RUM – A Global History

Welcome to all those interested in the lore of Rum – a beverage with a secret and fascinating history! Rum has been a beverage, a currency and an element of ritual, a symbol of debauchery among Temperance crusaders and of healthy moderation in the British Navy.

Do you love rum? if you do here is a book for you – RUM – A Global History – by Richard Foss who also has a website called rumhistory.com – which expands on the information and ideas that are in the book but for various reason were not included in it – plus as he says – provide a place to stretch out and discuss the more controversial aspects of rum history.

I got a preview of the book and i must say it really is interesting reading and a thorough work on all aspects of rum and rum history.

Here`s the book description:

The enjoyment of rum spread far beyond the scallywags of the Caribbean—Charles Dickens savored it in punch, Thomas Jefferson mixed it into omelets, Queen Victoria sipped it in navy grog, and the Kamehameha Kings of Hawaii drank it straight up.

In Rum, Richard Foss tells the colorful, secret history of a spirit that not only helped spark the American Revolution but was even used as currency in Australia. This book chronicles the five-hundred-year evolution of rum from a raw spirit concocted for slaves to a beverage savored by connoisseurs.

Charting the drink’s history, Foss shows how rum left its mark on religious rituals—it remains a sacramental offering among voodoo worshippers—and became part of popular songs and other cultural landmarks.

He also includes recipes for sweet and savory rum dishes and obscure drinks, as well as illustrations of rum memorabilia from its earliest days to the tiki craze of the 1950s. Fast-paced and well written, Rum will delight any fan of Mojitos and Mai Tais.

The book goes quite deeply into what rum is and it´s colorful and interesting history which is as colorful as you can wish with everything from rum smuggling and the triangle trade to rum runners and tik bars.

I have picked one drink from the book to mix up too – it´s a famous colonial rum punch dating back to the 1780s.

Martha Washington’s Rum Punch

  • 3 oz. white rum
  • 3 oz. dark rum
  • 3 oz. orange curacao
  • 4 oz. simple syrup
  • 4 oz. lemon juice
  • 4 oz. fresh orange juice
  • 3 lemons, quartered
  • 1 orange, quartered
  • 1/2 tsp. grated nutmeg
  • 3 cinnamon sticks (broken)
  • 6 cloves
  • 12 oz. boiling water

In a container, mash the orange and lemon pieces, cinnamon sticks, cloves, and nutmeg. Add the syrup, lemon and orange juice. Pour the boiling water over the mixture.

Let cool for several minutes before added the white rum, dark rum, and orange curacao. Strain well into a pitcher or punch bowl, and serve over ice in goblets.

Decorate with wheels of lemon and orange, and dust with a little nutmeg and cinnamon. Tasty, relaxing and refreshing! The book RUM – A Global History can be purchased here.

 

Sugarcane bar

 

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UK RRRUMFEST!! Let it flow…

Let it flow, let it flow, let it flow! and flowed it did…rum here, rum there, rum everywhere – the UK Rumfest & Cane Spirits Festival is heaven for rum lovers and it shows people that rum is more than a spirit – it´s a lifestyle with a whole culture surrounding it.

The UK RumFest brings together the industry’s plethora of blenders, distillers, bartenders and mixologists, writers, bloggers, brand ambassadors, rum enthusiasts – all joining in to celebrate all things rum.

Here you get a chance to try out both new and old, known and unknown rums and many cocktails , tiki drinks and rum punches of course, (oh the rum punches…) listen to sessions, dance with tropical dancers, taste caribbean food, watch bartender competitions – all to the rhythms of the caribbean and in the company of people who have that one thing in common – they all love rum!

The UK Rumfest 2011 took place from friday to sunday oct 14-16 at the Kensington’s Olympia in London with the friday reserved for the Boutique Rumfest (for the trade with tastings and sessions.) Saturday was the official Rumfest starting day and i don´t think i´ve seen a crazier crowd before when it comes to a room being packed with rum-lovers.

Also it was the London Cocktail Week starting the week before with 3 days left when i came into town:-)

But back to the friday and Boutique Rumfest. There was of course lots of rum to be tasted and since it was a calmer event we also got a much better chance to meet and talk to the producers about their products.

