Athens Rum and Whiskey Festival 2017

This was the second rum festival in Athens (rum and whiskey together this year) but my first time to attend the event which was taking place in the impressive neo-classical Zappeion Hall, built in 1878 which also is conveniently located near the beautiful park, the National Gardens around the city center with two metro stations nearby.

The festival was small but sweet…with a good vibe – and drunken crowds, thankfully, I did not see. Nice and relaxed! I stumbled on some rums I’ve never tried before too and to my pleasant surprise the Alamea Exotic Infusions that are soon to be launched at the Berlin Bar Convent on october 10-11 by Daniele Dalla Pola were there as well. Read more about Alamea here in my review. They made some very nice cocktails with it and I really enjoyed having drinks with the Alamea.

There were cocktails made in most booths plus there was a little Baba au Rum pop-up booth there as well so one could choose to both sip rum and whiskey neat but also get to drink very nice cocktails which I appreciated!

Baba au Rum once again came among the 50 best bars – this time no.30! so again I say congrats to the Baba team! was it only a couple days ago I was there? someone fly me back please! but then again – they will have a pop up bar in Berlin in a few days….during the BCB (Bar Convent Berlin) and the German Rumfest and I`m luckily heading in that direction.

 

As for seminars I went to the  “Artisanal Cachacas, Authentic Sugarcane Expressions” by Jimmy Bertazzoli and “The Holy Grail of Martinique” sponsored by rhum St James held by Konstantinos Vasilakopoulos and then Sly Augustin’s (Trailer Happiness, London) seminar about Tiki where he did talk about the movement of tiki and where it’s going, specifically from a European view, something I’m also talking about in ny (upcoming) book. It was like hearing somebody else express my mind! The good guys from Trailer also did a guest bartending at Baba where they presented four tiki drinks, (the one with the jerk spice was amazing)

As for bars in the city, Athens have a very vibrant bar scene with worldclass bartenders and a hospitality next to none! they really are that good! but I already said that before…and not only do they make great cocktails in the bars but they also play very good music! You are guaranteed to have fun! also, the rooftop bars….the views are incredible.

A few great bars to mention are Baba au Rum, Speakeasy, Gin Joint, Clumsies, Kolokotroni 9, Bank Job, Rabbit Hole and the seasonal Mary Pickford by the water in Piraeus (awesome rooftop bar with a great view of the water and all the boats, plus great food, drinks and music), and then the rooftop bar at the hotel “A for Athens” with an unrivaled view and occasion to see the sunset over the city with a stunningly beautiful lit up Panthenon/Acropolis by night….a sight to see I promise!

This is a good start for the Athens rumfest which I believe has potential to grow nicely to something really great and I hope to see it happen again next year.

Enjoy the rest by pictures! I think they say more than my words!

The Rum and Whisky fest:

Entering the rum and whisky fest under the high pillars of the Zappeon building is quite impressive…

And then you`re met by a familiar sight…booths with booze….and bartenders serving cocktails. The Bayou rum

I first discovered in New Orleans during the Tales.

And like they say in Nola, let the good times roll…that`s what`s rum is all about! I know this was a rum and whisky festival but the rum girl I am, I`m focusing on the rum…

FINE Drinking Magazine, one of the best bar magazines today, get yours here.

Thanos Prunarus and FINE.

This was delicious! the Cuban Swizzle with Santiago de Cuba Greece rum and Alamea Pimento Liqueur which is with the other Alamea products launched now at the BCB in Berlin and to soon be sold online and shipped worldwide so all the tiki folks and everyone else will be able to get them.

And the Santiago Mulata, with Alamea Hawaiian Coffee Liqueur and the Santiago de Cuba Greece rum. As tasty as the Cuban Swizzle.

The Almaea Spiced, one of the very few spiced rums I found to be really good, that is – not too sweet – and with natural flavor and ingredients. And how about that tiki label? 🙂

Moving on to some Hampden rums…a favorite brand from Jamaica. RumFire needs no presentation and neither does the Hampden Gold. World famous high ester Jamaican rums at it´s best!

Similar to the RumFire with that typical vegetal grassy and “kerosene”- like flavor notes (but much less up in your face as the JWray), the Rum Bar overproof is a blend of three pot still unaged rums. The Worthy Park Estate have produced sugar and molasses since 1720. And then a new expression I haven`t seen before with the blue label, called Full Flavored White Rum. Good rums!

Cheers to overproof Jamaican rum!

And a daiquiri with it was in order.

Another rum brand I like, Compagnie de Indes, I wrote about a few of their expressions here.

A Mediterranian style Rum Old Fashioned with Rum Nation`s agricole rum from la Rèunion. Beautifully presented and very tasty.

Naga rum from Indonesia, which I think we will see some more of when a certain tiki bartender starts mixing with it 🙂 it had a bit of an interesting funk to it`s flavor which I think would be good in especially tiki drinks.

Another rum I had never tried before, Ron SumMum from the Dominican Republic.They come in four expressions – from left to right – the Reserva Especial, the Sauternes Cask Finish, the Cognac Cask Finish and the Malt Whiskey Finish.

And Japanese Whisky, Akashi. The version of Akashi produced for the European market using a mixture of Japanese and foreign-made malt and grain whisky.The Japanese version has malt whisky and molasses spirit, which would not be classed as ‘whisky’ in the EU.

