The Kingston Soundsystem Cocktail Is A Colorful Way To Use Suze

In 2017, the digital magazine Punch challenged bartenders to devise drink recipes drawing from favorite songs. Shannon Mustipher of New York's Glady's bar stepped up to the challenge by creating the Kingston Soundsystem, a cocktail inspired by one of Horace Andy's reggae tunes. Mustipher looked to the Jungle Bird, a red tiki cocktail that mixes rum, Campari, pineapple juice, and lime, for recipe guidance. 

Made up of aged pot still Jamaican rum, overproof rum, Suze, soursop or pineapple juice, and lime juice, Mustipher's Kingston Soundsystem concoction is shaken with ice and strained before being crowned with a lime and pineapple leaf garnish and served. The inclusion of Suze, an established French bitters, invites a canary hue to the glass for a flavorful, woodsy conjuring of bittersweet backyard bashes. 

Suze has a lively history of its own. When it was invented, the brightly colored aperitif was created using yellow gentian roots — not wine — and was packaged in tall, skinny bottles that were unique for the time. Advertising efforts were focused on cafes and restaurants where socialites gathered, and the brand embraced its wildcard reputation. The approach worked, and the yellow beverage won a gold medal at the Paris Universal Exhibition in 1900. The inclusion of the quirky product is fitting for a drink named after a song called "Skylarking."

A playful pour of the tropics

Skylarking, a phrase to describe horseplay, practical jokes, and trickster-like behavior, is as playful as Shannon Mustipher's cocktail creation. Mustipher's experiment may look subtle in appearance, but the sipper packs a wallop. Paired with the zesty twang of lime and the fruit-forward simplicity of soursop or pineapple, it's no wonder that the Kingston Soundsystem is a winner. 

After a taste of the rum and fruit flavors of Jamacia highlighted with the herbaceous notes of Suze, you, too, might find yourself skylarking. Speaking with Punch, Mustipher explained that aged rum offers notes of bitter cocoa and fruit that play well with those of overproof rum, like Rum Fire, making for a layered, bodacious beverage that can start an evening on a lively note and get revelers dancing. 

The fresh sipper can be modified to suit the palates of those attending the party, however. The funky inclusion of both aged pot still Jamaican rum and overproof rum can be heavy-handed if you're not careful with measurements, so if you'd like Suze to take a step forward or would prefer a lighter tropical taste, adjust the recipe proportions accordingly to allow your chosen ingredients to shine.