Swilling in Chicago

Yesterday I went to the Chicago Rum Festival hosted by Ed Hamilton from the Ministry of Rum. This was a great event, and I had a great time. While I only went to the rum tasting, I am sure the distiller’s seminar, the dinner with the distillers, and the island music festival were fun as well. I missed the first two because of my travel schedule and the last because of a dinner with the fam.

Regardless, the rum tasting was a ton of fun. The pours were generous, and they were as willing to serve you a mixed drink (generally a caipirinha or a mojito) as they were a dram of rum, and there was no hording of the good stuff. You wanted the 18 year Flor de Cana, they were perfectly happy to pour it for you, which, as least to me, is always a good sign. As far as what I drank:

  • Santa Theresa Gran Reserva
  • Santa Theresa 1796 Solera
  • Pritchard’s Fine Cranberry Rum (I think, this was the last rum I had)
  • Old English Harbor 5 Year
  • Flor de Cana Gold 4 Year
  • Flor de Cana Gran Reserva 7 Year
  • Flor de Cana Centenario 18 Year
  • El Dorado 12 Year
  • El Dorado 15 Year
  • Gosling’s Black Seal
  • Gosling’s Old Rum
  • Cruzan Estate Diamond 5 Year
  • Cruzan Gold (Either 14 Month or 2 Year)
  • Cruzan Single Barrel
  • Cruzan Blackstrap
  • Rhum Neisson White
  • Rhum Neisson Eleve Sous Bois
  • Rhum Neisson Vieux
  • La Favorite White
  • La Favorite Vieux
  • Leblon Cachaca
  • Cubana Cachaca
  • Tommy Bahama Golden Sun
  • Sagatiba Cachaca
  • Rubi Rey Single Barrel Reserve
  • Kilo Kai Spiced Rum
  • St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram
  • Alpenz Batavia Arrack von Oosten
  • Scarlet Ibis
  • Red Stripe Jamaican Lager
  • Rio D Cachaca
  • And so many more…
I also had several cocktails, including Mount Gay’s Rum Punch which was outstanding, as well as Sagatiba’s mojito, which was probably the best mojito, and, of course, Gosling’s serving up Dark ‘N’ Stormy’s. The lowlight was probably Rubi Rey, as well as the Batavia Arrack which would probably do well in a cocktail, but, by itself, wasn’t very good. Also I was disappointed with myself that I forgot my camera, and also the Mount Gay Extra Old. Another disappointment was the Rio D Cachaca. The woman there asked if I wanted it as a cocktail, and when I asked for a caipirina, she didn’t know what I was asking for, and just handed me the neat cachaca. On the other hand, I did get a muddler out of the bargain, so I can’t complain too much.

Lastly, Bacardi and the United States Bartender’s Guild sponsored a rum seminar run by Debbi Peek, of Bacardi, Bridget Albert of Southern Wine and Spirits, Charles Joly of the Drawing Room, and Peter Vestinos of Sepia. The seminar covered the Bacardi cocktail, the mojito, the daiquiri and the mai tai. They presented first a traditional cocktail recipe, then a modern interpretation. Debbi did the Bacardi cocktail, then did a strawberry-balsamic “Bacardi” cocktail, which, to my mind was more of a sophisticated take on the strawberry daiquiri than anything else. Then Peter presented the mai tai and his peach mai tai. Next up was Peter Vestinos with a daiquiri and a more sophisticated daiquiri using egg whie, St. Germain, and orange water, which I thought was the best cocktail served. Finally, Bridget presented the mojito and:

The Blueberry Mojito by Bridget Albert

  • 1 oz. – Dried Lavender Syrup (1 cup water, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup dried lavender)
  • 10-12 – Mint Leaves
  • 10-12 – Blueberries
  • .5 oz. – Fresh Lime Juice
  • 1.5 oz. – Bacardi Superior
  • Soda Water to top

Muddle mint leaves, syrup, blueberries, and lime juice eight times with a large muddler in a double old fashioned glass. Add rum. Fill glass with crushed ice, and top with soda water. Garnish with a straw and mint leaf, stir to combine.

All in all, a wonderful event. Hopefully I can continue to go to more festivals. If you have the chance to go to any Ministry of Rum events, I encourage you to go. Hopefully I’ll get pictures from Ed to post here.

Cheers!
The Scribe

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The Session: The London Beer & Cider Festival, 2008

Hello all, and welcome to my blog. For those of you who are beer drinkers, and new to my blog, welcome. For those of you who are spirits and cocktail bloggers, and don’t know what The Session is, it’s basically the beer blogging world’s version of MxMo.

This week the topic of The Session is beer festivals. Being freshly legal at home, I haven’t really been to any beer festivals in the States. However, while I was in London, I did go the annual London Beer and Cider Festival. Let me just say what a blast it was. The festival was hosted by CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale. So-called “real ale” for those who don’t know, is ale that is unpasteurized and served out of the same container in which the secondary fermentation happens. The way this festival worked was there was an entry fee (£2.50 for non-CAMRA members), and you could either borrow a glass, or buy the festival glass for £3. The glass was really quite gorgeous, and it was large enough that there was room for head proud of the imperial pint line. Then there was a cost per beer.

Frankly, I would have much preferred a higher entry fee, like perhaps £10 or £20, and unlimited beer. I felt that charging by the half-pint meant that I was less willing to simply try beers, which I feel should be a large part of the festival, but only tried the beers that had flavor notes I liked and were types of beer I liked. While I tried a ton of different beers, I had a good recollection of two:

Enville Brewery: Old Porter – This was quite a nice mild porter. It had some slight sweet notes, with just a touch of bitter and lots of fruity complexity. I would love to get my hands on this fine porter.

Fox Brewery: Cerberus Norfolk Stout – This seemed like more of a porter to me than a stout, at least in comparison to Irish stouts like Guinness, Murphy’s, and so on. Nevertheless I enjoyed this beer immensely. It had nice chocolate and raison notes with just the barest hint of bitterness. It was also pleasantly light bodied for a stout, which is a nice change from the more traditional meal in a glass

Thanks for coming to my Session. Next week, I should be mostly moved in, and will be back to live posting.
Cheers!
The Scribe