Ruby Rangoon

Another long drink I want to talk about has a weird history. Unfortunately I have no direct access to sources mentioned below and can’t say exactly about it. Information I stubbornly gathered in Internet is a quite diverse so my summary version looks like a theory.

Because the first recipe I’ve found was a cocktail from CocktailDB, I’ve named the article Ruby Rangoon. Maybe that’s not completely correct but I love this version much more than all others.

Well, the cocktail recipe calls for gin, cranberry juice, lime juice and soda water. Looks like Cape Codder with gin, doesn’t it? I have no idea who invented the cocktail and how it was added to CocktailDB but it’s very close to vodka based Cape Codder and has a title similar to Rangoon Ruby cocktail by Trader Vic. Also Rangoon Ruby appears as a clone of Cape Codder served as a tiki cocktail.

David Wondrich wrote that all the cocktails are incarnations of Cape Cod Collins by Crosby Gaige.1 There was white rum and not vodka or gin mixed with cranberry juice, lime juice and soda. Eric Felten tells the story about confusion with similar cocktails with vodka and cranberry juice. Well-known cranberry juice brand Ocean Spray was reluctant to link its product with alcohol containing cocktails, and it was the cause that simple mixture of cranberry juice and vodka has had many titles such as Cape Codder, The Harpoon, Bog-Fog.

In the end of 60-s when cranberry juice was very popular in cocktail culture, Trader Vic has reworked Cape Codder recipe. In his «Trader Vic’s Pacific Island Cookbook»2 cocktail named «Rangoon Ruby» offers the same mix of vodka and cranberry juice with lime juice and soda water added not as optional but as necessary ingredients. Moreover, spent lime shell becomes a must as a garnish along with mint sprig, small piece of pineapple slice and maraschino cherry.

I’ve tasted Cape Codder many times as well as Rangoon Ruby. While Cape Codder is just a sour cranberry juice diluted and strengthened with tasteless vodka, Rangoon Ruby is more refreshing thing because of its carbonation and sharp lime tartness in the aftertaste. The latter looks like very good cocktail but in my opinion vodka doesn’t work perfectly here but gin does. Usual London dry gin combines with cranberry juice so well that I’ve forgot about other variants. Exactly Ruby Rangoon from CocktailDB is a head taller then Trader Vic’s Rangoon Ruby or Cape Codder thanks to gin and ginger ale included.

Ruby Rangoon

  • 45 ml gin (London Hill),
  • 45 ml cranberry juice (Santal Cranberry),
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) fresh lime juice,
  • ginger ale to top (~30-40 ml).

In a tall glass combine all the ingredients except ginger ale then add a half of ice. Stir carefully; add ice and ginger ale to top. Garnish with lime wheel.

Ruby Rangoon

Here I used my homemade ginger ale made by fermenting chopped ginger root, sugar and a small quantity of yeast.

Santal cranberry juice is a quite sweet but the cocktail was refreshingly sour and dry, with sharp juniper and cranberry flavour in the beginning and with hot and dry touch of ginger in the aftertaste. Lime was successful adding tartness and freshness to the aftertaste but it were gin and cranberry juice that totally dominated in the cocktail’s flavour. That results in refreshing dry cocktail, a bit unusual but very sharp and tasty.

Also ginger ale can be replaced with soda water. It brings more lightness because carbonation softens dryness while ginger ale exclusion turns the cocktail to pleasant sour drink.

  1. «Standard Cocktail Guide» by Crosby Gaige (1944) []
  2. «Trader Vic’s Pacific Island Cookbook» by Vic Bergeron (1968) []