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?

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.

I’m Back….

I recently spent 17 days in Jamaica. How was it you ask? Well, it was the perfect holiday. A little bit of this, a little bit of that. Spent some time with family and toured the island with friends. Hit beaches in Montego Bay, Negril and Port Antonio. Had fruit so fresh and so sweet that I’m not sure I can buy fruit from my grocer anymore. Ate more ackee & salt fish, breadfruit, festival and fried dumplings than necessary. Drank more beer in 17 days than I usually drink in a year (The LCBO needs to start stocking Red Stripe Light). Laughed so hard with my friends I thought my sides were going to split. Biked for the first time in over 15 years….and did so on a Blue Mountain bike tour. Splashed around in the YS Falls. Took the Appleton Estate Rum Tour. Twice. And brought back lots of rum. I can’t wait to tell you guys all about the rums so check back in soon. In the meantime, enjoy the following clip. Popcaan, the hottest artiste in Jamaica right now, has tune after tune that sticks to my ribs. I love how he rides a riddim. And I love his lyrics. Especially on this tune….

Simple Pleasures: Appleton Estate Extra 12 Year Old Rum

I’m not a complicated man. I enjoy simple things. Simple things make me smile, allow me to forget the frustrations of the day, enable me to drag myself out of bed and head to work each and every morning. Simple things bring me pleasure.

And very few things bring me more pleasure than sipping rum.

People often ask me for rum recommendations or try to ascertain my favourite rum but to be honest I’m not sure if I could choose one. Having said that, I am a sucker for Appleton rums, and not out of patriotic or jingoistic fervor. No, I believe Appleton rums (and I’m talking VX, Reserve, 12 yr old and older here) are perfectly balanced; not too much heat, just enough bite and the right amount of smooth to ease it down the throat.

My current bottle of Appleton 12 yr old rum was a recent purchase; I’d gone a long time without tasting this rum and had almost forgotten how good it is. Now, this is not meant to be a rum review but I had forgotten how the mere sight of its rich bronze colour in a glass promises so much. I had forgotten that it is that rarest of items that makes good on its promises.

I am writing this at the end of another in a long line of spectacularly unspectacular days. This isn’t a lament, it’s merely an observation. As is my belief that Appleton 12 yr old rum is one of (my) life’s simple pleasures; the kind to put a bow on the most unspectacular of days. This is a rum drinkers rum. And I am nothing if not a rum drinker. A simple rum drinker.

Rum Porn: Volume 1, A Rum Tasting

So if you know me or if you’ve spent a little time visiting with me on this blog, you’ll surely know that I really enjoy rum. The scents, the sites, the sounds (yes the sounds) and the tastes all conspire to create what is one of my life’s simplest and sweetest pleasures: quality rum, neat. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet a few people who share my enthusiasm for rum. The end result being the occasional rum tasting where we get together share rum, get our snack on and shoot the sh**.

 
From left to right: Kweyol Spice Rum (St. Lucia), Ron Zacapa 23-yr-old Rum (Guatemala), El Dorado 12-yr-old rum (Guyana), Appleton Estate Extra Old 12-yr-old rum (Jamaica), Mount Gay Extra Old (Barbados), Chairman's Reserve (St. Lucia)

I was digging around through my photos and came across a handful that were taken at a tasting I attended last May (2010). I thought I would share these pics and provide a little commentary–with as much accuracy as possible considering I don’t have notes and it was almost a year ago–on the rums.

Generally speaking I don’t do spiced rum. In fact I believe spiced rum is an abomination. However, we decided to give St. Lucia’s Kweyol Spiced Rum a try. If memory serves me correctly, Robert, our host for the evening, brought this particular bottle back from his recent trip to the island. My conclusions? Let’s just say my feelings about spiced rums haven’t changed.

The three rums immediately to the right of the Kweyol in the first photo, and which feature in the next photo, were all well received by everyone gathered (FYI our group consisted of three males and three females), though Guatemala’s Ron Zacapa and Guyana’s 12-year-old El Dorado were thought to be a little on the sweet side.

From left to right: Ron Zacapa, El Dorado, Appleton Estate

As for the 12-year-old Ron Botran (Guatemala) featured at the far right in the last photo…uhh, there wasn’t much good to say.

12-year-old Ron Botran (Guatemala) at the far right

In the end, while the gathered rums were pleasing enough, Mount Gay’s Extra Old and Appleton Estate’s Extra Old 12-year-old were the big winners on the night with every taster choosing one of these two fine rums as their favourite.