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

Gunroom Navy Rum!

GunRoom label

When I went to a rum tasting at Renbjer & Magnusson recently, there was one that kicked it and stood out…. and the star of the show was the Gunroom Navy rum! – it`s their own creation/brand – gunpowder proof, strong and bold in the flavor, it`s a blend of rums from Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad and Barbados.

Navy Rum

Known as “Nelson’s Blood” rum was introduced to the service in the West Indies as a substitute for beer and brandy. There are two things to remember about navy rums. One is the strength. Navy strength is a spirit that has to be of high strength, over 57% alcohol.

There is also gunpowder strength which became the new navy strength at 54.5% and there is navy rum which traditionally was made from any rum bought from a distillery then blended back in the UK for sale to the navy. The rums could be from a single island, or blends. Because Guyana and Jamaica supplied most rums to the UK most navy rums had their country on the label.

The GunRoom Navy Rum is 65% ABV or 130 proof, which is a bit above what is defined as navy strength. It is said that in the old navy days sailors would “prove” the strength of their rum rations by checking that gunpowder doused with rum would still burn (thus verifying that rum was at least 57% ABV.)

This rum was distributed to sailors with one serving around midday and one late afternoon – called a tot. While rations were later cut several times over a period of time, before finally being abolished in the 1970s, (known as the “black tot day” that original proof test defined what we know today as Navy Strength rum—strong, potent overproof and powerful.

GunRoom Navy Rum

GunRoom tasting

GunRoom Navy Rum is still hand bottled in small square shaped bottles with a simple label. If i was french i`d say “trés sympa” (very nice) and indeed these bottles are cute, but don`t let that fool you, the content is not “cute” – it´s bold…with rums from Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad and Barbados in the blend you get a full flavored product packing a punch.

Nose: Wood, leather, raisin and sugarcane…dried tropical fruit peel, vanilla, toffee and spice.

In the mouth: It`s a strong and robust rum with quite a bit of wood, smoke, molasses and banana, tropical fruit, dark fruits and spices. It reminds me of a darker version of Smith and Cross. It`s bordering to rough but not in a bad way, it´s not harsh. If you like strong rum you`ll like this.

It feels like this rum could kick any cold to the moon…..and it really warms the chest.

A few drops of water opens up more fruitiness and mellows it down a bit. It´s a great rum for mixed drinks and especially well suited for tiki drinks, i think it can stand up to most mixers and juices. It´s ok to drink neat as well but it´s not for the faint of heart (or mouth) this is a rum for lovers of rums with attitude!

Navy Grog  (my version for GunRoom of Trader Vic`s from Martin Cate)

GunRoom Navy Grog

0.5 oz fresh lime juice

0.75 oz grapefruit juice (white)

0.5 oz sugarcane syrup

1/3 oz grog concentrate (if you have it) or 0.5 oz allspice/pimento dram (like St Elisabeth or Bitter Truth brands) or you can make it yourself.

1 oz gold rum (such as Appleton VX)

1.5 oz GunRoom Navy Rum

Shake together and strain into a rock`s glass with crushed ice, garnish with either a lime shell, a sugar swizzle stick or a ice cone and maybe a tropical orchid…

Potent drink!

The ice cone is made with Beachbum Berry`s ice cone mold the Navy Grog Cone Kit and it works just fine! easier than the old way of doing it by using a pilsener glass! it can be purchased at Cocktal Kingdom.

The next is the classic Trader Vic`s Mai Tai which with rums like this one can become strong and wild…

Traditionally since the 17 year old Wray and Nephew rum was gone the Mai Tai has been mixed with two rums but i also like Mai Tais mixed with just one rum, if that rum has full potential and the rum has some Demerara or Jamaican pot still rum in itself or in the blend.

In this blend i get four different rums in my Mai Tai.

GunRoom Mai Tai

GunRoom Mai Tai

2 oz  GunRoom Navy Rum

1 oz fresh lime juice

0.5 oz Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao

0.25 oz sugarcane syrup

0.25 oz orgeat

OR you can use 0.5 oz orgeat and omit the syrup, it`s tasty too…

Add 5 dl/2 cups of crushed ice, and shake 10 seconds.  Pour unstrained into a double old-fashioned glass. Sink your spent lime shell in the drink, and garnish with a mint sprig.

Final thoughts: If you can get the GunRoom Navy Rum and like strong rums and/or Tiki and tropical rum drinks, you should get yourself a bottle!

GunRoom bottle

Demerara Rum: Wood`s 100 Old Navy Rum

 

Wood`s 100 is an excellent overproof navy rum from Guyana and distilled at the diamond distillery using a combination of spirits made in pot and column stills from sugarcane growing on the banks of the river Demerara. The appearance is dark and syrupy and the flavor is unrefined rich demerara with kick and depth. This rum is bursting with good flavors! and a plus in my book – it´s a bit stronger.

