Classical Cocktails: Fausto Carmona, The Drink

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Roberto Hernandez Heredia, FKA Fausto Carmona, certainly presents a complicated case, and may well be the quintessential Cleveland Indian. Carmona contains Whitman-esque multitudes, all of them bizarre: Hero of the 2007 Midge Game; an abject failure as a closer; bipolar marvel as a starter; reigning poster-child for strategic identity theft among Dominican prospects desperate to make it.

That last chameleon turn may clinch it, but Carmona’s off-kilter, picaresque career has always been emblematic of the intimate relationship Cleveland sports fans must cultivate with the uncanny. Being a Cleveland fan requires an endless recitation of the Battlestar Galactica mantra “all of this has happened before; all of this will happen again.” In this case, “this” being “really weird shit.”

Conventional portrayals of Cleveland fans as “tormented” fail to account for this most salient aspect of the experience. Sure, the Drive, the Fumble, and Jose Fucking Mesa are burned in to my psyche like points on an acupuncture chart, but the meridians connecting those points consist of the kinds of rulebook-stretching curiosities that most fans never endure. Things such as Ricky Davis’s much-reviled triple double; the Dawson Crossbar; Dwayne Rudd’s helmet costing the Browns a playoff berth; Carlos Martinez homering off of Jose Canseco’s head. I was one of a few thousand in the stands at old Municipal stadium for Canseco’s boner. From my seat along the first-base line, I probably could have sauntered over to right-field unopposed and retrieved the historic ball, but it never occurred to me. At 15, I was already certain that following the Tribe would bring much stranger experiences my way.

We all invent our own ways of coping. I made myself at home with the Unheimlichkeit by learning to make and consume cocktails. For happy hour with my favorite midge memories (suck it, Joba!), I put together a drink with an identity crisis: a tiki drink that also uses Scotch as a base spirit; a swizzle that doesn’t require any swizzling. Contradictory, conflicted, but ultimately delicious, I present my boozy Fausto-ian bargain, the Dominican Swindle Swizzle.

Dominican Swindle Swizzle

1 ½ oz. dark Dominican Rum (I used Brugal Extra Viejo)

1 oz. Johnnie Walker Double Black (another smoky scotch would surely work, but there are few blends as smoky as the JWDB, and mixing with a single malt like Laphroaig is bordering on criminal)

1 oz. Swedish punsch (a sort of early bottled cocktail and marvel of Globalization that came about when Scandinavians started messing around with an Indonesian rum made from fermented red rice and traded to them by the Dutch (seriously); recently resurrected in America by heroic Cleveland native Eric Seed. If you live in a state that permits mail-order booze, you can buy it here.)

¾ oz. fresh-squeezed orange juice, preferably from cara cara oranges, which are a sweet, low-acid, non-orange orange (the flesh is pink).

Leaves from a sprig of mint

Splash gum syrup (or simple syrup)

2 dashes bitters (I used Amargo Chuncho, but given everything else going on in this one, plain old Angostura bitters should work fine.)

Combine all ingredients in an ice-filled shaker. Roll gently to chill without pulverizing the mint. Double-strain into a Collins glass or tumbler, filled to the brim with new, finely-crushed ice. Add a straw, and garnish with a mint leaf.

The DSS is sweet and citrusy at first, like any good tiki drink, but then rich and leathery as the Scotch and punsch begin playing Pepper with your tongue—Thwack! Quick one-hopper to the granary floor! Thwack! Relay to the hull of a 17th-century spice trader!—before finishing with a cooling spritz of mint.

A word to the wise: do not attempt to go nine innings with the DSS. To flip an old MF Doom line, the Swizzle is both very strange and most dangerous. Each tumbler has three and a half ounces of honest, full-proof liquor—a tally that’s easily forgotten when you’re guzzling them through a straw.

I tried to sip mine slowly as I pondered the perverse possibility that Carmona/Heredia might sweep back into town triumphantly this summer, as a kind of savior for the 2012 Indians. Given the team’s lackluster lineup (now with more armless 38-year-olds!) and the performance of its middle and short relievers (it’s a small sample, but still an abysmal one), it perhaps stretches the definition of a “longshot” to suggest that shoring up the fourth starter spot could turn Cleveland’s season around.

But ask any Indians fan: stranger things have happened before, and stranger things will happen again.

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