There Were Four Lofty Rums from Around the World Came

Oh gosh…Four rums and all of them on this side of yummy. Where to start? I guess we’ll begin with the Single Barrel, which was by far my least favorite. Next, but only a scosh behind is the Temptryst Peachwood. In first were the El Dorado and Temptryst Hickory. I know, it’s a hard decision to make, so maybe I need just one more taste, and maybe another after that…Ah, it’s too close to call. Both are wonderful.

So here’s to all the rum you’ve sunk at sea,
(Roll high, roll low, and so sailed we…)
The Scribe

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Mixology Monday: And It’s All For Me Grog

Good day internet cocktailians the world over. Welcome to Rum Month at the Dram. The subject for this month’s Mixology Monday is “19th Century Cocktails.” While the drinks I present today aren’t necessarily cocktails per say, they are certainly mixed drinks that were popular at some level in the 19th Century and early 20th Century. Today I am playing with three or four ingredients: lime juice, sugar, rum, water, and the occaisional addition of lemon juice, mint, or triple sec.

The first drink up on our tour of rum sours is one of the most traditional, and, arguably, the origin of many modern sours, at least those on the English islands. The origin of this drink is the Royal Navy. Of course sailors could not be expected to sail their ships sober, so the Admiralty began issuing a pint of rum every day in two installments. To cut down the taste of strong navy rum, and also to prevent sailors from hoarding it, they added a lot of water. The story goes that Admiral Vernon added citrus juice to the stagnant, foul water that was common on naval ships of the era to try and make the combination of foul rum and foul water more palatable. Sailors would then add whatever they cold to sweeten the drink. Vernon was known as Old Grog variously because of his grogram coat or because he was “groggy” or crazy in the parlance of the time, and gave his name to this concoction:

Royal Navy Grog (Traditional)

  • 1 gill (4 oz.) – Rum
  • 1 quart (16 oz.) – Water
  • 1 oz. – Lime Juice
  • To taste – Whatever sweetener is on hand. (Honey, molasses, etc. but not refined sugar)

Mix together in whatever drinking vessel is available and serve at room temperature. The traditional method of drinking is to slam the whole concoction. You want a garnish? You’re on a ship of war. Don’t be rediculous.

It’s a bit unrefined, and, to my palate at least, the lime clashes a bit with the dark rum. So why not try a white rum, you ask. Ah, now we get into a bit of a debate: How do you juice the lime? What ratio of lime to sugar do you use? What sort of sugar do you use and in what form? What type of white rum do you use? The answers to these questions give you a wide variety of basic rum sours. Let’s start with the most classic, at least in America. We juice our limes careful to avoid pulp or oils, and use white granulated sugar in a syrup:

The Daiquiri (Classic)

  • 2 parts (2 oz.) – White Rum (Cruzan Estate Light is my preference, but a Cuban style would be more tradional)
  • 1 part (1 oz.) – Lime Juice
  • 1 part (1 oz.) – Simple or Invert Syrup

Shake with ice and serve either over crushed ice in a tall bar glass or straight up in a stemmed cocktail glass. Garnish with a lime wedge.

Instead of using simple syrup, we could use boiled down cane juice, and replace a Cuban rum with a rhum agricole from the French islands and we would be left with:

‘Ti Punch

  • 1 bottle – White Rhum Agricole (A cachaca is better than plain white rum, but even white rum will work)
  • 1 bowl – Lime Wedges
  • 1 small pitcher – Cane Syrup (Simple, brown, or unprocessed sugar syrup will work as would some other subtly flavoured syrup like agave. This is not the time for maple syrup. If you are using brown sugar syrup, cut it 50/50 with simple.)
  • 1 bowl – Ice

Place small tumblers out with the above fixings, and let guests mix their own after the tradition chacun prépere se sprote mort (“each prepares his own death”). The traditional portions would be a dash of the syrup, a wedge of the lime an a generous pour of the booze. Ice is optional.

Of course, you could replace the white unaged rhum agricole with with an aged version to get a Punch Vieux. If you like it bitter, though, what better way then to get some of that good lime oil in with the drink. How do you do that, you may ask. Why not muddle some lime wedges? And while you’re at it, let’s use cachaca instead of something from the Caribbean. And, you know what? I’m not feeling the syrup. If we’re muddling the lime, I think we should be using some plain old syrup to get the abrasiveness, and it’s a bit more rustic. Guess what! We just made a…:

A Caipirinha

A Caipirinha

Caipirinha

  • 1.5-2 oz. – Cachaca (Not having any, I used Cruzan Estate Light)
  • 3-4 – Halved Lime Wedges (about half a lime)
  • 1 Tbsp – Granulated Sugar (a raw sugar is better, but white is fine)

Muddle the sugar with the lime wedges in a tumbler, and then add ice and the rum. Stir briefly to cool and garnish with a lime wedge.

