A Mountain of Crushed Ice is Rum Blogger of the Year 2013 UK Rumfest Golden Rum Barrel Awards

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How a Mai Tai should NOT be and how it should be

Demerara Rums from Guyana

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Demerara Rums Part Two

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Demerara Rums Part Three

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Cachaca and Rhum agricole, what`s the difference?

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Sugarcane!

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Tahitian Vanilla Syrup

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Hibiscus Grenadine

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Gomme syrup

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Learn how to easily open a coconut and mix up a tasty Coconaut.

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View my Cocktails on flickr p1

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Tiki Bars – Latitude 29

Latitude 19

And so finally I got to go the Latitude 29! I´ve been waiting since they opened with great anticipation and (high) expectancy…..well…I try to not have too high expectations whatever it is, better to have an open mind, but with this one i`s a bit different….because this is the BUM`s place….this is the man who uncoded all the secret codes and brought us all these lost drink recipes and who wrote no less than six stellar books on the subject if you count in Taboo Table.

His books have been my to go tiki drink (and history) books for years and so now he and his wife Annene Kay aka Mrs Bum opens a real tiki bar in my favorite city New Orleans!

And I wasn`t there when they opened….and had to wait all the way until this year´s Tales before I could finally go and see it  – and in the meantime I`ve been drooling over all the food and drink pictures (can you say Tahitian Steak Frites?) and the drinks…..oh the drinks….

I`ve seen so many beautiful pictures of these drinks that I didn`t know what to start with….but I ended up ordering a Pontchartrain Pearl Diver as my first drink – in the NEW Pearl Diver`s glass! :-)

The Pearl Diver`s glass, the Swizzle cup and the skull barspoons are all new for this summer in collaboration with Jeff Berry and Cocktail Kingdom and they were sold at the Tales but are also available online. The vintage Pearl Diver`s Punch glass is more or less impossible to find anymore so I`m really happy they are re-making them and same for the cool swizzle cup! I hope to see more re-making of these type of vintage tiki drink glasses….

And not only are the glasses really cool they come in beautiful vintage looking packages too!

Latitude29 Pearl Diver 3

The Pontchartrain Pearl Diver was good…..very very good – well balanced and oh so tasty! I didn`t try so very many drinks during the Tales because it was so incredibly busy….and so was I…so I decided to wait until after Tales and THEN go there for some serious drink tasting!

So last friday I went there early and I sat there and happily indulged Tahitian Steak Frites with luscious Coconut Butter and later a Mahi Mahi Bahn Mi accompanied by a whole array of drinks until in the evening, I actually spent a whole “working day” in the place!

And I had a nice chat with the Bum, about rums and rums and rums…and of course, tiki drinks. I was indeed a very good day….The place is so cool and relaxed, beautifully decorated and the music is great! with everything from real good and cool old style Jamaican reggae to surf music! and the co-bar manager Steven Yamada and his staff are very attentive, friendly and nice.

It`s really a place to go not only for the great drinks and food but also to escape from the world outside and it doesn`t matter if there´s big windows to the outside world…..because this is New Orleans! and the view from the beautiful arched windows is nothing but beautiful….over the pool and the tropical plants in the courtyard of Bienville House Hotel.

This used to be housing the former Iris restaurant, I went there in 2009 with all the Tales bloggers and now I cannot recognize the restaurant and bar anymore, it´s a total different world! quite the transformation….the only things that looks the same is the courtyard and the hotel lobby.

Take a look:

2009-2015 2

Back in 2009…Alan Walther tends the bar at Iris…..and he did serve some amazing cocktails! he later moved on to Loa, this was long before the Iris became what it is today – a true tiki haven!

2009-2015

The Tales Blogger Dinner in 2009 in the former Iris restaurant, the same view today of the beautiful courtyard and pool but the dining room has dramatically changed…..

Bienville House Hotel Courtyard

This is such a tranquil and peaceful place….if staying at this hotel you get both all this plus the Latitude29 in one place…..

Pool view through window

Eat Drink and be Merry!

drinks collage

Hurricane, Kea Colada and Royal Hawaiian Cocktail.

The food menu has something for everyone! executive Chef Chris Shortall and his staff creates their own take on modern Tiki Cuisine which is playful and tasty and there`s something for everyone including options for vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free guests.

First thing I opted for was the Tahitian Steak Frites which I`ve been dreaming about since they opened…..

The Tahitian Steak Frites are tender, luscious and juicy (I ordered mine medium-rare) served with hot crispy thin fries and a tasty dipping sauce plus a dollop of coconut butter on top! the Bum told me that in Tahiti they add coconut to the cow´s diet and therefore everything the cows are producing have a touch of coconut flavor…heavenly….and so they wanted to re-create that idea here with the coconut butter.

I LOVE it!

Steak frites collage

I`m not joking, I think I could eat this almost every day….the meat is so tender and melts in your mouth together with that lovely coconut butter….

The Mahi Mahi Bahn Mi is wild caught Mahi poached in coconut oil, jalapeño, sriracha, and shallot….and at a Chef`s Challenge before the Tales I tried the ribs which are very tasty too….and not to forget the crispy green beans!

Another nice dish is the Shrimps in Blanket, the gulf shrimps here really are something special. They are big and juicy….and have more shrimp flavor than shrimps I`ve tasted anywhere else.

Latitude shrimps in blankets

Shrimps in Blanket

Latitude 29 Sahimi beans

These green beans were amazing…..

An array of seductive tropical tiki drinks…..

Latitude 4

When you enter a tiki bar you want to be seduced….you want to forget the daily struggles and take a “trip to the South Seas” with exotic tropical drinks! (inspired by drinks in the Caribbean….) :-)

So I started with the Pontchartrain Pearl Diver….it`s such a good drink!…..balanced, fruity and rummy! The Pearl Diver is a mix of honey-butter-spice mix blended with passion fruit, lime and Jamaica rum. The butter adds a wonderful slightly viscous mouth-feel, if you didn`t know it was butter in the mix you wouldn`t know what it was but you would know there was something there….

After the Pearl Diver I had the namesake drink of this bar – the Latitude 29…..it comes in a tall glass wrapped in banana leaf for that real tropical feel – and you get that cool gorgeous swizzle stick! – made after the wall art by Bosko! The drink is made with eight-year Demerara rum, passion fruit purée, house made Madagascar vanilla syrup, orange, pineapple and lemon.

They are both gorgeous in their presentations with the Pontchartrain Pearl Diver in the new re-made super cool Pearl Diver`s glass.

Latitude29 collage

The Latitude 29

The Rum Barrel is according to the menu a communal drink but it says “For 2 to share, or 1 thirsty pirate to hoard. A kill-devil’s brew of 3 rums, 4 juices, multiple herbs, spices and sweeteners …” – so apparently I`m a “thirsty pirate” since I had no problem drinking it all by myself….

It sure makes you feel like a rummy pirate! 😀

It`s presentation is BEAUTIFUL! and fun! see the picture….they really take time to garnish up these beauties….and the drink itself is strong and rummy/fruity/spicy. One of my favorites!

Latitude 7

Rum Barrel, complete with pineapple peel, cherries, orchid, swinging monkeys and umbrella! superfun garnish :-)

And so is the Coffee Bongo…..also incredibly nicely garnished….with a pineapple leaf cut out to look like a palm tree frond…..topped with two coffee beans….stunning! the drink is also strong/spicy and rummy with lots of character and if you like coffee and pineapple together, you find it here.

Latitude 23

Every drink is not rum though….there´s a drink called “Outcast of the Islands” which was amazingly tasty and is a mix of London gin and Persian lime…with cinnamon, ginger, almond and anise, heavenly….

And it LOOKS heavenly too! it comes served with an ice shell…..how cool is that? and the Navy Grog comes with the iconic ice cone which is made with the Bum`s ice cone device sold by Cocktail Kingdom (as well as the Pearl Diver`s glasses, the swizzle cup and the skull bar spoons)

And there are drinks with bourbon, brandy, tequila, beer and vodka….but I haven`t tried them all yet….there`s something for everyone in the drink menu too. Me, I tend to mostly stick to the rums….

Ice cone shell drinks

Outcast of the Islands and the iconic Navy Grog

The Professor Remsberg`s Punch is a very interesting drink and very tasty too, the drink contains “Fine old Guadeloupe rum, gently stirred with lime and a Caribbean spiced syrup discovered over 30 years ago in San Juan by the Professor himself”…….I wonder what is in that syrup? If you didn`t know, Stephen Remsberg is the world´s biggest rum collector.

