I love to play with bitters, the salt and pepper of a cocktail. It´s also something very intriguing with bitters bottles…i`m sure all bitter nerds know what i mean.
The Curacao bitters are made by the Masters of Malt. The flavor is intense bright orange/spicy. It`s a quite down to earth burnt orange flavor, that is crisp and fresh. The bottle has a dropper for exact measuring which is a very good thing.
They are made using only two ingredients; the spirit (High-proof Dark Rum) and Curacao Orange Peel. There´s no additional flavourings, colourings or bittering agents added.
I first gonna try them in a cocktail called “Sweet Gentleman” created by Gabriel Bessone, bartender at Warhol Sweet Point, Argentina. He also had his drink featured in the Barforum magazine in Barcelona.
Ii´ts a bit changed since 2 dashes of the curacao bitters are added, the original recipe doesn´t contain any bitters. I also had to switch Jack Daniel´s for bourbon which i think is the closest even though JD is through it´s maple charcoal filtering process not referred to as a bourbon but rather as Tennessee whiskey.
When it comes to the garnish it´s supposed to have a clove studded orange slice in the glass and fresh cherries but unf i didn´t have any orange at home ( i thought i had it…and it was too late for shoppping) and nice fresh cherries can´t be found this time of the year, those i have seen were all very bad. So i had to use those red ones i don´t like since they´re chemical disasters.
Instead of an orange slice i added some mint and rimmed the glass, but anyway, here´s the drink:
1.5 ozl Jack Daniels
0.5 oz Cointreau
2 oz apple juice Baggio
0.5 oz Cherry syrup
Dash of lemon juice
2 dashes Curacao bitters
Shaken and served in old-fashioned glass.
Garnish: orange slice, 4 cloves, 5 cherries.
This is a nice drink. What i`ve found out is that 2 dashes of the curacao bitters is a bit too little, so try 3-4 dashes instead. It depends on what you mix with of course, but with the spicy whiskey or bourbon in this drink i think 3-4 dashes is better.
And now on to a twist of this drink i made using pineapple juice and Navan vanilla liqueur:
2 oz Rye
0.25 oz Navan
1 oz Pineapple Juice
0.5 oz lemon juice
0.25 oz sugarcane syrup
2-3 dashes Master of Malt Curacao bitters
Garnish: orange slice with cloves, a pineapple chunk, cherry
Shake and strain into a double old fashioned glass with cracked ice.
Put cloves in the orange slice, cut out a pineapple chunk and drop that plus a cherry or two in the glass.
I think the curacao bitters are perfect in this drink, it´s no flavor contrast but the bitters adds some depth.
And finally…since it´s curacao bitters i`m dealing with i wanna try them in a Mai Tai twist as well, can´t keep my hands off that rum…
LADY FROM CURACAO
1 oz Smith & Cross
1 oz Coruba dark
0.5 oz. dark orgeat (made with dark sugar)
0.5 oz. orange curacao
3 dashes Master of Malt Curacao bitters
0.25 oz. sugarcane syrup (Petit Canne)
1 oz fresh lime juice
Shake with ice and spent lime shell and garnish with fresh mint, a cherry and the spent lime shell.
Tastes like a Mai Tai with a pinch of something you cannot put your fingers on at what it is…
Now this is really interesting – here is one more rum especially designed for today’s exotic and tiki cocktails. To me that is a proof that the tiki drink trend is here in full force but not just as a trend, i believe it´s here to stay – that the tiki drinks finally have gotten their recognition and place in the cocktail world.
They have been here for long i know but after they were abandoned and eventually replaced by overly sweet slushy concoctions not worthy the name “tiki drink”. The so called faux tropical, exotic or tiki drinks have been very slowly coming back – and finally is today really getting more recognition everywhere.
The thing I like about many tiki drinks–is the kind of baroque complexity in the glass. Ideas of mixological structure and balance are thrown completely aside in many of these drinks, but if you keep a close eye on the proportions in your mix–you can create something that’s pleasantly unexpected.
