5 Old Monk mixes: Beyond rum and coke

5 Old Monk mixes: Beyond rum and coke

As a punch, with coffee liqueur or puréed mango -- mixologist Yangdup Lama suggests 5 new ways to drink this first-rate Indian rum
Old Monk
With no advertising whatsoever, Old Monk has gained a cult following, and not just in India.

Old Monk rum is probably India’s most underrated export, manufactured by Mohan Meakin Ltd. in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh since Victorian times.

The delicious, dark, caramel-nosed, vanilla-and-spice-mouthed desi rum, distilled from sugarcane molasses, has been the country’s widest-selling liquor brand for decades, and has been bagging gold medals at the Monde World Selections since 1982.

But nobody knows this. Because the company never advertises. Instead Old Monk has gained a cult following around the world through word of mouth.

The conversion in my own family happened sometime in the 1980s when single malts were all the rage. But a surfeit of spurious spirit forced the folks to seek out an alternative that was reliable, steadfast, local, accessible, affordable, tasty and potent -- in other words, Old Monk.

Ever since, that bottle gets first place in the suitcase no matter where in the world we travel.


In India, the blended dark rum weighs in with an alcohol content of nearly 42.8 percent and comes in two main kinds: the more common seven-year-old XXX variety and a slightly more expensive 12-year-old Old Monk Gold Reserve.

Buy it desi-style as a pauaa (180 ml, or a "quarter"), an addha (375 ml, a "half"), a khamba (750 ml, a "full") or go the whole hog with a one-liter bottle.

If you’re lucky, you’ll chance upon the new 12-year-old Old Monk Supreme, which comes in a much-sought-after limited-edition glass bottle in the shape of a golden-headed monk; the head comes off and doubles as a large peg measure.

5 new rum mixes

Die-hard Old Monk drinkers will swear by the spirit sipped neat, with a few ice cubes and a dash of water or soda, or topped with a bit of cola and a twist of lime.

But we've been drinking that for decades. Now what else can we do with the stuff?

Mixologist Yangdup Lama (of bar/beverage management company Cocktails & Dreams in New Delhi) shares five of his favorite rum recipes. He recommends Old Monk, but any dark rum will do.

Old Monk drinks

1. Desi Rum Punch

Dark rum: 45 ml

A pinch of chaat masala

A pinch of black salt

Pineapple juice: 90 ml

Fresh lime juice: 10 ml

Shake all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and serve, over ice, in an old-fashioned glass. Garnish with a pineapple wedge and an oblong, slit green chili.

Old Monk drinks

2. Muddled Monk

Dark rum: 45 ml

Orange liqueur: 15 ml

Fresh sweet lime: 6 wedges

Fresh lime juice: 10 ml

In an old-fashioned glass, muddle the sweet lime chunks and pour in the rest of the ingredients. Top with crushed ice and garnish with a twist of sweet lime peel.

Old Monk drinks

3. Garden of Eden

Dark rum: 60 ml

Fresh lime: 1 wedge

Apple juice: to top

Fill a tall zombie glass with ice cubes. Pour in the rum and top with apple juice. Squeeze the fresh lime wedge and drop the peel in as well. Garnish with a few apple slices and serve.

Old Monk drinks

4. Mango Monk

Dark rum: 45 ml

Mint syrup: 10 ml

Fresh lime juice: 5 ml

Fresh mango or mango purée: 90 ml

Blend all the ingredients together in a bar blender with ice. Serve slushy in a brandy snifter and garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.

Old Monk drinks

5. Monk's Coffee

Dark rum: 45 ml

Coffee liqueur: 15 ml

Fill an old-fashioned glass with crushed ice. Pour in the rum and coffee liqueur. Stir, then garnish with a few coffee beans.

Old Monk is also sold by some distributors in the United States, Britain, Japan and Canada, as well as being sporadically available online on sites like eBay.

Rayna has been getting lost since she was three years old, and figured she might as well make a living writing about it.
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