Latitude 21

Professor Remsberg`s Punch

All the drinks at Latitude 29 are good and well balanced, from the (real, no chemical-mix) Hurricane, Mai Tai, TOTC Swizzle, Nui Nui, Kea Colada, Royal Hawaiian Cocktail, Lapu Lapu, Hawaii 504, Missionary`s Downfall and the Paniolo….which is Kentucky bourbon and Hawaiian macadamia nut liqueur shaken with lime, house made cranberry syrup and a dash of molé bitters.

It`s evident to me that they pay as much attention to the garnishes as the drinks themselves because some of these drinks ar off the charts when it comes to beautiful presentations! you get a little work of art in your hand!

And the drink names alone takes you on a exotic journey…..a lot of them created back in the heydays of tiki.

Tasty, exotic and beautiful.

Hawaii 504

The Hawaii 504

You know, you need to go there and just try all these heavenly things! btw….between 3 and 6 pm every day it´s Happy Hour with a special menu….where among the drinks you`ll find the Banana Banshee and the Royal Hawaiian Cocktail….both perfect to cool you down when it´s hot outside which is a guaranteed thing in New Orleans during the summer.

And the best thing of all….you get the Steak Frites for half the price! what is there not to love?

The Banana Banshee is a frozen cocktail with Jamaican rum, lime, coconut milk and coconut cream, fresh banana and aztec bitters and topped with grated chocolate!

Lat29  Banana Banshee 2

Banana Banshee

I also ordered a few off-menu drinks with the help of Jeff Berry`s Total Tiki app, such a handy thing to have! and they were delivered top notch! I think Steve outdid himself with the Coconaut….coming beautifully garnished with a Cruzan Blackstrap float on the side. It tasted absolutely heavenly…..it was a mix of Hamilton 151 Demerara, El Dorado 5, for the rums plus that lovely float of blackstrap to pour yourself :-)

Coconaut collage

This Coconaut was incredible!

The Zombie was spicy and nice just as I expected, and just about right with the strength, and the Kamehameha Rum Punch did live up to it´s name…..

Kamehameha and zombie

Kamehameha Rum Punch and the Zombie…..

This interesting drink recipe is from Sippin`Safari and originates from the Hotel King Kamehameha in Kona, Hawaii, as the origin of the drink around 1960.

So who was King Kamehameha you might ask?  Kamehameha – also known as Kamehameha the Great was the head of a dynasty ruling the Hawaiian islands for more than a century. The name Kamehameha (pronounced kuh-may-ha-may-ha) means “the one set apart.” He conquered the Hawaiian islands and formally established the Kingdom of Hawai`i in 1810.

This drink is actually named after the Hotel King Kamehameha in Kona, Hawaii who took the name after the great Hawaiian King – Kamehameha.

Every year on Kamehameha Day (June 11, a state holiday in Hawai’i), National Statuary Hall is the scene of a ceremony in honor of the king and the statue of Kamehameha the Great is draped with lovely (and loooong) leis of fragrant flowers from Hawai’i. The Festival continues to pay tribute to Kamehameha and acts to preserve and perpetuate the Hawaiian culture.

Communal Drinks

And as every tiki bar should, there:s also a couple of different communal drinks on the menu, the newest one is a monster drink called the “Plantocracy Punch” for 6-8 people but we were only three so we tried the Lapu Lapu which uses a recipe which according to the menu is a Don The Beachcomber’s “lost” unpublished 1964 recipe, recently discovered by the Bum and presented here for the first time in over 40 years.

And of course it`s appropriately garnished with little mermaids taking a rummy ice bath…..

Lapu Lapu collage

Fruity, spicy, rummy Lapu Lapu and little mermaids swimming in the bowl….

Latitude 16

Rums….

Samaroli rums collage

While sitting in the bar I spotted two Samaroli rum bottles….and so of course I ordered a sample of each….and with the rum samples you get a small shot glass with water and a dropper, neat.

One was the 13 year old Guadeloupe 1998 Rhum Agricole and the other 1988 Demerara Dark Rum. The Guadeloupe is spicy and a touch smokey, with a strong character but at the same time, not too aggressive, it´s fruity, peppery, balanced and picky but also smooth.

A few drops of water brings out a whole array of tropical fruits flavors! this rum is incredible. I REALLY liked it!

The 23 year old 1988 Demerara rum had flavors of wood, macerated tropical fruits, apricot, vanilla, banana peel, mango and something else I couldn`t define…..but here a few drops of water didn`t bring out much change….still very woody, strong and fruity. Also a very good rum! Both of these rums are distilled in the Caribbean and then matured in Scotland.

They are not cheap but they are unique rums and they give you something to remember.

Then I saw a curiosity on the menu….it had a sort of mellow toasty coconut flavor…interesting….and I think it also could be used as ingredient in some of the drinks maybe? how about a Toasted Coconut Daiquiri?

Toasted coconut collage

The Interior Decor…..

TD art

Here is top crafts….the first thing you notice is of course the big centerpiece which now is in the same spot as the huge mirror was when it was the bar at Iris. The centerpiece is a huge carving of the Pacific Islands in a map in the forms of small tikis made by Daniel Gallardo aka Tiki Tiablo, and it`s a stunning work of art!!

Here is a collage of close-ups of the “Islands” in the map and there´s a nod to New Orleans too…. :-)

TD map collage

Bosko Hrnjak did all the new (non-vintage) light fixtures and all of the new (non-vintage) tiki carvings, wall panels, etc, over 50 of them in total. And Dave “Basement Kahuna” Wolfe did 8 Easter Island carvings on the hut wall-dividers.

It`s all beautiful….

wall art collage

lamps collage

Another (practical) thing I greatly appreciate are the power outlets with USB ports located on each side of the tables, I wish more bars had that, it should be standard everywhere.

Tiki glasses, Barspoons and Orgeat

Latitude 11

All tikiphiles already knows about the Pearl Diver`s glass, the swizze cup and the cool skull bar spoons which you can find at the Cocktail Kingdom which I mentioned above….but a new thing is the Latitude29 orgeat which comes in a heavy round glass bottle and is sold in the bar.

I haven`t tried the orgeat yet even though I bought a couple of bottles (USD 15 each) but i`m out travellling so that will have to wait.

So to sum it all up, what I was looking for was how the food and the drinks tasted and were presented and if there´s consistency….(and yes I have returned) and how the decor and the feel of the place was, what music did they play and how loud? is it possible to have a conversation or do you have to scream? and how I was treated as a guest.

Personally I have nothing to complain about, the food and drinks are top class, the decor tasteful and genuinely tiki, it`s a laid back and relaxed feel, the staff attentive, professional and very sweet and so I`ll keep coming back, this is now my primarily watering hole in New Orleans :-).

That said there´s a lot of very good bars here, I just happen to really really like well made tiki drinks and in the relaxed vibe and environment of a good tiki bar, there I feel the most at home.

Samaroli Rums and Pearl Diver at latitude 29

 

Interior pole

 

Bum sign

Tiki Oasis 15 – “Yesterdays Future Today”!

TIKI OASIS 2015 LOGO

Tiki Oasis is a family produced four-day Polynesian Pop lifestyle convention / party which takes place in Southern California each August, and is the only event of its’ kind on the planet earth!! Each year Tiki Oasis presents a different theme which explores, celebrates, and preserves mid-century aesthetics via entertainment, fashion, food, drink and education, while showing its’ relevancy in contemporary culture.

Tiki Oasis attendees experience four days of mixology, live and dj music sets, educational, symposiums, book signings, marketplace shopping, art, burlesque, comedy, vintage cars, fashion, food, kids events, and more!

EventOrganizers_von Stroheim Family 2014

Event organizers, Von Stroheim Family

Tiki Oasis attendees experience four days of mixology, live and dj music sets, educational symposiums, book signings, marketplace shopping, art, burlesque, comedy, vintage cars, fashion, food, kids events, and more!
Tiki Oasis was conceived in 2000 as a fundraiser to support the rehabilitation of the mid-century Palm Springs Caliente Tropics Motel which attracted a small gathering of tikiphiles.

Tiki Oasis was conceived in 2001 as a fundraiser to support the rehabilitation of the mid-century Palm Springs Caliente Tropics Motel which attracted a small gathering of tikiphiles. The event, which moved to San Diego in 2006 and has grown to include two locations, three hotels, over 28 symposiums, 100 vendors, numerous sponsors, a slew of talent including live bands, disk jockeys, burlesque and go-go dancers, visual artist and carvers, guitar and ukulele instructors, vintage cars, mixology experts and well over 3000 attendees.

Tiki Oasis 15 “Yesterday’s Future Today”

This year’s Tiki Oasis Theme is “Yesterdays Future Today” The Space Age ran parallel to the Modern Primitivism of Tiki Culture. While technology propelled modern man to the moon, the common man celebrated isolated islander cultures that were equally unattainable. Tiki Oasis celebrates this mid-century take on the future. Expect to be entertained, educated and visually stimulated. Tiki Oasis attendees always go full-throttle with event theme costuming!

