“The first Lady Drink competition took place in 1996 in Perugia. It is still a unique competition as in any other countries, until nowadays, there isn`t an event like this” – These are the words of the founder of the event, Danilo Bellucci. In the past 20 years he has been taking care of the organization and the selection of the competitors.
In the past years Lady Drink aimed to reward the excellences in the bartending world. More and more often in Cocktail bars, we find numerous barladies and professionals constantly increasing along with creativity. That’s why every year a bigger and bigger number of bar ladies not only decide to dedicate their passion to study and improve themselves but send their recipes to the Lady Drink competition who is meeting a rising challenge in selecting what they believe are the most innovative ones.
The Lady Drink is the most important European competition for Bar Ladies and celebrated it´s 20th year Anniversary this year at the competition at Excelsior Palace Hotel in Rapallo, Italy on oct 17.
Rapallo is a charming little town near Portofino on the north-west coast of Italy. The Excelsior Palace Hotel offers some of the best views you can imagine…you have the whole sea right in front of your balcony!
Before the competition started we had a half day off and went on a tour to Portofino and had coffee at a little cafè in the harbour right at the water´s edge and all the boats, and we took a steep walk up to the church on top to see all the stunning views of the sea and the cliffs from two sides and to do some souvenir shopping on the way. The Portofino area is just stunning with amazing views around every corner you turn and I can really recommend a trip there.
Back at the hotel, it was time for lunch and then getting ready for the competition which also had masterclasses by the sponsoring brands. In the competition were 40 contestants that had 7 minutes each to create 3 each of their cocktails…which then was presented to us at the judging table to evaluate until there were only two contestants left.
It was so fun to see so much creativity and to try their cocktails from which only one could be the winner…it`s not easy to beat 39 others and there were more than one great cocktail in the bunch! …so not so easy to judge either. There´s many aspects to look at and think about and at the same time you cannot be too slow because the cocktails keep coming!
I saw so many creative presentations but the taste and the overall impression also has to live up to the beautiful presentation…and I think the winner lived up to all aspects of a great tasty cocktail without beeing too sweet or too anything! it was just perfect balance and innovative beautiful garnish fit for the cocktail and the theme.
L’ American è Don Raffaè
Here`s the winning cocktail created by Bello Ilaria (Bar Talea di Tor Vaianica (RM)
The text on the note in Italian is the quote from a song by De André, that says “you like Campari or want the coffee”? They are 2 of the ingredients of the drink and the title of the song la Don Raffaè. The quote on the note makes the whole drink theme with how it tasted even better! just excellent! and very creative!
L’ American è Don Raffaè
2cl Red Vermouth Carlo Alberto
2cl bitter Campari
1cl China Martini
1,5cl Patron XO Caffè
O,5 Bitter Cioccolato (Bittermen`s Xocolatl Mole)
Congratualtions to the winner! and cheers to all the contestants! Here`s a little picture parade of the contest, the hotel and beautiful Portofino:
Excelsior Palace Hotel, Rapallo
The view from the terrace at the beautiful Excelsior Palace Hotel where the contest was held.
This hotel was built in 1901.
From my balcony…
The Lady Drink Competition:
Stage is ready for the contestants…
And so are we…(me on the right and on the left, Laura Marnich (Zuma bar, Dubai) the third judge, Elizaveta Evdokimova (Moscow) is unf missing in this picture)
Getting ready to work…
And it`s on!
And the drinks start coming in, so much creativity!
So many beautiful drinks!
The two finalists….out of 40 cocktails, where the L’ American è Don Raffaè won…
The winner, Bello Ilaria with the founder of the event (on the right) Danilo Bellucci.
The harbour in Portofino
They say the emerald waters in this area comers from the deep cliffs underwater creating layers of light…
This is so mediterranian….
Portofino seen from the church on top.
Wild cliffs and sea on the other side.
And last…yet another view from the hotel in Rapallo, sunrise on the last day and time to leave this beautiful place. Thank you Lady Drink and Italy for having me! hope to come back.
It was a very long time ago I wrote about gin even though i`ve used it here and there in my tiki cocktails but it`s rare, so it´s time for some tiki libations again that contains gin….and the gin I pick for this post is Martin Miller`s.
When i first tasted Martin Miller´s gin years ago I found it had a special flavor and I really like it, it has a smooth and a bit earthy-bitter juniper flavour paired with an overall pleasant spicinress and slightly bright citrus and herbal flavours in between.
This is the gin that uses pure soft glacier water from Iceland because this water is said to be cleaner, softer and full of life force. I find that pretty amazing that they actually ship the gin all the way to Iceland! There its blended with more neutral spirit and glacier water, then its shipped away again. There´s no doubt that this is very soft clean water.
As for steeping the herbs and spices the old traditional methods are used where the botanicals are steeped overnight in spirit and hot water and this gentle maceration is what is needed to create a premium gin.The dried citrus peels are also separately distilled in order to achieve a brighter citrus flavour.
The dried bitter seville orange rind is the most important botanical after juniper in gin making and personally I love the bright seville orange flavour – it has such a refreshing aromatic aroma.In Martin Miller`s gin lemon and lime rinds are also used.
These are the botanicals used as far as i know, surely there are some secrets too…
Juniper, seville orange, lime, lemon, coriander, angelica, liqorice root, cassia bark and to bind it all together and impart a floral aromatic flavour – Florentine iris.
The alcohol must be re-distilled and made from grains of the highest quality, there´s a lot of herbs, spices, roots and citrus peels involved which are picked from all over the globe and individually treated. The distillation is a whole process of its own. Martin Miller`s gin is distilled by a single pot still (as opposed to most gin`s using three pots) using only the heart of the distillate.This single pot still is called Angela and was made in 1904.
What I`m using here is Martin Miller`s traditional gin (40%) and the Westbourne Strength (45.2%) I like their freshness and that`s also why it´s one of my favorite gins, goes well in tiki drinks together with other rums and mixers.
As for gin in tiki drinks in general I think it can make really tasty tiki drinks and one of the tastiest I`ve had is the “Outcast of the islands“, a refreshing ice cone adorned libation which you can find at Jeff Berry`s Latitude 29, one of the best tiki bars on this planet.
