Rum

Introducing The Warm And Easy

Valentine’s Day is upon us but–word to Rhett Butler–frankly my dear friends I don’t give a damn! I do give a damn about quality cocktails though;  and the way I see it the only thing better than drinking a quality cocktail is drinking a quality cocktail in the company of a quality woman. That’s a lot of quality for one sentence but all that quality is partially responsible for me indulging in a bit of quality Valentine’s love for 2014. Like my love, I’ve got a whole lot of booze to share and a lovely lady to share it with.

I’d been messing about with the alcohol at my disposal and eventually whipped up a lovely drink that ticks many boxes on my personal “is this drink worth drinking list?“; it is booze forward (yes, I said booze forward. It’s like fashion forward but more fun and less pretentious. If only slightly), rum is a key ingredient and my Missus likes it.

Here’s how this thing works:

Warm And EasyINGREDIENTS

1.5 oz Appleton 12 yr old rum

.5 oz Bols Creme de Cacao (white or brown)*

.5 oz Campari

Grapefruit bitters**

Orange peel

Fill a mixing glass with ice, add the booze and a few dashes of bitters. Stir with joy and vigor. Pour your bevvie (obviously) into your chosen receptacle–I’m partial to coupes–zest and/or garnish with orange peel et voila, a wonderful cocktail that’s a perfect way to begin or end any evening. (Especially the wintery-polar vortexy kind we’ve been having in these parts.)

Listen, the full bodied character and orange notes of the Appleton 12 are great compliments to the Campari and if you’re the type of drinker who enjoys Negronis–which sits alongside Manhattans, Martinis and Old Fashioneds on the Mount Rushmore of “booze forward” cocktails– then this drink should work for you. But if you don’t, well….what can I tell ya’, you came to the wrong place.

I was struggling to come up with a name for this bad boy when a friend of mine pretty much just said, “simple, it’s a Warm And Easy”. And just like that, this little blog got its own signature drink.

One more  thing before I go; as a nod to Valentine’s Day I want to share a little mix I put together that is perfect for entertaining that special someone. Check it out here.

 

*This is a matter of taste. If you prefer dark chocolate, go with brown.

**My grapefruit bitters are homemade. Feel free to replace with your something of your own choosing.

Summer Cocktail: ‘My Sweet Lady’

photo (6)With a haul that included Trelawny Gold Label, Appleton 12 and Coruba Mango Rum, among other selections, last year’s trip to Jamaica was a fruitful one. Down time in summer 2012 meant lots of rum and rum based cocktails; mango mojitos were particularly popular. The thing is, when the curtain went down on my favourite season and autumn took centre stage, my Coruba bottle was relegated to the back of my liquor cabinet.

Well, it’s summer again and guess who’s coming to dinner….

This year I’ve pretty much eschewed mojitos (I think I’ve made myself one all year) so I’ve yet to reprise 2012′s mango mojito madness. Instead, I’ve been whipping up something “original”**, something that encapsulates my cocktail philosophy, something simple, something fresh and something boozy: a drink I like to call My Sweet Lady.

Here’s how it works (god, I make it sound like I’m about to explain the mysteries of the universe or something):

INGREDIENTS

1.5 oz Demerara rum

.5 oz Coruba Mango Rum

.5 oz Sour Mix (fresh)

Lime

Combine ingredients and ice in shaker. Shake (duh). Pour over ice in a small tumbler. Garnish with lime. Et voila.

Like the lady who inspired it, this drink is a refreshing and wonderful mix of the sweet and the sour. Oh, and for those tempted to use Malibu Mango rum instead of the Coruba: don’t. It’s not that Malibu’s offering is bad, it’s just that I think the Coruba is better; its nose and its sweetness is rounder and fuller, if that makes any sense to you; and ultimately makes for a more pleasant experience. Trust me on this.

**Is anything ever really original?

Rhum Agricole Revisited

I tried and I tried and I tried. But I just can’t get into les Rhums Agricoles; at least not as much as I’m into molasses based rums. My first exposure to these French speaking rums came a couple of years back in NYC. My feelings were mixed but I vowed to give ‘em another try. Well, as fate would have it the LCBO started stocking Rhum Barbancourt 4 year old dark rum from Haiti and a recent trip to an SAQ in Montreal allowed me to pick up a bottle of Martinique’s Saint James Royal Ambre Rhum.