Yaguara Cachaca, which is an artisanal Cachaca that comes in these three expressions. From left to right – the Organic and the most flavorful one, the Oro which is aged in three different woods and the Branca. The sweet part in this cachaca is not coming from any added sugar but from the oak. Brazil have at least 4000 brands of cachaca but only 2% is exported and unfortunately most of the exported cachacas are industrial so the best ones with the most flavors stays in Brazil. So most people gets to know just those and mostly in Caipirinhas which I think is a shame. (Nothing wrong with Caipirinhas, they are tasty but there is more)

I hope that will change! so we can see more artisanal cachacas outside of Brazil! it´s an interesting spirit and very much alike the rhum agricole but yet so different.

Havana Club.

The menu from Trailer Happiness at their pop up at Baba au Rum. I especially liked the flavor and spicy kick of the jerk spiced Voodoo Island, both frutiy, spicy and smoky.

The view from the stairs of Zappeon.

Athens:

The Acropolis is like a guardian of the city…The Parthenon and the other buildings were seriously damaged during the 1687 siege by the Venetians in the Morean War when gunpowder being stored in the Parthenon was hit by a cannonball and exploded…

The heaters at the rooftop cocktail bar at the “A for Athens” hotel looks like flying saucers that just landed….and the sun started to set…

A to go with the sunset…a matching colored drink called the “Polyphemus the Cyclops”.This drink was actually a sort of Zombie with a blend of Plantation OFTD, Chairman`s Reserve and Bacardi rums, spicy. The drink on the right side is called “Wear Sunscreen” and is a blend of Plantation Pineapple rum, Bacardi Gold, Don`s Mix, Coconut edible sunscreen (whatever that means…)

And the sun exploded in fiery colors…

Part of the menu at “A for Athens”

The Parthenon temple on the Acropolis, built in 447 BC when the Athenian Empire was at the peak of its power, seen from the rooftop bar at the “A for Athens” hotel cocktail bar. When you see it like that at night, it`s really magic, it adds a certain feel of the past to the present.

And of course it´s stunningly beautiful, pictures does not do it justice.

The Parthenon/Acropolis lit up to spread magic and beauty.

And the view in daylight from the rooftop restaurant at the Astor hotel. This is what you can call a breakfast with a view….

Zoomed in view of Mount Lycabettus/Λυκαβηττός, pronounced [likaviˈtos], a Cretaceous (the period between 145.5 and 65.5 million years ago) limestone hill in Athens, at 300 meters (908 feet) above sea level. Pine trees cover its base, and at its two peaks are the 19th century Chapel of St. George, a theatre, and a restaurant.

Rooftops of Athens.

Piraeus, seen from the rooftop bar Mary Pickford which we were lucky to get to on their last day before closing since it´s a seasonal summer bar that was created by the team of Baba au Rum along with Varoulko Seaside. Great view, great cocktails, great bartenders, fantastic seafood and great music sums up this place.

Seafood….at Mary Pickford. I don`t know what I was eating, I just know it was really amazing.

Incredibly tasty, a coffee Mai Tai at the Speakeasy.

Baba au Rum Cocktails.

And their Zombie…

And Baba Rum Sour with Barbancourt rum and a decent float of Cadenhead Cask Strength rum from the Bellevue distillery.

The beautiful National Gardens, located right behind the Zappeon Hall.

Impressive plants in the park. In the 1920s the park was renamed “National Garden”and became opened to the public and in honour of Queen Amalia of Greece, the entrance was moved to the 12 palms she planted and the street in front was renamed Queen Amalia Avenue. Since then the National Garden, is open to the public from sunrise to sunset.

Baba au Rums iconic carousel…just love this one!

And my favorite bar in Athens, Baba au Rum.

Pretty much sums it up! Cafe”Just Made 33″ a great place for breakfast.

Hello Athens and thank you! I will be back!

FINE Drinking – A Bar, Cocktail & Lifestyle Magazine Hailing from Athens!

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This is like a candy-bag for spirited grown ups!

Do you want to know about FINE drinking and lifestyles? there´s a new bar magazine coming out of Athens, it´s called Fine Drinking and it takes you on a very interesting journey in the spirited world…

When I got these magazines I was pleasantly surprised….the mag is like a book! it´s really thick and the quality is superb both in the design, layout and content. The layout I think very well reflects the playful style of where it comes from….it´s very much “Baba au Rum“! It`s a quarterly printed edition about cocktail and bar culture as well as travelling. There´s also other reviews made of this fine magazine, for example on “Adventures of the Barstalker” which is a very fun and informative blog to read!

Fine Drinking is also a coffee table publication with high-end aestetics and timeless texts in both english and greek, a magazine that reserach and present an exciting international bar and drinking industry and culture and the type of publication you will want to save and keep. The brain behind it is Thanos Prunarus, a bartender since 18 years and the owner of the famous Baba au Rum bar in Athens and author of the bar and cocktail book “handcrafted”.

If you have been to Baba au Rum you will feel very familiar with the style of this magazine since it has the “Baba” look and feel to it despite the many different contributors from various places, because some places just happens to have that special feel about them that makes you feel at home right away and Baba au Rum is one of those places, it got some “magic” to it…and that is transformed also into this magazine in some way…maybe it´s the playful desgin…?