At Tiki Oasis 2015, Pull on your jet pack and jump into the air; grab your raygun and become a space invader; or just relax poolside soaking in the sights and sounds of your own moonage daydream.

ScottSawVixenPhotographySpaceChick

 

Photo: Scott Saw / VIXEN Photography
Model: Stephanie Castro

Captain James Cook desired to go “farther than any other man has been before”. He discovered many remote islands as well as sailing to Antarctica and being the first to chart parts of Alaska, the final frontier of the Age of Discovery. Ironically we ended up putting a man on the moon decades before we discovered the last tribes in the mountains of Papua New Guinea.

Just as Captain Cook’s Endeavor sailed uncharted seas, Star Trek Captain James T. Kirk’s Enterprise took voyages into outer space to discover “strange new worlds, uncharted civilizations, and exotic people.”

Symposiums and Special Events…

Tiki Oasis is offering over 35 Symposiums this year. Be prepared to blast off into a universe of music, mixology, yoga, dance, architecture, fashion, Science Fiction, tiki history, art, pin-up hair and make-up and a whole score of book signings! Special events include the Miss Tiki Oasis Pageant, Cigar and Rum Pairing Lounge, Tiki Oasis Beauty Bungalow and Glamour Pin-Up Packages!

Special symposium educators feature the likes of original Mothers of Invention keyboardist Don Preston, Rodenberry Entertainment CEO Rod Roddenberry, legendary author and Tiki expert Sven Kirsten, mid-century historian and entertainer Charles Phoenix and many more!

Tiki Oasis 15: “Yesterday’s Future, Today” entertainment includes…

Tiki Oasis - D7100 Friday-0484

Picture: Albertine Feurer-Young

On the main stage:
Host: King Kukulele, Man or Astroman?, The Chocolate Watchband, Tikiyaki Orchestra, The Phenomenauts, The Phantom Surfers, Clouseaux, Fono66, The Devil-Ettes, Marina the Fire Eating Mermaid, The Neptunas, Project: Pimento, The Outta Sites, The Little Richards, The Rosalyns, The Ding Dong Devils, Diddley Daddies, The Angel and Robot Show, Point Doom, Slim Jenkins, and more!

DJs for the weekend include:
Howie Pyro, Lee Joseph, Anja and Mike Stax, Tanoa Samoa Boy, Agent Kari, El Nova, Duke Weiss, Lukino Ungawa, Johnny Bartlett, Tiki Tena & Jeff BigTikiDude, Axle, Eric Musick, Switched on Audrey, Astro 138, Jon Burchard, Nuria Alsina, Patrick Robinson, Sid Presley, Strike, Suzy Moran, Xerox, Burnie Gipson, and the crew of LuxuriaMusic.com!

Marketplace Information
Tiki Oasis is the crossroads of the Tiki world. Craftsmen, artists, tinkerers, and traders haul their wares to the Oasis creating an Exotica emporium unmatched throughout the world. Many vendors create limited edition items specifically for Tiki Oasis weekend shoppers!

Tiki Oasis 2015 Art Show “Yesterday’s Future Today”…
Our 6th annual art show features over 30 top Tiki artists from around the globe. All original artwork is for sale. Meet the Tiki Oasis Artists and the 2015 Winner of the Miss Tiki Oasis Pageant, Saturday from 1-2!

Artist include:
Arnold Pander, Atomikitty, Big Toe Art, Chris Crites, Christine Benjamin, CraigR, David Krys, Dawn Frasier, Derek Yaniger, Doug Dorr, Doug Horne, Eddy Crosby, Edmund Gabriel, Erin Joy, Eric October, Harry Decker, Ken Ruzic , Kymm! Bang, Maya Rodgers, Michael Fleming , Michael Grider, Mike Mass, Norm Daniels, REESENIK, Robert Jimenez, Ryan Hungerford, Sandra Fremgen, Scott Saw, Tiki King, Tiki Pop, Tiki Tony, Vestige Photography, Woody Miller and more!

Burlesque Show – Midnight at Tiki Oasis!
Check out a cavalcade of captivating burlesque stars that are out of this world! Once you enter the Lagoon Room you will lose all sense of time and space as you are engulfed in the sights and sounds of wild burlesque dancers and frantic, primitive intoxicating sounds from Howie Pyro and on Saturday only Slim Jenkins.

Tiki Oasis 7th Annual Car Show
Two days of vintage and specialty cars, plus vendor marketplace, tiki carver village, DJs spinning, the Beauty Bungalow, and on Sunday we will feature these food trucks: Devilicious, My Urban Eats and Chubbys! The car show will feature live music from The Els A Phonics and The Millionaire Kids.

Sunday night at Tiki Oasis Garage Rock Showcase!
60s legends, The Chocolate Watchband! Also featuring The Rosalyns (all girl band!), Diddley Daddies (Mike Stax, Ugly Things Magazine), The Devil-Ettes (San Francisco), Emcee: Otto von Stroheim, Sid Presley Disc Jockeying

QUICK LOOK @ FREE EVENTS OPEN TO THE PUBLIC:
for times and details please visit: www.tikioasis.com

Friday:
Tiki Oasis Yoga
Singalong with King Kukulele
Out of this world Fitness Class
Oblong Box Shop – Poolside Fashion Show
Tiki Oasis Bookclub: A Wrinkle in Time
Miss Tiki Oasis – Poolside Strut

Saturday:
Let’s Get Hip to Hula!
Tiki Oasis 2015 Booksigning with Merrell Fankhauser, Domenic Priore, Jeff Chenault, Danny Biederman, Java from Bachelor Pad, Neil Norman
7th Annual Car Show

Sunday
Tiki Tots Tour with King Kukulele
Hula Hooping with Szandora
7th Annual Car Show
Uke Jam

All Weekend Long
Tiki Oasis Marketplace
2015 Pop-Up Artshow
Tiki Tot Playroom
DJ’s and Bands: Poolside, Sushi Bar, Car Show

 

TO symposium collage
Martin Cate, Kelly Patterson, Ram Udwin

 

Symposium Educators

Merrell Fankhauser: Book Signing

Duke Weiss: Blast Off MusicSzandora: Hula Hoop

Darren Bradley: Honolulu Modern: Architecture in Paradise

Eric October: Paper Craft

Penny Starr JR: SCI-FASHION: a history of sci-fi costume design

Will the Thrill & Scott: FUTURE SCHLOCK: Vintage Visions of Time and Space

Richard Foss: COCKTAIL: History of Rum

Pin-Up Posing: Pin-Up Posing 101

Shana Astrachan: Space Age Pin-Up Hair

Tana the Tattooed Lady: Tiki Oasis Yoga

Kelly Patterson: Countdown To A Spectacular Celebration!

Violetta Beretta: Let’s Get Hip to Hula!

Devil-Ettes: Dance class – Galactic Au Go Go!

Don Preston: Former Mothers keyboardist discusses Frank Zappa

Ruby Joule: Tahitian Dance

Sven Kirsten: Treasures of Tiki Archeology

Jason Lee: Surf Guitars from Outer Space!

Martin Cate: Where Did My Rum Come From?

Pin-Up Make-Up: The Sophisticated Art of Pin-Up Make-Up

Jeff Chenault: Kahiki: Hear the untold stories of Columbus, Ohio’s legendary Tiki temple

Neil Norman: Conversation with the last great Space Rock composer

Charles Phoenix : Big Retro Outer Space Slide Show

Danny Biederman: Sci-Fi Meets Spy-Fi

Ram Udin: Advanced Bartending Techniques for the Atomic Age

Domenic Priori: Pacific Ocean Park: The Rise and Fall of Los Angeles’ Space-Age Nautical Pleasure Pier

Tiki Oasis market

What: Tiki Oaisis 15 “Yesterdays Future Today” www.tikioasis.com
2014 Festival Re-Cap and Press Lnks –  www.reverberationsmedia.com/tiki-oasis-14-festival-recap/
When: August 13-16, 2015

Where: August 13: Meet and Greet at Bali Hai, Shelter Island, San Diego  – www.balihairestaurant.com

August 14-16: Main Event at Crown Plaza, Hotel Circle, San Diego – www.crowneplaza.com/SanDiego
See all the symposiums here.
Pictures: Lee Joseph and Albertine Feurer-Young

TOTC 2015 – Events, Competitions and Tastings!

It`s fun at the Tales! so many tastings, so much to try and so many events and parties…..well you can only do so much…..and you will STILL be uber busy…. :-) When I try to remember all the things that we did it all get`s a bit confusing, but here are as a sort of Tales wrap-up of a couple of the fun things we did:

angostura cocktail challenge finals

House of Angostura Brand Ambassador, the one and only, Daniyel Jones, picture Laura Godel.

