If you’ve gotten here, then no doubt you’ve read Ishmael Black, Track 02: “Deep Sea Blues.”
Within it, the weary, morally ambiguous protagonist orders his standby drink of choice, a Bagger Vance. This — as far as I know from my decently formidable mixology knowledge — is my own creation (with an assist from Sir Kinkaid), or at least, doesn’t exist under this name. So, what the hell is it? Good question.
Bagger Vance, as you may know, is a fictional, mystical golf caddie. A Great Depression era retelling of a Hindu epic. We’ll disregard the Will Smith movie. However, it is from these golf origins that the drink earns its name. Another golf legend, Arnold Palmer is credited with creating his own soft drink — named after him — which is three parts iced tea (usually sweet tea) and one part lemonade. This is the basis for our drink (I don’t see Ishmael ever ordering a “cocktail” even if it is one).
An Arnold Palmer is then married another infamous tea drink, the Long Island Iced Tea. For those unaware, a Long Island is a smorgasbord of liquor: single shots of vodka, rum, gin, tequila and triple sec, with hopefully, just a splash of cola and a slice of lemon. It’s often harsh, unpleasant and certain to cause hangovers. Which is absolutely perfect for a man like Ishmael.
The combination of the two is a stiff sipper perfect for our southern rogue.
Without further ado, A Bagger Vance:
1 Part Lemonade
3 Parts Sweet Tea
2 oz. Sweet Tea Vodka
1 oz. Vanilla Rum/Lemon Rum (see notes)
1 oz. Gin
1 oz. Blanco Tequila
.5 oz of Triple Sec
A Lemon wedge
Served in a Highball glass
I’ll admit that despite just how vulgar the Long Island Iced Tea really is, I quite enjoy the taste of them. It’s preposterous, I know. So how do the fictional Bagger Vances stack up? Well, they certainly earn the “tea” in the name, more. With the sweet tea and the strength of flavor in the sweet tea vodka (I used Jeremiah Weed) you do definitely realize this is a tea cocktail just above the onslaught of alcohol. The lemonade portion of the Arnold Palmer’s a bit more lost, sadly. The Triple Sec helps, but if you’re looking for a Palmer-like balance you won’t find it here. The lemonade is just another bit player, equal to presence as the individual shots of liquor, but without the strength of flavor note. When designing this drink, I had decided on Vanilla Rum to mirror the hard lemonade recipe I know (which used vanilla vodka). I didn’t want an extra shot of vodka, so I decided on vanilla rum instead. It’s a nice subtle touch (I used Cruzan Vanilla Rum), but I think this recipe would have been better served with some Lemon Rum. Maybe I’ll rewrite the fiction!
All that said, this thing is still a bruiser! Perhaps not as weighty as a well done Long Island (anything more than a splash of cola isn’t a Long Island), but at nearly a 50/50 split alcohol to non, it can certainly do some damage. As someone who loves sweet tea, I really enjoyed it overall. It’s better balanced, and easier to drink than a Long Island, but still lets you know you’re drinking a stiff cocktail. Absolutely great for a relaxed summer day, southern gentlemen style. The only caveat being that its immeasurably improved with Lemon Rum (like Flor de Cana Limon), so consider that the new recipe!