Or maybe because it`s informative, fun and entertaing as well as very varied because the topics talks about a lot of different things like the bar scenes in various places (like Oslo for example in an article writtten by Thanos Prunarus and Alexandra Barstalker) to “The mystery of cocktail bitters”and how to make Baba au Rum`s own Bergamot bitters (by Thanos) to “The Peruvain bark that conquered Europe” (by Francois Monti) and “From the West Indies to the World” (by Nikos Arvanitis) just to name a very few….

I also feel very honored to see my own article about the colorful history of the tiki drink Chief Lapu Lapu in issue no 2, as well as getting my contribution the “Mariner Daiquiri” for the Baba au Rum`s International Daiquiri Challenge 2016 among the ten finalists, published in issue no 1.

So far there`s two issues published and you can find them in various places and bars and events in Europe – for example even the central train station here in Stockholm has it! but if you can`t find it you can write to fine@babaaurum.com and subscribe.

I myself not going to miss any issues of it! I also believe the Fine Drinking can become a collectors item with time….because it´s very original and beautiful! something to kick back with on the sofa with a daiquiri in hand…or bring along on a trip maybe? and it sure does has it place on your coffee table or bar!

Because FINE Drinking is….

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Thick….

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Beautiful….and classy

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Interesting….

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Rummy….

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Playful!

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Inspirational….

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Tikified….

historical

Historical…and fascinating….

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Educational…

classic

Classic!

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Abstract….

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Cocktails….

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And more cocktails!!

Update – no 3 is out now!

Subscribe – fine@babaaurum.com

One more left to complete the title – FINE  🙂

Tiki Drinks with Martin Miller`s Gin

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It was a very long time ago I wrote about gin even though i`ve used it here and there in my tiki cocktails but it`s rare, so it´s time for some tiki libations again that contains gin….and the gin I pick for this post is Martin Miller`s.

When i first tasted Martin Miller´s gin years ago I found it had a special flavor and I really like it, it has a smooth and a bit earthy-bitter juniper flavour paired with an overall pleasant spicinress and slightly bright citrus and herbal flavours in between.

This is the gin that uses pure soft glacier water from Iceland because this water is said to be cleaner, softer and full of life force. I find that pretty amazing that they actually ship the gin all the way to Iceland! There its blended with more neutral spirit and glacier water, then its shipped away again. There´s no doubt that this is very soft clean water.

As for steeping the herbs and spices the old traditional methods are used where the botanicals are steeped overnight in spirit and hot water and this gentle maceration is what is needed to create a premium gin.The dried citrus peels are also separately distilled in order to achieve a brighter citrus flavour.

The dried bitter seville orange rind is the most important botanical after juniper in gin making and personally I love the bright seville orange flavour – it has such a refreshing aromatic aroma.In Martin Miller`s gin lemon and lime rinds are also used.

These are the botanicals used as far as i know, surely there are some secrets too…

Juniper, seville orange, lime, lemon, coriander, angelica, liqorice root, cassia bark and to bind it all together and impart a floral aromatic flavour – Florentine iris.

The alcohol must be re-distilled and made from grains of the highest quality, there´s a lot of herbs, spices, roots and citrus peels involved which are picked from all over the globe and individually treated. The distillation is a whole process of its own. Martin Miller`s gin is distilled by a single pot still (as opposed to most gin`s using three pots) using only the heart of the distillate.This single pot still is called Angela and was made in 1904.

What I`m using here is Martin Miller`s traditional gin (40%) and the Westbourne Strength (45.2%) I like their freshness and that`s also why  it´s one of my favorite gins, goes well in tiki drinks together with other rums and mixers.

As for gin in tiki drinks in general I think it can make really tasty tiki drinks and one of the tastiest I`ve had is the “Outcast of the islands“, a refreshing ice cone adorned libation which you can find at Jeff Berry`s Latitude 29, one of the best tiki bars on this planet.

Saturn

saturn

0.5 oz fresh lemon juice
0.5 oz passionfruit syrup
0.25 oz falernum
0.25 oz orgeat
1 1/4 oz Martin Miller`s gin
Float Rational Spirits 141 Cuban or other good floating rum!

Put it all in a blender and blend until smooth with 8 oz crushed ice, pour unstrained into a suitable glass and fill up with more crushed ice if needed (originally it was a pilsner or other tall glass but I used a snifter….bec I love them! This is a take on the Saturn found in Jeff Berry`s Total Tiki App, the original drink was  made by J “Popo” Galsini in 1967 and awarded Popo at that year`s IBA World Cocktail Championship in Majorca.

Pololu Nui

Pololu Nui – a little potent mix of Martin Miller`s Westbourne Strength Gin, Jamaican and overproof rums, fresh pineapple, Creme de Cacao, Coco Real and Curacao… spiced up with a heap of fragrant ground cinnamon….served in Jeff Berry`s Latitude 29 Coco mug! And while Ku from the Floating Rum Shack carrying a pineapple on his head is laughing i`m drinking!

