Flavor is such a personal thing. Now add color to the equation. Are you a bartender who finds that their darker spirits seem to sell better than those lighter ones? I hope you don’t find me presumptuous when I tell you that you’re fooling your clientele. What? Dark doesn’t always mean old, just as flavor is not always a good determinate to freshness.
We have to do better for our guests. Fresh juices and high quality spirits is my mantra. I have a philosophical difficulty with caramel coloring in spirits under the pretense of being old. At the recent Miami Rum Fest, I represented Mezan Rum. It’s easy to speak of Mezan because of what they don’t do to it. No caramel. No chill-filtering. No sugar added. No glycerin (for mouthfeel…) minimally pad filtered to remove the black stuff from the ex-bourbon oak casks. Bourbon whiskey casks by law can only be used one time. Then they leave the rick houses and spill their contents into the bottles that are on the shelf.. that’s Bourbon. These wet casks make their way to the Caribbean (or Mexico for aging Tequila, or Scotland for Scotch Whisky…) the list goes on and on where Bourbon casks go. But one thing is for certain, this wet wood will do well to house a portion of fine rum.
So these casks will house all sorts of spirits. And the really fine ones. The ones that you never see in your favorite liquor store will make their way around the Rhumb Line in the globe. If you know someone who travels, they probably have something authentic in their bar… Seek out this kind of friendship, especially if they share because you’re never going to taste anything like this again- whatever it is. Rum, straight out of the cask, cut to 80 proof is one of life’s simple pleasures. The Terroir is island specific. And even distillery specific because of the yeast. If the distillery uses a wild yeast, well- you can taste it. There is a funky quality to this liquid.
Rum or Rhum? I’m a huge fan of Martinique Rhum. The stuff that says Agricole gets my attention. To be fair, I don’t currently represent an Agricole so I hope that my words resonate on a personal level. I love Agricole because it’s authentic. No, I’m not from the islands- I’ve sailed all over and tasted many different rums and RHUMS.. from many, many places. As much as I call myself a well-traveled man, there are always more well-traveled folks. I’m fortunate to have spent time on our family yacht where drinking well was a true metaphor for living well.
You cannot punish me for authenticity. Nor can you go wrong by experimenting with Rhum Agricole. I like mine very simply. Cane sugar syrup, Fresh lime with the skin (essential) and a hundred proof or more Rhum Agricole. Of course in my forthcoming book, Cannabis Cocktails, I infused a vinegar laden shrub into the lime and added a touch of ginger syrup- not traditional, but I did write the first book on the topic- so it certainly can be anything I want it to be. Right? And that means I added a dosage of THC.Not in this recipe, but you get the gist.
Make your Ti-Punch as you desire. My intellect is somewhat swayed by being out at sea. If you haven’t done it before, don’t. It’s not like being out on a cruise ship. Far from. You might actually have to… sail.
Martinique to me is not a place that you go to soak up the sun on beaches- although I’m sure that activity is available to you- especially the area that experienced volcanic activity. The beaches are gorgeous and the ocean a blue that reminds me of royalty. When the sun is just right and the language is swirling in the background you could be on Cloud Nine. Martinique is that kind of place. I couldn’t imagine working in the cane fields. I wouldn’t last a day.
Now I understand why Rhum placated the worker. It’s rough out there. Razor sharp machetes flying into inches thick cane.. sharp fronds. Syrup that sticks and attracts biting insects. The heat.
What does this have to do with Rhum?
It’s the base.. The soul.
When you drink Rhum Agricole- you drink passion.
So this spring I suggest that you make for your guests a new (but very old) cocktail. The Ti- Punch.
½ lime, cut into small chunks
1 oz. Cane Sugar Simple Syrup- it’s available commercially
3 oz. Rhum Agricole of your choice.. I love the ones that Ed Hamilton is bringing in..
Add the lime chunks to a clean glass
Muddle with a splash or four of the Cane Sugar Syrup
Add a bit of Rhum Agricole (I use the 100 proof blanche)
Decide early how much Rhum you will use because you are “Choosing your own Death” if you make it too strong in the hot sun of the French Caribbean.
Mezan Panama and Mexican Cola
The Mezan Panama Rum is a magnificent beast. Especially with a full bodied Mexican Cola and Chocolate Bitters
2 oz. Mezan Panama 2006
6 oz. Mexican Coke – Cane Sugar
2-4 dashes Bitter End Mexican Mole’ Bitters (a bit spicy, these are.. really!)
To a Collins Glass- add cube ice
Add the Mexican Cola
Pour Over the Mezan Panama 2006
Dot with the Mexican Mole’ Bitters
Serve with a smile!