House of Angostura Cocktail Challenge Finals at the House of Blues!

Angostura collage

This was a great event and with great food! The House of Angostura always takes well care of you….and this time we got to make our own roast-beef poboys…. :-) how cool is that!? then try and vote for the contestants drinks. My favorite drink was the Trinidad Cobbler made by Elizabeth Michiewicz and she also won! see her beautiful winning cocktail here and get the recipe to both the cobbler and her other drink, “The Lost Days”!

The House of Angostura also won the Spirited Awards cathegory for Best New Spirit or Cocktail Ingredient!! with their latest product the Amaro di Angostura! a product I have tried and reviewed earlier and it`s such a nice product, congrats! well deserved!

Angostura Pool Party

Angostura also had a pool party -“Orange is the new Black” but we did not manage to get there early unfortunately…and that was a bummer because I really wanted to get me on of those gorgous bath towels….oh well… and the place was so packed you could barely walk…..

And then they also had a tasting which I sadly missed because I was at a seminar….that`s the problem, there`s many things that happens at the same time…and sometimes it´s damn near impossible to pick or make it in time…

Tiki Titans at the Cane and Table

cane and table jet pilot

Cane & Table Featuring Flor De Cana

The Dynamic Duo so powerful they sprouted a third head! Get ready for a night of rum-filled misadventures when three modern masters of the exotic cocktail pour their takes on three vintage drinks from the big three: Donn Beach, Trader Vic, and Steve Crane!

With a little help from our friends at Flor De Cana, you’ll find respite from the NOLA heat inside the historic confines of Decatur Street’s own Cane & Table.

Sip on refreshing rummy libations lovingly served by Nick Detrich (co-owner, Cane & Table, bartender, and affable ginger), Paul McGee (co-owner Lost Lake Chicago, bartender, and beard connoisseur), and Martin Cate (owner Smuggler’s Cove San Francisco, plays a bartender at Tales).

The seductive sounds of bongo drums and electric drink mixers will guide you to safe haven in our rum-filled port! Come thirsty!

The Dynamic Duo`s were back this year again!

Cane and table collage

It was hot and yes we were thirsty………

Cane and table collage 2

The Lost Lake and the Jet pilot!

cane and table collage 3

Brought to us by these hard working guys!

Bulleit Family Affair Presented by Bulleit Bourbon

Bulleit fam affair

Every year the Bulleit family presents a lavish tasting or dinner at the Tales and this year was no exception, the Bulleit tastings are simply NOT to miss! not only is this a nice bourbon (and rye) but it`s also a very nice family; they are really nice people.

This year they caught me by surprise though…because they had King Cake!! I didn`t expect that at all….not in the middle of the summer! but when I think about it, I remeber last year, they had Crawfish Monica….so obviously they are trying to pamper us with some of the best of the out of season things you can get here! :-)

And did I enjoy!

But it was not just the King Cake and the grits and the everything else you could eat, it was also great cocktails served and not the least, nice people and a good time to be had!

Bulleit King Cake

Bulleit King Cake…

Bulleit King Cake coll 2

….and more King Cake…where else can you get both king cake and cheese grits on the same freakin`plate?! only at the Tales! and it made a fab breakfast :-)

Plantation Stiggin`s Fancy Pineapple rum!

More nice tastings….refreshing cocktails from Rhum Barbancourt and then of course, the famous Stiggin`s Fancy! all these tastings everywhere….it`s one of the best things I think! that and meeting all the people but of course also the seminars.

plantation stiggins tasting 2

And not only did I see a whole lotta pineapples at the Stiggin`s tasting but I also met a real pineapple man!! ;-D I don`t know how he does it…but Rocky is everywhere!

An interesting take on the Mai Tai was also presented –  the “Mai Oh Mai Stiggins Fancy” based on the Trader Vic`s recipe but with a twist, containing Plantation Stiggins’ Fancy Pineapple rum, fresh lime, Ferrand Dry Curacao, salted macadamia nut syrup, and Fee`s barrel aged Whiskey bitters and then garnished with such a thing as a savory blue cheese stuffed olive!

Plantation Stiggins tasting

The elusive Stiggin`s Fancy, the Plantation Pineapple rum that tastes like a dream!

Rhum Barbancourt

Quickly we passed Rhum Barbancourt`s tasting on our way to a seminar…..but we tried a a cocktail with Rhum Barbancourt and the Pango. It was very nicely set up with beautiful tropical decor but too little time……

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Rhum Barbancourt and Pango.

Barbancourt

TOTC 2015 – Jamaicas Influence on Cocktail Culture and Flor de Cana Tasting

RUM SEMINAR IAN BURRELL

Jamaicas Influence on Cocktail Culture

Jamaica, that tiny island in the Caribbean is internationally known for it’s cultural exports such as Bob Marley, Reggae, Usain Bolt, Herbs* and even Bob-sleighing, but it has also influenced some famous cocktails with it’s biggest and most re-known of exports… RUM. Global Rum Ambassador, Ian Burrell brings to life some of the historical Jamaican stories with a few samples of new & world exclusive rums & cocktails for you to taste as you learn what influence Jamaica has had on cocktail culture. Yeah Mon
* You know what herbs I’m talking about.

There are more things than we maybe think about that has Jamaica as it´s homeland and that has been and is influencing the cocktail world. This senminar was moderated by the Global Rum Ambassador Ian Burrell and the speakers were George Freegard (International Brands Manager, Pusser’s rum Ltd) David Morrisson (Appleton Estate’s Senior Blender) and Erik Seed (Principal, Haus Alpenz)

Here are a few things that are genuinely Jamaican and which have had a great influence on cocktail culture:

Ian Burrell

Ian Burrell, Global Rum Ambassador.

Jamaican quassia bark: is actually a very important part of vermouth, did you know?

Ting: Who haven`t heard or tasted JWray and Ting? if not you`re missing out….and need to try! Ting, this Jamaican grapefruit beverage containing real grapefruit is the best in the world and traditionally paired with JWray overproof rum for an extremely refreshing, tasty and potent drink.

Allspice/Pimento – How many tiki and tropical drinks doesn`t contain a dash or two of pimento dram? for example the Nui Nui and the Navy Grog. Also used in jerk recipes.

Sorrel – (Hibiscus) usd in for example Rum Punches and other cocktails and is traditionally used in Christmas drinks with (or without) rum.

Flor de Jamaica – also Hibiscus, used in tea and as cocktail ingredient.

Ginger: Came to Jamaica in 1525 and is in Jamaica also known as “jake”. The prohibition brought arise in soft drinks containing ginger but also abuse of ginger essence. Also in Jamaica ginger beer is a common drink, both homemade and commercial varietes.

flu cocktail

Jamaican Rum – Did you know that 69 of Jerry Thomas cocktails were punches and 35 of them called for Jamaican rum?

Many of Don the Beachcomber`s drinks were inspired by his trips to Jamaica and Jamaican rums were used because of their depth and flavor.

Jamaican rum was first used by the Royal Navy in 1655 and Pusser`s Rum by the original navy recipe was based Jamaican rum but as Jamaican rum became more expensive other English colonial rums were used in the navy blend. Today Pusser`s does not contain any Jamaican rum but instead are blends from 5 different stills located in Guyana and Trinidad.

Smith & Cross is another flavorful pungent Jamaican rum and is a blend of Plummer and Wedderburn styles and is from the Hampden Estate and is blended in the UK,

Appleton Reserve is a blend of 18 different rums and is estate blended, it`s made from pot and column stills at 43%.

During this seminar we also tasted a special Appleton estate blend that was made for Tales of the Cocktail in only 6 bottles. The youngest rum in the blend was 12 years old and some of the rums are rums never to be tasted again. The rum was very deep and flavorful.

Also during this seminar we got a great rum lecture by Richard Seale from Foursquare telling us some truths about rums and to sum it all up in a short note –  fake rums contains rum flavors that are added, are not aged, wood essense is used and sugar and coloring added.

It`s called flavored alcohol and it is not rum.

Personally I think these 3 questions would be good to ask yourself before buying rum:

1 – which is the actual distillery? 2 – how long has the rum been aged? 3 – is there any additives?

And of course you won`t get all that information on the bottle label or company websites of most rums but you can start doing some research….just make sure that you know what you pay for, make sure it´s real rum and not flavored alcohol.

Flor de Cana Tasting

FLOR DE CANA TASTING 3

Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America. Bordering Honduras to the South and Costa Rica to the North, Nicaragua’s land is a volcanic, the air is humid and the conditions to produce rum: perfect!