And now we get rums especially designed for them! The next such rum i have on hand is Plantation rum original overproof made by the house of Cognac Ferrand.
I first tried this rum at the UK rumfest, in the so called “RumFrat House” which is the HQ for the Rum XP folks. I really liked its rich deep taste and that little taste i got there did spark my curiosity and i`ve been very eager to get going mixing with it.
This rum is like i said, created by the Cognac Ferrand estate, owned by Alexandre Gabriel. Plantation Original Dark Overproof is bottled at 73% alcohol by volume making it 146 proof and is created in Trinidad. It is a stronger, bolder and more flavorful version of Plantation Original Dark Rum which is a blend of Trinidad dark rums aged in young bourbon casks.
Plantation Original Dark Overproof is available both in the US and Europe. In the US it will retail for $29.99 for a 1-liter bottle and is available nationwide. In Europe you can get it from Drinkology and The Whiskey Exchange.
It joins the Plantation Rum portfolio as a unique addition for two reasons: 1) It is the only overproof rum in the collection and 2) It is the only rum that is not double aged.
The double aging process is where the rums are distilled and aged in their country of origin and then shipped to the Ferrand estate in Cognac, France where they are aged for several more months in small, used French oak barrels. The reason Original Dark Overproof is not double aged is that at the delicate changes imparted by the double-aging technique would be lost on a rum that is such high proof.
So how does it smell and taste like?
Nose – I can feel sweet sugarcane, some wood, banana peels and spice. Especially the banana peels are present but not overpowering, it gets me to think about those exotic banana food wraps… The nose is very refined and delightful, I could sit and sniff all day..
Palate – Toasted and dried tropical fruits, strong but not unpleasant alcohol burn, wood, molasses and tropical dried fruit.
The sum of it – I`d say it´s a pleasant tasting strong, complex and fruity rum that is great to mix exotic drinks with, but i also do believe it would make a stunning daiquiri paired with some other rum or Plantation Original Dark.
I decided to make a few of Martin Cate´s drinks with it since i`m a big fan of his flavorful and inventive rum cocktails. So here we go – starting with a favorite:
Shake with ice and strain into a tall glass or tiki mug filled with cracked ice. Top with 1 oz of soda
Garnish with a fresh and spanked mint sprig, pineapple leaves and lemon peel.
Tasty as always, i choosed to go Plantation all the way instead of using 1 oz of another type of rum but you can always experiment! This is one of Martin`s legendary drinks. He is a drink-genious did i tell you that?
TRINIDAD DRY FLOAT (This is the demerara dry float with Plantation overproof… name courtesy Martin Cate)
2 1/2 oz fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 oz passion fruit syrup
1/4 oz sugar syrup
1 oz Plantation Original Overproof Rum
1/4 ounce 151 Demerara rum to float
1/4 ounce Maraschino liqueur
Shake everything except the 151 rum with ice, strain into double old-fashioned glass filled with crushed ice, and carefully float the 151. Do not stir.
This version of the Demerara Dry Float is a killer cocktail! – a dangerous drink… so tasty and so strong since it contains no less than two overproof rums… so be careful. I really enjoyed this one.
TRINIDAD HOOK (Martin Cate, Smuggler’s Cove, San Francisco)
1 oz Plantation Trinidad Overproof
1 oz Plantation Original Dark
1 oz passion-honey mix
.5 oz – .75 oz fresh squeezed lime juice (to taste)
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Combine all in an ice-filled cocktail shaker; shake and double strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a lime peel spiral.
Gently heat honey until liquid and whisk in an equal amount of pure unsweetened passion fruit nectar. Let cool and refrigerate.
I made my passion-honey mix with homemade passionfruit syrup and honey instead since i can´t find any passionfruit nectar. It worked like a charm, very tasty. If you need a recipe for passionfruit syrup it´s here – or go get B.G Reynold´s.