RhumAgricoleNow, the Saint James Royal Ambre Rhum, was one of the three I tried in NYC so I won’t say much more other than it is as sharply flavoured as I remember. It wouldn’t be my first choice to sip, but as far as Rhum Agricole is concerned it is my favourite so far.

Barbancourt? I did enjoy the nose; it was fragrant and spicy and a lot smoother than the potency of its aroma suggests. There’s a hint of burnt something (rubber??? wood???) to the finish but that’s not a criticism or problem per se, it underscores this rhum’s distinctive flavour but I imagine it won’t work for everyone. Again, I’m not going to reach for Barbancourt before I reach for, say, Doorly’s but I wouldn’t turn my nose up at it. Perhaps I need to give other rums in the Barbancourt family–like their 8 year old rum for example–a chance before really making up my mind.

One more thing; both of these rums are excellent in punches or add a different character to a rum and coke. But if you want to try something really exceptional with these, and any rums for that matter, try combining them with a little coconut water. Come summer time, nothing beats the heat and satisfies my yearning for rum like a little rum and coconut water. Here’s how I do it:

Ingredients – rum, coconut water, lime, honey

Mix half a teaspoon of honey in a tumbler with the juice of 1/2 or 1/4 of a lime (depending on how juicy your lime is). Add equal parts rum and coconut water (I tend to use 1.5 oz’s of each) and fill your tumbler with ice. Stir with a bar spoon. Add a lime wedge. Et voila. Summer goodness.

Holiday Gift Giving Guide: Blackwell Black Gold

Christmas is a week away and many of you are scrambling to finish your shopping. Me? I’m eating roasted nuts and sipping rum. My shopping is sorted and there’s not much left to do but wrap gifts, write the cards and put on the bows. Now, if you’ve got a drinker on your list or a rum enthusiast, this installment of my Holiday Gift Guide is for you.

BlackwellFirst up, Blackwell Rum. Created by Chris Blackwell, founder of Island Records and Island Outpost among many other things, Blackwell Black Gold Rum is your typical Jamaican rum: full-bodied. A dark rum, I first sampled Blackwell Rum on my most recent trip to Jamaica. I spotted the bottle while sitting at Dougie’s Bar at Jake’s Hotel in Treasure Beach one evening and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try something new. I’d heard good things about the rum and was not disappointed.

With its deep, dark, molasses-y look I did expect Blackwell Rum to be sweeter than it actually was. Don’t get me wrong, I did taste hints of molasses with the slightly bitter notes I associate with dark chocolate and coffee but it wasn’t cloying; the finish didn’t overstay its welcome and left me wanting more.

Blackwell Black Gold Rum goes for $29.95 at the LCBO and would make a fine tipple this holiday season. Check the following video courtesy the good people at largeup.com for more info on this fine rum:

Trelawny Gold Label Rum: Just Like A Jamaican Sprinter

What to say about Trelawny Gold Label Rum? Hmmm, let me see. Well, with everyone going through Olympic withdrawal, allow me to use track and field as a rum analog. Let’s say, in terms of quality, taste and profile (not to mention nationality) that Usain Bolt is analogous to Appleton Estate Extra 12. In that case Yohan Blake would be Appleton Estate V/X. Trelawny Gold Label? We’re talking Nesta Carter or Michael Frater.

Let me be clear here; this is no slight against the rum nor against the aforementioned sprinters–seasoned track and field watchers will recognize Frater and Carter as quality, serviceable sprinters, forming the backbone of say a world record-breaking relay team. Yet they are not the stars, they do not garner the laurels or the plaudits. Or the headlines.

Similarly, I don’t expect TGL to win any awards. I don’t expect it to highlight of anyone’s rum tasting. But, much like Appleton Special, it is a versatile rum that is perfect for punches or any rum based cocktail.

Speaking of which, I tend to consume cocktails far more frequently in the summer than I would come autumn or winter. And after bringing a bottle of TGL back with me from Jamaica I almost immediately set about whipping up libations. My current favourite? Well, I’ve been using rum in a twist on an Aperol Spritz. Here’s how it’s done:

Ingredients

1.5 oz rum (in this case Trelawny Gold Label)

1.5 oz Aperol

3 0z Prosecco

Orange Bitters (Angostura or Fee Brothers)

Fill a highball with ice, add rum, Aperol, Prosecco, and bitters. Stir. Feel free to garnish with a citrus wedge (I prefer orange, but have also used lemon). Et voila, a wonderfully refreshing and tasty cocktail. Feel free to whip one up and toast the Nesta Carter’s and Michael Frater’s of the world.