There´s an incredible amount of rums to be tasted, especially on the two official rumfest days, and i wasn´t able to taste it all i´m sure! i think there was over 400 different rums from well known brands like Zacapa, Foursquare, Bacardi, Havana Club, Appleton, Cockspur, Mount Gay, Chairman´s Reserve etc to smaller unknown brands like Les Coliniéres.

And apart from the big brands i got to try some of the to me unknown rums and other rums i`ve never tried before. Some of my favorites among those i´d not tried before are st Nicholas Abbey from Barbados, a top notch fantastic rum! (a review of their 12 yo will follow)

And Les Colinières – from Mauritius – naturally infused, so called “rum/rhum arrangé” in the islands of Mauritius and La Réuinion. Their coffee and passionfruit rums were just amazing! and would be perfect in tiki drinks. As far as i know their rums is not yet sold outside of Mauritius..

Also Rumfire was new to me. That is a Jamaican overproof white rum from the Hampden Estate which in Jamaica is known for its full, intensely flavorful pot still rums sold in bulk. Today`s Rumfire that now is released to the public is yesterday´s JB rum which was on the black market. The Rumfire is like a smoother version of JWray overproof, it has hints of that flavor but it`s not as upfront. A very interesting and tasty rum.

They made me a daiquiri with it and that was a nice daiquiri indeed, this rum mixes wonderfully. Also it won silver medal at the Ministry of Rum Tasting competition this year.

Interesting but a bit odd was the Madagascar rum Dzama, it was quite good i think but i couldn´t be friends with the aftertaste which is what i found to be odd…so i have mixed feelings about this rum. An exotic bird…i wouldn´t mind taste the rums again and take more time.

Also i finally got to try out Elements 8 Spiced, which i found to be quite tasty.

New for 2011 rumfest was the Tropical Food Market which was an entire area downstairs devoted to tropical food and delicacies – that´s where i got my freshly cut coconut! – with rum in it of course…There was also a shop entirely dedicated to muscovado sugar…

Also there was sessions and masterclasses and the one´s i got a chance to attend first was the “Don`t Fear the Blender” with Beachbum Berry and then the El Dorado.

DON´T FEAR THE BLENDER


I`m a friend of the blender, let me tell you that first.With the blender you get that aerated frothy thing you cannot really get with a shaker plus it does good things at the same time for you – it mixes, chills, dillutes, creates a froth)

The blender was first used in Havana in the Floridita, dating back to 1817 when it was first opened as “La Piña de Plata” – The Silver Pineapple in the place it still occupies, in the corner of Obispo and Monserrate streets. It got it´s name “El Florida” a 100 years later. The bartenders used to use 11 drinks shakers and you can just imagine the work…so when the blender appeared it was like a lifesaver and now it became easier to serve the never ending hords at Floridita. At the time the ice for the daiquiris was shaved.

Then Don the Beachcomber started to use the Hamilton Beach blender and more would follow.The blender aerates and dillutes some of the crushed ice just enough to “wake-up” the spirit. Some drinks requires just a quick flash blending while other wants 15-30 sek. In the Bum´s books the exact time for the blending is always written out.

This session was a real pleasure to attend and i wish it could be a weekendly habit…but alas…or if i could at least live neighbour with the Bum! i would go and borrow sugar…errr…rum…um…a tiki drink…

We got some tasty blended drinks too of course and here are the Bum`s recipes:

LEI

15 ml fresh lime juice

15 ml peach brandy

30 ml white rum

15 ml (0.5 oz) honey-mix

6 oz crushed ice

Blend for 20 sek, frappé

DEVIL´S ISLAND DAIQUIRI

22.5 ml fresh lime juice

60 ml Chairman´s Reserve Rum

22.5 ml honey butter mix

120 ml crushed ice (0.5 cup)

Let the blender go for a long time, 20 sek. Fine strain into a bitter-sugar rimmed glass, gently pressing the liquids.

BITTER-SUGAR

Mix 4 tbsp demerara sugar with Fee´s aromatic bitters (4 big dashes)

HONEY BUTTER MIX

Unsalted butter and honey in equal proportions, heated up to dissolve the honey and melt hte butter, leave to room temp before using it.