This is a strong and very yummy daquiri-ish cocktail that went down waaaay to easily….very tasty!
So what`s next? there´s a whole parade of strong tiki drinks to use this rum in, Jeff “Beachbum” Berry mentioned the Zombie…. but be careful with overproof rums, too much will give you a headache, just right is the way to go.
A spiced rum came my way…it´s called Rumbullion – the name sounds like a concoction made in an iron pot on fire..
But Rumbullion is made by the Master of Malt or more specifically Professor Cornelius Ampleforth. According to the website it contains a blend of high proof Caribbean rum, madagascar vanilla, orange rind, cloves, cinnamon and cardamom. The final blend is 42.6 ABV or 96 proof.
The bottle is wrapped in krinkled brown paper with imprints of a Navy grog tub, emblazoned with the words: “The Queen, God Bless Her” and sealed with black wax, it looks really cool. This spiced rum is at first a veritable clove explosion and my first thought is that it would be good in Christmas cocktails and tiki drinks.
At the palate the first thing that hit was a warm strong rum and clove flavor. But under the clove came other flavors out like that of burnt orange peel, cinnamon, honey and heavy molasses.
The nose is interesting, it`s spicy and it reminds me of ancient rum barrels in a rum cellar that is very very old..also it reminds me of christmas, gotta be the spices…
To me this rum fits best in drinks that are good with a very spicy flavor and you can sip it, no problem, maybe together with some christmas treatments. But it would also do well in some tiki drinks due to it´s spiciness. Don´s Caribbean Punch comes to mind..
But let´s start with a christmas drink, something warm.
RUMBULLION CHRISTMAS BREW
1 oz Rumbullion
1 oz Appleton extra
0.25 0z Cointreau
Just a little dash of sugarcane syrup too if you have a sweet tooth..
1 cup freshly brewed strong fullbodied flavorful coffee like Community Coffee, Kona or Blue Mountain
Dust cinnamon or nutmeg on top
Stir together in a glass and add whipped cream and cinnamon or nutmeg dust on top
Warm and spicy…the Rumbullion is doing well here – it`s a sure winter warmer. To me it´s not so much a sipper as a spiced drink rum. But let´s see how this rum performs in a tiki drink, so on to something colder, a spiced up version of Donn`s Caribbean Punch.
SPICED CARIBBEAN PUNCH
0.5 oz fresh lime juice
0.5 oz falernum
0.5 oz simple
1 .5 oz rootbeer
1 oz Rumbullion
1 oz Tiki Lovers dark rum or Smith and Cross
3 dashes Angostura bitters
1/4 tsp grenadine
3 drops pernod
0.5 oz orgeat
8 oz crushed ice
Mix in blender with crushed ice 5 sek.
Not bad at all…it blends well too with the other rum.
So my conclusion is that Rumbullion is a rum best used in winter holiday drinks and in some tiki drinks.
I first heard about this rum at the UK Rumfest but i never got a chance to try it out..Luckily now instead it found its way to me and you don´t need to ask me twice if i wanna try out two new rums especially designed for exotic Tiki cocktails.
The lables looks exotic and very Tiki – but does the rum itself live up to what the labels suggest? and what are the rums in the bottles?
TIKI LOVER`S WHITE RUM
The folks behind this rum are the Bitter Truth under the label Tiki Lovers and there´s a white rum and a dark rum. The white rum is made from pot stilled Jamaican rum that is aged 3-5 years, charcoal filtered and blended with column still rum from Trinidad.
The result is very good, it`has a nose that is a mix of floral, fruit and sugarcane and then i detect some subtle notes of the same flavor that you find in JWray overproof but this one is so subtle, maybe more like a slight hint of RumFire which is like a light JWray if that makes any sense.
The flavor is like the nose but stronger, sweet, floral, smooth with a slightly sharp edge, and it does have character, it won´t disappear in a mixed drink. That is one thing they have got just right, both rums stand up against all those mixers beautifully.