Come taste the range of Flor de Caña rums, from Nicaragua, presented neat as well as in delicious cocktails created by some of the best and most exciting bartenders of our generation:

Each cocktail station will represent one aspect of Flor de Caña’s production and heritage to ensure that you leave this Tasting Room knowing more about Flor de Caña than you did when you entered. Calling all bartenders – come and learn!

Dating back to 1890 at the San Antonio Sugar Mill, in Chichigalpa, Nicaragua, Flor de Caña has grown to be Central America’s leading brand of rum and I like this rum, it`s a great mixer for awesome cocktails and at this tasting we also got to try the Family Reserve Rum…..

FLOR DE CANA TASTING 11

The Flor de Cana tasting was one my favorite tastings, much due to the amazing tropical cocktails and lovely tropical decor…providing much inspiration for a tiki geek like me….

And then they had cocktails…   very beautiful and tasty cocktails….   look and see….

This was a tropical feast!!

Flor de Cana cocktail The Gold Coast

Very fruity refreshing tropical cocktails….perfect for the Flor de Cana rum which just was perfectly mellow and added a wonderful rum flavor to these drinks.

Flor de cana cocktail 2

And the next one was even tastier, it was wonder of fresh flavors with a house made plantain syrup adding depth and complexity, I really loved that one and with the rum coming through just nicely, rimmed with coffee sea salt! and garnished with banana mint – this cocktail was wow!!

flor de caca cocktail 1

The plantain syrup interested me and i`m gonna try to make that myself, it was so tasty.

FLOR DE CANA TASTING 6

I love banana leaves and bananas! as much as I love the pineapple almost……and oh….the coconut!

flor de cana collage.

Tropical fruity and spicy flavors works so good with this rum!

flor de cana collage3

The Ponche de Cristobal had a little bit more of a fresh herbal character, also very good, it had some sort of different complexity probably due to the tea and herbs.

FLOR DE CANA TASTING 16

Another nice drink!

FLOR DE CANA TASTING 15

Photos Laura Godel and me

TOTC 2015 – CACHACA – Around Brazil in 40.000 Alembics

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“Around Brazil in 40.000 Alembics” is a seminar conducted by Felipe Jannuzzi, a journalist and researcher at Mapa da Cachaça, a reference about cachaça recognized as one of the best cultural projects in Brazil by the Federal Ministry of Culture, and Jean Ponce, one of the most respected mixologists in Brazil with experience commanding the bar at “DOM”, from the chef Alex Atala, elected as the seventh-best restaurant in the world. Felipe has been studying cachaça and traveling around Brazil discovering some of the best alembics in the country.

While tasting some outstanding cachaças, he is also creating content (videos, articles, infographics, music) to show what this sugarcane spirit is all about. Although cachaça is the third most consumed spirit in the world, very few is known about the artisanal cachaças – a category represented by thousands of alembic producers spread all around Brazil. Jean Ponce has been studying cachaças and Brazilian ingredients for the past fifteen years and will bring to the seminar his philosophy and approach concerning the use of the spirit in mixology.

This seminar will be an opportunity to share some of these stories mapped along the Brazilian alembics and a way to demonstrate all aspects involving cachaça, proposing a new look at its history, production techniques (industrial x artisanal), regional terroir, customs, flavors, cocktail recipes and its relations with the Brazilian culture, mixology and gastronomy.

This seminar was one of the most interesting to me during this Tales, they really went deep into the world of cachaca and had quite a few interesting things to show, not the least the different kinds of woods used to age the cachaca in imparting different flavors, smells and colors to this interesting sugarcane spirit.

cachaca seminar tasting 2

Moderated by Felipe Jannuzzi, speakers – Jean Ponce and Tony Harion and sponsored by Leblon.

There are 4000 registered labels of cachaca in Brazil and about 40 000 unregistered….and there`s about 1.7 billion litres of cachaca produced every year and of that only 1%, yes ONE is exported….so there´s a whole array of cachacas in Brazil to be discovered….

They also had very rare artisanal cachacas to try, among one, was a cachaca that had been aged in stone!!

What is Cachaca?

It`s a sugarcane spirit and has to be from Brazil, it is obtained by the distillation of the fermented juice of the sugarcane, it´s 38-48% ABV, you may only add 6g/sugar/liter unless it`s a so called cachaca adocada which allows up to 30g/sugar/liter added.

It`s aged in different woods, there`s industrial (column) cachaca and artisan (alembic) cachaca.

Cachaca is the spirit of Brazil and it has many many different names and it`s used in many different ways, one of the more unknown to us outside of Brazil is the use of cachaca in certain religious rituals where men shower in cachaca….

During the 17th century (around 1750-1770) was the gold rush and gold was mined in Minas Gerais and was brought to Europe and slaves were brought to Brazil, also sugarcane spirit was exchanged for slaves and during the “golden era” a lot of cachaca was spread around in Brazil.

The end of the gold-era came in the 1800th century when coffee replaced cachaca since it was considered a more “noble” drink.

The difference between industrial (column) and artisanal (alembic) cachaca:

Artisanal Cachaca:

Is produced in small quantities, (around 200 000 litres per year) and is made from manually selected and harvested sugarcane, without the use of burning techniques. It`s fermentated for 24 to 36 hours with wild or selected yeasts. No chemical additions are allowed.

It`s distillated in batches, in copper stills, which favors the formation of important congeners for adding aromas and flavors to cachaca and “heads and tails” are separated, only the “heart” is kept. It`s aged in different types of woods. The end product has complex aromas and flavors.

Industrial Cachaca

Produced in large quantities (millions of litres per year) Made with sugarcane grown in large areas and harvested by machines. It is common practice to burn the sugarcane crop before the harvesting.

Use of chemicals, such as amonium sulphate, and antibiotics. fermentation period is 8 to 16 hours. Made with continuous distillation in stainless steel columns and there is no separation of the “head”, the “heart”, and the “tail”.

Usually not aged, and when aged, caramel color is added to give it a yellow hue.

It is a standardized and controlled product, but loses in sensory complexity, in other words….it`s a very “soul-less” industrial mass-product.

Infused Cachaca

There`s infused cachaca with all kinds of fruits and spices, like the french makes their rhum arrangè and those I believe gotta be nice. Then one kind I find interesting and fun are those bottles you see that have whole crabs in them…..and yep these are drunk too…..even though they are said to be not very good….they more look cool….I would love having one of those hanging as decoration in my home tiki bar :-)

Here are a few pics of those kinds of infused cachacas. My guess is that the crab infused cachacas are mostly a tourist souvenir. I was always wondering how they got the whole crabs into the bottles, but what they do from what I heard is sawing the bottom of the bottles open and then insert the crab, then glue the bottle back.

Woods

Amendoim-bravo is a wood that is videly available in Brazil and it`s perfect for making storage barrels. It has a subtle scent and imparts a slight yellow tone and a mildly astringent taste to the cachaca. It also stabilizes the cachaca and enhances the aroma of sugarcane and also preserves the spirit. Cachacas stored in barrels made of this wood are perfect for making mixed drinks and caipirinhas.

Araruva or canarywood, also called araribà is indigenous to Southest and center-west regions of Brazil. Cachaca aged in this wood gets a slightly yellowish color and a delicate floral aroma. It`s distict difference from other Brazilian woods is that it imparts viscosity and oiliness to the cachaca.

Cabrèuva or Bálsamo

This wood can be found from southern Bahia to Rio Grande do Sul. It gives the cachaca very intense herbacious aromas due to it´s greenish-yellow coloration and also adds slightly astringent flavors. It is used in “blends” of cachacas aged in oak and/or cherry wood.

Amburana

Also known as cerejeira imparts an intense color, a distict characteristic aroma with notesof vanilla and a slightly sweet flavor. The cachaca aged in amburana is widely known and available in Brazil and is often used in “blends” of cachaca aged in European oak barrels intensifying the aromas and flavors.

Jequitibà

Widely found in Brazil and is suitable for barrels used to store cachaca as it releases almost unnoticeable flavors, aromas and colors. The jequitibà-rosa imparts a golden color, pleasant flavors and complex boquet comparable to those of American oak.

Oak

Oak is not native to Brazil but grows in temperate areas in the northern parts of the globe. Several species are used the most common are European and American oak. Oak barrels are widely used to age cachaca and the import of barrels that has been previously used to age other alcoholic products like wines, whiskeys and cognac imparts cachaca with even more various flavors and aromas.

Cachaca aged in American oak has a golden color and distinctive aromas of vanilla and coconut, mild flavor and complex aromatic boquet.

The ageing in European oak gives an amber color, intense aromas and flavors characteristic of almonds, toasted wood and tannins.