Also you can make a delicious honey-butter-cream by using sugar, butter, heavy cream and honey.

The butter-honey-mix or cream mix gives a silky mouth feel to the drink that unless you already know – will never know what it is…

We also got some other nice drinks to imbibe like the always so tasty Missionary´s Downfall.

EL DORADO


I don´t think i need to present what this rum is, if you don´t know already go read my earlier post and check their website.

The session was hosted by Dave Broom (author of Rum) and Stefanie Holt, (El Dorado Global Brand Ambassador)

They took us through a journey to the land of many rivers, Guyana where the demerara rum is made. An interesting thing i learnt was that when the sugarcane fields are burnt a side effect is that the sugar in the cane is dissolved in the water that evaporates and thus makes the sugar content more concentrated and sweeter. The yeast is put in a molasses solution to get happy and multiply.

Further they spoke about the different stills and since i`m a DDL still geek i always find that interesting. What DDL does is simply to put as much Guyana as possible into the rum..

SATURDAY AND SUNDAY – RUMFEST!!


So saturday and sunday was the 2 days of Rumfest and these were 2 very intense days…rum tastings, cocktail and rum punches, tiki bartender of the year, sessions on rum, rum punch, rum, rum…and then the Golden Rum Barrel Awards.

This blog was one of four nominated “Rum Blog of the Year (Europe) and i`m very honored and wanna thank everyone who did vote for me. It didn´t make it all the way though..the prize was given to my good friends Peter and Pauline over at the Floating Rum Shack, who i think really deserved it! There was also four nominated blogs for the USA cathegory and the winner was Rumconnection.

All the awards you can read about at the bottom of this blog post.

Also there was the Tiki Bartender of the Year contest with the final on the sunday. There was 3 bartenders in the final and the winner was Mahiki`s head bartender Georgi.

What i particularly like about the Rumfest is that it is such a people thing, it´s relaxed and laid back with that caribbean feel spiced with quite a bit of tiki vibes, an environment i feel right at home in.

THE FOOD


Yes there´s food too! i did eat some real good Caribbean food at Ian`s restaurant Cotton´s – a place i really can recommend if you go to London! i had their famous Mixed Jerk Fish Grill – parrot fish, tilapia, snapper and tiger prawns served with fried plantain and rice & peas and it was lovely! Washed down with cold Carib and Blue Marlin beers.

 

Also the awards dinner was an amazing experience – the Caribbean style dinner with the Butterscotch Pumpkin Soup with Goat Cheese and Spiced Pumpkin Seeds was really tasty.

And then came the Coconut Crumbled Chicken with Sweet Potato mash and Sauteed Spinach…finished off with a Rum drenched fruit dessert, coffee and plain dark chocolate…hmmmm…

AND DRINKS…

Three bars in London i would recommend are Trailer Happiness, Montgomery Place and Callooh Callay – you can´t go wrong with any of them and if you go Trailer you`ll most likely see Damien fire up the roof.

To finish it off here´s a whole parade of various pictures to drool over and enjoy…:-)

Amazing Queens Park swizzle at the Montgomery Place


Something beautiful and tasty from Trailer Happiness…

The Zombie at Trailer Happiness.

And their fire show…putting the overproof rum soaked copper roof on fire…displaying all kinda colors, awesome!

It`s caribbean carnival at the UK Rumfest!

 

Cockspur Rum Punch

Foursquare got 3 awards…


Three charming rum smiles in the Plantation stand..if you go to Trailer Happiness they´ll make tasty drinks for ya!

Three happy rum people…(Stanislav Vadrna, Yours truly (Tiare) and Carl Kanto (chemist, distiller, El Dorado) i love this about events like this – the friends you meet both new and old.


I haven`t yet been able to figure out this nifty outfit….was it somebody´s outfit for the Golden Rum Barrel Awards? ( i think heard something…)

Les Colinières – rum arrangé from Mauritius

We could get fresh cut coconuts too…with rum in it!

St Nicholas Abbey from Barbados

Elements 8 Spiced

Black Tot Last Consignment sold by the Whiskey Exchange


 

In the Rum Frat House – it´s like the Mixohouse in New Orleans but with rum lovers.

