Rum is a distinctly tropical kind of spirit. Port evokes images of old world Europe. One would not expect them to go well together but, huzzah, throw in some infused maple syrup and all is well. This drink is tangy and just a little sweet with the rum and the bitters ensuring it is not too cloying. As expected, adding our infused maple syrup made it oodles better but it was a challenge to choose which one.

I made a batch and tested it with some of the infusions I thought would match well. Makrut Lime, Cardamom, and Ginger were all winners. They each took the cocktail in a different direction, almost planting a hidden flavor that you couldn’t put your finger on but nevertheless gave the cocktail depth and character. Eric preferred it topped with seltzer to lighten it up, but I liked it without.

As for the name, I aimed to capture the dichotomy of liquors. A key (or cay) is a small, low-elevation, sandy island on the surface of a coral reef, in tropical climates. A northern key is theoretically not supposed to exist but this cocktail proves that anything is possible.



  • 1 Stir the first five ingredients together. 
  • 2 Pour over ice and top with seltzer, if you like. 
  • 3 Garnish with a slice of fresh lime.