The original Pololu was made by Dr Bamboo and was a take on the good ole Painkiller…The name Pololu Nui means “the big Pololu” in this case “big in proof” with Martin Miller`s Westbourne strength gin and the overproof rum float combo.

polui-nui

2 oz Martin Miller`s Westbourne Strength Gin
1 oz Appleton Extra Jamaican rum
2 oz fresh pineapple juice
0.5 oz Ferrand Dry Curacao
0.5 oz Creme de cacao
0.5 oz Coco Real Cream of Coconut or Lopez
1.25 oz fresh lime juice
Hamilton 151 rum to float

Shake everything except cinnamon with ice and strain into a glass or tiki mug.
Add a generous float Hamilton 151 on top and dust with a heap of cinnamon powder and garnish with something tropical.

I hope you like these drinks as much as I did!

Meermaid Infused Rum – A rum with a lot of love!

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When I first heard about the Meermaid rum I got quite curious, “Meermaid rum” what on earth is that? then I saw some pictures posted and they picked my interest especially since I also read positive thoughts about it written by trustworthy people. Being an infused (or spiced) rum you tend you get a bit suspicious…..too many spiced rums are way too sweet….

But not this one! in fact there is no sugar or artificial additives at all – or as the label says on the back of the bottle – “17 real fruits & spices macerated in a blend of Jamaica/Trinidad rums. No sugar, artificial flavors or nonsense added” – Bravo! that elevated my hope! btw I like how they say “nonsense” ……..

Meermaid rum comes in two expressions, and they come in some really cool stoneware bottles – a 70ml 40% infused rum and then an overproof version of the same rum at 62% in a 500ml bottle, also stone, which is really cool. The one thing I feel could be improved is the wooden cork because it doesn`t hold very tight… I wouldn`t try to bring an opened bottle with me if I was going somewhere and that`s a pity. So a better tighter cork is needed!

What this rum is – is interesting, and with an overproof version of the same rum it opens up for some tiki fun and rum pairings!

Something to note – Meermaid rum is not to be mixed up with the “Mermaid rum” from Florida, the “Meermaid” rum is infused and bottled in Berlin, Germany.

Meermaid rum began with a passion to learn how to produce flavored rum…the thought is to preserve the actual rum flavor and with the 16 all natural ingredients like fruits, dried fruits and spices they add, just enhance the flavor. The rum is recommended for use in tiki cocktails (yay here I come…) or ginger beer or ginger ale, or on the rocks.

Recommended is also pineapple…..did they say pineapple? now this really talks to me!

Meermaid collage 2

Meermaid Infused Rum – Conceived in a long gone Tiki Bar….

And it got even more interesting when I learnt that Stefan Waltz, the maker of this infused rum, once set up a tiki bar on a boat….and later used to be the co-owner of the since now long gone tiki bar in Berlin called “Tabou Tiki Room“….

Where he had a mermaid painted on the door to the Ladies Room, which later on also became the design picture for the Meermaid rum, a name that he first discovered on a cup from the 60s where there was a recipe for a cocktail called “Meermaid”…I love when I stumble upon interesting things like this while researching for writing a rum post…that*s how it comes that I sometimes sit up all night…

The Tabou Tiki Room was inspired by Stefan`s visits to Trader Vic in London and Munich, and the Mai Kai and Tonga Room in America and the idea of escape from the outside world that real tiki bars is all about.

Tabou collage

Here is the history of this infused rum as told on the website by Stefan Waltz:

I used to be the co-owner of the “Tabou Tiki Room”. An infamous tiki bar, and first of its kind, in Berlin, Germany. The place is long gone now, but it was there that the dream to produce my own infused rum was born.

“Tabou” was a bar that focused on the almost forgotten, rum based cocktails of the old days served in authentic tiki mugs, and an assortment of sipping rums fifty strong. I had the pleasure of acquiring these rums from around the world.

Don’t get me wrong, I know that there are fine spiced rums out there nowadays, but I want to show that it is possible to produce handcrafted infused rum at a reasonable price, while maintaining a far superior quality to the industry standard.

I began by trying several recipes using quality rum with an assortment of exotic spices and various types of fruit infusions. After several months of experimenting, analyzing, and taste-testing I concocted several unique possibilities, but felt that something crucial was missing. In the end, it was my girlfriend who suggested the last, key ingredient and I knew that we had crafted something special. Two weeks and several business meetings later, I had found a way to make naturally infused rum in small batches.

As you can imagine, it being in charge of searching and was a fun and exciting job. However, back in 2004 I just could not find a brand of spiced rum that met with my high standards. What I found was mass produced liquor, flavored with artificial vanilla to cover up the taste of what was quite obviously mediocre rum. It was through this search that the idea to make my own bottled rum began to form.

Quite interesting story isn`t it? And now he finally has his infused rum which btw is excellent!

Bottles back collage

Here`s my thoughts on the flavor:

Meermaid Infused Rum:

The color is lightly straw and when I swirl the rum in the glass, legs are quickly formed on the sides. The nose is very pleasant with a lot of citrus fruitiness, some herbs and a bit of spices with a very slight hint of rum in the background.

The nose is very mild yet has a lot of flavor notes in it.

The taste is spicy and herbal with he rum resting discreetly in the background, it´s mild and balanced and has an interesting flavor which is complex. It also has a pronounced fruitiness. It`s more mild and balanced than I expected and there`s no “overly sweetness” or “too much vanilla” in it, there´s a clear hint of cinnamon but there`s nothing that takes over.

There`s also something else there I cannot put my finger on…cherry?