0.5 oz fresh lemon juice
0.5 oz passionfruit syrup
0.25 oz falernum
0.25 oz orgeat
1 1/4 oz Martin Miller`s gin
Float Rational Spirits 141 Cuban or other good floating rum!
Put it all in a blender and blend until smooth with 8 oz crushed ice, pour unstrained into a suitable glass and fill up with more crushed ice if needed (originally it was a pilsner or other tall glass but I used a snifter….bec I love them! This is a take on the Saturn found in Jeff Berry`s Total Tiki App, the original drink was made by J “Popo” Galsini in 1967 and awarded Popo at that year`s IBA World Cocktail Championship in Majorca.
Pololu Nui – a little potent mix of Martin Miller`s Westbourne Strength Gin, Jamaican and overproof rums, fresh pineapple, Creme de Cacao, Coco Real and Curacao… spiced up with a heap of fragrant ground cinnamon….served in Jeff Berry`s Latitude 29 Coco mug! And while Ku from the Floating Rum Shack carrying a pineapple on his head is laughing i`m drinking!
The original Pololu was made by Dr Bamboo and was a take on the good ole Painkiller…The name Pololu Nui means “the big Pololu” in this case “big in proof” with Martin Miller`s Westbourne strength gin and the overproof rum float combo.
2 oz Martin Miller`s Westbourne Strength Gin
1 oz Appleton Extra Jamaican rum
2 oz fresh pineapple juice
0.5 oz Ferrand Dry Curacao
0.5 oz Coco Real Cream of Coconut or Lopez
1 oz fresh lime juice
Hamilton 151 rum to float
Shake everything except cinnamon with ice and strain into a glass or tiki mug.
Add a generous float Hamilton 151 on top and dust with a heap of cinnamon powder and garnish with something tropical.
I hope you like these drinks as much as I did!
Hailing from Sweden, the syrups by Gustav Almèn have now seen the light! the first two out is a orgeat and a grenadine and I can assure you these are very tasty and well made with all natural ingredients and no artifical things added.
Gustav started to make homemade syrups for drinks that they served in the bar that he worked it at the time, Papa Gede`s in Sydney. A bar which on their website says – Papa Gede’s bar is infused with the spirit of witch-doctor apothecary, home-made herbal elixirs, plenty of classic & tiki cocktails, a smorgasbord of absinthes traditionally served, great wine, funk, soul, reggae & rituals of relaxation.
Sounds like a quite ecclectic and creative environment to work at! And while working there Gustav made many different flavors like orgeat, grenadine, ginger & sugarcane, falernum…
One day a friend said to him that he should start selling syrups and the more he thought about it the more he realized that there were no companies in Sweden selling cocktail syrups. So during the last 6 months in Australia he started to experiment even more with different flavors and studied different kinds of sugar syrups.
Just in time when he was back in Sweden he felt that his syrups finally were as good as he wanted them to be and so it was then he decided to start his company – Alméns Syrups. His goal is to sell cocktail syrups to bars in Stockholm.
I have tried the homemade orgeat (which is made with real almonds) and grenadine and they are both very tasty! the only thing I could think of that would benefit by a change is the bottle desgn, it`s beautiful bottles, tall and elegant but not very practical in a bar 🙂
But the syrups are not yet out for sale so a few changes will most likely be made before the final product is out on the market.
Here are two drinks I have made, one with the orgeat infused with Kombu seaweed and one with grenadine.
Fire and Brimstone!
1 oz/30 ml aged Cuban style rum ( I used Rational Spirits 141 Cuban rum)
1 oz/30 ml Mezcal (I used Del Maguey Crema de Mezcal)
2 oz/60 ml fresh pineapple juice
0.5 oz/15 ml Almèns grenadine
0.75 oz/22.5 ml fresh lime juice
Hibiscus powder to rim the glass and top the ice
Rim half a snifter with hibiscus powder and half fill with crushed ice. Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into the snifter, add more crushed ice to fill and dust some hibiscus powder on top, garnish with a lime wedge.
0.75 oz fresh lime juice
0.5 oz kombu seaweed infused Almèns orgeat
1 oz aged Cuban style rum ( I used Rational Spirits 141 Cuban rum)
1 oz Mezcal ( I used Del Magey Vida)
1.5 oz fresh grapefruit juice (yellow)
1 small piece of kombu, lime wheel for garnish
Small pinch hibiscus powder
Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a cocktail coupe with a cracked ice chunk.Garnish with kombu, limewheel and a pinch of hibiscus powder on top.
Infusing the orgeat – Add orgeat to a small pan ( I added a half cup, about 1.25 dl) or pot and add a piece of kombu seaweed (about 2 inches, 5cm long) you can brake it in two if you want and slightly heat up the mix, Then take off heat and leave to sit for a couple hours or overnight, taste to see until you find the flavor nice. It should add a bit of a sea-salty flavor to the orgeat.
I really like these syrups and have nothing more to say than I think it would be better with smaller more practical bottles 🙂 apart from that the syrups are very good, tastes wonderful!
When they are out for purchase I know I`ll buy them!
Rum Nation is a rum company based in Italy created by Fabio Rossi in 1999. Fabio travels around the Caribbean and Americas to find the best rums he can find and release in limited editions and has since it`s start been giving out a wide array of rum styles, with a particular focus to the differences between the various geographical countries of production, their unique qualities and aromas.
Now here is some really interesting rums coming out from Rum Nation – small batch rare rums from Guyana.
This reminds me a lot about the three single cask expressions that came from El Dorado a while ago, all high proof. These type of rums are to my belief increasingly popular and from how it looks to me, they sell fast despite the higher prices.
The first three cask strength bottlings are very small batch releases with each bottle individually numbered, detailing the cask numbers and the distillery of production.The bottles are also in new design but sort of still keeping the hallmark of Rum Nation but instead of the usual cork there is a glass stopper and a new tube for an elegant gift presentation.
These three bottles have some beautiful and funny labels with tropical animals on them, a sure thing to catch attention.I find them really cool. This first release of three bottlings is meant to give a first taste of many more to come.