Rum Punch with Kraken Black Spiced

Dzama from Madagascar

God for Tiki drinks..


 

No Rumfest without Ting…and with Banks Five Island it`s wonderful.

 

Like a lighter and smoother version (flavorwise) of the JWray overproof…but don`t let that deceive you – this rum is strong.


And here`s the original JWray and Ting! which was my corps reviver on the sunday…backed up with chocolate muffins.

Don Q Rum – good for a lot of things

Ian Burrell – the one and only – Global Rum Ambassador and founder of the UK Rumfest.


THE GOLDEN RUM BARREL OF THE YEAR 2011 WINNERS

Rum Distillery of the Year 2011

The Foursquare Distillery, Barbados

Rum Distiller of the Year 2011

Richard Seale (Four Square, Barbados)

Rum Blender of the Year 2011

Tito Cordero (Venezuela: Diplomatico)

Rum Blogger of the Year (Europe) 2011

The Floating Rum shack

Rum Blogger of the Year (The America’s) 2011

RumConnection.com

Rum Ambassador of the Year (UK) 2011 sponsored by Bar Life UK

Meimi Sanchez (Havana Club)

Rum Ambassador of the Year (International) 2011 sponsored by Drink International

David Cordoba (Bacardi Rum)
Jim Wrigley (Ron St.Teresa)

Best New Rum (Gold) 2011 sponsored by Coco Re’al

Abuelo Centuria, Panama

Best New Rum (White) 2011 sponsored by Coco Re’al

Banks 5 Island, Several Countries

Best New Rum Package 2011

Bacardi 1909

Boutique RumFest Award 2011 sponsored by Imbibe Magazine

Doorly’s XO Rum, Barbados

The Rum Experience Rum Pioneers Award

Joy Spence from Appleton Jamaica rum. The first female Rum master blender.
Ed Hamilton from the Ministry of rum. Founder of the pioneering web page and rum forum.

And last…

I wanna raise a toast of El Dorado 15 Year Old rum for George Robinson, the head man at the Diamond Distillery in Guyana who passed away just a little while before the UK Rumfest. A toast was also held at the Golden Rum Barrel Awards.

Can you have too much rum?

Sugarcane bar

 

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Sugarcane!

SUGAR…

I love sugarcane and sugars and especially i like flavorful unrefined raw cane sugar. My favorite sugars are many…muscovado, raw sugar, demerara, molasses. I´m a syrup geek too so i use a lot of different sugars and it can be a bit confusing with all these sugars, which one is what and which are best?

The most common is of course the ordinary refined white sugar, but as all refined things its stripped from flavorful components. Its not the sugar i prefer but its still useful for simple syrups.

I think there´s a type of sugar for different purposes and in cocktails i prefer dark sugars for drinks with dark base spirits, like dark rum, and white or golden sugars for light drinks. Then fine sugars are good for muddling.

Same with syrups, dark sugar goes with “dark” ingredients like Tahitian vanilla for example and light sugars go for say a mango syrup. When i make my vanilla sugar i mix two sugar types, a light and a dark muscovado which are mixed with the seeds and the beans from Tahitian vanilla.

Dark muscovado has a slight licorice flavor and a very rounded full taste and light muscovado is more toffee-like.

I buy Tate&Lyle or Billington`s which are very similar, sometimes i wonder if its even from the same source. Both are UK based.

 

From upper left and clockwise is:

1) Oxfam bio cane sugar from Paraguay, 2) Billingtons Fairtrade unrefined demerara (from Malawi), 3) Billingtons unrefined cane sugar, 4) Billingtons molasses, 5) Billingtons light muscovado 6) Billington´s dark muscovado (the rest of Billingtons are produced in Mauritius)

This is how i find these sugars:

1) Oxfam bio cane sugar: Very fine textured, the color is not white but has a yellowish tint. The flavor is very much like Billingtons unrefined cane sugar #3

2) Billingtons unrefined demerara: is much coarser and typically one of those “home baking” sugars.