There’s fruity orange and a bit of woody spicy aftertaste with hints of cinnamon, clove, cardamom, herbs…and the finish is medium long. It`s definetily one of the better spiced rums and this one distinguishes itself from the rest in that it`s a bit different.

Meermaid Overproof Infused Rum:

The overproof version has a naturally sharper nose with creamy fruitness in it, light on the spice and little bit herbal. I really like this creamy fruitness, it`s an intoxicating scent.

The flavor is also very fruity and herbal, even a little bit floral with a touch of woody spices like cinnamon and clove. It`s mild enough to sip, the alcohol doesn`t kill you. In all I would say that both these rums are well balanced and mild enough to not overpower anything which so many other spiced rums does.

They can be both sipped and mixed! and yes they are right, it really pairs well with pineapple!

Bottle overproof collage

Pretty cool labels, with a skeleton mermaid on the overproof…

Wim Thielemans from Flap`s Tikis made a special tiki mug for Meermaid rum – is it the captain with a mermaid tail? or is it a tiki face? a really cool mug!

Meermaid mug

Ok and now it`s time for the drinks! i`m in the mood for pineapple, rum, lime and coconut! so it´s a lot of fresh pineapple juice and tiki drinks…

First drink is a pineapple bowl…a mix of fresh pineapple and lime juices, orgeat and three rums to make it strong plus dashes of Angostura and Zulu bitters to make it nice! the whole awesomeness is served in a scooped out pineapple garnished with pineapple leaves, lime wheels and tropical flowers.

I wish I had one of those little plastic cocktail garnish mermaids to add to the bowl….she could swim around there in all the rum…

Meermaid Pineapple Bowl

Meermaid Pineapple Bowl

2 oz/60ml fresh pineapple juice
1 oz/30ml fresh lime juice
0.75 oz/22.5ml orgeat
1 oz/30ml Meermaid Infused rum
0.5 oz/15ml Meermaid overproof rum
1 oz/30ml demerara rum
A couple dashes of Angostura and Zulu* Aromatic bitters

Blend in blender with 1 cup crushed ice for 5 sec, then pour into a scooped out pineapple (or glass/tiki mug) and fill up wityh more crushed ice and garnish.

This drink is very refreshing!

*The Zulu bitters are hard to get outside of Brazil where they are made from local ingredients in the rainforest, ( try e-mail zuluheadbartender@gmail.com ) – Otherwise using Angostura is just fine!

The next drink….looks very innocent but it is not!

Naughty Mermaid

Naughty Meermaid

2 oz /60ml fresh pineapple juice
2 oz/60 ml fresh orange juice
1 oz/30ml  Coco Real or Lopez cream of coconut
0.25 oz/7.5ml cold brewed coffee
1 oz/30ml fresh lime juice
1 oz/30ml Meermaid Infused rum
1 oz/30ml Meermaid overproof rum
1 oz/30ml aged Jamaican rum

Blend in blender at high speed for 5 sec with 1 cup of crushed iced and pour into a large snifter.

Mermaid Ginger Cooler

Meermaid Ginger Cooler

In a rocks glass with large pieces of cracked ice, add:

1 oz/30ml Meermaid Infused rum
1 oz/30ml Meermaid overproof rum
A little squeeze of fresh lime
Top up with ice cold ginger beer and stir

Garnish with fresh mint and lime

It packs a bit of a punch!

Grande Pina Colada

Grande Pina Colada

2 oz/60ml fresh pineapple juice
1 oz/30ml Coco Real or Coco Lopez
2 oz/60ml roasted coconut water
1 oz/30ml fresh lime
1 oz/30ml Jamaican rum
1 oz/30ml Meermaid overproof rum
A couple dashes of Angostura bitters

Blend in blender at high speed for 6 sec with a cup (2.5dl) cracked ice)
Pour into a goblet or pineapple filled with cracked ice.
Add a generous float of black strap rum

Guanabana Kula

Guanabana Kula

2 oz/60ml Guanabana (soursop) juice
0.75 oz/22.5ml fresh lime juice
0.5oz/15ml macadamia nut syrup
1 oz/30ml Meermaid overproof rum
2 oz/60ml Santeria rum or a dark Jamaican rum

Flash blend in blender with 1 cup of crushed ice for 5 sec, pour into a tall glass and fill up with more crushed ice.

Garnish: wrap the glass in banana leaf and tropical orchid.

Overall I think for this infused rum, it´s a work well done! The Meermaid rum is for those who appreciate quality handmade flavored spirits – if you want your own bottle of Meermaid you can order it here. ( I do not know if they ship outside of Europe) And if you are going to the German Rum Festival in october (15-16) you can also find it there!

Okole Maluna!

FB LINK MERMAID

Welcome to Baba au Rum….

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Some places just happens to have that special feel about them that makes you feel at home right away and Baba au Rum in Athens is one of those places. This world famous rum bar is not just a must go to bar while in Athens – it´s a reason to go to Athens! and trust me they will pamper you with lots of love, an array of amazing cocktails, tiki drinks, rums and other spirits!

One of the first things you most likely do when you arrive at a bar is checking out the menu and the cocktail and spirits menu of Baba is quite special….it comes in the form of a very cool designed book which has been awarded twice at the Athens bar show. The menu was designed by Kostas Theocharis and has been presented at the Milan Expo Exhibition and also in bars in Paris and Nikosia where it received great reviews.