Here are my thoughts on the three expressions:
Port Morant 1995/2016 at 57.7 %
The color of this 21 year old Port Mourant rum is a deep dark amber with some ruby red hints, beautiful. The nose is a typical “old” woody demerara smell mingled with tannins and ripe mashed tropical and dark fruits.
The mouth is spicy and woody, strong, heavy and dry. It`s a real ass-kicker! it`s made in the famous double wooden pot still and it`s a small batch of 170 bottles. A heavy and powerful demerara with a medium long and woody finish.
It`s a bottle packed with power and strength!
Diamond 2005/2016 58.6%
The Diamond is of more or less the same color as the Post Morant, just very slightly lighter. The nose is mild and fruity, creamy and sweet with a hint of spice. It doesn`t have any much at all of the typical heavy woody demerara nose, just a little undertone.
The taste is very aromatic and rich, with wood and tropical fruits, spice, raisin, prunes and it´s very flavorful, more than what the nose hints at. It has a little sharpness to it and a little grassy (?) hint or something I cannot really define what it is but the rum is lovely! It also has a long spicy finish. It`s probably the most interesting of the three. Small batch of 473 bottles were made.
Enmore 2002/2016 at 56.8%
The color of this rum is light yellowish straw and it was made in the famous Enmore wooden coffey still. It has a mild nose with fine fruity notes, lovely citrus, apricot, and tropical fruits.
The taste is dry and almost astringent, light wood, hints of anise, a bit peppery and estery and very aromatic. Love it! It has a long peppery and spicy finish. 442 bottles were made of this expression.
Final thoughts – It has been very enjoyable to try these out and I like them all, they are different from each other, with their own peculiar characters and each of them are very good rums indeed. When it comes to additives and added sugar and such I don`t pick up anything and I believe these are just pure rums and pure rums is what I prefer when I drink it neat.
And for those that doesn`t know, if there is any sugar in rum it has been added after distillation by the producer because rum – like all other distilled alcohols, does NOT contain sugar after distillation.
If I would pick one as a favorite it would be the old pungent Port Morant closely followed by the very interesting Diamond. But I would love to have all three of them.The only problem is that these kind of rums are very expensive so my advice when it comes to small batch and cask strength rums is try before you buy.
I hope to see more rums like these! Fabio Rossi have done a great job bringing out these three lovely rum expressions!
Here´s my older posts about rums from Rum Nation:
Rum Caroni 1998
Anniversary Edition 12 year Old Rum, Barbados.
Rum Nation Jamaica Pot Still Limited Edition White Rum
Launched by Global Rum Ambassador Ian Burrell, RumFest has become the main event of the rum calendar and the event’s 10th outing is set to be its strongest yet as it invites the nation to delve into the world of rum with over 400 rums from around the world and a myriad of exhibitors.
Seminars and workshops take place across the two days where brands, ambassadors and leading industry figures give an in-depth insight into the world of rum including rum and food pairings and the making of rums. Top blenders, mixologists and distillers will be on hand to teach ticket-holders the art of cocktail making as well as more ways to enjoy their favourite tipple. Highlights include a rare rum seminar with Ian Burrell himself, an Aroma Academy, a sit down with award-winning master distiller Richard Seale, chocolate and rum pairing plus an exciting look into the world of rum with author Dave Broom. Head to the RumFest website to book seminars in advance from September.
This year RumFest are going big on Sunday. Reggae Reggae Sauce’s Levi Roots will be taking over the main stage and sharing some of his incredible cooking secrets and bringing his newly open Caribbean Smokehouse restaurant to RumFest. Sunday’s RumFest will also team up with Sandals Resorts to offer the chance for two lucky ticket-holders to win an incredible seven day holiday to a Sandals Resort in the Caribbean to get even closer to rum’s roots. Rum & Roast will be introduced for Sunday ticket-holders, cooking up a Caribbean twist on the Sunday classic and VIPs will be treated to a roast option for their three course meal.
The Rum Auction sponsored by Christie’s returns to auction off yet more precious and rare rums for charity to the highest bidder while the action heats up with live stage demos showcasing rum pairings, cigar & rum pairing, cooking demos, cocktail competitions. On Saturday’s RumFest “the Indiana Jones of Tiki drinks” Beach Bum Berry will delve into the art of Tiki cocktail making. Rounding off each day, rum-lovers will be invited to party with RumFest for its famous carnival hour, celebrating the spirit of rum with live bands and dancers.
RumFest Founder and Global Rum Ambassador Ian Burrell is the leading name in rum. Dedicating his life to promoting rum and rum culture around the world, over the years Burrell has been recognised with a number of industry awards as well as regularly appearing as a rum expert at events and on television shows like Sunday Brunch, the Alan Titchmarsh Show and more.
Speaking about the 10th year, Ian Burrell says, “When we launched 10 years ago we could never have imagined how successful RumFest would become. For us rum has always been a way of life and we’re thrilled to still be spreading the word and celebrating the spirit a decade on. We’ve got something for everyone this year with even more rums, tastings and talks as we hope to make RumFest 2016 one to remember for rum-lovers up and down the country.”
RumFest takes place in London at the ILEC, 22nd to 23rd October 2016. Standard day tickets are now on sale from £39.50, which includes access to all areas of the the event and tastings from all exhibitors. VIP tickets are on sale from £69.50 and allow for early access of one hour ahead of standard ticket buyers along with a three course Caribbean lunch.
Golden Tot Tokens are £5 each and allow for additional access to the more premium rums on offer. One token can be exchanged for rum retailing £80 – £100 and more expensive rums will be available for additional tokens. For full information on RumFest and to buy tickets head to rumfest.co.uk.
TICKETS AVAILABLE FOR UK’S LARGEST CELEBRATION OF RUM CULTURE
Tickets are now on sale from £39.50, including a VIP package priced from £69.50 which includes fast track entry, goodie bag and a three course Caribbean lunch.
