Empire Merchants hosted Niche Import Co. for the kick-off of Mamont Vodka in New York City. International Brand Manager Tamara Mazur led the sales division through the story of Mamont as they tried the Siberian vodka. Acclaimed author and mixologist Warren Bobrow was also in attendance serving up cocktails with Mezan Rum.
Welcome to rum, the libation understood by Buccaneers, Pirates, Sailors and “Armchair Sailors” the world over, throughout history.
Follow the Rhumb line on your sailing chart and let it take you around the globe.Here also is an intoxicating liquid in your hand.This liquid is as ancient as the early sailors who plied the relentless seas. It is called Rum.
Rum is usually available in almost every port where sailors gather after a long voyage or before embarking upon a longer one.
Rum has always been served as an inexpensive and potent form of relaxation for sailors and landlubbers alike.As a panacea against fear, rum always calmed a sailor’s beleaguered nerves while far out at sea, unable to tie up to the yacht club dock.Rum would take the edge off of weeks without even a tickle of wind, or in the face of the fiercest weather. Rum is the complete drink of sailors who took this tipple to sea as a cure-all against all known infirmities from being a sailor in the early days.And let me tell you from working for weeks aboard a modern boat, it’s really hard work!
The ocean has always held an allure for me.It’s unlike any other place that I’ve ever experienced.I’ve done more than just a bit of sailing.Mostly my sailing took place on a yacht belonging to my family.I can picture her now, about sixty feet in length, displacing 65 or so tons.She had all the modern conveniences of home along with a water maker- to turn seawater to a dense, brackish substance seemingly only good for washing dishes.But it also made decent, not clear: ice- but extremely helpful to the brain, when all about you is sticky: hot, humid and mosquito beleaguered. Being out at sea and having an iced rum cocktail housed in a clean glass is one of life’s simple pleasures. It connects you with every sailor who has ever sailed upon the ocean, even if they didn’t have your milky colored ice to cool their fevered brow.
The sea at night (and even in the daytime) can be a very scary place in a storm.As anyone who has been in a yacht away from the relative safety of the yacht club dock knows, the ocean is much larger than you are.Ships are not meant to be docked.They are meant to explore the globe. And to do this they need to go to sea.The waves will tower over your tiny vessel, threatening to smash you and your hard earned dollars into piles of shredded (read expensive) sailcloth, toothpicks of your fine teak decks and miles of razor sharp fiberglass where the bow decided to split open for no reason at all, exposing the interior of the vessel to the bottom of the sea in mere seconds.
That is why sailors kept rum on board their ship.Because that mug of rum somehow makes it easier to forget that such a horrible demise may await you with every uncontrollable gust of wind or steep wave that knocks you to the wooden deck. You’ll know it when it happens.
Rum is hand-held courage for the sailor.
Maybe the thrill of being a sailor out at sea continues to make rum so beguiling to all kinds of drinkers, even today. After all, this allure and call to the sea is what took this drink through history.
A daily tot of rum punch might have been made with a preserved fruit shrub.Shrubs were made up of vinegar along with citrus fruit and molasses or raw honey.They were mixed with water for purification and also with rum in a rudimentary punch.The early shrubs were no more than citrus fruit, mixed with vinegar and sugar against decay.
Drinking what little water taken on board a ship could be fatal because the water was potentially deadly without purification systems like on modern vessels. The feeling of being soaked to the skin in cold weather with a steaming mug of grog filling your belly makes the going so much easier.Just like cooling punch made with rum and tropical fruit juices gave scurvy ravaged sailors deep relief.The modern day product, Rose’s Lime Juice, a potent curative in its own right dates back to the Colonial era when drinking lime and rum was not just a casual drink, it was a curative in your mug of more than good cheer.
Rum traditionally found its way around the world because it was easy to transport from place to place.And rum is sturdy stuff.It doesn’t sour like wine or beer in the motion of the ship or the heat of the hold.
There are many names for rum that flows clear from the still with a hiccup or bubbles forth with a belly laugh. Times are changing and this has made rum universally respected.
Rum is cheap to make, easy to store, it lasts nearly forever and it gets better over time when resting within a cask.It’s a win/win for the distiller and the casual drinker alike.
A Summer Rum Punch should always be made with freshly crushed juices. I cannot imagine making something that I may be serving to others with anything but the very best.After all, aren’t you worth it?
In my travels I always come across individuals who say that when they are entertaining, they use less than satisfactory ingredients because their guests won’t know any better.That’s a shame- because it doesn’t cost much more to ensure a unique experience.When you take short cuts- well, the overall understanding is cheap.I don’t know from cheap.That’s why my drinks are memorable.They evoke history, one sip at a time.