What? You want to muddle some mint in with your caipirinha? And then you want to add some seltzer water? And use a Cuban rum? Well, you could do all that, and call it a Mojito. Oh, you meant aged Cuban rum. And you’re out of seltzer so you are going with Champagne? That’s silly. But if you insist, I guess we could toss in a dash of Angostura and call it an Old Cuban. What? You want a more Anglophonic rum sour? I thought the grog at the top would have been good enough, but no. There’s just no satisfying some people. I guess that means we should go with:

Rum Punch

  • 3 parts – Gold Rum (Mount Gay Eclipse)
  • 2 parts – Sugar
  • 2 parts – Water
  • 1 part – Lime Juice

Mix the sugar, water and lime juice into a cold syrup. Add in the rum and shake with ice. Serve over ice in a tumbler. Note that the shaking and the ice in the tumbler make up the remaining two parts ice to give you one part sour, two parts sweet, three parts strong, and four parts sweet. Use .5 oz. as one part for a decent cocktail. You may want to back off the sugar a bit though, as I find this a bit on the sweet side.

There. That’s a pretty thorough overview of the rum lime sour. I hope you’re happy. You’re not? There’s just no pleasing some people. How about something from the old school. Maybe something from the Professor? How about a:

Santa Cruz Sour

  • 2 oz. – Santa Cruz Rum (Appleton V/X)
  • 1 oz. – Water
  • 1 Tbsp – Sugar (white, granulated is fine)
  • .25 oz. – Lemon Juice
  • .25 oz. – Lime Juice
  • 1 dash – Triple Sec (Jaquin’s)

Mix the water, sugar, and juices into a syrup. Add the triple sec and rum and shake with ice to combine. Serve either in a cocktail glass or in a tumbler over ice. Garnish with either a lemon or lime wedge.

Is that good? Can I go home now? No? You want more? But you’re bored of the basic sour? Jeesh. What do you want? It’s not like I get anything out of writing this blog. I should just quit and go do work. Oh fine. I’ll give you one more:

The Bajan Legend

  • 2 oz. – Gold Rum (Mount Gay Eclipse)
  • 2 oz. – Falernum

Build in a tumbler with ice and garnish with a lime wedge.

Yup. That’s a sour. After all, what is falernum but a sour mix with more rum and some spices added? Ha! You still want more? But not from the 19th Century? You know the theme is 19th Century cocktails, right? Okay, I’ll give you one inspired by a daiquiri.

The St. Germain Daiquiri by Charles Joy

  • 2 oz. – Bacardi 8
  • .5 oz. – Lime Juice
  • .5 oz. – Orange Juice
  • .5 oz. – Simple Syrup
  • .25 oz. – St. Germain
  • 2 drops – Orange flower water
  • 1 – Egg white

Shake everything but the flower water together without ice to combine. Add ice and shake it to wake it up. Serve in a cocktail glass, top with flower water and garnish with a candied flower.

These are the quantities as best I can guess from the seminar where it was presented. I hope you all are happy. I pulled together a round dozen rum sours, almost all of which date to the 19th Century.

Pictures will slowly migrate up as I finish making and getting pictures of the final few cocktails and get them off my camera.

And so, in the spirit Monday, I offer a toast to those at sea, who drink their grog,
The Scribe

A Dark Art

I have been enjoying a new desert recently: A glass of quality rum, and a square or two of chocolate. We currently have a large quantity of premium Monbana chocolate in the house, and I also brought back some Max Brenner chocolate truffles. Both are wonderful products. The Monbana comes in 53%, 60%, and 70% cacao. Meanwhile, as far as Max Brenner goes, the guy is slightly crazy. He is trying to create a whole “chocolate culture” with hot chocolate ceremonies similar to East Asian tea ceremonies. With that said, he makes darn tasty chocolates.

Now, for me, pairing a pleasant rum or whisk(e)y (or brandy, of course, but I don’t really have any of that on hand) with a square or two of chocolate is a wonderful desert, not to mention quite possibly one of the healthiest deserts I can imagine. Scientists have found that about about 20 mL of ethanol per day (the equivalent of a beer, a glass of wine, or an ounce and a half of spirits) helps convert bad cholesterol (HDL) to good cholesterol (LDL), as well as help prevent cancer and Alzheimer’s and other bad things. . Meanwhile, a high cacao dark chocolate is full of anti-oxidants, and other healthy nutrients.

You, my reader, however, did not come here to read random health babbling however, and, to be honest, as long as it wasn’t a major health risk, I would continue doing it regardless of the risks. Now, you may ask, what have I learned? Well, first off, a good pairing can make a borderline decent rum quite pleasant. I especially recommend the Max Brenner truffles with Appleton V/X. If you take a few sips of the rum right after a nibble of the truffles, you could swear you were drinking a rum twice as good, and while I am not the greatest fan of neat V/X, with the addition of the chocolate, the rum is a pleasure to sip. On the other hand, the Monbana 70% was a bad idea. The rum turned all bitter in my mouth as well as becoming surprisingly rough.