The Rum Experience is a concept created by Global Rum Ambassador and the Founder of The RumFest, Ian Burrell. Celebrating the resurgence of rum and rum culture around the world, The Rum Experience takes a contemporary approach to promoting the rum and sugarcane industries and Caribbean culture through a series of unique events, festival, rum tastings, pop-up experiences, food pairings and rum battles.
12pm – 6pm
22nd-23rd October 2016
ILEC Conference Centre
Ibis London Earls Court
47 Lillie Road
London SW6 1UD
Here you can read my earlier posts about my visits to the UK Rumfest from 2011-2015
When I first heard about the Meermaid rum I got quite curious, “Meermaid rum” what on earth is that? then I saw some pictures posted and they picked my interest especially since I also read positive thoughts about it written by trustworthy people. Being an infused (or spiced) rum you tend you get a bit suspicious…..too many spiced rums are way too sweet….
But not this one! in fact there is no sugar or artificial additives at all – or as the label says on the back of the bottle – “17 real fruits & spices macerated in a blend of Jamaica/Trinidad rums. No sugar, artificial flavors or nonsense added” – Bravo! that elevated my hope! btw I like how they say “nonsense” ……..
Meermaid rum comes in two expressions, and they come in some really cool stoneware bottles – a 70ml 40% infused rum and then an overproof version of the same rum at 62% in a 500ml bottle, also stone, which is really cool. The one thing I feel could be improved is the wooden cork because it doesn`t hold very tight… I wouldn`t try to bring an opened bottle with me if I was going somewhere and that`s a pity. So a better tighter cork is needed!
What this rum is – is interesting, and with an overproof version of the same rum it opens up for some tiki fun and rum pairings!
Something to note – Meermaid rum is not to be mixed up with the “Mermaid rum” from Florida, the “Meermaid” rum is infused and bottled in Berlin, Germany.
Meermaid rum began with a passion to learn how to produce flavored rum…the thought is to preserve the actual rum flavor and with the 16 all natural ingredients like fruits, dried fruits and spices they add, just enhance the flavor. The rum is recommended for use in tiki cocktails (yay here I come…) or ginger beer or ginger ale, or on the rocks.
Recommended is also pineapple…..did they say pineapple? now this really talks to me!
Meermaid Infused Rum – Conceived in a long gone Tiki Bar….
And it got even more interesting when I learnt that Stefan Waltz, the maker of this infused rum, once set up a tiki bar on a boat….and later used to be the co-owner of the since now long gone tiki bar in Berlin called “Tabou Tiki Room“….
Where he had a mermaid painted on the door to the Ladies Room, which later on also became the design picture for the Meermaid rum, a name that he first discovered on a cup from the 60s where there was a recipe for a cocktail called “Meermaid”…I love when I stumble upon interesting things like this while researching for writing a rum post…that*s how it comes that I sometimes sit up all night…
The Tabou Tiki Room was inspired by Stefan`s visits to Trader Vic in London and Munich, and the Mai Kai and Tonga Room in America and the idea of escape from the outside world that real tiki bars is all about.
Here is the history of this infused rum as told on the website by Stefan Waltz:
I used to be the co-owner of the “Tabou Tiki Room”. An infamous tiki bar, and first of its kind, in Berlin, Germany. The place is long gone now, but it was there that the dream to produce my own infused rum was born.
“Tabou” was a bar that focused on the almost forgotten, rum based cocktails of the old days served in authentic tiki mugs, and an assortment of sipping rums fifty strong. I had the pleasure of acquiring these rums from around the world.
Don’t get me wrong, I know that there are fine spiced rums out there nowadays, but I want to show that it is possible to produce handcrafted infused rum at a reasonable price, while maintaining a far superior quality to the industry standard.
I began by trying several recipes using quality rum with an assortment of exotic spices and various types of fruit infusions. After several months of experimenting, analyzing, and taste-testing I concocted several unique possibilities, but felt that something crucial was missing. In the end, it was my girlfriend who suggested the last, key ingredient and I knew that we had crafted something special. Two weeks and several business meetings later, I had found a way to make naturally infused rum in small batches.
As you can imagine, it being in charge of searching and was a fun and exciting job. However, back in 2004 I just could not find a brand of spiced rum that met with my high standards. What I found was mass produced liquor, flavored with artificial vanilla to cover up the taste of what was quite obviously mediocre rum. It was through this search that the idea to make my own bottled rum began to form.
Quite interesting story isn`t it? And now he finally has his infused rum which btw is excellent!
Here`s my thoughts on the flavor:
Meermaid Infused Rum:
The color is lightly straw and when I swirl the rum in the glass, legs are quickly formed on the sides. The nose is very pleasant with a lot of citrus fruitiness, some herbs and a bit of spices with a very slight hint of rum in the background.
The nose is very mild yet has a lot of flavor notes in it.
The taste is spicy and herbal with he rum resting discreetly in the background, it´s mild and balanced and has an interesting flavor which is complex. It also has a pronounced fruitiness. It`s more mild and balanced than I expected and there`s no “overly sweetness” or “too much vanilla” in it, there´s a clear hint of cinnamon but there`s nothing that takes over.
There`s also something else there I cannot put my finger on…cherry?
There’s fruity orange and a bit of woody spicy aftertaste with hints of cinnamon, clove, cardamom, herbs…and the finish is medium long. It`s definetily one of the better spiced rums and this one distinguishes itself from the rest in that it`s a bit different.
Meermaid Overproof Infused Rum:
The overproof version has a naturally sharper nose with creamy fruitness in it, light on the spice and little bit herbal. I really like this creamy fruitness, it`s an intoxicating scent.
The flavor is also very fruity and herbal, even a little bit floral with a touch of woody spices like cinnamon and clove. It`s mild enough to sip, the alcohol doesn`t kill you. In all I would say that both these rums are well balanced and mild enough to not overpower anything which so many other spiced rums does.
They can be both sipped and mixed! and yes they are right, it really pairs well with pineapple!
Pretty cool labels, with a skeleton mermaid on the overproof…
Wim Thielemans from Flap`s Tikis made a special tiki mug for Meermaid rum – is it the captain with a mermaid tail? or is it a tiki face? a really cool mug!