The menu book is presented both in greek and english and it´s a simple cool, playful design!

Baba collage

Baba au Rum was founded in 2009 by Thanos Prunarus who has been a bartender since 1999 and this bar has greatly influenced the bar and cocktail scene and the bar which was awarded one of the World’s 50 Best Bars in 2013 — always at the top lists worldwide. Baba Au Rum is often awarded the Best Bar in Greece and Thanos is considered as a main influencer in his country.

And once again Baba has been included for one more year at World’s Best Bar Sellection!

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Thanos travels around the world to discover rum, visiting and participating in rum festivals the world over, including judging at the world final of the Havana Club Grand Prix in Cuba which he recently did. Thanos also publishes an International Cocktail and Travel magazine called FINE DRINKING.

I could not have written it any better so I link you to this very good and in depth article about Thanos! and here is a cool video from Baba au Rum!

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Baba au Rum is, despite the name and being a rum bar, a place where you can just sit back, feel at home and drink anything you want, it doesn´t have to be rum… And regardless of what spirits are used – the cocktails are immaculate wonders of liquid art that is a joy to behold and imbibe – but this place is a lot more than just the drinks….it`s a whole experience and the fact that people travel from all over the world to come here speaks for itself.

I for my part love it! I like when you come to a bar with super friendly bartenders, unpretentious relaxed atmosphere, interesting and beautiful interior, amazing drinks, good music and super comfy bar stools! – Baba got it all. If you get a chance or happens to visit Athens, do yourself a favor and go and spend time at Baba!

One thing that striked me on my visit was their amazing warm hospitality….they went out of their way to make me feel part of their family, never will I forget that! thank you everyone at Baba! My drinks which were consistently good, were made by the amazing bartenders Ellias Stergiopoulos, Phaedon Papakonstantinou and Nikos Gartzolakis – paying attention to the smallest details – you guys rock!!

So when you sit down…which drink to start with is not that easy because there´s a lot of great drinks to choose from the menu. One that I really liked a lot ( but I liked everything I tried) was their beautiful namesake drink, the Baba au Rum cocktail – a sweet and savory umami daiquiri with both sweet and botanical notes, and it´s a beauty….

Baba au Rum Cocktail

The taste is fresh, sweet and savory at the same time, smooth like silk and incredibly refreshing. I leave you here my readers to enjoy a bunch of pictures from Baba, because you know they speak louder than my words…some of these pics are mine and some are courtesy of Baba.

Menu collage 2

Baba drink 1

This…is liquid perfection!

Baba au Rum cocktail made by Phaedon

Baba au Rum cocktail made by Phaedon Papakonstantinous.

RumFire Daiquiri

RumFire Daiquiri…to finish the night!

Baba au Rum bar

They make the work look so easy….but don`t be fooled, they work really hard!

menu magic of rum

 

Baba menu book

 

Baba drink 6

What a beauty…

Baba drink 2

And here we got playful tiki…

Spicy Baba no 7

And the “Lulu White” tiki mug!

Baba drink 3

If you don`t get thirsty when you see these kind of cocktails…..

Baba drink 4

 

Baba drink 5

 

Guadeloupe Tiki Punch

Guadeloupe Tiki Punch! served in one of Baba`s own cool tiki mugs.

menu demerara

Yeah….they got some really good rums…

Baba bar carousel

An interesting and fun detail is the lit up mini carousel….so playful and fun!

And finally, yours truly with Nikos Arvanitis ( Rum Traveller in the Caribbean and writer of the upcoming “From the West Indies to the World” and bartender at the lovely bar Kolokotroni 9 (you should go there! and while you explore the bars close to Baba, go and try some fine rhum agricoles and cocktails at Rehab too! – another great bar) drinking and talking rum! the International Rum Family is really a wonderful thing! When “From the West Indies to the World” is ready I`ll post about it on this website.

The adress to Baba is Kleitiou 6, 10560 Athens, Greece, +30 21 1710 9140, info@babaaurum.com

me and Nikos rum fun

Cheers to rum and good friendship!

Baba Logo

EKTE Spirits – Independent Rum bottler hailing from Denmark!

EKTE Spirits rums 2

First time I tried rums from Ekte Spirits was last year at the UK rumfest and what I found was good…I also liked the design of the labels with their unusual names such as “Pungent and Geeky” or “Spicy and Rich”. This year at the Paris rumfest they were back but also with a new selection of limited release rums which were some very good rums.

I have a selection of a few of the blends and one of the limited release up for review but you can also see some pictures from the Paris rumfest here.

The name Ekte comes from the word marriage (aegte) in Danish, because they see themselves as a blending house to start with and then moved on to the private bottling with the development of the wide range of Ekte rum (including the five blends and the six limited edition rums) which originally were bottled and blended in Denmark, but are now coming out of Europes second oldest family owned distillery, 1831, in northern spain…the destileria Acha. The entire philosophy of EKTE is transparency , something that I for one like to see more of!

So here are the rums that are up for a short review:

Ekte spirits tasting

P&G – Pungent and Geeky:

This rum is Jamaica and Barbados together…the ABV is 47% and it´s a blend of eight different types of rum among them some overproof rum. The appearance is a golden yellow clear liquid with a sort of buttery nose with a lot of tropical fruits like banana, mango, bananas, apricots and dried raisins. There´s also something grainy or malty in the nose. You can dip your nose deep into the glass without getting a whole cloud of alcohol fumes and in overall it`s quite mild and round.

