How To Make A Three Dots and a Dash
Similar to the Zombie, and almost as potent, Three Dots and a Dash is a lesser-known cocktail coined by tiki pioneer Donn Beach, who opened his iconic bar, Don the Beachcomber, in the 1930s. This tropical potion pulls off the difficult trick of being both spirit-driven and simultaneously refreshing, making for a delicious paradox of rums, fruit juices, and sweet liqueurs.
Three Dots and a Dash gets its name from the morse code spelling of “V”, or, “ • • • —.” During World War II, the letter became shorthand for the “V for Victory” slogan, which was famously popularized by Winston Churchill’s spirit-lifting hand gesture. Around that time, the idea of using the V as a symbol of resistance also came from Victor de Laveleye, a Belgian radio broadcaster. He saw this as unifying Flemish and French speakers, picking V because it was the first letter of the French word “Victoire” (victory) and the Flemish word “Vrijheid” (freedom). Donn Beach, who served in the American Air Force from 1942 to 1945, concocted Three Dots and a Dash, in part, to honor this bit of history.
As for the cocktail itself, which is noticeably more dry and spicy than most tiki drinks, Three Dots and a Dash boasts allspice dram as a key ingredient, coaxing out warming notes of gingerbread and toasted nutmeg. In an episode of VinePair’s Cocktail College podcast, Anton Kinloch, owner of New Paltz’s Fuchsia Tiki Bar, refers to the allspice as being the “salt and pepper of the cocktail,” which tangos in contrast with sweet, syrupy Velvet Falernum. Like any good story or sports game, tension is the key here.
Donn’s original recipe calls for a big, juicy pineapple chunk as the signature “dash” element of this cocktail’s garnish. However, Kinloch’s updated version takes a more nuanced approach to the “dash,” replacing it with a long pineapple frond standing proudly at attention in the glass — a clever way of toning down the fruit salad-esque garnishes of tiki’s past.
When it comes to the three dots, bright red maraschino cherries remain the garnish of choice. Though certainly not a tropical fruit, they pop, visually, against the orange hue of the drink, rounding out a gorgeous sunburst color scheme.