Ok and now it`s time for the drinks! i`m in the mood for pineapple, rum, lime and coconut! so it´s a lot of fresh pineapple juice and tiki drinks…
First drink is a pineapple bowl…a mix of fresh pineapple and lime juices, orgeat and three rums to make it strong plus dashes of Angostura and Zulu bitters to make it nice! the whole awesomeness is served in a scooped out pineapple garnished with pineapple leaves, lime wheels and tropical flowers.
I wish I had one of those little plastic cocktail garnish mermaids to add to the bowl….she could swim around there in all the rum…
Meermaid Pineapple Bowl
2 oz/60ml fresh pineapple juice
1 oz/30ml fresh lime juice
0.75 oz/22.5ml orgeat
1 oz/30ml Meermaid Infused rum
0.5 oz/15ml Meermaid overproof rum
1 oz/30ml demerara rum
A couple dashes of Angostura and Zulu* Aromatic bitters
Blend in blender with 1 cup crushed ice for 5 sec, then pour into a scooped out pineapple (or glass/tiki mug) and fill up wityh more crushed ice and garnish.
This drink is very refreshing!
*The Zulu bitters are hard to get outside of Brazil where they are made from local ingredients in the rainforest, ( try e-mail email@example.com ) – Otherwise using Angostura is just fine!
The next drink….looks very innocent but it is not!
2 oz /60ml fresh pineapple juice
2 oz/60 ml fresh orange juice
1 oz/30ml Coco Real or Lopez cream of coconut
0.25 oz/7.5ml cold brewed coffee
1 oz/30ml fresh lime juice
1 oz/30ml Meermaid Infused rum
1 oz/30ml Meermaid overproof rum
1 oz/30ml aged Jamaican rum
Blend in blender at high speed for 5 sec with 1 cup of crushed iced and pour into a large snifter.
Mermaid Ginger Cooler
In a rocks glass with large pieces of cracked ice, add:
1 oz/30ml Meermaid Infused rum
1 oz/30ml Meermaid overproof rum
A little squeeze of fresh lime
Top up with ice cold ginger beer and stir
Garnish with fresh mint and lime
It packs a bit of a punch!
Grande Pina Colada
2 oz/60ml fresh pineapple juice
1 oz/30ml Coco Real or Coco Lopez
2 oz/60ml roasted coconut water
1 oz/30ml fresh lime
1 oz/30ml Jamaican rum
1 oz/30ml Meermaid overproof rum
A couple dashes of Angostura bitters
Blend in blender at high speed for 6 sec with a cup (2.5dl) cracked ice)
Pour into a goblet or pineapple filled with cracked ice.
Add a generous float of black strap rum
2 oz/60ml Guanabana (soursop) juice
0.75 oz/22.5ml fresh lime juice
0.5oz/15ml macadamia nut syrup
1 oz/30ml Meermaid overproof rum
2 oz/60ml Santeria rum or a dark Jamaican rum
Flash blend in blender with 1 cup of crushed ice for 5 sec, pour into a tall glass and fill up with more crushed ice.
Garnish: wrap the glass in banana leaf and tropical orchid.
Overall I think for this infused rum, it´s a work well done! The Meermaid rum is for those who appreciate quality handmade flavored spirits – if you want your own bottle of Meermaid you can order it here. ( I do not know if they ship outside of Europe) And if you are going to the German Rum Festival in october (15-16) you can also find it there!
As always when I go to rumfests and try out rums I`ve never tried before I find something that sparks my attention and interest and the rums from Hèritiers Madkaud is one. They are not only very good rhum agricoles they also have an interesting story and I think they deserve to be more known. I`d recommend anyone interested in rhum agricole to try them out!
The rhum Hèritiers Madkaud is today owned by Stèphane Madkaud who re-launched the rum by the end of 2007 and most parts of the story was told to me directly by him.The story of the rum brand Madkaud is very old and goes back to the days of slavery on Martinique.
RHUM MADKAUD – THE HISTORY AS TOLD BY STEPHANE MADKAUD
The thing is that in the beginning, my ancestors, as slaves, had no names, no family names (no last names in fact) they just had first names. My slave ancestor was called “Louis”, and that’s all. And he had a number for identification. If you give me one minute, I will get you his real number….he was number “105”
So what is written is that “what we know today for sure, is that before being called “Madkaud”, my ancestors were black slaves who worked on a plantation in “Grand Anse – Lorrain”, in Martinique. ” In fact in 1849, one year after slavery was abolished, they decided they wanted to be called “Madkaud” because of a French former governor of Martinique who was called “Mackau” who, in 1845, as a congressman, produced a law which allowed the enslaved to buy their own freedom with their own work. So maybe this is how they got free, maybe a few years before slavery was officially abolished in 1848.
Louis had 9 sons and daghters among which was Félicien (the 9th) who was may grandfather’s grandfather and Félicien was born in 1857 as a free man and he created the rum brand in 1895. He was a distiller for a french man who owned a sugar factory, but the guy went bankrupt because there was sugar crisis in the years 1880s and he needed to leave Martinique.
Félicien could take the factory but to be able to make it financially, a marriage was arranged with a white lady whose father was a trader in France (in Bordeaux) They got married in 1893 and Félicien created Agricole rhum Madkaud in 1895.
In these years it was the end of molasses in Martinique and this is how agricole rum began…because of sugar crisis.
Félicien was the first Black man to own a factory. We know he had some difficulties because the owners around did not accept his presence at such a level. But he was also a fighter.
“Habitation Duvallon”, where rum Madkaud was created. The place is called “fond capot”, in the city of Carbet.
Thank you Stèphane! – and the brief history of the rum itself is this:
In the 1950s and 60s the rums from Madkaud were well known on Martinique but they disappeared from the market to reappear in the 90s.
The cause of the brand`s collapse was the death of Stèphanes grandfather, aged 40 in the mid 60s causing bankruptcy. Some cousins did their best to keep the brandname alive but they were no more producers. However they succeeded in making the brandname survive through a partnership with a larger producer but this was only survival.
They were limited to just a small single quota with the production controlled by a third party, the family rum could no longer afford to be what it once was and only very small amounts of rum were sold locally.