Tasting

tasting collage

They had some very interesting cachacas for us to try, some that we will never try again, like the one that was aged in stone, Sèculo XVIII which had a very deep flavorful taste, herbal and woody and I remember I was thinking, “where does the woody, spicy flavor come from if it`s rested in stone” ? a Brazilian mystery…..this cachaca was exceptional.

We tasted several cachacas that had been aged in the various woods and also the excellent Weber Haus Extra Premium which is aged in both oak and bàlsamo.

cachaca seminar tasting weber haus 2

We tried one called Anísio Santiago which was incredibly flavorful and very rare, it has been aged in bàlsamo wood. Then we tried “Maria Izabel”, made by a woman (Maria Izabel) who makes artisan cachaca in small batch…

It`s rested in jequitibà wood and wild yeast is used for fermentation. It has a floral, slightly sweet flavor and is very pleasant. They showed us a short video of it´s production.

Sanhacu was a very flavor cachaca, rested in amburana and had a lot of flavor from the wood.

Then they had made something called “Fecha Corpo” – a herbal infusion – a cachaca elixir….with cachaca that had been infused with various herbs that are good for your health and according to folk belief is a “holy medicine” against envy and the evil eye.

It tastes very herbal, as expected but not bitter.

woods

In the two small bottles are the Fecha Corpo cachaca elixir and the small wood squares are samples of different Brazilian woods used to age cachaca.

We also got Garapa – freshly pressed sugarcane juice….a very common drink in Brazil and I love it! sweet and fresh and soothing.

Rainforest Priprioca Root

And then there was a very interesting little thing….in a small dark brown spray bottle…

They told us to spray our cocktail glass containing the Amazonia cocktail 3 times in the glass to impart a slight fragrance of the rainforest into the cachaca cocktail….then spray some on our arms and rub it in, as a “rainforest perfume” of sorts…

Very interesting! this “root-spray” is made from a root called priprioca which is a medicinal and aromatic root from the Amazon rainforest. The priprioca root contains an incredible range of aromas similar to vanilla, but with another flavor nuance, with slight earthy and smoky hints and aromatic notes oscillating between herbal and woody.

This root is extensively used in cosmetics and is now also being used by culinary chefs, and now also finding it`s way into cachaca cocktails….

root spray

The priprioca root has a very interesting look…

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Freshly pressed sugarcane juice!

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Cachaca is fun! just like rum! :-) Felipe and Ponce.

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Tony Harion!

Please come back the next year!!

And here you can read all about Cachaca!

Photos: Mapa de Cachaca, Laura Godel and me.

TOTC 2015 – Tapping Rum`s Past for Rum`s Future and Clairin Rums of Rural Haiti

PLANTATION RUMS2

There was a clear presence of rum at the Tales of the Cocktail and as a rum enthusiast and rum blogger I tried to get to them all…I almost managed….but here are two of the rum seminars and tastings, more will come:

Tapping Rum`s Past for Rum`s Future

This seminar was talking about rum’s history which spans centuries, and how its flavor and character have changed dramatically over the years. How rums used to taste long ago and whether it´s possible to reverse-engineer those styles of spirits, and improve on them for today. Talking about rum’s past —drawing inspiration from historic styles of the spirit, as well as from vintage menus, cocktail recipes, distillers’ notes and popular literature.

There was the deconstruction of the Plantation 3 stars and little did I know that the 3 Stars actually is made with four rums! I always thought it was 3….but it´s made with two white rums, one from Barbados, and one from Jamaica and then a dark Trinidad and then there`s an extra dark rum from Jamaica…

Surprise surprise!

Plantation rums collage

Then of course there was the Stiggin`s….this elusive pineapple rum that was first made last year by Plantation rums, and presented at last year´s Tales, which was meant to be an “experiment” and only making a short appearance….but causing such a global outcry in the rum and cocktail community that they decided to make more….and thank God for that!!

Now the Pineapple strikes back…coming back at this Tales in full force….and finally yours truly got hold a bottle! gonna hold on tight to that one…

Plantation Stiggins

So how did they make the Stiggin`s Pineapple rum and what does the name Stiggin´s mean?

In the 19th century England, Pineapple rum was considered a delicacy, so much that it was even immortalized by novelist Charles Dicken`s character, Reverend Stiggins. In England there was even a house built like a pineapple!

The first wild pineapples came from South America and they had a strong scent of raspberries and were smaller than the pineapples we see today and needed to be pollinated by birds. They were discovered by an indian tribe called Guarani and they made pineapple wine.

In 1654 the pineapple came to Madagascar and then it traveled all around the world. When it finally came to England around the 18-1900th century it was a big thing. The pineapple fruit was really precious and not for the common people to enjoy but was the fruit of the kIngs.

In 1778 Capt Cook brought it to Hawaii and those pineapples he brought must have come from the Kew gardens in England since that was the place they were grown in Europe.

Plantation distillate for the pineapple rum

So back to Stiggin`s – for 3 months the Plantation rum folks did eat pineapples for breakfast every morning….they wanted to find the best pineapple available today and finally they found it – the Victoria pineapple from La Rèunion island in the Indian Ocean and it`s one of the most expensive pineapples in the world.

So first the pineapples are peeled by hand – all of them!! then the rinds of the fruit are infused with Plantation 3 stars rum for one week and then they are distilled in a pot still. And separately the fruit is infused with Plantation dark rum for 3 months.

After that the two liquids are married together and left to age in casks for 3 months and the final product is then ready – Plantation Stiggin`s Fancy Pineapple Rum! anyone who have tried this rum knows how awesome it is!!!

Plantation pineapple drawings

And now we know how it was made! :-)

This seminar was presented by Paul Clarke, Jeff Berry, Martin Cate, Alexander Gabriel and was sponsored by Plantation Rum.

Clairin Rhums of Rural Haiti

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A look inside the little known and rarely understood world of rural rhum production on the island of Haiti. Beyond the large brands such as Barbancourt and Vieux Labbe, most of the rhum produced and consumed by islanders in rural Haiti follows rustic, age-old production methods in the outer regions of this unique island. Slow, natural fermentation attracts the natural yeast of each micro-region, delivering a true snapshot of local DNA — true terroir — followed by a gentle distillation and simple finishing to produce a delightful, fresh cane spirit of fine quality.

In this intimate tasting seminar, we’ll sample some of the very best examples of Clairin from Haiti, which are now gaining greater appreciation in Europe thanks to the passionate efforts of Gianluca Gargano of Velier.

This was one of the exclusive tastings and one I was really looking forward to attend….and that`s because I`m a huge fan of Velier rums, I think their Demerara. Agricole and Caroni rums are absolutely one of a kind and completely outstanding….. I find the Clairin rums to be AMAZING! plus I find rums from Haiti extremely interesting….

The seminar/tasting was every bit as interesting as I thought it would be and all the Clairin rhums tastes fantastic! There are 3 Clairin rhums by Velier and they all have very different tastes and personalities and one thing they have in common is that they are incredibly flavorful and vibrant! very brilliant and lively rums!

This exclusive tasting was moderated by Robert Burr (Miami Rumfest) and presented by Luca Gargano (Velier), Ian Rum Ambassador Burrell (World Rum Ambassador), Alexandre Vingtier (Rumporter.com) and Peter Holland (The Floating Rum Shack)

clairin seminartasting

Luca Gargano and Velier

The tasting was led by Luca Gargano who in the 70s I became the brand ambassador of St James’s rhum from Martinique. One day he arrived in Martinique….this was in the old days before mass tourism had reached the island and he fell in love with this tropical island and it`s girls… :-) and of course, the RUM! At an age of 18 at the time he fell in love with rhum/rum and never looked back. When he was 27 he purchased the company Velier and started to import several brands of rums.

Rum geeks knows that he was the one who found a Damoiseu rum that was set apart because it contained a small percentage of molasses rum and because of that didn`t fit into the standard since they could only bottle pure sugar cane juice to obtain their AOC.

Well, that was damn lucky thing for us that he found that put away Damoiseau rum….which was distilled in 1980 at a full proof of 60.3 % and Luca found it to be exceptional – which I can attest it really is!! that rum is absolutely amazing! – so he bought all their stock (almost) and kept it all full proof. Later he discovered that they had kept some of their stock and released their own “1980 Damoiseau” the same year…hm….

But with the 1980 Damoiseau rum the “Fullproof” rum concept was born and then he started to work with the DDL in Guyana and their chairman Yesu Persaud and now more wonderful things happened because he became the ONLY one in the world who got access to the DDL rum stock and thus he could pick and choose among the old rum barrels at the DDL….which has been a REAL blessing to the rum lovers in this world!

And not only this, Luca did also find and bought up a whole heap of old Caroni barrels in Trinidad when Caroni had sadly been closed down and he let his rums age in the tropics because he believes that tropical ageing is the best! so his story cut in short – he and his outstanding rums has become a legend in the rum world and now he was there at this seminar with his new Clairin rhums from Haiti.