The Sea Cook
(the cook is the most important person aboard your ship, don’t ever forget that)
- 4 oz. Mezan XO Rum (no chill filtering, nor glycerin, nor added sugar, nor caramel coloring added)
- 2 oz. juice: Take 2 pineapples- cut into rings, placed on a silicone tray, with Angostura Bitters (for good gastric health) and roasted for 20 minutes at 400 degrees or until caramelized.Cool and set aside
- 2 oz. juice in each cocktail-
Do the same with a couple splashes of Angostura Bitters upon 2 large grapefruits- cut in half, also sprinkled with Demerara Sugar and broiled until bubbly.Cool and set aside
- ½ oz. Freshly squeezed orange juice
- ¼ oz. Freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 oz. White Balsamic Vinegar
- Angostura Bitters
- Fresh Nutmeg and scraper
- 1 oz. Oloroso Sherry (dark in color, rich and smoky in taste)
- Lime chunk garnish
- Fresh ice- not stinking of last month’s garlic pasta
- Take the pineapples, skin them well, no bitter crust allowed! Roast them with the Angostura Bitters.
- Juice them and add 2 oz. of this juice to a Boston Shaker filled ¾ with ice
- Do the same with the broiled grapefruits- no pith (it’s bitter!) just juice them and add 2 oz. of this broiled grapefruit juice to the Boston Shaker
- Add the Mezan XO Rum and the vinegar
- Finally, add the Orange juice and the Lemon juice
- Cap and Shake hard for 15 seconds
- Pour into two Collins Glasses filled with ice
- Float the Oloroso Sherry over the top
- Scrape some nutmeg over the top to finish
- Garnish with a lime chunk and serve
– See more at: http://drinkwire.liquor.com/post/summer-rum-punch#gs.lqKmswQ – Read more at: http://scl.io/0qw7YBH7#gs.MwcUd3k
Mezan Rum is winning medals at this weekend’s Miami Rum Festival! So honored!
Certainly by the end of the year I’ve become a bit jaded on what I consider to be trends for the following year. Everyone wants to know what the “next best thing” is… Or what it’s going to be tomorrow, next week or in the coming months.
It is here that I want to start my list of what I think, as a taste-maker- will be hot in the coming months. I’ll give a list with some explanation- just in case.
Last September I was fortunate to attend the Moscow (Russia) Bar Show. It was enlightening, amazing and educational. I gave a master class on rum and traveled to the other side of the globe to find a country that for all intents and purposes is just like ours- except they speak Russian. They love us- we’d never know that from our press though. The Russians are passionate about American Whiskey.
Want to know where all the Bourbon Whiskey is? Russia. So, I’ll start my list in Moscow.
• Authenticity, Nostalgia, Simplicity. I was sent to the Moscow Bar Show by Mezan Rum. You would think that Russians would be preoccupied with vodka. Not so, they demand authenticity and that “Jerry Thomas” approach to history. Fine aged rum plays directly into this chess game. Rum that hasn’t been colorized, chill-filtered nor any added sugar, or saccharine allowed. Mezan fulfills this purpose and takes you further into the plethora of flavors that speak clearly to the métier of the rum distiller. Get some! I prefer the Jamaican version. There is a certain funk in each sip. Powerful stuff in a Planter’s Punch or even in a Rum-Manhattan. Make sure you use a Vermouth like Atsby, or Uncouth- even Carpano… But use the white one. The red is too sweet for these perfumed rums.
• Whiskey from actual distilleries! What a concept- is it me, or are there more made-up names than usual on the store shelves? I actually had a friend ask me about a Bourbon the other day from a distillery that has never existed outside of a Madison Avenue advertising agency desk. The label appeared to be hand attached and the closure had the look of a cork stuck in the top of a bottle of Moonshine. There may have been leather involved. All it said to me was, stay far away.
Authenticity in Bourbon takes guts these days. But should you find a true craft distillery- then by all means buy their stuff. They deserve your support. The big guys are ok, but cut out the fake-craft labeling. It’s confusing to the consumer! My favorites going forward, Barrell Bourbon, Few Spirits, Catoctin Creek, Hudson… They are my favorites for a reason. They speak the language of history.
