The Thai Boxer is good for at least one round

6 Jul

by Gary Regan, San Francisco Chronical (2005-07-06)

The Professor, our cocktailian bartender, is watching two strangers at the end of his bar, one of whom is standing on one leg, repeatedly waving his arms in the air and bending at the knee.

“Excuse me, guys, but may I ask what the hell you’re doing?” he asks.

“Hong Hern. He’s showing me Hong Hern.”

” Think you could explain that in layman’s terms?”

The guys tell him about Wai Kru, the ancient ceremonial dances that Thai boxers perform before competitions. It’s a way of showing respect for the chairman of the tournament, paying homage to their teachers and focusing the boxer’s mind before battle commences.

“How weird,” says The Professor. “I just got my hands on the recipe for a drink called the Thai Boxer from Scott Beattie over at Cyrus in Healdsburg. It’s a pretty complicated drink, but he uses the new Charbay Vanilla Bean Rum. Incredible stuff.”

The Domaine Charbay Winery & Distillery in the Napa Valley is owned and operated by four members of the Karakasevic family — Miles, Susan, Lara and Marko — and these artisanal producers of flavored vodkas recently unveiled an incredible white rum, along with a rum flavored with Tahitian vanilla. Both are made from sugar cane juice rather than the molasses used by most rum producers.

Another new rum made from sugar cane juice, 10 Cane, hails from Trinidad — it’s a very well-made product that’s full of character and flavor. Rhum Barbancourt, from Haiti, is another great rum made by this method.

Although 10 Cane is not available in a white rum, it is well-suited to cocktailian endeavors. White rums made from molasses that deserve recognition include Appleton White from Jamaica, Mount Gay Premium White from Barbados and the 2-year-old Cruzan Estate Light rum from St. Croix.

“I’m just about to fix one of these Thai Boxer drinks, guys. Wanna sip?”

The strangers nod their heads and The Professor starts to make the drink.

“So, where do you practice this Thai boxing?”

“Fairtex Muay Thai on Hawthorne Street. Fancy your chances in the ring?”

The boss, who has been eavesdropping on the conversation, butts in: “I doubt The Professor here can balance on one leg for more than a couple of seconds, so if he can’t do the dance he’ll never get to the fight, will he?”

The Professor shoots the boss a disapproving look and presents the drink to his new friends.

“This one’s on the boss, guys,” he grins.

The boss scowls and disappears to his office.


Thai Boxer

Adapted from a recipe by Scott Beattie, bar manager at Cyrus restaurant, Healdsburg.


12 fresh Thai basil leaves (reserve two for garnish)

10 fresh cilantro leaves

10 fresh mint leaves

1 ounce fresh lime juice

1/2 ounce Thai coconut milk

1/2 ounce simple syrup

1/2 ounce Charbay Tahitian Vanilla Bean rum

2 to 3 ounces Cock ‘n Bull ginger beer

Tear the cilantro, mint and 10 of the basil leaves into small pieces. Add them to a mixing glass with the lime juice, coconut milk and simple syrup. Grind the torn leaves into the liquid with a wooden muddler for a few seconds. Then add the rum plus enough ice to fill the glass two-thirds full and top with the ginger beer. Stir the ingredients together, strain into an ice-filled Collins glass and add the garnish.

Gary Regan is the author of “The Joy of Mixology: The Consummate Guide to the Bartender’s Craft” and other books. E-mail him at

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