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5 Ways to Do Good with Black Magic

The spiced rum teams up with local bars to benefit Surfrider Foundation


A ceramic pig mug holds Hopping Pig's Magic My Tai cocktail. | Photo: Kelly Davis

Through the end of August, you can do a good deed by buying a cocktail. Black Magic spiced rum has teamed up with 16 local bars who’ll donate a portion of the sales of Black Magic cocktails to the San Diego County chapter of the Surfrider Foundation to aid in its beach and ocean clean-up efforts.

Spiced rum tends to get a bad rap, partly for its sweetness and also because of the role it’s played in so many rum-and-coke hangovers. While Black Magic does lean sweet, it’s also got some lovely vanilla notes and hints of cardamom that beg it to be mixed with fresh citrus or a rich base (like horchata).

Here are five spots participating in the Surfrider Foundation fundraiser that have made especially good use of a little Black Magic.


Magic My Tai @ The Hopping Pig

Hopping Pig General Manager Jenna Elskamp won a Black Magic mai tai competition for her take on the tiki classic that includes lime, lemon, and pomegranate juices, Black Magic, orgeat, ginger syrup, and orange bitters. It’s perfectly balanced—the right amount of sweet and tart. The bitters add orange essence and round things out. I know I’ve had a good cocktail if, hours later, I can remember the taste. I’m still thinking about this cocktail.

“I knew with the sweetness from the rum it would need a lot of tart citrus and fruit flavors,” Elskamp says. “I love pomegranate juice and make an allspice pom syrup for [Hopping Pig’s] Smoke on Water cocktail. Since I wanted to stay traditional and use orgeat, fresh pomegranate juice was the way to go.”

(And, yes, you can get your cocktail in a pink pig mug, but you’ll have to sit at the bar—a precaution to prevent pig-mug pilfering.)


C Banger @ URBN North Park

URBN's C Banger cocktail. | Photo: Michele Willard

URBN Beverage Director Michele Willard dubbed this one the “C Banger” in homage to OG San Diego bartender Christian Siglin (Bracero), who once told a group of bartenders that “all you need to make a banger [translation: 'popular'] cocktail is pineapple juice.” Here, she adds in Flor de Cana 4-year—a versatile Nicaraguan rum—to balance out Black Magic’s sweetness. Try one at URBN in one of Willard’s tropical bird mugs, and then re-create it at home:

1 oz. Black Magic rum
1 oz. Flor de Cana
1 oz. pineapple juice
3/4 oz. lime juice
3/4 oz. orgeat

Combine in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into an ice-filled glass.


Cradle of Life @ Cat Eye Club

Karin Stanley, co-owner of legendary Long Island bar Dutch Kills, came up with this citrusy rum cocktail (orange, lemon, and lime juices) in 2010. Dubbed “neo-tropical” by a number of cocktail blogs, it fits nicely in the tiki genre and features a hollowed-out lime filled with green Chartreuse set afire. East Village tiki bar Cat Eye Club is serving up a version using Black Magic—flaming lime included.


Magic Horchata @ The Blind Burro

The Blind Burro makes a fantastic horchata. Try it spiked with Black Magic and a dash of cinnamon.


The Royal We / I Am El Nino @ Charles Kenneth

The Carlsbad speakeasy located inside The Land & Water Co. has been closed since June for renovations, but is expected to re-open this week. Check its Instagram page to be sure—and to get the password. Once you get in, they’ve got two really nice Black Magic cocktail offerings: I Am El Nino (Black Magic, Cynar, lime, honey, sarsparilla) and The Royal We (Black Magic, Mandarin Napoleon, Cafe Lolita coffee liqueur, cream, soda).

Got suggestions for a future column? Write to 2kellydavis@gmail.com.

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