This brings me to the biggest thing I learned this week: The darker the chocolate, the the darker the rum required to enjoy it. This is obviously not necessarily a hard and fast rule, but I think it is fairly applicable. While I enjoyed the Monbana 53% with the Cruzan Estate Light, it was clear to me that had I tried anything much stronger it would have killed the rum. On the other hand, a glass of Pamapero Aniversario was an excellent good pairing with the 70%, though it was better with the 60%.

Without a doubt though, the standout pairing was the Appleton V/X with the Max Brenner. I think, based on tasting, that the truffles contained some amount of amber spirit in them. However, the most interesting thing, to me, was how the flavours of the chocolate stayed with the you over several sips of rum. For me, the small nibble lasted a good six or seven small sips. This brings me to my next point of interest. I am not sure whether this is considered molecular mixology, or simply good pairing. However, I would be interested in baking a “cocktail cookie” or perhaps using other solid, eaten ingredients to “mix” cocktails in the mouth. Perhaps a mint leaf dipped in lime syrup and bruleed paired with a nice rum would make for an interesting take on the mojito. Hmmm…Something to try…

Bete’avon!
The Scribe

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

Good Rum and Bad Tequila

We went out to dinner last night at a little Mexican joint, and being young college kids, decided to get thoroughly sloshed on margaritas. While each pitcher was enough for all of us to have two and a half large glasses, when we decided to move from the expensive pitchers made with ingredients like lime juice, Grand Marnier, and Cointreau to the cheap pitchers made with margarita mix, triple sec, and cheap tequila, despite the fact that we were all getting happy, it was both noticeable and unpalatable. The lesson: Don’t use mix, and, further, don’t use crappy tequila.

After sobering up, I realized that Wednesday was coming up and I had a spirits review to do. I know, I know, the sacrifices I make for you, my noble blog reader. I decided to review a wonderful gem of a rum:

Ron Pampero: Ron Anejo Aniversario

Tasting Conditions: I purchased this bottle for my twenty-first, and sampled it then. I pulled it out for this review. While I had a not insignificant quantity of margaritas earlier, this review was a few hours later, and I feel quite sober.

Eye: The rum pours a gorgeous middling gold, though my understanding is that it is, in fact, a fairly dark rum. It is a shade or two paler than Gosling’s Black Seal. The legs were fairly thick. The rum comes gorgeously packaged, with a squat, round bottle coming in a leather sack. A fine presentation. I sampled the rum this evening in a snifter of approximately eight ounces.

Nose: The nose was quite potent in the snifter suggesting that perhaps a tumbler might be the better service vessel. A low-to-high sniff reveals quite pleasant toffee notes, as well as caramel, vanilla, and just a bit of smoke, or possibly coffee. There is also, perhaps, an orange and berry aroma.

Mouth: I could taste some of the toffee simply inhaling the odors. On the taste, I got a nice honey flavor, tempered by caramel, vanilla, and a little fruitiness, perhaps apple. A second taste revealed additional vanilla, and some citrus notes. I found this rum to also be quite smoky. At this point I added a few drops of water (between two and three parts rum to one part water). The water revealed a pleasant buttery texture which I quite enjoyed, but did not add any flavor notes, as such. It did, however reduce the smokiness. I tossed in a cube of ice to further dilute and cool my drink. The ice suppressed the vanilla to a large extent, while bringing the citrus and caramel to the fore. It also changed the texture from the wonderful buttery sensation to almost that of ice water. The smokiness increased from the diluted version, though not to the extent of the neat service.

Conclusion: This rum is certainly a sipper. I tend not to be a neat spirit drinker, preferring my spirits at least with a splash of water, and usually a cube or two of ice. While I know I have just lost all credibility with my readership, I felt that this could have been sipped neat. It did, however, profit immensely from the addition of water. I felt the buttery creamy texture to be just gorgeous. I felt that it suffered a little when the ice was added, but it was still quite enjoyable. The price point of this rum ranges from just a tad above my stock aged mixers (Gosling’s and Mount Gay), to the mid-range of what I consider reasonable sippers. At the higher price point, it is acceptable, and I would certainly keep some around. At the lower price point, however, this rum would be a staple, and I would be happy to mix with it, which would generate a really gorgeous drink.

Mixology Monday: Rum

This is my first Mixology Monday, and I’m quite excited to be joining this little tradition. As it’s my first time, you will have to forgive me if this post isn’t quite up to the standard of what a MxMo post should be.