Wood`s 100 was awarded ‘Distiller of the Year’ and ‘International Spirits Producer of the Year’ at the 2013 IWSC awards.

It´s been around a long time, more precisely for over a century before it was aqcuired by William Grant and Sons (who also owns the OVD demerara rum) in 2002, but it took me until this year´s UK Rumfest until i finally got to try it. I liked it at first sip – which i knew i would. It`s a down to earth demerara rum, very well suited for tiki drinks.

The nose promises of a flavorful demerara rum, and in the mouth it`s deep, dark and rich, you get burnt sugar and molasses, coffee and spice in a very upfront punch in the face kinda way. And that`s what I also expected from a wooden pot still demerara rum of that strength.

It`s 57% ABV or 114 proof, which is navy strength. It is said that in the old navy days sailors would “prove” the strength of their rum rations by checking that gunpowder doused with rum would still burn (thus verifying that rum was at least 57% ABV.) I once saw a gunpowder test at the Tales of the Cocktail where Lemon Hart 151 made the gunpowder ignite.

The color of it is of course coming from some sort of coloring (caramel) that kinda black doesn`t come from the barrel. If it has sugar added or not I don`t know.

There isn`t very much to find online storywise on this rum so it´s time to make a few drinks, starting with a classic:

3 dots and a dash

0.5 oz Lime Juice

0.5 oz Orange Juice

0.5 oz Honey Mix*

0.25 oz Falernum

0.25 oz Pimento Dram

6 oz Crushed Ice

0.5 oz Wood`s 100 Demerara Rum

1.5 oz Rhum agricole vieux (aged) Rum

Combine everything into a blender and blend at high speed for about 5 seconds. Pour into a tiki mug or a glass and garnish with 3 cherries speared on wood. The garnish is a slight variation from the original recipe where the wood spear is the dash instead of a piece of speared pineapple.

Honey mix – 1 part Honey + 1 part Water, heat to dissolve the honey and then cool to room temp.

Dark and Dusky  (A variation on the “Dark and Stormy”)

0.5 oz fresh lime

0.25 oz pimento dram

2 oz Wood`s 100 Demerara Rum

Top up with Ginger Beer

Garnish with 3 black cherries and a black anthurium flower.

Volcano House Hot Buttered Rum  (from Jeff Berry`s Grog Log)

3/4 oz fresh lemon juice

1/4 oz Maraschino liqueur

3/4 oz sugar

Hot tea

Butter Cloves 1.5 oz Wood`s 100 demerara rum

Pour juice, Maraschino, sugar and rum into a (preheated) mug and fill the rest of the mug with very hot tea. Stir well and then float a small piece of butter. Add a twist of lemon peel and 3-4 cloves.

Hot Tiki Rum Punch (a twist of Hot Rum Punch from Red Jay Bartender’s guide cirka 1934)

1 tsp dark brown sugar to melt in a mug of hot tea

Add 1 oz Wood`s 100 and 1 oz Appleton Extra dark rums

Add 1/2-1 teaspoon spiced butter (after taste)

Spiced butter :

Room temp butter

1 tsp each of ground cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon and allspice.

small pinch salt

Beat sugar and butter together until thoroughly creamed and fluffy; beat in nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, allspice and salt. Store in the fridge until needed.

My conclusion: Wood´s 100 is a  great mixer perfect for tiki drinks and other cocktails where you want a little bit of extra kick.

PUSSER`S NAVY RUM

pussers

This awesome navy rum has been around for a long time..

The first thing i notice when i open a bottle of Pusser´s is that it smells demerara..but not only as this navy rum is a blend of rums. I have read that its five rums in the Pusser´s blend but if my taste buds aren´t lying there gotta be most of the demerara or the demerara is so powerful that it dominates.

As for what makes up the Pusser`s blend it is said to be a blend of rums from the old Brittish empire including Jamaican, Trinidad and Brittish Virgin Islands rums but i hear it being said (by some very good sources) that in today´s blend there isn´t any Jamaican anymore..

Well…there`s enough fine demerara in it to suit my taste..

WHAT IS A NAVY RUM?

Known as “Nelson’s Blood” rum was introduced to the service in the West Indies as a substitute for beer.

What defines a navy rum? well, it was a specific type of rum distilled for the Admiralty in wooden pot stills and a navy rum has to be distilled in wood.

As we know there are only two production-capacity wooden pot stills remaining in the world and these are the two 250 years old wooden pot stills in Guyana – one single and one double and the double pot still is the same still that used to produce the navy rums in the past.