The white rum is not like a little brother to RumFire though – don´t get me wrong – this is a rum of it`s own. This is a white rum that is smooth and nice yet with character with those subtle hints of the flavors you find in JWray and RumFire but with it´s own personality.
It´s a good rum for Tiki drinks that´s for sure! the white rum is 42% alcohol or ABV 84. At the back of the labels are recipes and i`m gonna make one of them with the dark rum.
But let´s move on to the other bottle.
TIKI LOVER´S DARK RUM
The dark rum is much stronger, it´s 57% or ABV 114. My first thought was – is this made to be like the style of Smith and Cross? It`s also Jamaican pot still rum but this one is blended with Barbados rum (most likely Foursquare) as well with a final touch of column still rum from Trinidad and Guyana.
The nose has woody character with burnt sugarcane and dried tropical fruits. The flavor is strong, full bodied and spicy. There`s a slight alcohol burn but not unpleasant and it´s an overproof rum after all.
It´s spicier than Smith and Cross but less funky since Smith & Cross is unfiltered pot still which i find great for mixing but less suitable for sipping unless you have a palate for that, while this rum is more sippable even though it´s overproof. I`m not planning to sit and sip it though, this is made for mixing – specifically tropical/exotic/Tiki drinks.
Tiki Lovers Dark Rum won gold medal recently at the 2011 German Rum Festival as the best overproof rum and i heard some very famousrum experts loved it – well I join that bunch… I think I have two winners here!
The first drink I made was a boozy Planters Punch with the two rums and homemade hibiscus grenadine.
TIKI LOVERS PLANTERS
1 oz Tiki Lovers White Rum
1 oz Tiki Lovers Dark Rum
1 oz fresh lemon juice
1 oz sugarcane syrup
Dash Angostura bitters
1/4-1/2 oz hibiscus grenadine (use homemade or B.G Reynolds) adjust the ratio to your own preference since various grenadines tastes different. A rule of thumb is too much will ruin a drink.
Shake with ice and strain into a zombie glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with a pineapple leaf, speared pineapple chunk and cherry.
The hibiscus grenadine really adds a tropical tang to this drink perfectly in harmony with the lemon juice and the high proof spicy dark rum adds punch while the white rum plays nicely in the background with the bitters.
A simpler more straight forward taste description – this is a damned good and strong tropical drink with two perfect rums in the glass! get your asses to the kitchen or bar and start mixing!
The next drink is made with the white rum:
2 oz Tiki Lovers white Rum
1 oz grapefruit juice
1/2 oz fresh lime juice
1/2 oz falernum
4 dashes angostura bitters
Shake with ice and strain into a tiki mug or glass filled with crushed ice and garnish with mint and lime.
I found this drink a bit too sour so i added an extra 0.5 oz demerara syrup. Not sure if the Bitter End is a real Tiki drink or not but it doesn`t matter, these rums suits any tropical style drinks.
Then I made the one at the back of the dark rum label, the Waikiki Punch. There´s many more drinks I wanna try with these two rums which I cannot find space for in this blog post.
50 ml Tiki Lovers Dark Rum
10 ml Pimento Dram
10 ml Orgeat
20 ml fresh lime juice
60 ml passionfruit juice
Shake with ice and strain into a tiki mug (or glass) filled with crushed ice
This drink just goes down as easily as the Mai Tai…this dark rum blends WELL! oh my YUMMY!
Gotta try a type of Daiquiri too:
TIKI LOVER´S DAIQUIRI
1 oz Tiki Lovers White Rum
1 oz Tiki Lovers Dark Rum
0.75 0z fresh lime juice
0.5-0.75 oz sugarcane syrup, adjust to your taste
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled coupe.
This is a dark boozy daiquiri… suits those who like the flavor of strong rum.
Conclusion: Here´s two excellent Tiki and exotic/tropical drink rums, flavorful and strong enough to stand up against the mixers. That these rums are designed for this type of drinks is evident.
As soon as you can lay your hands on the Tiki Lovers rum you should.