Rhum agricole or clear white pot still rhum in Haiti is called clairin and to obtain the Appelation Triple A the rhum must be produced following these rules:

CLAIRIN SEMINAR 4

So the sugarcane is grown very naturally together with herbs, trees and flowers, for example banana and the sugarcane varietes has to be indigenous not hybrids and also has to be organic. And in the rhum production wild natural yeast is used and fermetation has to be at least 120 hrs.

The juice has not to be dilluted with water. The distribution is small batch pot still or pot and small column and the source of heat is direct fire and the Clairin rhums has to be bottled at strength of distillation with no dilution and bottling is done on Haiti.

There are something like 5oo producers of these white/clear pot still rhums on Haiti, producing everything from “drink-at-your-own-risk-moonshine” to good rhums and these rhums are very different and they are organic and made the old fashioned way country-style, it´s the dink of the country!

Clairin Sajous, Vaval and Casimir

CLAIRIN RUMS

These are the three Clairin rhums by Velier that we tasted and they are ALL outstanding! I love their vibrancy and full proof strength! They are completely unique of it´s kind and of rums! The first one, the Sajous is made in Sajous by Chelo and bottled by Velier and it`s bottled straight from the still at 53.5 % ABV and is still the “mildest” of the three and a wonder of balance and vibrancy. But make no mistake by the term “mildest” – this stuff is pungent, it hits you right in your nose and stomach…..

You get hit by something that I can only describe as similar to the lovely but very special “kerosene” flavor you find in the overproof JWray (although this is not a molasses rum and it does not taste like JWrat at all) then you get hit by a whole array of wonderful and strong flavors, there`s nothing weak about this rhum. It`s herbal, grassy, floral, salty and sweet, strong and spicy but also smooth like butter….and I love it!

The next one, the Vaval is a rhum I also have at home, it´s a bit more temperamental and with an even stronger flavor…..its a heady rum….packed full of flavors and it`s distilled at the Arawaks distillery in the village of Cavaillon, Haiti.

The last one will kick your ass to the moon…..

Casimir is the first of these three rums I ever tried, that was last year, also at the Tales when I tried a sample brought to the Tales and then and there I fell in love with Velier Clairin rhums. Casimir is the most “difficult” of the three I´ve heard….it`s like to try to jump up and ride on a young horse or even a bull that have never had anyone on its back before…it will kick, it will run and it will try to give you trouble….

Well, my palate loved it at first sight….so I guess i`m safe :-) packed full of strong vibrant and unique flavors it dances around in your mouth in a frenzy! it`s double distilled at the Douglas Casimir distillery in the village of Baraderes. It`s herbal and rich, strong and wild….

If you love rum and vibrant agricole rhum I recommend you to try these rums!

Clairin rums bottles

Then we also tried another of Lucas rhums, the Rhum Rhum Liberation 2010. This rhum is made on Marie-Galante outside of Guadeloupe in collaboration with master distiller Capovilla.

It`s made from fermented pure sugar cane juice without any water added during a 10 day long fermentation period. So it`s just fermented sugar cane juice, nothing else.

This is pure rhum! and a very fine rhum, it`s aged about 2-3 years in casks that have contained french wines. The name “Liberation 2010″ refers to that the rhum has been “liberated” from the cask and put together in 2010.

It´s balanced, tropical fruity and slightly spicy. it´s not a weak rhum but it has nothing to do with how the Clairin rhums attacks your senses….this is more like a mild but firm caress on your palate. It`s a wonderful expression of Rhum!

So this tasting has been very very memorable and pleasant, interesting and challenging…..I would do it again in a heartbeat!

Rhum Rhum Liberation 2010

Rhum Rhum, Liberation 2010.

clairin vaval

This my friends are some of the worlds very finest rums!

clairin the spirit of haiti

Pictures by Laura Godel and me.

TOTC 2015 – RUM – A Taste of 10 Rare Single Casks

plantation single casks rums

Rum is much more than a liquor in a bottle – it`s a lifestyle and the spirit of a people.

Here is a rare opportunity to experience some fine aged rums from a private collection, never before seen in the United States. Originally sourced in Caribbean casks, these select aged rums were further aged in special barrels in Europe over many years. This exclusive tasting event will be available for only twenty serious rum enthusiasts, featuring vintage rums from Guadeloupe, Belize, Guyana and Haiti, lovingly triple matured and rested in barrels from rare Sauternes, Pineau des Charentes and even Sherry casks.

At the Tales there are a few of these rare tastings and if you get the chance go to some, you will probably never get the chance to taste some of these spirits again. At this tasting there were 10 very rare single cask rums from Plantation rums and it was a privilege to be able to taste them.

Presented by Robert Burr, Paul McFadyen and Alexandre Gabriel and sponsored by Plantation rum and DrinkUpNY.com we were presented the philosphy and vision behind the Plantation rums, followed by tasting samples of these 10 rare single casks:

PLANTATION RUM SEMINAR

Cuba 1998 –  This rum was aged in Cuba. It has a sweet nose with hints of vanilla. A bit lighter rum, Cuban style with a bone structure of spicy cask. Notes of fruity apricot and vanilla with some spice. I found it to be an elegant and fresh rum.

plantation single casks cuba

Trinidad 1989 – This rum doesn´t exist anymore and is a blend of pot and column stills. It`s fruity and spicy, rounded and rich. A glimpse of the past….

Nicaragua 1998 – It has a faint nose, almost nothing but there´s slight notes of fruit. The taste is dry with a pleasant touch of wood. Not sure if I picked up a hint of cherry? I liked this rum a lot.

Barbados 1991 – Sweet, fruity, mellow and balanced made with 40% pot and 60% column stills with vanilla notes and french oak. A nice pleasant balanced rum.

Belize 9 yo – This rum is 100% column still rum. It has a very distinct coconut flavor, some hints of vanilla, it´s a very tropical rum.

Navy blend, Barbados, Trinidad, Belize – This was a very spicy strong bodied rum, woody, complex and rich! with a slightly fruity nose and of course one of my favorites…

Barbados 20 yo – Rare, only a few barrels are left. Spicy wood, smooth and balanced.

Guadeloupe 1998 –  One of my top favorites! incredible rum!! Rich, flavorful and outstanding! complex, wild and warm. Oh yeah……….

Jamaica 1998/Guyana 1988 –  My notes says “Flavor! Funky! Heavy! :-)

St Lucia 15 yo – Sweet and woody…..

plantation single cask collage

Then there was also a surprise rum, a very rare 1983 Jamaican, which was VERY flavorful and funky….a high ester bomb! tropical bananas, wood, raisin, tropical fruit….

The vision of Plantation rums is to capture the essence of what rum used to be, how it used to taste and roll upstream against the tide of column still, and to reflect the style of each island. The rums are double aged, first in their tropical climate and then in limousine and oak casks in France.

According to Plantation rums double ageing is the key to refinement in combination with “elevage” which means to nurture the rum like you would nurture a plant or a baby. If distillation is a science then ageing is an art and the blender works the symphony…

We were tasting the “treasure chest” of Plantation rums, rums that are not available to the public for various reasons, for example the Trinidad 1989 which doesn`t exist anymore in the way it was made. Every single barrel is unique and whether the rum is aged in humid or dry cellars affects the rum, for example you get a smoother rum in a humid cellar since there the alcohol evaporates first and in a drier cellar you will get a spicier rum.

Every rum has it´s own “sweet spot” which is the proof at which the rum shines the most.

This and a lot of other things we learnt at this tasting/seminar which I think was outstanding and very interesting! I`m happy I was there!

I´m sure we will see more of Plantation rums at the Tales next year! don´t miss it……..

plantation single casks 5

Paul McFadyen and Alexandre Gabriel, photos Laura Godel

Tales of the Cocktail Announces Spirited Awards Winners

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Saturday night, the year’s best bars, bartenders, writers and cocktail experts from around the world were recognized at the 9th Annual Spirited Awards® as part of Tales of the Cocktail® 2015.

NEW ORLEANS, LA – July 19, 2015 – Following the largest nomination pool in the history of the show and a rigorous judging process by some of the most respected members of the cocktail industry, Tales of the Cocktail® is proud to announce the winners for each category of the 9th Annual Spirited Awards®. All winners were announced live last evening at the Sheraton Hotel New Orleans.  In addition to this year’s judged award winners, Jonathan Downey and Steve Mannan were also honored for their professional achievements.

“2014 was an exceptionally fertile year for drink books and drink writing in general, with extremely difficult choices to make in each of the four writing categories,” said David Wondrich Writing Committee Chairman. “As far as the judges are concerned, each of the finalists is a true winner and would have dominated the field in an average year. It was humbling to have to choose among them.”