As for Pusser`s today its that same old and unique double wooden pot still from Port Morant (today in Diamond) that is used and this still is also used in the blends for El Dorado 8yo, 12yo, 15yo and 25yo. You can read about the demerara rum here.

I just got two bottles of Pusser`s, one 150  overproof and one 84 proof with a red label – but not the 15 yo red. Pusser`s is short for “purser”, distributor of the ration.

This can be read at the back of the Pusser´s bottles:

For more than 300 years, from before the days of Admiral Nelson, wooden ships and iron men, the sailors of Britain’s Royal Navy were issued a daily ration of rum by the ship’s Purser. This tradition, one of the longest and unbroken in the history of the sea, carried forward from the year 1655 to August 1st 1970.

The superb rum in this bottle is the same rum that was standard issue aboard Their Majesties’ ships at the time of the custom’s termination in 1970. For centuries, British Navy Jack Tars drank their Pusser’s Rum and appreciated this spirit’s exceptional quality. Its distinct character is still created from six of the world’s finest Caribbean rums which were discovered on their excursions at sea.

Pusser`s rum was sold to the public for the first time after it was purchased by Charles Tobias after the tot was officially stopped and the last tot was given at the Black Tot Day- 31 July 1970.

The nose of Pusser`s is like i said, it smells very much of demerara rum, rich, intense of roasted molasses, raisin, a bit smoky, leathery and then fruity.

The taste is very rich and aromatic, same as a good demerara rum to me. Its from those wooden stills where components have settled in the wood for over 200 years and even though they change out some of the wood pieces in order to maintain the still there are woods there that really are that old. The flavor is also slightly oaky and then it has something that i cannot define in the aftertaste.

That may be similar to what is called rancio –  something that occurs in certain aged stuff like in for example old singlemalt scotches or cognac and can be defined as earthy, overripe, sour and musty. So to me its without any doubt the demerara rums in it that comes with this type of flavor.

Pusser`s rum comes in different proofs, the original blue label is 84 proof (42%) and the red label is 80 proof. The one i have with a red label too but not aged 15 years is 84 proof and the overproof i have is 151 proof with a blue label.

Then we have the ignition strength proof as well – which is 108 proof (54%) Its called Ignition strength because when arriving in England the rum was 140 degrees overproof and that was taken down to 95.5 degrees underproof by adding water.

Then they added a small amount of it to grains of gunpowder and the whole thing was ignited with a magnifying glass. If the burning alcohol managed to stay alight then it was said to be “proof” – if not it was underproof – and if it exploded it was overproof.

Today the gunpowder test isn´t done anymore of course – unless – you happened to attend the “Full Sail Session” at Tales of the Cocktail this summer..

gunpowder-test-300x225

One more thing i want to mention here..the ceramic flagons…oh wow..Pusser´s sure knows how to market their product..

These ceramic flagons but slightly larger used to have a capacity of one-Imperial gallon, and were used to carry and store rum on board ships of Great Britain’s Royal Navy from the late 1800’s through July 31st, 1970 – they are awesome! i haven´t yet been able to get me one but i hope to..one day! The navy’s flagons were encased in a tightly hand-woven willow basket to reduce breakage.

The Royal Navy officers did before dinner each day,toast the reigning monarch and then offer the toast of the day. The toasts are as follows:

Monday:
Our ships at sea.
Tuesday: Our men.
Wednesday: Ourselves.
Thursday: A bloody war and quick promotion.
Friday: A willing soul and sea room.
Saturday: Sweethearts and wives, may they never meet.
Sunday: Absent friends and those at sea.

NAVY GROG (circa 1941 version)

navy-grog1

Navy Grog

* 3/4 ounce fresh lime juice
* 3/4 ounce white grapefruit juice (not pink or red!)
* 3/4 ounce soda water
* 1 ounce honey mix (1:1 honey and water, heat but do not boil, then cool it and bottle it; will keep 2 weeks in fridge)
* 1 ounce white Puerto Rican rum
* 1 ounce dark Jamaican rum
* 1 ounce Lemon Hart Demerara rum (El Dorado 8-year or 12-year Demerara OK to sub, but not the 5- or 15-year)

Shake vigorously with ice cubes. Strain into a double old-fashioned glass with ice-cone around straw.

Navy Grog Ice Cone

To make cone, pack a footed pilsner glass with finely shaved ice, run a chopstick through the middle to make a hole for the straw, and then gently remove cone from glass. Freeze cone overnight, or at least 4 hours till hardened).

When ready to serve, run straw through cone. Drink is sipped through straw. (NOTE: Cones will last 2 to 3 days in the freezer, after which they will start to evaporate.)

PUSSER`S GROG RECIPE

Over the rocks..

2 oz Pusser´s Rum

0.5 oz fresh lime juice

2 oz  soda water

1 tsp dark cane sugar