In Japan, the Ama for some 2000 years did this: women on Japan’s Pacific coast have been free-diving and parsing the seabed for pearls; there’s evidence, too, that Torres Strait Islanders have long been harvesters of these rare jewells, trading pearl shells with Macassan fishermen from the Indonesian island of Sulawesi going back some 500 years or so.
But even the advent of diving suits (which would weigh 80 kilograms and supply you with oxygen) wasn’t enough to cut the scarily high death rate among divers; in Broome around the turn of last century some estimates put the fatality rate at 50 percent, because, you know, sharks and cyclones and stuff.
The practice was also common in the South Pacific, too. And it’s doubtless that the South Pacific islands were in the mind of Don the Beachcomber when he created the Pearl Diver, around 1937.
It’s a refreshing drink this drink, and though the prep can be somewhat arduous — the honey cream takes some effort to produce — it’s not exactly hard work in the same vein of shark dodging at the bottom of the ocean.
We’ve cribbed our spec for this from Tom Bulmer at Sydney tiki popup, Lost Luau, which is running until the end of summer. Bulmer swaps out the lime juice of Don the Beachcomber’s original recipe for lemon instead, as he feels it gives a little something extra too the final mix.
The Pearl Diver
- 20 ml honey butter
- 50 ml aged rum
- 2 ml grenadine
- 10 ml lemon juice
- 20 ml orange juice
- 1 dash Old Fashioned Bitters
- Blend all ingredients with 350ml of crushed ice and garnish with an orange wedge, paddle, and a jumbo straw.
For the Honey Butter: Gently melt 100 grams of unsalted butter and beat with 100ml honey, 30ml over proof rum, 30ml pimento dram and 30ml cinnamon and vanilla syrup. Keep at room temperature before use, refrigerate overnight.
Recipe adapted from Tom Bulmer, Lost Luau, Sydney.