For the past nine years, the Spirited Awards® have recognized the year’s best bars, bartenders, writers and experts, becoming the cocktail industry’s most prestigious and coveted award program. Winners were voted on by a panel of more than 100 industry experts, led by Simon Ford (Chairman), Jackson Cannon (U.S. Judging Committee Chairman), Jacob Briars (International Judging Committee Chairman), and David Wondrich (Writing Committee Chairman). Voting was a weeklong process that required extensive knowledge in each category. The votes were verified by the Super Committee and tallied to determine the Top 10, Top Four and ultimately this year’s winners.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the effort of the American judges of this years Spirited Awards,” said Jackson Cannon, American Judging Committee Chairman. “Their thoughtful, determined approach has parsed the incredibly worthy field down to those most deserving of the highest honors this year. A toast to the winners, they truly are the best of the best!”

This year, the sponsoring partners of the 9th Annual Spirited Awards® were Bacardi USA, BarSmarts, Beefeater Gin, Bleu Dry Bar, Caña Brava, Chivas, Cognac Ferrand, Courvoisier, House of Angostura, Luxardo, Mountain Valley Spring Water, Nicolas Feuillatte, The Perfect Purée of Napa Valley, Rums of Puerto Rico, Mezcal El Silencio and William Grant & Sons.

“The Second ‘Golden Age of the Cocktail’ continues to spread around the globe, as bartenders, bar owners and ambassadors continue to set ever higher standards internationally. It’s wonderful to see traditional strongholds like London and Melbourne sharing nominations with the resurgent bar scene in Paris, and to see the rise of great bars in places like Singapore and Dubai being recognized too,” said Jacob Briars, International Judging Committee Chairman.

“I’m grateful to our 50 International Committee judges for their hard work and dedication in distilling thousands of nominees down to our finalists and award winners, who represent the very best in the global industry. There has never been a better time to be a cocktail lover around the globe.”

2015 Spirited Awards® Winners

 

American Categories

 

Best American Bar Team
Employees Only (New York)

 

American Bartender of the Year
Ivy Mix (New York)

 

Best American Brand Ambassador
Brooke Arthur (House Spirits)

 

Best American Cocktail Bar
Williams & Graham (Denver)

 

Best American High Volume Cocktail Bar
Employees Only (New York)

 

Best American Hotel Bar
The Broken Shaker (Miami Beach)

 

Best American Restaurant Bar
Eastern Standard Kitchen & Drinks (Boston)

 

Best New American Cocktail Bar
ABV (San Francisco)

 

International Categories

 

Best International Bar Team
28 Hong Kong Street (Singapore)

 

International Bartender of the Year
Ryan Chetiyawardana (London)

 

Best International Brand Ambassador
Claire Smith-Warner (Belvedere Vodka)

 

Best International Cocktail Bar
Artesian (London)

 

Best International High Volume CocktailBar
The Black Pearl & The Attic (Melbourne)

 

Best International Hotel Bar
Beaufort Bar, The Savoy (London)

 

Best International Restaurant Bar
Blind Pig at Social Eating House (London)

 

Best New International Cocktail Bar
Dandelyan (London)

 

Writing Categories

 

Best Cocktail & Spirits Publication
PUNCH

 

Best Cocktail & Spirits Writer
Dave Broom

 

Best New Cocktail/Bartending Book
Liquid Intelligence: The Art and Science of the Perfect Cocktail by Dave Arnold

 

Best New Spirits Book
Whisky: The Manual by Dave Broom

 

Overall Categories

 

Best Bar Mentor
Jim Meehan (Portland)

 

Best New Spirit or Cocktail Ingredient
Amaro di Angostura

 

World’s Best Cocktail Menu
Dead Rabbit (New York)

 

World’s Best Spirits Selection
Canon (Seattle)

 

World’s Best Bar
Dead Rabbit (New York)

 

Special Recognitions

 

Lifetime Achievement Award
Jonathan Downey

 

Sam Guarino Citation
Steve Mannan

Congrats to all the winners!

Aloha Strawberry!

Aloha Strawberry

I saw a very tasty looking strawberry drink the other day and decided to make one similar and sort of “Tikify” the style of it and also swap the ginger beer for the hotter Pimento drink…

The original recipe (adapted from voyagevixens.com) was fresh strawberry puree, Angostura rum, ginger beer and a couple dashes Angostura bitters, simple and tasty.

Pimento is a ginger beer type of drink (it´s not an actual ginger beer) but with added chili pepper, it´s made with ginger, tonic and hot pepper natural flavors and it is fizzy and strong!! it`s like a ginger beer with a chili bite……

I like it a lot! I also like Angostura rums and bitters and of course, lime and strawberries!

Aloha Strawberry

¼ cup Strawberry purée

4 oz Angostura Single Barrel Rum (1919 works good too)

A small squeeze of fresh lime juice

Splash of Pimento

A few dashes of Angostura aromatic Bitters

Fill a Hurricane glass with ice, strawberry purée and a small squeeze of fresh vibrant lime juice, pour in rum, then top with Pimento and bitters. Stir and serve. Garnish with a fat juicy strawberry, red Hibiscus and Bouganvillea flowers, fresh mint, add a long and thick colorful straw….

Pimento can be found in various countries, you may check out their website and I know that in Sweden it`s available through Renbjer & Magnusson.

Bring on more heat and sun!

Now this blog takes a little break until it´s time to report what`s going on this year at the Tales of the Cocktail!

Aloha!

Aloha Strawberry 2

St Aubin Melon Liqueur – Bring on the Summer!

St Aubin liqueur melon

I`ve been waiting for the warmer temps to arrive for my review of St Aubin melon liqueur which I think is just perfect for those fruity refreshing and a bit lighter summer drinks. Melon is to me – summer…..it´s such a refreshing fruit to eat in the heat.

St Aubin plantation located on southern Mauritius has been cultivating sugarcane since 1890 and takes it´s name from one of it`s first owner Pierre de St Aubin. On the estate there`s both artisanal and a traditional rums made but they make more than rums….

They also have a tea plantation, Bois Chéri and a vanilla plantation and that`s the vanilla they use in their vanilla flavored rums. The water used in the rum making comes from their own spring water from Bois Chéri. It`s all local produce here which is something i like.

And now they also have a melon liqueur!

The liqueur smells like fresh cut up honeydew or cantaloupe melon…….and the taste is light and fruity and not too sweet, I like that! it can even be drunk neat and still be refreshing. In cocktails it shines and i`m sure it would go very well in all kinds and types of cocktails.

Before i made drinks I decided to follow the advice on the bottle – serve on the rocks, and with a litttle ice and melon garnish it`s the quintessential summer refreshener! and here are a couple of fresh and fruity summer cocktails, tropical style:

Mauritius Exotique

Mauritius Exotique

0.5 oz fresh lemon juice

0.5 oz fresh lime juice

1.5 oz pineapple juice

0.5 oz vanilla syrup

0.5 oz St Aubin Liqueur Melon

2 oz St Aubin 50% White Rum

Dash Boy Drinks World passion fruit bitters

Shake with ice cubes and strain into a goblet with cracked ice and garnish with mint and tropical flower. Top off with a dust of grated nutmeg.

This drink turned out very fruity and refreshing, perfect for hot summer days!

Sundown

A cocktail for the setting of the sun…..

Sundown

1 oz grapefruit juice (yellow)

1 oz pineapple juice

0.5 oz fresh lime juice

0.5 oz St Aubin Liqueur Melon

2 oz St Aubin White Reserve Rum

0.5 oz grenadine, preferably hibiscus grenadine, home/house made or BG Reynold`s.

Float of JWray overproof (optional)

Muddle 2-3 lime wedges with grenadine and 8-10 mint leaves in a shaker. Add the muddle mix into a tall glass and add crushed ice almost to the top. Shake the rest of ingredients, strain and pour into the glass. Give it a little stir and add more crushed ice to fill.

Top with a little Club Soda, and if you wish, add a float of JWray on top.

Garnish with mint and orchid.

The melon is not obvious but it`s there and this drink is very refreshing.

Ti Melon

Ti Melon

This drink has a French name, “Ti Melon” means simply “little melon” (petit melon) and is a fresh green fruity take on the Ti Punch with added melon liqueur, ice and more lime than you usually find in a Ti Punch, and the drink turned out very tasty!

2 oz St Aubin 50% White Rum

0.5 oz St Aubin Liqueur Melon

0.25-0.5 oz sugarcane syrup depending on your taste

0.75 oz fresh lime juice

Stir with ice and garnish with a sugarcane stick and lime peel

Refreshing!