Then in the 90s the quotas were suppressed in Martinique and they could go back to business but without a real marketing policy. In 2007 Stèphane created Heritiers Madkaud as a sign of a new era – with better casks, more beautiful bottles, and little by little…better communication.
This is why the story starts again 40 (!) years later… 40 years after Stèphanes grandfather’s death.
And in 2013 the Madkaud rum was awarded bronze for the white, and silver for the VSOP at the rumfest in Madrid and the same year also bronze and silver in HongKong. This was followed by a gold medal at the Paris rumfest in 2014 and in 2015 it was awarded gold in Madrid and double gold in Berlin for both expressions.
I think that`s quite amazing for a rum that almost disappeared and was more or less “gone” for 40 years….and now it`s time for the tasting – here are my thoughts, in short:
Héritiers Madkaud Blanc Cuvée Castelmore
The color is crystal clear and the nose is elegant with whiffs of fresh grassy notes followed by hints of citrus, and sugarcane. The taste is mild and balanced with hints of fresh sugarcane, citrus and white pepper. It has the typical grassy herbal notes of fresh cut sugarcane and is pleasant to sip and the crisp grassiness is more in the background than upfront, it doesn`t attack you, more like caressing your palate. It has a medium long finish.
Héritiers Madkaud VSOP Cuvée Castelmore
Well rounded nose, with hints of wood and herbal grassiness of the cane and tropical fruits. In the mouth it´s mild and pleasanly fruity and balanced with hints of spices, orange and wood, tropical fruits and sugarcane. It has a longer finish than than the blanc. This rum has been aged four years and has a clear amber color.
There`s no sugar or other “things” added, this is pure rhum agricole!
And of course, sipping it neat is the best and the given cocktail would be a ti punch but I wanted to make some tropical cocktails too, plus two tiki drinks as well, to see how they mix :
60 ml/ 2 oz Madkaud Rhum Agricole VSOP
15 ml/ 0.5 oz fresh pineapple juice
15 ml/ 0.5 oz fresh orange juice
15 ml/ 0.5 oz fresh lime juice
15 ml/ 0.5 oz banana syrup
Dash Angostura bitters
Flash blend in blender on high speed with 2.5 dl/ 1 cup of crushed ice for 5 sec and pour into a snifter, top up with more crushed ice
2 oz (60ml) fresh pineapple juice
0.5 oz (15ml) honey cream mix
0.5 oz (15ml) orgeat
0.25 oz demerara syrup
1 oz (30ml) fresh lime juice
1 oz Madkaud Rhum Agricole VSOP
1 oz Madkaud Rhum Agricole Blanc
Decent float of overproof rum
Blend in blender at high speed for 5 sec with a cup of crushed ice and pour into a pineapple, add more crushed ice to fill.
Add the float and a couple dashes of aromatic bitters,(I used Zulu Aromatic bittters from Brazil, but Angostura works just as fine).
To make honey cream mix:
Mix 4 tsp honey with 2 oz (60ml) water
Heat up and stir until the honey is dissolved.
Add 1 tbsp unsalted butter and mix it all together, cool to roomtemp.
This is one of Don the Beachcomber’s greatest masterpieces, it was made back in 1940s, even though Jeff Berry have pointed out in his book “Beachbum Berry`s Remixed” that it may even be as old as back in 1937. It´s a masterpiece of refreshing herbal awesomeness! and it never gets old. In this recipe the rums are switched to Madkaud Agricole Blanc. And honey-mix is used here which is like the previous honey cream mix but without the butter.
60 ml/2 oz Madkaud Rhum Agricole Blanc
30 ml/1 oz honey mix*
15 ml/0.5 oz Peach Brandy
15 ml/0.5 oz lime juice
45 ml/1.5 oz fresh pineapple juice
12-20 mint leaves
2.5 dl/1 cup crushed ice
Combine in a blender and blend at high-speed for 20 seconds. Pour into a goblet or coupe and garnish with mint sprig. (and a tropical flower if you like:-)
1 part honey
1 part water
Combine in a small sauce pan and bring just to a boil.
Cool and bottle.
Ginger Coconut Sour
60 ml/ 2 oz Madkaud Rhum Agricole VSOP
22.5 ml/ 0.75 oz Campari
15 ml/ 0.5 oz fresh lime juice
30 ml/ 1 oz fresh pineapple juice
30 ml/ 1 oz fresh coconut water
15 ml/ 0.5 oz ginger syrup
1 egg white
Shake hard and long to emulsify the egg white (or use blender) and pour into a chilled rocks glass. Dust grated nutmeg on top. Garnish with pineapple leaves.
30 ml/ 1oz Madkaud Rhum Agricole VSOP
30 ml/ 1 oz Madkaud Rhum Agricole Blanc
30 ml/ 1 oz pineapple juice
30 ml/ 1 oz coconut water
30 ml/ 1 oz Coco Lopez or Coco Real cream of coconut
30 ml/ 1 oz fresh lime juice
Dash Angostura bitters
Flash blend in blender at high speed for 5 sec with 2.5 dl/ 1 cup crushed ice. Pour into a coconut or rocks glass and top up with more crushed ice.
Well, no problem with the mixing! this rum both sips and mixes just fine! in other words, it´s very versatile and it IS a very good rum! I`m glad it was brought back from “dormancy” by Stèphane!
Hope to see more of Madkaud in the future!
Aperol originated in 1919 in Padua Italy by the Barbieri brothers and was originally produced by the Barbieri company. The recipe is an infusion of more than 30 aromatic herbs and spices including bitter and sweet orange and the original recipe remains unchanged to this day. Aperol was named by Silvio Barbieri after the French word for aperitif, ‘apéro’, which, on a recent trip to France he had learnt and found it seemed appropriate for their new bitter-sweet liqueur.
The majority of herbs and roots used in Aperol come from the Piedmont region of Northern Italy and the recipe have never been changed since it was created in 1919. There is no aging and immediately after blending the Aperol is ready to be bottled. At the time it was a revolutionary concept to make an aperitif with an alcohol content of only 11% and as it didn`t become a major success until after the 2nd world war, it was probably a bit before its time.