In the mouth you get the same rich tropical fruit notes delivered with a slight kick and a sharp hint of cask. The rum appears quite dry or semi-dry, if it has any sugar in it it has to be very little. The mouth feel is not too viscous but it´s a robust and pleasant rum with a great aroma. Me like!

The finish I find to be medium long and nice.

D&A – Dark and Aged:

The Dark and Aged blends rums from Guyana, Trinidad and Barbados. It`s up to 5 year old pot still rum blend from Guyana (demerara from DDL) and up to 5 year old column still rum from Trinidad and 8 year old rum blend from Barbados. ABV is 38%.

The color is a nice mahogany brown color with excellent clarity. In the nose there´s a bit of oak barrel and vanilla, orange peel, lightly fruity and sweet, it´s not a heavy nose.

In the mouth comes the same notes of vanilla and orange, it´s a bit light and slightly on the sweet side and not as heavy and dark as the name “Dark and Aged” sounds to me, but sure there´s elements of Guyana in it adding body.

There´s a pronounced  orange flavor in this rum, somehow it reminds me a little bit of Pyrat, maybe it`s just those hints of orange…Overall it´s a good mixer and sipper.

S&R – Rich and Spiced:

Hailing from Barbados and Trinidad, the Spiced and Rich has a very light nose, of slight perfumey vanilla notes. I already had a feeling this would be too sweet for me and I was right, it´s too sweet for my palate and it has very much vanilla in it. For those who likes light rums with vanilla notes, it´s an elegant rum and only lightly spiced even though to me it could benefit from less vanilla and sugar. The ABV in this one is 43% which I cannot detect at all, so it´s stronger than it tastes like.

No 3 Limited release, Nicaragua 15:

EKTE Spirits Nicaragua 15

And finally, the limited edition 15 year old single cask rum from Nicaragua. The single casks are of course what interests me the most…

This rum is a column still single cask rum at 68.6%, and 250 bottles was released. The nose is that of deep cask and very full bodied, deep, strong, woody, and full of flavors, tobacco, leather, cask. Due to the high ABV I pick up some medical notes in the beginning but they give way to deep flavors…it´s an exceptional rum, well balanced. The ABV is 68.6%.

Conclusion: The EKTE Spirits blends and single casks are worth seeking out and trying but these are just a few of them. I cannot pick a favorite since I haven`t tried them all but to me the single casks are the most interesting…and the one I like the most of the blends so far is the Pungent and Geeky. I tried a few others at the UK and Paris rum fests and they were really good as far as I can remember. I also like the design of the bottles and the labels with their simple yet cool design.

And now…time for the drinks…

So with the Aged and Geeky I decided to make a Colada variation adding some coffee notes and a bit of bitterness from Campari. The Aged and Geeky mixed very well with all these ingredients without loosing itself in the sumptuous mix of flavors and the cocktail was very tasty!

Pungent And Geeky Colada

Pungent and Geeky Colada

60 ml/ 2 oz EKTE Spirits Pungent and Geeky Rum
60 ml/ 2 oz fresh pineapple juice
45 ml/1.5 oz fresh lime juice
30 ml/0.5 oz banana syrup
30 ml/0.5 oz Coco Real
30 ml/0.5 oz cold strong coffee
7.5 ml/0.25 oz Campari

Blend in blender at high speed for 10 sec with 2.5 dl/1 cup crushed ice and pour into a snifter.
Fill up with more crushed ice if needed.

Next up is another tiki extravaganza, with Dark & Aged and Pungent & Geeky, fresh lime and pineapple juices, peach nectar, rich honey-mix and a little spice from Angostura and Pimento dram.

Tonga Grog

Tongan Grog 3

30 ml/ 1 oz EKTE Spirits Dark & Aged Rum
30 ml/ 1 oz EKTE Spirits Pungent & Geeky Rum
30 ml/ 1 oz fresh pineapple juice
30 ml/ 1 oz peach nectar
15 ml/0.5 oz fresh lime juice
15 ml/0.5 oz rich honey mix (2:1 honey to water, heat up to dissolve the honey, cool to room temp
1/2 tsp Pimento dram
2 dashes Angostura bitters

Pulse blend in blender at high speed for 5 sec with 2.5 dl/1 cup crushed ice and pour into a tiki mug, fill up with more crushed ice if needed.
Garnish with a pineapple crown.

Grand, extravagant, sumptuous and lush!

Next and the last is not a tiki but it´s a tropical style sour:

Dark & Aged Coffee Sour

Dark & Aged Coffee Sour

60 ml/ 2 oz EKTE Spirits Dark & Aged Rum
30 ml/ 1 oz fresh pineapple juice
15 ml/ 0.5 oz cold strong kona coffee
45 ml/0.75 oz fresh lime juice
15 ml/0.5 oz demerara syrup
1 egg

Shake (or use hand blender) and strain into a chilled cocktail coupe or speciality glass.

Garnish with pineapple and cherry.

Smooth as silk….

EKTE Spirits rums

Cent´Anni Spirit Syrups

Cent`Anni bottles

Here`s a couple of exotic spirit syrups, they are made by Cent´Anni Spirit Syrups, created by Victoria D’Amato-Moran who hails from San Fransisco. I first met her at the Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans back in 2009 and now seven years later I hold her new syrups in my hand ready to try them out, see how Tales brings people together!