3) Billingtons unrefined cane sugar: Is a golden glistening and very pleasant allround sugar, gritty. Sweet and flavorful taste, i like this one in tea and coffee

4) Billingtons molasses, very dark, it forms clumps and is extremely flavorful and might be used where it will not overpower other flavors.

5) Billingtons light muscovado: The most tasty of all these sugars in my opinion, the texture is smooth and its really yummy with toffee flavors. A perfect allround sugar.

6) Billingtons dark muscovado: Same flavor as the light but with a lot more “dark” flavors and a hint of liqorice. Its like the molasses, best used with things suited for these strong flavors.

Many of these sugars, especially the muscovados get hard when exposed to air and needs to be softened again, it might work by placing a warm wet towel over the jar for a while. Best way is to keep the lid tight on.

MUSCOVADO

Muscovado is a type of unrefined brown sugar with a strong molasses flavour. It is very dark brown, and slightly stickier and coarser than most brown sugars.

Unlike most other brown sugars, which are made by adding molasses to refined white sugar, muscovado takes its flavor and color from its source, sugarcane juice when processors of Muscovado boil down cane-sugar juice to make the sugar. It offers good resistance to high temperatures and has a reasonably long shelf life.

MOLASSES

Molasses is a byproduct of the sugar making process. Its dark and very flavorful. Most rum made from molasses is made from imported molasses. Raw sugar is covered by a thin film of molasses, which is a dark thick syrup containing sugar, water, plant material, minerals, and other non-sugars. The layer of molasses is removed by dissolving the sugar and separating in centrifuges and carbon filtering.

DEMERARA

Demerara has the natural brown color of cane sugar and it takes its name from the Demerara colony in Guyana, which was the original source of this type of sugar, but is produced today mainly in Mauritius.

For some reason the name demerara is still used even though produced so far away from Guyana. My package from Billington`s fairtrade natural demerara is actually produced in Malawi..

TURBINADO AND SUCANAT

Turbinado sugar, also known as turbinated sugar, is a type of sugar cane extract. It is made by steaming unrefined raw sugar. Turbinado sugar is similar in appearance to brown sugar but paler. A popular brand name is Sugar in the Raw.

Sucanat is sometimes confused with Turbinado – but they are fundamentally different. Turbinado sugar contains only a trace amount of its original molasses content, making it more or less like refined sugar except with a golden color and a hint of molasses flavor. Sucanat, on the other hand, retains its full molasses content and flavor, and its pure dried cane juice.

Turbinado is more crystalline and clear in its form compared to the grainy Sucanat. Unfortunately there are lot of bar syrups which are made from high fructose corn syrup which is very unhealthy and does not carry the same flavor as natural sugar.

In all fruits and vegetables we can find sugar (sucrose) which is a natural carbohydrate. Sugarcane contains 12-14% sucrose and are harvested after 9-12 months growth.

PETIT CANNE

Petit Canne sugarcane syrup is a interesting syrup as its made by dissolving raw Martinique sugar cane sugar in hot water to make a saturated syrup retaining the flavor of the raw sugar.

SPICY SUGARCANE GIRL

This cocktail brings together Jamaican and Guyanese dark rums, cane sugars, fresh blood orange and lime juices, with a touch of spice, all spiked with a JWray kick.

1 oz dark Jamaican rum (Appleton extra)

1 oz demerara rum (Banks XM10)

0.5 oz fresh lime juice

0.5 oz 3 sugar simple syrup

1 oz fresh pineapple juice

1 oz fresh blood orange juice

1 drop spice tincture (cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, steeped in some overproof rum for 2 weeks)

3 drops pernod

Splash JWray overproof rum.

Shake all ingredients over ice, strain and pour into highball filled with crushed ice. Top with a splash of JWray overproof rum. Garnish blood orange wedge and fresh mint or if you have it, a sugarcane stick.

3 SUGAR SIMPLE SYRUP

Its a 1:1 simple syrup,made from 3 different sugars. I used 1 part light muscovado, 1 part unrefined cane sugar and 1 part demerara sugar. Add sugars and water to a pan and heat it gently and stir until all sugars have dissolved, then cool, strain and bottle.

For those who really wants to go into some in-depth reading on sugarcane then Netafim is for you.