The Crimson Slippers Cocktail taught me that rum and Campari are an astonishing, and nearly perfect, combination.

My sister found the Crimson Slippers in a magazine excerpt from A. J. Rathbun’s Dark Spirits (2009), and it’s been part of her regular cocktail rotation ever since; last time she visited, I decided to find out what the attraction was. What a delight. I’ve been drinking Campari with gin, Campari with rye, Campari with bourbon, but at last I’ve found its natural partner—who knew that Campari and dark rum could blend so well?

(Obviously Rathbun did; he invented the drink, after all. The story of its creation is at his Spiked Punch blog. )

Crimson Slippers Cocktail, photo © 2010 Douglas M. Ford. All rights reserved.
The Crimson Slippers Cocktail

Rathbun is making some of his ingredients himself. My hat is off to him for that; meanwhile, here’s our off-the-shelf version of his Crimson Slippers Cocktail:

Crimson Slippers Cocktail

  • 2½ oz dark rum (Appleton Estate 12)
  • 1 oz Campari
  • ¼ oz Cointreau
  • 2–3 dashes Peychaud’s bitters

Stir until quite cold; strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Express and garnish with lime.

This seems like an excellent use for a dark Jamaican rum, and the Appleton 12 works quite nicely.

Rathbun’s original recipe calls for a half ounce of triple sec, but it sounds like his homemade product is less sweet than Cointreau. A half ounce of Cointreau is overly sweet to my palate; cutting it in half seems to work just right for me. I haven’t tried it, but I would speculate that something like Patron’s Citronge, with its sharper orange flavor and reduced sweetness, might be a better match for this drink than the Cointreau. Either way, drink the Crimson Slippers while it is very, very cold.

As for the bitters, it pleases me to find another cocktail besides the Sazerac that blends Peychaud’s so perfectly.