• Scotch from Scotland and other places – Ok, so they call them smoked whiskies when they are from other places. I don’t want to raise the ire of Scotch drinkers. Pardon me. Amongst my favorites going forward- Virginia Highland Malt Whisky- yes Virginia, they distill absolutely gorgeous whisky in Virginia. I’ve been making Bee’s Knees with Old St. Andrews Scotch Whisky- lightly aromatic of cut grass and toasted peat. Not overpowering with smoke, but to my palate, just enough. And that bottle! Looks like a golf ball. Brenne from France continues to please and going forward I would say that any releases from this marvelous producer will challenge even the most snobbish of the Whisky drinkers. I had some beautiful Scotch Whisky in Russia that dated back to the mid 1960’s… If you can find any of these, save your pennies… They are worth every cent.
• Rhum Agricole. Certainly you should be drinking Rhum Agricole… Don’t just put a bottle on your bar and forget about it. I continue to wax poetic about the mysterious flavors that appear and disappear in each sip of Rhum Agricole. One of my favorite ways to drink this perfumed slice of Rhum history (yes they use an extra h in Rhum in the French West Indies) is with a chunk of lime (with the skin on) and a couple splashes of Cane Sugar Syrup… This is so simple! Anyone can choose their own demise by making this drink as strong or as weak as they desire. Thank you to Ed Hamilton for teaching me what I needed to know in the first place.
• Flavored Syrups and Shrubs. What is a shrub? My third book, Bitters and Shrub Syrup Cocktails defines a Shrub as an acidulated beverage, historically used as a method of aiding digestion and for refreshment- as an energy drink. In the days prior to soda, a touch of vinegar, sugar and fruit along with cool water would satisfy most thirsts. Flavored syrups make our jobs as bartenders and mixologists much easier. Amongst the very best that you can buy are: Royal Rose… Fruitations (I’m just blown away by their Cranberry), Pickett’s from Brooklyn (yes, that’s a place and their hot ginger syrup is world class) Shrub and Company, Shrub Drinks, Liber and Company. All delicious and lip-smacking. Powell & Mahoney is my go/to for Pomegranate Mixer- yes- even I use a pre-mix for some events.
• Craft Soda… With too many names to mention, but I’ll mention a couple. Q-Drinks- they’re magnificent. The Club Soda has a pinch of sea salt- keeps you thirsty! I’m thrilled by some of the Root Beers that come down from Bar Harbor in Maine… I love to drink Boylan’s and Bruce Cost sodas when I want something even more authentic. Dry Soda is just amazing stuff- the cucumber variety is crisp and refreshing.
• Hard Cider. Possmann’s from Germany is my go/to. This lightly sparkling cider is all apple and just the right amount of fizz and alcohol rolling in at 5% abv. I’ve had it on tap in the New York/Metro area and if you see it, get some… immediately! Farnum Hill from up in New England continues to charm my palate as well. There are some Spanish Ciders that are just so assertive- Burgundy wine comes to mind. Barnyard notes and crushed stones come into view, sip by sip, if you dare! They are just different styles from Spain. I much prefer the German ciders, at least for my palate.
• Tequila. I don’t know what happened to Tequila, but I’m tired of Tequila that tastes like Bourbon. Maybe it’s because they age the distillate in used Bourbon casks? Absolutely, this is why your Tequila tastes sweet. It’s in the cask! I much prefer the rare and usually a bit more expensive versions like Casa Noble- aged in French White Oak. This is a much more expensive method, but worthwhile in my opinion.
• Mezcal… It’s mysterious like a high fever in the middle of Summer. There’s smoke in there- lots of stuff going on in your imagination. If you want to really challenge your palate, in a good way… Taste Mezcal. Of course if it has a worm in the bottle, throw it out immediately. This is not the real thing. It was invented, yes again… by one of those ad agencies. No one eats the darned thing!
• Gin. Stick to what you like and I love Barr Hill from Vermont. The Tom Cat, aged in American Oak is my preference in a snifter- for a perfectly marvelous gin and juice – use nothing more than the raw honey and grain distilled Barr Hill Gin with freshly squeezed- broiled grapefruit in a muddle. A splash of Q-Tonic water and a couple dashes of Angostura to finish… All good. Happy New Year!
My fourth book, Cannabis Cocktails (the first book on the topic!) is in pre-sell now: www.quartoknows.com/books/9781592337347/Cannabis-Cocktails-Mocktails-and-Tonics.html
- See more at: http://totalfood.com/articles/these-are-the-drinks-youve-been-looking-for#sthash.PKUMRV7J.dpuf
Look whose here!!!
Klaus and I will be at the California Rum Festival, showcasing Mezan and Stroh Rums. Join us and other trade and run aficionados for an amazing time!
511 Harrison Street. San Francisco CA Saturday, September 12, 2015 2:30 PM to 8:00 PM (PDT)