The brand was purchased by “Barbero 1891” in 1990 to assist them in building up their portfolio of products and today Aperol is owned by Gruppo Campari (since 2003) who have continued to build Aperol and gave it a new packaging in 2011 while boosting the international marketing of the popular Aperol Spritz drink.
The flavor of Aperol is very much orangey and has but a hint of bitterness, like a whisper in the background compared to Camparis more straight forward bitterness that hits you with a force if you aren`t used to it or is sensitive for bitter flavors. Aperol is more gentle and would be a good first time bitter aperitif. I love them both.
In a rocks glass add ice and a slice of orange, Prosecco, Aperol, and soda to top, now you have a classic Aperol Spritz..
The Spritz cocktail is believed to have been born during the 19th century Austrian occupation of Italy. Originally the spritz was drunk by the german soldiers and was made with Venetian wines dilluted with water. The Spritz aperitivo spread from northern Italy to the south and many variations were made , and the most popular is the one using Prosecco.
And no wonder, its a incredibly fresh and tasty drink and it*s perfect for the warm summer days and balmy evenings or why not enjoying a Spritz while visiting betway for your soccer game pleasure. Or why not at the pool or the beach? Aperol Spritz is a perfect, low-alcohol refresher when it’s hot.
Aperol is also the perfect introduction to bitter aperitifs since it`s much milder and somewhat sweeter than Campari, its big bold and bitter cousin. And when mixed with Prosecco, the slight bitterness of Aperol becomes even more subtle.
For the summer heat…at the bar, the soccer, the beach…
3 parts Prosecco
2 parts Aperol
1 part Soda to top
Add to a rocks glass with ice and stir. Garnish with the orange wedge. So fresh! so tasty!
Summer Night Sour
1 oz (30ml) Aperol
1 oz (30ml) Rhum agricole blanc
0.75 (22.5 ml) oz fresh lime juice
0.5 oz (30 ml) orgeat
1 oz (30ml) fresh pineapple juice
Shake and strain into a fancy glass with crushed ice
Smooth like silk and fresh!
Some places just happens to have that special feel about them that makes you feel at home right away and Baba au Rum in Athens is one of those places. This world famous rum bar is not just a must go to bar while in Athens – it´s a reason to go to Athens! and trust me they will pamper you with lots of love, an array of amazing cocktails, tiki drinks, rums and other spirits!
One of the first things you most likely do when you arrive at a bar is checking out the menu and the cocktail and spirits menu of Baba is quite special….it comes in the form of a very cool designed book which has been awarded twice at the Athens bar show. The menu was designed by Kostas Theocharis and has been presented at the Milan Expo Exhibition and also in bars in Paris and Nikosia where it received great reviews.
The menu book is presented both in greek and english and it´s a simple cool, playful design!
Baba au Rum was founded in 2009 by Thanos Prunarus who has been a bartender since 1999 and this bar has greatly influenced the bar and cocktail scene and the bar which was awarded one of the World’s 50 Best Bars in 2013 — always at the top lists worldwide. Baba Au Rum is often awarded the Best Bar in Greece and Thanos is considered as a main influencer in his country.
And once again Baba has been included for one more year at World’s Best Bar Sellection!
Thanos travels around the world to discover rum, visiting and participating in rum festivals the world over, including judging at the world final of the Havana Club Grand Prix in Cuba which he recently did. Thanos also publishes an International Cocktail and Travel magazine called FINE DRINKING.
I could not have written it any better so I link you to this very good and in depth article about Thanos! and here is a cool video from Baba au Rum!
Baba au Rum is, despite the name and being a rum bar, a place where you can just sit back, feel at home and drink anything you want, it doesn´t have to be rum… And regardless of what spirits are used – the cocktails are immaculate wonders of liquid art that is a joy to behold and imbibe – but this place is a lot more than just the drinks….it`s a whole experience and the fact that people travel from all over the world to come here speaks for itself.
I for my part love it! I like when you come to a bar with super friendly bartenders, unpretentious relaxed atmosphere, interesting and beautiful interior, amazing drinks, good music and super comfy bar stools! – Baba got it all. If you get a chance or happens to visit Athens, do yourself a favor and go and spend time at Baba!
One thing that striked me on my visit was their amazing warm hospitality….they went out of their way to make me feel part of their family, never will I forget that! thank you everyone at Baba! My drinks which were consistently good, were made by the amazing bartenders Ellias Stergiopoulos, Phaedon Papakonstantinou and Nikos Gartzolakis – paying attention to the smallest details – you guys rock!!
So when you sit down…which drink to start with is not that easy because there´s a lot of great drinks to choose from the menu. One that I really liked a lot ( but I liked everything I tried) was their beautiful namesake drink, the Baba au Rum cocktail – a sweet and savory umami daiquiri with both sweet and botanical notes, and it´s a beauty….
The taste is fresh, sweet and savory at the same time, smooth like silk and incredibly refreshing. I leave you here my readers to enjoy a bunch of pictures from Baba, because you know they speak louder than my words…some of these pics are mine and some are courtesy of Baba.
This…is liquid perfection!
Baba au Rum cocktail made by Phaedon Papakonstantinous.
RumFire Daiquiri…to finish the night!
They make the work look so easy….but don`t be fooled, they work really hard!
What a beauty…
And here we got playful tiki…
And the “Lulu White” tiki mug!
If you don`t get thirsty when you see these kind of cocktails…..
Guadeloupe Tiki Punch! served in one of Baba`s own cool tiki mugs.
Yeah….they got some really good rums…
An interesting and fun detail is the lit up mini carousel….so playful and fun!
And finally, yours truly with Nikos Arvanitis ( Rum Traveller in the Caribbean and writer of the upcoming “From the West Indies to the World” and bartender at the lovely bar Kolokotroni 9 (you should go there! and while you explore the bars close to Baba, go and try some fine rhum agricoles and cocktails at Rehab too! – another great bar) drinking and talking rum! the International Rum Family is really a wonderful thing! When “From the West Indies to the World” is ready I`ll post about it on this website.
