959 Disney movie Third Man on the Mountain.

But in the mid-'90s, Disney flipped its film-to-ride model on its head and began making movies based on its theme park rides, starting with the 1997 television movie, Tower of Terror, obviously based on “ The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror”.

In 2000, Disney released Mission to Mars, inspired by the eponymous show located in the park’s Tomorrowland. Though forgettable, at least Mission made a little more noise than 2002’s The Country Bears, which, though based on the beloved “Country Bear Jamboree” attraction, failed to receive much love from critics or Disney-philes.

But before the death knell for the film-to-ride concept could be tolled, Disney released Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. Maybe it was the power of the Verbinski-Bruckheimer collaboration, America’s love for Johnny Depp, or perhaps it was the movie’s actual story (gasp! Imagine!) but the film bucked the trend and plundered the box office.

Sequels were ordered! The minds behind the unconventional ride-to-film concept were applauded! Fashion designers were inspired!  And then, thinking they were on to something good, Disney released The Haunted Mansion later that year, into the newly opened arms of audiences. Though a mild success, critics universally deemed it a failure and no subsequent sequels were ordered. Sorry Eddie Murphy.

Despite that setback, here we are, on the eve of the release of the Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, the fourth film in the very lucrative Pirates series.

Will Disney only be successful turning rides into movies when the stories are set around gold-toothed swashbucklers?

The “Mouse House” doesn’t seem to think so, recently confirming it has enlisted Tom Hanks and Tim Allen for a live-action adaptation of Adventureland’s “ Jungle Cruise” boat ride.

Even “The Haunted Mansion” is getting another lease on life on the big screen, this time in a Murphy-less version directed by Guillermo del Toro.

Could a Space Mountain-inspired film or a story set in the canyons outlined by the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad not be far behind? Or maybe a tale of tolerance and global unity, lifted from the multicultural waters of the “It’s a Small World” boat ride in Fantasyland?

Amateur mixologists might be at a loss for what would be an appropriate tipple with which toast the latest installment in the Pirates of the Caribbean. A cocktail rimmed with the white cheddar flavored-powder of this limited edition Pirate’s Booty? A drink with medicinal benefits that could cure the ailments that commonly afflicted pirates and combat scurvy, malaria, syphilis, or scabies?

An undoubtedly delicious drink might be made to taste like the main pirate of this film, who also happens to be frequently lauded as the sexiest man alive?

With so many options, it’s best to leave it to the professionals and thus why we’ve enlisted the aid of Dana Tough and Brian McCracken, co-chefs and co-owners of Spur and Tavern Law in Seattle. “A pirate’s hold was prized if it included exotic spices—a costly luxury back then,” says Tough. “We capture the magnetism that spices held for pirate bandits like Captain Sparrow with the Tasmanian peppercorn syrup that adds a spice and tells a story."

“Ingredients like falernum bring a depth of variety of spice that a successful raid by these bandits would have procured. Our cocktail may have a laundry list of ingredients, but that’s why it’s named the Dead Man’s Chest,” adds McCracken.”

The Dead Man's Chest
Created by Dana Tough and Brian McCracken of Spur and Tavern Law

¾ oz. Flor de Cana 4 Year-Old Gold
¾ oz. Fernet Branca
½ oz. lemon juice
½ oz. pineapple juice
¼ oz. falernum
¾ oz. Tasmanian peppercorn syrup*
6 dashes of Angostura Bitters

Place all ingredients in a Boston shaker over ice. Shake and then strain into a Collins glass over crushed ice. Garnish with a swizzle stick and a lime rose.

*To make the Tasmanian peppercorn syrup place ¾ cup sugar, ¾ cup water and 2 tbsp Tasmanian peppercorns in a pot and bring to a boil. Blend and strain. Reserve leftover syrup for multiple rounds of this cocktail.

Brody Brown has studied fashion crimes, examined social issues, and carefully considered cocktails in Montreal and New York. He now continues his exploration in Los Angeles, where he writes about spirits, music, LGBT subjects, entertainment and nightlife.