Today’s topic is rum. Rum is a wonderful ingredient and a miserable ingredient. We can’t simply say “rum” as an ingredient because you can have five similarly aged rums, and five distinct tastes. One rum might taste like fine French brandy, another like a wonderful Scotch, a third might remind you of a good spicy rye, a fourth could be it’s own distinctively rum-y sipper, while a fifth might almost substitute for Curacao! And that’s assuming these are all aged gold rums. I have used Bacardi’s white rum in place of vodka in a screwdriver, and it worked perfectly. While I couldn’t compare at the time, I would suggest that it was fairly similar, with barely a hint of rum to it. I could even see using rum in place of whiskey in a whiskey sour…Hmm…Maybe I should try that… And these are all “rum.” We haven’t even moved into cachaca, rhum agricole, and Batavia arrack, which are all usually lumped into the same category.

On the other hand, that very versatility and variety in flavor can work to our advantage in cocktails. People like Trader Vic and Don the Beachcomber used the distinct qualities of a variety of rums in their drinks to create effects that could never be achieved with one rum alone. It is this idea, as well as the traditional whiskey sour, which inspire the drink I am about to present. (Did you like the foreshadowing there?) In this case, we take a simple whiskey sour, and replace the whiskey with a nice smoky rum. Looking at the margarita, we add Curacao into the mix, to accentuate the orange taste. However, instead of Curacao, I elected to use a very orange rum: Pyrat XO. This gives us:

The Rough Rider Cocktail
  • 1.5 oz – Smoky aged rum (Ron Pampero Aniversario)
  • 1 oz – Orange Juice
  • 1 oz – Lemon Juice
  • .5 oz – Aged rum with a strong orange flavor (Pyrat XO, if possible. You could use an orange spiced rum like Santa Teresa Rhum Orange, or even Grand Marnier or Curacao, but you would have to modify the recipe.)
  • .5 oz – Simple Syrup
  • 1 dash – Orange bitters (optional)
Shake with ice until chilled, then serve either as a sour over ice in a tumbler, or as a cocktail, neat, in a cocktail glass.
I hope you all enjoy. The name is inspired by the Teddy Roosevelt’s unit in the Spanish-American War of the same name. I imagine when they invaded Cuba, they had to replace their Bourbon based drinks with the local tipple, just as we did.

Before I sign off, I just want to handle one bit of administratia. As of Wednesday, this blog will begin a set schedule of posting. Every Wednesday, I will be posting reviews of something or other. The second Wednesday of the month I will be posting a spirit or fortified wine review. The third Wednesday I will be posting a beer review. The first and last Wednesdays will be open reviews for whatever I have around. Ciders, unfortified wines, meads, bitters, and cordials are all fair game, as well as beer and spirits. On Sundays I will be posting other stuff: travels, tours, my experiments, and so on. Throughout the week, I will try and post for special events, like MxMo. This MxMo, I guess, will stand in as my Sunday post.

Okay, I lied. I have a lot more to say about rum. Most of it relates to sailing, though there is another drink in here somewhere, so you may want to pay attention. In almost exactly a month, Newport, RI throws its largest party of the year (actually, of two years): The sendoff for the Newport-Bermuda Race. This race will be full of hard sailing, bookended by weekends of inebriation off of that most sailing-like of spirits: rum. Specifically, Gosling’s Black Seal. Rum has always had a close tie to sailing. According to Mount Gay, navigating to Barbados was a challenge, and some sailors took barrels of Barbados rum home as a trophy and proof that they made it to the island. While I think that story is likely a crock, Mount Gay, and Gosling as well, sponsors all sorts of sailing regattas to this day. In fact, one sure way to spot a sailor is to look for the red “Mount Gay hats” that we all wear.

This marketing strategy pays off, and both Mount Gay Eclipse and Gosling’s Black Seal are staples in every sailor’s rum locker. In fact, sailors love Gosling’s so much that Newport is the only place in the world outside of Bermuda that Dark ‘N’ Stormies are sold premixed in cans. I’ll put up a post on the dark and stormy, Dark ‘N’ Stormy, and rum and ginger in a month for the start of the Bermuda race, but I thought I would share a drink I learned of today: The Light and Breezy. The light and breezy is a combination of rum and Fresca, possibly with a bit of orange or lemon, mixed to taste. I have two thoughts about the origins of this drink. The first is a similar drink which is drunk quite often on Jamaica: rum and Ting. Ting, like Fresca, is a grapefruit soda. Thus, sailors could have replaced Ting with a more commonly available grapefruit soda, and a Jamaican rum with what was in their rum lockers, thus mating Fresca and Gosling’s or Mount Gay. Another possibility is that we simply had a hard time finding good ginger beer, so we replaced it with Fresca. Pick whichever story you prefer.

This time I’m really done. Happy MxMo,
The Scribe