A time-honored tradition since 1984, New York City’s annual Fleet Week returns today through May 26. Flocks of Marines, sailors and coast guards come ashore, feted with military bands, maritime exhibits and aviation demonstrations. To salute the seafaring crowds, we’re raising a cocktail powered with Navy Strength rum or gin.
What makes a spirit “Navy Strength”? In short, it must be bottled at 57% alcohol by volume, or a whopping 114 proof (that’s 50% by weight or 100 English proof)—the strength required by the British Royal Navy.
Not to be confused with “Navy-style” spirits, which have less potency and flavor than the real-deal bottlings, these modern-day heavy hitters pay respect to our fleet and taste best in a cocktail.
Smith & Cross Traditional Jamaica Rum; $29, 95.
A top pick for tiki and tropical drinks, this enticingly untamed, funky rum shows lots of warm honey, brown sugar and spice. Top 50 Spirits, 2014
Perry’s Tot Navy Strength Gin; $32.
From Brooklyn’s NY Distilling Co. comes this homage to M.C. Perry, the commandant of the Brooklyn Navy Yard circa 1941. It’s made with wildflower honey from upstate New York, offering a touch of sweetness before walloping the palate with fiery cinnamon and citrus.
Genius Gin Navy Strength; $35, 87 points.
From Austin, Texas, this gin mingles slightly sweet, white-floral notes with spicy and cedar-like flavors.
Gustaf Navy Strength Gin; $50, 88 points.
Made from a rye grown on the distillery’s Minnesota farm, this American-made gin mixes bracing notes of anise, Meyer lemon, fennel and pine.
Plymouth Navy Strength, $50.
While regular-strength Plymouth is relatively neutral and cocktail friendly, this higher-octane gin, also made in England, shows loads of citrus, floral and juniper-pine notes.