The adress to Baba is Kleitiou 6, 10560 Athens, Greece, +30 21 1710 9140, firstname.lastname@example.org
Cheers to rum and good friendship!
First time I tried rums from Ekte Spirits was last year at the UK rumfest and what I found was good…I also liked the design of the labels with their unusual names such as “Pungent and Geeky” or “Spicy and Rich”. This year at the Paris rumfest they were back but also with a new selection of limited release rums which were some very good rums.
I have a selection of a few of the blends and one of the limited release up for review but you can also see some pictures from the Paris rumfest here.
The name Ekte comes from the word marriage (aegte) in Danish, because they see themselves as a blending house to start with and then moved on to the private bottling with the development of the wide range of Ekte rum (including the five blends and the six limited edition rums) which originally were bottled and blended in Denmark, but are now coming out of Europes second oldest family owned distillery, 1831, in northern spain…the destileria Acha. The entire philosophy of EKTE is transparency , something that I for one like to see more of!
So here are the rums that are up for a short review:
P&G – Pungent and Geeky:
This rum is Jamaica and Barbados together…the ABV is 47% and it´s a blend of eight different types of rum among them some overproof rum. The appearance is a golden yellow clear liquid with a sort of buttery nose with a lot of tropical fruits like banana, mango, bananas, apricots and dried raisins. There´s also something grainy or malty in the nose. You can dip your nose deep into the glass without getting a whole cloud of alcohol fumes and in overall it`s quite mild and round.
In the mouth you get the same rich tropical fruit notes delivered with a slight kick and a sharp hint of cask. The rum appears quite dry or semi-dry, if it has any sugar in it it has to be very little. The mouth feel is not too viscous but it´s a robust and pleasant rum with a great aroma. Me like!
The finish I find to be medium long and nice.
D&A – Dark and Aged:
The Dark and Aged blends rums from Guyana, Trinidad and Barbados. It`s up to 5 year old pot still rum blend from Guyana (demerara from DDL) and up to 5 year old column still rum from Trinidad and 8 year old rum blend from Barbados. ABV is 38%.
The color is a nice mahogany brown color with excellent clarity. In the nose there´s a bit of oak barrel and vanilla, orange peel, lightly fruity and sweet, it´s not a heavy nose.
In the mouth comes the same notes of vanilla and orange, it´s a bit light and slightly on the sweet side and not as heavy and dark as the name “Dark and Aged” sounds to me, but sure there´s elements of Guyana in it adding body.
There´s a pronounced orange flavor in this rum, somehow it reminds me a little bit of Pyrat, maybe it`s just those hints of orange…Overall it´s a good mixer and sipper.
S&R – Rich and Spiced:
Hailing from Barbados and Trinidad, the Spiced and Rich has a very light nose, of slight perfumey vanilla notes. I already had a feeling this would be too sweet for me and I was right, it´s too sweet for my palate and it has very much vanilla in it. For those who likes light rums with vanilla notes, it´s an elegant rum and only lightly spiced even though to me it could benefit from less vanilla and sugar. The ABV in this one is 43% which I cannot detect at all, so it´s stronger than it tastes like.
No 3 Limited release, Nicaragua 15:
And finally, the limited edition 15 year old single cask rum from Nicaragua. The single casks are of course what interests me the most…
This rum is a column still single cask rum at 68.6%, and 250 bottles was released. The nose is that of deep cask and very full bodied, deep, strong, woody, and full of flavors, tobacco, leather, cask. Due to the high ABV I pick up some medical notes in the beginning but they give way to deep flavors…it´s an exceptional rum, well balanced. The ABV is 68.6%.
Conclusion: The EKTE Spirits blends and single casks are worth seeking out and trying but these are just a few of them. I cannot pick a favorite since I haven`t tried them all but to me the single casks are the most interesting…and the one I like the most of the blends so far is the Pungent and Geeky. I tried a few others at the UK and Paris rum fests and they were really good as far as I can remember. I also like the design of the bottles and the labels with their simple yet cool design.
And now…time for the drinks…
So with the Aged and Geeky I decided to make a Colada variation adding some coffee notes and a bit of bitterness from Campari. The Aged and Geeky mixed very well with all these ingredients without loosing itself in the sumptuous mix of flavors and the cocktail was very tasty!
Pungent And Geeky Colada
60 ml/ 2 oz EKTE Spirits Pungent and Geeky Rum
60 ml/ 2 oz fresh pineapple juice
45 ml/1.5 oz fresh lime juice
30 ml/0.5 oz banana syrup
30 ml/0.5 oz Coco Real
30 ml/0.5 oz cold strong coffee
7.5 ml/0.25 oz Campari
Blend in blender at high speed for 10 sec with 2.5 dl/1 cup crushed ice and pour into a snifter.
Fill up with more crushed ice if needed.
Next up is another tiki extravaganza, with Dark & Aged and Pungent & Geeky, fresh lime and pineapple juices, peach nectar, rich honey-mix and a little spice from Angostura and Pimento dram.
30 ml/ 1 oz EKTE Spirits Dark & Aged Rum
30 ml/ 1 oz EKTE Spirits Pungent & Geeky Rum
30 ml/ 1 oz fresh pineapple juice
30 ml/ 1 oz peach nectar
15 ml/0.5 oz fresh lime juice
15 ml/0.5 oz rich honey mix (2:1 honey to water, heat up to dissolve the honey, cool to room temp
1/2 tsp Pimento dram
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Pulse blend in blender at high speed for 5 sec with 2.5 dl/1 cup crushed ice and pour into a tiki mug, fill up with more crushed ice if needed.
Garnish with a pineapple crown.
Grand, extravagant, sumptuous and lush!
Next and the last is not a tiki but it´s a tropical style sour:
Dark & Aged Coffee Sour
60 ml/ 2 oz EKTE Spirits Dark & Aged Rum
30 ml/ 1 oz fresh pineapple juice
15 ml/ 0.5 oz cold strong kona coffee
45 ml/0.75 oz fresh lime juice
15 ml/0.5 oz demerara syrup
Shake (or use hand blender) and strain into a chilled cocktail coupe or speciality glass.
Garnish with pineapple and cherry.
Smooth as silk….