She`s the daughter of a local bartender and started her career in the restaurant business and her family, the D’Amato-Moran’s family owned D’Amato’s Bar on the historical Broadway strip, and with her grandparents – who were talented chefs themselves – making wine, grappa, liqueurs and vinegars.

Victoria managed her cousin’s bar, Tony Nik’s, in North Beach in 2000, where she knew classic bartending and cocktail design would be her art, along with creating innovative syrups to compliment.

She entered and won her first drink competition in 2003, and voted the Best Sidecar Cocktail in 2005 by San Francisco Magazine, and now 21 successful winning competitions later, which includes the most recent WSWA Las Vegas 2014, the Las Vegas Nightclub & Bar Show’s, Battle of the Mixologists 2012 & 2013.

Victoria has created cocktail portfolios for a whole number of companies including Square One Spirits, Pur Spirits, Campari USA, Preiss Imports, Iconic Brands, Arta Tequila, and started from the ground up the bars and cocktail menus for among many more, the Michael Chiarello’s Bottega, Yountville, Gaston Acurios’  and La Mar Cebicheria San Francisco and currently working in Half Moon Bay at the historical San Benito Ale House.

Cent`Anni drink

She has been recognized for her work in many noteworthy magazines such as the Examiner, Gary Regans’ 2011 & 2012 Bartenders Guide, Tasting Panel Magazine, San Francisco Magazine, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Don Julio Recipe Book 2011, Natalie Bovis’ Garden Cocktails 2012, Pur Spirits Cocktail Book and many more and was assistant to Tim Federle’s Tequila Mockingbird.

Cent’Anni Spirit Syrups started in 2004 and were used in both cocktail menus and cocktail competitions. Getting these syrups to bottling has been a long journey and with the support of many fans, and 10 years in the making!

Cent’Anni Spirit Syrups will initially launch these three signature syrups: Lemon Spice, Pineapple Spice and Chocolate Chili Spice, offered in 750 ml. size bottles. Her syrups were created for ease of cocktail preparation behind the bar, for the home bartender, helping cocktail enthusiasts create delicious cocktails at home, and for culinary recipes. The syrups can be used with any base spirit as well as in cooking.

The complex flavor profiles will create innovative cocktails and enhance the classics as well as create wonderful non alcoholic beverages. These syrups are an exotic blend of spices, real juice, and pure cane sugar. The three new syrups are these:

Lemon Spice – Lemon juice and spices and tastes like concentrated lemon juice, very “zingy”!

Pineapple Spice – Pineappple juice, vanilla extract and lemon juice, has a mildly spicy pineapple flavor.

Chili-Chocolate Spice – Dark cocolate chips, orange juice, cocoa beans, cane sugar and dried cloves. It has a mild chili bite and hints of cloves and chocolate.

Here are three cocktails I made with these amazing syrups!

Saffron Sour (Recipe by Victoria D’Amato-Moran)

Saffron Sour

1 oz Cent’Anni Lemon Spice Syrup
1.5 oz Old Raj 92 Gin
1.5 oz Fresh Orange Juice
0.5 oz Velvet Falernum
4-5 Spanish Saffron Threads
Egg White from 1 Organic Egg
Add ingredients in cocktail shaker. Shake hard 20 times. Add ice. Shake hard 20 more times. Strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish: Saffron threads

Well, I didn`t have saffron threads but I did have powdered saffron, it was still nice and added a lovely saffron flavor on the silky/creamy/foamy top of the drink…very rich and lush!

Rummy Way

Rummy Way

0.5 oz Cent´Anni Lemon Spice
0.5 oz Pineapple juice
0.5 oz Aperol
1 oz Fresh Lime Juice
2 oz Aged Rhum Agricole
Dash Zulu Orange Bitters
Garnish Cinnamon dust and dried Pineapple slice
Glass: Daniel Gallardo

My take on Victorias “Rumway” which was named for the airport runway near the beach in Half Moon Bay. Well, this drink is named for the rum it contains which may lead you into the way of rum….

Chili-Chocolate Banana Daiquiri

Chili-Chocolate Banana Daiquiri 2

0.5 oz Cent’Anni Chocolate Chili Spice
0.5 oz Cent’Anni Pineapple Spice
1 oz Fresh Lime Juice
1/2 Banana, well mature and thinly sliced
2 oz Appleton Extra Jamaican Rum
4 oz Crushed Ice

Blend in blender at high speed for 30 sec and pour unstrained into a fancy glass with ice.
Garnish banana slice cut diagonally.

Chili-Spice Coconut

Chili-Spice Coconut

1 oz Cent’Anni Chocolate Chili Spice
1.5 oz Ron Abuelo 12
2 oz Coconut Milk
Squirt of fresh lime
Add ingredients, to cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until frothy. Pour into a glass with ice. Garnish with a tropical orchid.

This is a twist of Victorias Chili-Spice Cream Soda but i didn`t have half and half or cream soda (not available here) so instead I used coconut milk. The drink tastes creamy rummy and coconutty with a hint of spice.

Conclusion: These are well made organic syrups fit for everything from cocktails to tikidrinks to culinary adventures!