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The Expat Cocktail

One of our Burlington Tasting Room bartenders, Gragen Cook, recently took a well-deserved vacation in Puerto Rico. While there, he explored the spirit scene and enjoyed a few favorite local cocktails. Upon returning, Gragen decided to create his own tasty versions of those cocktails inspired by his visit. Here, we wanted to share one of those recipes—The Expat.

The Expat cocktail originates from Gramercy Tavern in New York City. However, the capital of Puerto Rico—San Juan—is well known for its large expat population. Why? The better question is why not? With a gorgeous landscape, tropical beaches, warm weather and a relaxed lifestyle, Puerto Rico makes for a great retirement location. The Expat cocktail is an excellent representation of the lifestyle there. It is tropical with a vibrant mango color, and it features rum, a main export in Puerto Rico.

To put his own spin on this tasty cocktail recipe, Gragen used Mad River Distillers Maple Cask Rum. And, instead of using a plain simple syrup, he used a homemade lime oleo-saccharum for additional citrus flavor and aroma. Translated, oleo means fat or oil, and saccharum means sugar. While simple syrup is just sugar dissolved in water, lime oleo-saccharum involves muddling sugar with the zest from limes, leaving the oil and sugar to mingle overnight, then dissolving the sugar in water.

Interested in making Gragen’s version of The Expat from home? Follow along with the instructions below:


- 4 lime skins
- 8 oz. raw cane sugar
- 8 oz. hot water

Remove the zest from 4 lime skins (just the zest, and none of the white pith). In a bowl, combine the zest with 8 oz. of raw cane sugar. Muddle the sugar and lime zest together for several minutes to release oils from the zest, then place it in a closed container overnight. After infusing overnight, add 8 oz. of hot water and dissolve the sugar. Strain the liquid to remove all lime zests.


-2 oz. of Maple Cask Rum
-½ oz. of Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur 
-¼ oz. of lime juice
-¼ oz. of lime oleo saccharum
-3 dashes of Angostura Bitters

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain over a large ice cube in a rocks glass. Garnish with a lime wheel, and enjoy!

While making the lime oleo-saccharum takes a little extra time, the added flavor will be totally worth your effort and it will get you that much closer to feeling some tropical vacation vibes. To find a bottle of Maple Cask Rum near you, visit our website or stop by our Burlington Tasting Room (where we also always have Angostura Bitters on hand). Cheers!

Recipe by Gragen Cook for Mad River Distillers. Written and published by Brianne Lucas on April 11, 2023.

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